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  1. by Walker Carson Do your politics determine—or at least predict—your mental health? Recent research indicates that the answer is “yes.” A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology found a correlation between agreement with social justice mantras (colloquially referred to as “wokeness”) and depression, anxiety, and lack of happiness. As reported by the New York Post, researchers in Finland sent out an assessment to participants that measured symptoms of anxiety, depression, and happiness along with degrees of dedication to social justice ideas. After examining core tenets of intersectional feminism, critical race theory, postcolonialism, and queer theory, the study authors created a list of principles, which they called “Critical Social Justice Attitude Scale” (CSJAS). The initial CSJAS included statements such as these: “If white people have on average a higher level of income than black people, it is because of racism.” “University reading lists should include fewer white or European authors.” “Microaggressions should be challenged often and actively.” “If a white person doesn’t admit they are racist, they are still probably racist.” “Trans* women are women.” (* = born male but identifying as female) “A member of a privileged group can adopt features or cultural elements of a less privileged group.” (reverse scored) “The police are institutionally racist.” “The ideas of Karl Marx should not have more influence in national politics.” (reverse scored) “Other people or structures are more responsible for my well-being than I myself am.” “You should not say things that might offend an oppressed person.” According to the study, agreement with such statements was positively correlated with anxiety, depression, and unhappiness, though weakly. Overtly identifying as “woke” also paralleled with unhappiness: “Self-reporting as ‘woke’ … and [being supportive of] CSJAS items were strongly correlated (r = 0.62). … Self-reporting as woke was also correlated with depression, anxiety, and (lack of) happiness.” In a subsequent iteration of the study involving more participants (5,030 vs. 851 in the first study), the full list of woke statements was reduced to just seven items: “If white people have on average a higher level of income than black people, it is because of racism.” “University reading lists should include fewer white or European authors.” “Microaggressions* should be challenged often and actively. (* = verbal communication or act, which can be seen to reflect negative attitudes towards a minority group, regardless of original intent).” “Trans* women who compete with women in sports are not helping women’s rights.” (reverse scored; * = born male but identifying as female) “We don’t need to talk more about the color of people’s skin.” (reverse scored) “A white person cannot understand how a black person feels equally [as] well as another black person.” “A member of a privileged group can adopt features or cultural elements of a less privileged group.” (reverse scored) The results were substantially the same as in the first study. Agreement with the first item on the scale (“If white people have on average a higher level…”) displayed the largest positive correlation with anxiety and depression and negative correlation with happiness. The connection between negative mental health and these beliefs was the same or slightly weaker than the connection between mental health issues and being politically leftwing in general, according to the study. Interestingly, men were much more likely to reject statements in the CSJAS than women. According to Oskari Lahtinen, “Three out of five women view ‘woke’ ideas positively, but only one out of seven men.” So, what does all this mean? The findings are not conclusive, of course, since the correlations were weak and the study involved people from just one country, but they do provide a fascinating indication that social justice ideas in general bear some kind of relationship to unhappiness. What is the nature of that relationship, exactly? Here, we enter the realm of speculation. It’s unclear whether unhappiness leads people to embrace social justice ideas or whether social justice ideas engender unhappiness. Conservative commentator Matt Walsh argues that it’s a bit of both: “Wokeness attracts unhappy people, and it also makes people unhappy,” he says. Walsh points out that social justice, with its emphasis on victimhood and oppression, tends to remove human agency and responsibility from life. For those who adhere to such beliefs, this could create a feeling of losing control over one’s own life and future, which is the very essence of anxiety. Social justice is often predicated on the assumption that the world is inherently unjust. All of life, politics, culture, art, and religion boil down to a brutal battle for power, the oppressor subjugating the oppressed. A mentality that sees the world as unjust and a blind struggle for selfish ends can only breed sadness, anger, resentment, depression, and anxiety. How could it be otherwise? If you preoccupy yourself with negative thoughts, your mood will suffer. And what could be more negative than always sniffing out injuries and hidden matrices of oppression directed at oneself and others? Additionally, a person who is already unhappy will gravitate to a worldview that seems to justify and explain that unhappiness. If Jane carries some unhealed wounds inside, some feeling of having been injured in her life, it won’t be hard to convince her that all of human affairs turn on the axis of oppressor and oppressed, victimhood and exploitation. Any reputable psychologist would know that paranoia and victimhood complexes are unhealthy. What our culture today has done, however, is take those pathologies and institutionalize them, holding them up as the pinnacle of political, social, academic, and even moral/religious concerns. It is, quite literally, madness. Is it any wonder people are unhappy? **** Walker Larson teaches literature at a private academy in Wisconsin. He is the author of two novels, Hologram and Song of Spheres. When not in the classroom or spending time with family and friends, he blogs about literature and education on his Substack The Hazelnut. This content is shared and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  2. Public shaming can help uphold online community norms. bo feng/iStock via Getty Images by Jennifer Forestal, Loyola University Chicago “Cancel culture” has a bad reputation. There is growing anxiety over this practice of publicly shaming people online for violating social norms ranging from inappropriate jokes to controversial business practices. Online shaming can be a wildly disproportionate response that violates the privacy of the shamed