Muses by Tom

Youth “witches” killed

Posted in News by Tom on August 25, 2010
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In the dead of the night, a pastor plants his hand firmly on a woman’s head. He screams some chants at her and ultimately casts out the demons within her. She is free of all evil and is one of the fortunate few allowed to keep her life. This isn’t the plot of the newest wanna be horror film, or even Massachusetts circa 1692. This is present day Nigeria.

It’s something you would only expect to see in the most disturbing of movies; many children are being accused of witchcraft and subsequently punished by being cast out and sentenced to death. Pastors in Nigeria claim poverty and disease are caused by witches bringing evil and misfortune upon the community.

One mother recently cast out her two sons and daughter, accusing them of being witches after the premature deaths of two of their siblings. The mother claims her children used black magic.

When a child is accused of witchcraft, he or she is often “thrown into the river, buried alive, or stabbed to death.” said Sam Ikpe-Itauma, who runs Child’s Rights & Rehabilitation Network, an orphanage in Nigeria. CRARN is home to around 200 children, all of whom have been accused of witchcraft and cast out from their families.

If you thought this was bad, it get’s worse. Here is the story of Godwin, a five-year-old child. After the boy’s mother passed away, the church pastor said Godwin was to blame. Even though Godwin denied the accusations, he was still beaten and forced into falsely confessing that he killed his mother. As a punishment, Godwin was locked up every night with his mother’s corpse with very little food or water. Miraculously, a neighbor contacted CRARN and Godwin was rescued and taken to the orphanage. Sam Ikpe-Itauma says many of the children at the orphanage show the physical scars of being beaten, attacked with boiling water, and cuts from machetes.

“When a child is accused of being a witch,” Sam said, “that child is hated absolutely by everybody surrounding him so such children are sent out of the home… But unfortunately such children do not always live long. A lot of them, they’re either killed, abandoned by the parents, tortured in the church or trafficked out of the city.”

The orphanage is struggling at best, and has neither the finances nor the room to grow. Because of this, many children are forced to roam the streets, like fifteen-year-old Samuel.  Samuel says he has been living on the streets for five years after being blamed for numerous deaths in the family and beaten by his pastor. He lives in an abandoned building with 10 other children, also accused of witchcraft.

“Religious leaders capitalize on the ignorance of some parents in the villages just to make some money off them,” said Lucky Inyang, project coordinator for Stepping Stones Nigeria, a local group that visits the abandoned children.

“They can say your child is a witch and if you bring the child to the church we can deliver the child but eventually they don’t deliver the children… The parents go back to the pastor and say, ‘why is it you have not been able to deliver the child’ and the pastor says ‘Oh – this one has gone past deliverance – they’ve eaten too much flesh so you have to throw the child out.'”

Children in single-parent and broken home environments are the most likely to be accused and killed. The state looks down on organizations such as CRARN for tainting the community’s name and image. It would seem the churches are doing a pretty good job of that themselves, though, no? It is in the last 10 years that this extreme superstition has returned and caused mass hysteria in places such as Nigeria.

This kind of thing just blows my mind, not only that such strong superstition is bad, but that innocent children are being put to death by ignorant pastors and stupid parents. I’d really love to hear what you guys have to say about this. Comment, please.

Click here to read the full article and watch a video.


My sociological take on Gran Torino

Posted in Movies by Tom on May 30, 2010
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So this was an assignment that I had, but I found it interesting. I had to look at how a fictional movie deals with death.  I chose Gran Torino because, well, it’s an awesome movie and Clint Eastwood is the man.

“Some may ask, ‘What is death? Is the end, or is it the beginning?’” The movie Gran Torino, starring Clint Eastwood, shows death on a number of levels.  We see the death of Eastwood’s wife and his grieving process, and we see the death of his neighbor, and how a completely different Asian culture deals with loss.  The common ground in both parties having lost someone dear to them brings Eastwood and his neighbors together as they deal with the murder of someone in a quite unorthodox way; revenge.

Eastwood deals with death throughout the movie by isolating himself from everybody, including his family, and putting up a hard exterior.  He tries to maintain his independence by carrying on with life and continuing to do his jobs around the house and around town.  While Eastwood looks to be okay on the outside it is evident that on the inside he is in a lot of pain.  His wife was the only person Eastwood really cared for, and now that she is gone, he only has his dog and an ungrateful family.  He does a good job of trying to hide it, but Eastwood shows signs of loneliness and pain.

