Sometimes I come across stories and articles I find so absurd that I wonder if they’re true. Unfortunately, this one is. Read for yourself and tell me what you think.
Feds fund study on health risks of looking at Confederate flag
The U.S. government is funding research to show that Confederate symbols prompt a negative physiological response in black people, information some believe will be helpful in lawsuits aimed at removing them.
Jackson State University received $420,000 in grant funds, some from the National Science Foundation, to delve deeper into the physiological responses of black people to Confederate imagery after initial research allegedly revealed negative reactions, the Jackson Free Press reports.
Political science professor D’Andra Orey concocted a study that blends biology and politics by measuring the heart rate of participants, and how much they sweat, when shown different images like a t-shirt with the Confederate flag, or the Mississippi state flag that contains the Confederate flag. The reactions are compared to responses to “happy images” like penguins or exposure to blank images, and an initial pilot study of black faculty and students at JSU allegedly showed the Confederate images produce a negative physical reaction.
“When you see the flag, and you start sweating, that fits with the sympathetic nervous system,” Orey said. “When people have a negative response to these particular images, that means that it impacts them negatively, which is physiologically.”
Most recently, Grenada-based attorney Carlos Moore sued Gov. Phil Bryant over the Mississippi State Flag, claiming it is both unconstitutional and negatively impacted his health by raising his blood pressure. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves threw out the case, but Moore appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Free Press reports.
The lawsuit was dismissed mostly because Moore could not prove harm from the flag, but Orey’s research could change that.
“We’re actually trying to see if this negative physiological response can be measured into an injury or can be captured as an injury,” he said. “They can say it bothers them, and then it doesn’t register in their physiological response while others (can) say, ‘it doesn’t bother me, I’m immune to it … but I get (physiologically) pissed off every time I see it,” Orey said.
In Moore’s case, Judge Reeves ruled that he did now show a “cognizable legal injury” as a result of viewing the state flag, but acknowledged ties between the Confederate battle flag symbol and the state’s history of slavery. The ruling makes it clear that regardless of whether the flag makes Moore uncomfortable, there’s no constitutional protections for anxiety from state symbols.
“Moore’s arguments are phrased as constitutional claims, yet his allegations of physical injuries suggest that he is making an emotional distress tort claim,” Judge Reeves wrote. “To succeed in constitutional litigation, however, Moore needs to identify that part of the Constitution which guarantees a legal right to be free from anxiety at State displays of historical racism. There is none.”
(Article courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter, Sept. 23, 2016 ed.)