Thought it is time to take a glimpse into what Fentonites and neighbors are presenting to others in the world. For my advanced English students we use writings from the Fenton Patch and that other news publication in the town. It is good because the comments provide insight into American speech patterns. The discussions following the readings sometimes result in interesting observations and perspectives.
Drug users- I wrote about that subject previously in “Demand-Side Drugonomics.” Yes, judging from the news there are many drug users in the Fenton area. Confirming that is the news on October 5 noting that Fenton police found cocaine in a car during a traffic stop.
Americans are considered violent. The generalization is based on such things as troops in other countries, The United States being one of the largest arms dealers in the world, most of our aid to other countries is in the form of military aid and numerous shootings in the country at public areas and educational facilities. In the Fenton area the recent news showed a car bomb in Holly and a Police officer shot. Detroit and several other cities are shown by international statistics as more dangerous than Bogota. It was during preliminary voting that the video appeared in the Fenton Patch of a man yelling obscenities and physically accosting another man who was supposedly defacing signs. My students wondered why the aggressive person did not just call the police.
Speaking of politics, the students made a correlation between those commentors making aggressive statements and those who do not use their real names. Most often those expressing aggressive, rude verbal behavior hid behind handles. It was picked up by several students that these same people commenting under aliases were more likely to make subjective statements and then call them facts. Those who used their real names seemed to be more thoughtful in their comments my students judged. But all did agree that the rude behavior and name concealment gave less validity to the poster’s statement.
Chickens provided the biggest puzzlement and laughter. In most of the world people have chickens. I live in a city of eight million and even saw the fowl outside a six-story apartment building the other day. Research shows eggs from range fed chickens are considerably better for your health than production eggs. Several students thought it interesting that Fentonites can make loud noises with firecrackers, but then they complain about the possibility of hearing the crow of a rooster. It was noted that if we take the accidents from the news and the statistics from the Center for Disease Control for getting sick from chickens that Fentonites have a much higher chance of being involved in a car accident than getting sick from live chickens. And the recent article shows that buying your peanut butter at Walmart provides a better chance of getting residents sick than do chickens in the backyard. The feeling was that council members tended to focus only on the negative about urban chickens and not the positive. It was thought that they sought out and found only information to support only what their minds had already decided.
Chicken talk morphed into comments about what the Fenton City Council spends their time on. A single complaint about an ice rink and a single complaint about a few chickens and the council seemed to shift into high gear and make more laws while there are many complaints about too much government in people’s lives. Yet there are numerous complaints about the thousands of tax payer dollars spent on the Fenton Be Closer campaign and it just gets rubber stamped by the council.
I believe it was just a mix-up of words from a person learning English, but one student kept referring to it as the Fenton Chicken Council.
That Be Closer campaign conversation brought up a point from one student that a writer in the other news publication in town stated that the head of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) did not even live in Fenton. The following discussion led to a belief by all students that corruption is involved somewhere in the DDA and that campaign.
Before ending I asked for just a general one line sentence about Fentonites. It took some thought and discussion among them, but finally they decided upon something that I did not expect. “A small town trying to act like a big city with a few people controlling the many.”
We judge the news from other countries with eyes colored by the experience and culture that we know. So, as you judge other places in the world based upon the news, think about how you are viewed by others on this planet. I guarantee you that we are most often not seen as we see ourselves.