The local priest tries to get Eastwood to open up and talk about the death of his wife in the movie, but he bottles everything up.  He will not talk about the tragedy and instead becomes very defensive.  This is one very common coping mechanism that I have seen a good deal.  He shuts his emotions off and swallows the pain, never speaking of his wife to anybody.

When Eastwood’s neighbor is gunned down by gang members, all the hate he has for the Asian family dissolves.  He can feel their pain and can empathize with them.  While the two parties have no common ground, death is what brings them together.  Eastwood can see the agony in his neighbors and exacts a plan to get revenge; partly for his neighbors, and partly to let go of the pain surrounding the loss of his wife.  Eastwood leaves his dog, the only thing he has any emotional attachment to, with his neighbors and goes off to get his revenge.  Eastwood shows up without a gun, hoping only to scare the violent gang members who committed the murder, fully knowing they would have guns.  When Eastwood reaches into his pocket, he is ultimately shot and killed.  Eastwood went into the altercation knowing he might not make it out alive and prepared himself to pass on.  He has come to terms with the death of his wife and has accepted what happened.  It seems that at the end of the movie, Eastwood died peacefully, though violently.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Any other theories?

Who’s dyin’ now?

So I thought last year was pretty crazy with celebrity deaths. We had Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, Farah Fawcett, and Brittany Murphy. This year, though, we’ve seen four celebrity deaths in the month of May alone. First Ronnie James Dio passed away, then Brittany Murphy‘s husband died, then Paul Gray (bass player for Slipknot) was found dead, and today Gary Coleman unfortunately died. What’s going on here? Is death on a mission to kill off a random batch of celebrities each summer? It kinda sucks, to say the least. Whoever said deaths come in threes was wrong this time, we’ve just seen four and summer is barely here yet. Who’s next? When I found out that Dio and Paul Gray were dead, I honestly thought Bret Michaels would be the third person and that it would be a threesome of metal deaths. I mean, Bret has been in and out of the hospital a lot recently. For the record, I am glad he isn’t dead. Let’s keep it that way, yes?

Speaking of death, what do you guys make of assisted suicide?  Random, I know, but it was a topic that was covered in my death and dying class last week. I have mixed feelings about the topic. I mean, if someone has grown old and sick and has a terminal illness, do they have the right to be able to say they don’t want to live any more? If someone’s life has no value any more and they are only going to live out the rest of their days in pain and suffering, then I think they should be able to have the right to be euthanized, assuming they know both ends of the argument for and against and have consulted their loved ones thoroughly. I don’t think just anybody should be entitled to euthanasia, though. There should be parameters. I.e. terminal illness with no hope for a cure, no value of life, constant pain and suffering, things like that. I’m no expert, that’s just my opinion. Assisted suicide is legal in Oregon and in regions of Europe like the Netherlands, but should it be legal elsewhere? Yes? No? Maybe so? What do you think?

It’s not ironic, it’s obvious

Posted in Entertainment,Music by Tom on February 22, 2010
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Man. So. I have to say, while this week is definitely as stressful as I knew it would be, I haven’t been that stressed yet. Keyword: yet. I know I still have so much to get done but I’m surprisingly chill about it. I don’t know whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. We shall see in time, I suppose.

So it turns out I have to write a paper in the coming week on the role the media takes as the scapegoat to everything. Whenever someone kills someone or does something socially unacceptable, everyone blames the music they listen to, the movies that are popular at the time, video games, and everything. While some of the time this may be the case, I refuse to believe the media is to blame as much as people argue. If you have a different opinion, that’s cool. You can comment me and express your opinion, tell me I’m wrong, whatever, but my opinion on this matter is set in stone and will never change. The media, specifically music, is an easy target and anyone can point their finger without any viable evidence. How about we start looking at people’s psychological and sociological health before attacking the music they listen to? I listen to everything, even Norwegian black metal. Yes, I know this genre actually does have some legit responsibility for violent acts and vandalism. I manage to listen to Norwegian black metal bands, though, and still go to church on Sunday morning without having any ounce of desire to burn it down. You may say that’s hypocritical, but I may say you’re wrong. Just because somebody listens to whatever genre of music, that doesn’t mean anything. What about all these pop songs about people in love with broken hearts? Should we start dehumanizing pop stars for leading heartbroken kids to suicide? If somebody has a pre-existing condition and claims the music made them do it then okay, I can meet you half way there but don’t just lash out at the closest, easiest thing you can. My argument probably isn’t as strong here as it was when I first started this entry but that’s because I’m distracted and way tired. It’s food for thought, nonetheless.

That’s all I have for now so, bye.