Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering sophomore and Mustang News conservative columnist. | Ian Billings/Mustang News

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“As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to respect these freedoms and equalities, acknowledging how lucky I am to have been born in the United States. But I’ve also come to question, is equality really equal?”

Eric Stubben

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Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering sophomore and Mustang News conservative columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.

Equality is defined as an equal balance between all parts. Freedom is the ability to do something with little or no restrictions.

In America, we are lucky. Our Constitution provides us freedoms of press, speech, religion and assembly, just to name a few. Employers offer equal opportunity, giving people from any economic status, race, age or ethnicity the opportunity to have employment.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to respect these freedoms and equalities, acknowledging how lucky I am to have been born in the United States. But I’ve also come to question, is equality really equal?

Take, for example, freedom of speech about gay rights. In the last year, multiple prominent Americans made remarks and stated their opinions against gay marriage, including Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. What followed wasn’t a respect for their freedom of speech, their honesty or their opinion. What followed was, in fact, the opposite. A&E banned Phil Robertson from his own show, gay activists were championed for holding “kiss-ins” at Chick-Fil-A locations and Adrian Peterson was ripped by his own teammate, Chris Kluwe.

How does that compare to the reaction of the media and federal government when prominent stars come out as gay? Of course, the reaction is completely opposite. When NBA player Jason Collins, NFL prospect Michael Sam and television personality Robin Roberts came out, they were hailed as “heroes” to the world and championed for their courage and honesty.

That “equality” doesn’t seem so equal.

Unequal equality can be expressed in other parts of free speech as well. Remember when Cal Poly students were criticized for throwing a party with the theme “Colonial Bros and Nava-hos?” I always found it interesting that nobody cared our colonials, or founding fathers, were portrayed as “bros.” A “bro,” typically stereotyped as an alcohol-thirsty, sex-craving male, seems like an illegitimate comparison to our founding fathers. Cal Poly held an entire forum to discuss the hardships of Native Americans and how the party set them back. I guess when creating our country, our colonials never faced any hardships — say, fighting a revolution.

That “equality” doesn’t seem so equal.

When a Cal Poly professor writes that Osama Bin Laden was a “freedom fighter,” our administration doesn’t even acknowledge it. The same person that was responsible for leading al Qaeda and for thousands of American deaths is allowed to be called a freedom fighter on our campus. Fair enough, it’s protected by freedom of speech. But what if that was reversed? What if the professor called Islam a violent religion? It’s very unlikely that he could get away with imposing a negative stigma on a minority group, especially with groups like the ACLU searching for racism on college campuses.

That “equality” doesn’t seem so equal.

But the treatment of religion in our country brings me to another point: American freedom of religion. Constitutionally, we are given the freedom to practice whatever religion we want (or choose not to), carry out its beliefs and spread its word. However, our government is putting that choice in jeopardy. With the new mandate forcing employers to insure contraception, companies such as Hobby Lobby are forced to violate their Catholic religious convictions. Forcing somebody to forgo religious convictions at the hands of the government is certainly not a freedom.

The most obvious state of inequality is seen within diversity. As far as examples go, the possibilities are endless. First, I’ll throw it back to the Trayvon Martin vs. George Zimmerman trial. How could anyone forget Trayvon Martin? The trial was framed as a classic case of white racism, killing a black teen for no reason. It seemed like the only thing that media and government didn’t cover were the facts. We didn’t hear that in the 2000s, nearly twice as many whites were killed by African-Americans than the number of African-Americans killed by whites. If the races in the Zimmerman-Martin trial were reversed, it almost certainly wouldn’t have been on the national stage.

And if we look at scholarships in education, it would be a lie to call those equal as well. It always seemed racist to me that it was okay to have a scholarship apply to one race only. Yet scholarships are consistently offered to different minority groups, without the inclusivity of other races. However, if somebody put out a “whites only” scholarship, it’s deemed racist and illegitimate.

That “equality” doesn’t seem so equal.

But in terms of covering all of this inequality and restricted freedom, we’re failing there, too. In a recent poll from Reporters Without Borders, the United States fell to 46th in terms of freedom of the press. New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson even called today’s White House “the most secretive White House that [she has] ever been involved in covering.”

As a society, we’d be ignorant to believe all types of discrimination will ever go away. As unfortunate as it is, it’s just human nature. We’d also be foolish to believe freedom without any restrictions is fair; we need some laws. But calling things equal when they are not is just beating around a problem, not fixing anything.

Don’t forget at one point, people called segregation equal, too. It seems like “equal” is just a word to describe blatant qualities of inequality.

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