while offering them no good way to defend themselves. These consequences lead some critics to claim that online shaming creates a “hate storm” that destroys lives and reputations, leaves targets with “permanent digital baggage” and threatens the fundamental right to publicly express yourself in a democracy. As a result, some scholars have declared that online shaming is a “moral wrong and social ill.” But is online public shaming necessarily negative? I’m a political scientist who studies the relationship between digital technologies and democracy. In my research, I show how public shaming can be a valuable tool for democratic accountability. However, it is more likely to provide these positive effects within a clearly defined community whose members have many overlapping connections. When shaming helps Public shaming is a “horizontal” form of social sanctioning, in which people hold one another responsible for violating social norms, rather than appealing to higher authorities to do so. This makes it especially useful in democratic societies, as well as in cases where the shamers face power imbalances or lack access to formal authorities that could hold the shamed accountable. For example, public shaming can be an effective strategy for challenging corporate power and behavior or maintaining journalistic norms in the face of plagiarism. By harnessing social pressure, public shaming can both motivate people to change their behavior and deter future violations by others. Public shaming has a long history. But public shaming generally needs to occur in a specific social context to have these positive effects. First, everyone involved must recognize shared social norms and the shamer’s authority to sanction violations of them. Second, the shamed must care about their reputation. And third, the shaming must be accompanied by the possibility of reintegration, allowing the shamed to atone and be welcomed back into the fold. This means that public shaming is more likely to deliver accountability in clearly defined communities where members have many overlapping connections, such as schools where all the parents know one another. In communal spaces where people frequently run into each other, like workplaces, it is more likely that they understand shared social norms and the obligations to follow them. In these environments, it is more likely that people care about what others think of them, and that they know how to apologize when needed so that they can be reintegrated in the community. Communities that connect Most online shamings, however, do not take place in this kind of positive social context. On the social platform X, previously known as Twitter, which hosts many high-profile public shamings, users generally lack many shared connections with one another. There is no singular “X community” with universally shared norms, so it is difficult for users to collectively sanction norm violations on the platform. Moreover, reintegration for targets of shamings on X is nearly impossible, since it is not clear to what community they should apologize, or how they should do so. It should not be surprising, then, that most highly publicized X shamings – like those of PR executive Justine Sacco, who was shamed for a racist tweet in 2013, and Amy Cooper, the “Central Park Karen” – tend to degenerate into campaigns of harassment and stigmatization. But just because X shamings often turn pathological does not mean all online shamings do. On Threadless, an online community and e-commerce site for artists and designers, users effectively use public shaming to police norms around intellectual property. Wikipedians’ use of public “reverts” – reversals of edits to entries – has helped enforce the encylopedia’s standards even with anonymous contributors. Likewise, Black Twitter has long used the practice of public shaming as an effective mechanism of accountability. What sets these cases apart is their community structure. Shamings in these contexts are more productive because they occur within clearly defined groups in which members have more shared connections. Acknowledging these differences in social context helps clarify why, for example, when a Reddit user was shamed by his subcommunity for posting an inappropriate photo, he accepted the rebuke, apologized and was welcomed back into the community. In contrast, those shamed on X often issue vague apologies before disengaging entirely. The scale and speed of social media can change the dynamics of public shaming when it occurs online. Crossing online borders There are still very real consequences of moving public shaming online. Unlike in most offline contexts, online shamings often play out on a massive scale that makes it more difficult for users to understand their connections with one another. Moreover, by creating opportunities to expand and overlap networks, the internet can blur community boundaries in ways that complicate the practice of public shaming and make it more likely to turn pathological. For example, although the Reddit user was reintegrated into his community, the shaming soon spread to other subreddits, as well as national news outlets, which ultimately led him to delete his Reddit account altogether. This example suggests that online public shaming is not straightforward. While shaming on X is rarely productive, the practice on other platforms, and in offline spaces characterized by clearly defined communities such as college campuses, can provide important public benefits. Shaming, like other practices of a healthy democracy, is a tool whose value depends on how it’s used. Jennifer Forestal is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
  3. For the second time in the past few weeks, an Elmira Police Officer was involved in a car crash while responding to a call. According to Elmira Police, on Sunday evening around 9:45 pm, Elmira Police conducted a traffic stop on Hoffman Street and Elizabeth Street in regards to a disturbance call that they were investigating. Other Elmira officers responding to this traffic stop to provide assistance, an Elmira Police officer was operating a marked patrol unit with the emergency lights and sirens activated. They came to a stop at the intersection of West Washington Avenue and Walnut Street heading westbound. A civilian vehicle heading south on Walnut St, failed to stop for the officer who had began to proceed through the intersection, and ultimately struck the patrol car. The civilian driver was not injured and the police officer was transported to a local hospital for minor injuries. The investigation into this incident is ongoing and any additional information will be made at a later time. Anyone who witnessed this incident or has video of the incident is encouraged to contact the Elmira Police Department at 607-737-5623.
