Category: Current events & conversation topics

What’s the appropriate punishment?

Teachers at a bar playing a game where they would list 3 colleagues (not students) and choose one to kill, one to marry, and one to sleep with.

Here’s an article with more info.

The debate among my friends seems to be whether or not the teachers should be fired (nearly everyone I have spoken with agrees the teachers should be punished).

Domestic violence discussion

Here’s a potentially interesting discussion topic. I’d suggest asking students if they would expect similar or different reactions in their hometown. The video shows two scenes in the UK – one where a man grabs a woman and one where a woman is the aggressor.

On a related note, I sometimes did a roleplay with my students based on a scene from season 1 of Lost – the scene where the Korean woman is wearing a bikini and the husband is working too hard to get her to cover up. The Korean husband ends up knocking his wife over and an American intervenes. The American punches the Korean guy only to be slapped by the Korean woman. I felt that scene would lead to an interesting discussion of domestic violence in different cultures and made for a good 3 person roleplay.

Punish the zoo? the animals? the mother? noone?

Sad story here, with a few topics causing some controversy in America on this election night. In the next days it might make for a decent discussion topic in language classes. It is a gruesome topic – a young boy’s parents watched their son be killed by wild dogs.

The boy’s mother had picked him up and put him on top of a railing at the edge of a viewing deck late Sunday morning when he lost his balance and fell, said Barbara Baker, CEO and president of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. There was a safety net below the railing, but it failed to catch him and the boy dropped more than 10 feet into the enclosure, she said. The child did not die from the fall. The child was mauled by the dogs.

Blame the mom: According to the article, the railing was four foot high and sloped inward so that anyone perching on it would likely fall back to the observation deck. The mother had to actively defeat safety mechanisms. Personally, I think she should face child endangerment charges.

Blame everyone nearby: How no one jumped in is beyond me. I would have been right behind my son. Or anyone’s son. I couldn’t live with myself if I was a bystander and just stood there as the kid fell in and got mauled. Such a tragic incident. The kid’s father wasn’t right there but the mother and the other people around didn’t want to help the kid?

Blame the zoo (and the mother): I’m just saying that the zoo’s precautions failed. They didn’t fail because someone went to extraordinary, unforeseeable means to avoid them. They did something stupid. Again I’m just saying that in my opinion, the zoo will be found to have had a share In the liability. They will settle and build a better barrier.

Defend the zoo: In my mind, you enter a zoo knowing there are dangerous animals there. If somebody wants to vault over an enclosure, so it be the zoo’s right to stop them? If somebody wants to dangle a child over an open area surrounded by wild dogs, should the zoo be the one preventing that? My take is the same in these matters. Unless a structural failure caused the problem or an animal got wild into an unenclosed area and tore somebody to shreds, the zoo took reasonable precautions. Why should the zoo be on the hook because somebody decided to dangle their child? Why should the zoo be held liable for somebody violated the safety measures? I hate when everyone becomes at fault when really there’s just one person at fault – the parent.

Interesting look at American culture / attitudes toward European royal

This article, and especially its comments, are great insight into American cultural values.

A brawl at a Manhattan nightclub over the weekend ended with Monaco’s Prince Pierre Casiraghi in the hospital and a New York man facing assault charges.

The incident occurred around 2 a.m. Saturday at the Double Seven Nightclub, when according to police 24-year-old Casiraghi, the grandson of Grace Kelly, got into a confrontation with 47-year-old Adam Hock, a former nightclub owner.

Casiraghi reportedly approached Hock, leading to a physical confrontation. Hock, who according to the New York Post was sitting with friends including supermodels Natasha Poly, Valentina Zalyaeva and Anja Rubik, allegedly punched Casigraghi and three friends who came to his aid.

“Pierre’s face looked broken, with deep cuts and blood everywhere,” a witness told the New York Post. “He looked like he needed plastic surgery.”

Hock was arrested and charged with four counts of third-degree assault.

What do Americans have to say about the incident?

You and 3 of your bodyguards got beat up by one 47 year old man?!? Next time you come to New York, bring some people that can protect your sorry tail if you’re gonna approach people in night clubs at 2am and try to talk crap.

362 approve, 20 don’t

An example of small fish inside a pool of shark. New Yorkers don’t care if you’re a prince or king. Self defense is self defense.

268 approve, 27 don’t

Haha. Goodnight, sweet prince. Life is different outside the castle there sweety! You should go back to harassing maids and bossing around butlers back in Monaco. There you can be a big man, in that tiny little portion of the world where they are paid to act like they respect you.

13 like, 0 don’t

Welcome to America prince where royalty has not meant #$%$ since 1776!

736 like, 54 don’t

According to the Newser website, the Prince and his buddies walked up to Hock’s table and were obnoxious to the models he was with; they also started stealing shots from the $500.00 bottle of Vodka on the table. In other words, a group of rich young twerps tried to pick up some hot chicks who were having dinner with a friend, acted like idiotic morons, and were schooled by their elder. Here’s to hoping Mr. Hock wins the case.

84 like, 2 don’t

Lesbian discrimination or religious persecution?

Interesting story here that might be used in discussion classes. Seems a religious B&B owner was uncomfortable letting a lesbian couple sleep in her establishment and told them she didn’t want them as customers.

The debate is fairly evenly mixed in the US:

The lesbian couple has a right not to be discriminated against but the B&B owner has the right to practice her religion. And it’s not like the B&B is a big hotel chain – we’re talking about someone’s house. But then again, the law says if you run a B&B or a hotel you can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Should the religious B&B owner be forced to shut down? Should she be forced to accommodate gays and lesbians even though she thinks it’s immoral? Should she be forced to pay damages to the lesbian couple (they want money for the humiliation they say they felt)?

Or is this religious persecution? Does the government really have the right to tell this woman that she must allow gays and lesbians into her B&B?

Arrest a couple with a young child for shoplifting?

Big news in America at the moment that could be an interesting discussion topic:

A pregnant woman, her husband, and their 3-year-old go grocery shopping. While shopping they grab two sandwiches that together cost $5. She openly munched on one while they shopped, saving the wrapper to be scanned at the register later.

But they forgot to pay for the sandwiches as they checked out with about $50 worth of groceries. The security guard caught them and instead of allowing the parents to pay, Safeway management called the police. The couple was arrested for shoplifting (apparently it took four hours for the police to respond so I presume the family was detained by Safeway employees during that time) and with both parents in police custody, the 3-year-old had to go to a state facility.

Did Safeway do evil here? Or did the couple just get what they deserved for breaking the law? Do we say, ‘OK if you have kids and shoplift you don’t get in any trouble, but if you shoplift without kids, you get arrested’ ? Do we treat everyone the same? If we treat everyone equally, does that mean every shoplifter gets arrested or every shoplifter pays for what they stole and avoids trouble entirely?

Mississippi judge throws man with fun hair out of court

This might lead to an interesting discussion on what kind of clothes, hairstyles, and behavior should be allowed in court.