  4. ALBANY — State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) today reminded area residents that the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) will conduct its annual “RecruitNY” campaign this weekend. “Recruit NY” is an annual public awareness initiative sponsored by FASNY to encourage the recruitment and retention of local volunteer firefighters and EMTs. This year’s RecruitNY campaign is scheduled for Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14. Throughout the weekend volunteer fire departments across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, and statewide, will conduct Open Houses and invite the public to learn more about becoming a volunteer firefighter. For a county-by-county list of fire departments locally and statewide currently scheduled to hold a RecruitNY Open House, visit FASNY’s website at https://www.recruitny.org/participants/. O’Mara said, "The challenge of recruiting volunteer firefighters and EMTs, especially in our rural, upstate communities, deserves all of the attention it gets. Keeping our corps of emergency services volunteers strong must be a statewide priority. Our volunteer fire departments have long been the foundation of public safety and security, and the center of community service and civic pride, and we can’t risk their decline. It’s a challenge that we need to keep working on and raising awareness about because in addition to the safety and well-being of our communities, the economic impact of volunteer emergency services is enormous. RecruitNY sounds the alarm and accomplishes these goals very effectively.” According to FASNY, the number of volunteer firefighters statewide declined from 140,000 in the early 1990s to less than 90,000 just a few years ago. Volunteer emergency medical technicians (EMTs) experienced a decline from more than 50,000 to 35,000 during the same period, with some rural counties experiencing as much as a 50-percent depletion of their EMT ranks. FASNY recently noted that they have lost 4,100 volunteers over the past two years and, this year, are calling on state legislators to increase the state’s income tax credit for volunteers from the current $200, which was set in 2006, to $800. O’Mara, together with local state Assemblymen Phil Palmesano (R, C,I-Corning) and Chris Friend (R,C,I-Big Flats) have long sponsored legislation known as the “Omnibus Emergency Services Volunteer Incentive Act,” to provide a series of tax and other incentives to help address the recruitment and retention challenge. They point to their legislation as part of ongoing state-level efforts by FASNY and others to keep drawing attention to a challenge that many believe poses a property tax crisis in waiting and other crises for many rural, upstate communities. A FASNY study, “Tax Savings and Economic Value of Volunteer Firefighters in New York,” found that the state’s 100,000 volunteer firefighters save taxpayers nearly $4 billion annually. Other specific findings included that: an additional 31,000 career firefighters would be necessary to convert to an all-paid service statewide; the annual cost of an all-career service would be $4.7 billion; there would be a one-time cost of $8.2 billion to acquire existing stations/structures, vehicles, and equipment -- approximately 1,300 stations would have to be built new or reconstructed; and property taxes statewide would rise an average of 28.4% statewide. The FASNY report noted, “New York State as a whole relies heavily on volunteer fire departments. Of its 1,795 municipal fire departments, 89% are volunteer. Volunteer firefighters are most prevalent in smaller, suburban, and rural communities that have a lesser tax base than larger towns and cities. That these communities rely on volunteers testifies to cost savings from volunteer departments, and conversion to paid departments would be a particular burden for these localities.”
  5. The track management team has been busy preparing for the 2024 season since the last checkered flag flew back in September. Ray and Ellen Hodge, promoters of the 3/8-mile paved oval, have made some exciting changes for the upcoming season. “First and foremost, we’ve had a solid relationship with Jim Bronson and his nearby business. He’s stepped up in a big way, so we’re now Chemung Speedrome Presented by Jim Bronson and Ferrario Auto Team of Sayre, PA,” Ray stated. Hodge is pleased with the level of support from area businesses. Three businesses are returning to sponsor divisions (Buckley’s Automotive Modifieds, Blauvelt Funeral Home Super Stocks, and Marion Decker Agency Hobby Stocks). This year they’ll be joined by a new sponsor for the Bandolero division, JRC Cleaning from Athens, PA. Many other businesses provide support in the form of billboard signage and/or sponsorship of race nights or products throughout the year. Race teams can get ready for the season with single car open practice on Friday, April 19 th from 1 PM until dark, or during a regular test and tune for all divisions on Saturday, April 20 th from 3 PM until 7 PM. Pit passes for each day are $10, with a $25 per car fee each day. Grandstand viewing is free to the public during those practice times. That all sets the stage for the season opener on Saturday, May 4 th . The opener, sponsored by Buckley’s Automotive, includes Modifieds, Super Stocks, Hobby Stocks, 4 Cylinders and Bandoleros. The grandstand opens at 1 PM, with racing beginning at 2 PM. Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors ages 65 and older, $5 for kids ages 6 to 12, and free for kids ages 5 and under. A year ago, TJ Potrzebowski won his second consecutive season opener over eventual 2-time track champion, Lee Sharpsteen in the Buckley’s Automotive Modifieds. The following weekend Chemung will also run on Saturday afternoon, with the first of four appearances by various divisions operating under the Race of Champions banner. This one, the first of two for the Modifieds, has the same 2 PM start and is $25 for adults, $22 for seniors 65+, $10 for ages 6-12 and free Austin Beers won the 75-lap event last year, in a race that became the first half of his ROC sweep at Chemung. Zane Zeiner finished second to Beers a year ago in this one. Racing switches back to Chemung’s regular Friday night schedule on May 17 th , with a regular show presented by returning sponsor Firehouse Subs. Another longtime supporter, Sam’s Bar & Grill presents Fan Appreciation Night with a Meet & Greet and regular show on Friday, May 24 th . Regular Friday shows will begin at 7 PM. “We’re looking forward to kicking off the season, and this year we reverted back to building in an off week each month for the racers,” Hodge explained. Those off nights are May31 st , June 21st , July 12 th , and August 16th also looking forward to 2 ROC Modified shows and 2 for their Sportsman division this year.” Once again, the track expects newcomers in each class. The Bandolero division continues to serve as a launching point for many drivers. Over the winter the Sinsabaugh and Gullo families were busy preparing a Modified for former champ Chase, and a Hobby Stock for last year’s champ Devin. Several others are moving on up, something the fans appreciate seeing as well. Anyone seeking more information on operations or track sponsorship can contact Ray Hodge (607-483- 3468). or Jerry Sinsabaugh (607-738-8829. Current information is always on the track’s official Facebook page (Chemung Speedrome – Racing at the Drome) or website (www.chemung-speedrome.com). This report was submitted to us by Carol Houssock
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  7. Two men were arrested after a complaint that they were threatening people in the neighborhood with weapons. On Tuesday at approximately 6:48pm Elmira Police responded to the area of the 1000 block of N Main St for a report of a man threatening people with a firearm, while in the company of another male who was threatening people with a knife. Upon arrival, Elmira Police Officers located a male who matched the description of the suspect with the knife standing outside of a residence and he was taken into custody without incident. Officers quickly were able to ascertain the identity of the other male who was reported to be in possession of the firearms. At this time, the second suspect was observed in an open window of the second floor of a residence in the area. Due to the weapons concerns, Elmira Police Officers closed traffic in the surrounding areas and were able to verbally contact the suspect, who ultimately surrendered to police after approximately after approximately forty minutes. Elmira Police Department executed a search warrant at the residence and recovered multiple firearms and large quantities of ammunition. The firearms described to responding officers that the suspect had pointed at neighbors, prompting the original call to police were among the firearms recovered. As a result of the investigation, the Elmira Police Department has charged 45 year old Benjamin J Luisi of Elmira, with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 2nd degree, a Class C Felony. Additionally, Elmira Police charged 33 year old David P Haynes of Elmira with Menacing in the 2nd degree, a class A Misdemeanor. Both men were held at the Elmira Police Department pending arraignment in Elmira City Court today. This investigation is ongoing and additional charges are pending related to this incident. The Elmira Police Department would like to thank the New York State Police, Chemung County Sheriffs Office and West Elmira Police Department for their assistance in this matter.
  8. Source Take note: This was published in 2022. Do you think it's an accurate assessment, or perhaps even more accurate now than it was in 2022?
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