Psychic Numbing

by Barbara Mola

“Why do we ignore mass atrocities?” asks Brian Resnick, a writer at It’s a hard question to ask, but an honest one.
Political psychologist Paul Slovic makes sense of this inquiry with an astute metaphor: the difference between $0 and $100 feels much greater than the difference between $100 and $200, or even $300 and $400. Likewise, $5,800 and $5,900 feel pretty much the same, even though there is still a $100 difference. The initial $100 difference feels much more significant, and as the dollar value increases, this difference seems only to minimize. Of course, this metaphor seems harmless until it is applied to human lives–then, the result is chilling.
Time for a new question: Does the value of a single human life decrease as the size of a tragedy increases?
The answer to that question, unfortunately, is yes. Psychic numbing is the stark truth that as the number of victims in a tragedy increases, our empathy and willingness to aid them sharply decreases. It is much simpler to empathize with an individual, but nearly impossible to extend that sympathy towards the plural.
Genocide seems to be synonymous with psychic numbing. Nazi Germany, Armenia, Rwanda, Ukraine, and Cambodia are just a few of the many genocides that occurred during the 20th century. Genocides typically mark the systematic murders of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. And yet, all genocides are marked by the public’s apathy and inaction in response to the tragedy. When these atrocities finally do end, it is usually too late. Moreover, psychic numbing is a present problem just as much as it was in the past. Today, there are about 65.3 million refugees around the world, the most in all of human history. In America alone, 33,000 people have been killed as a result of the opioid epidemic in 2015. Millions have died in war and genocide in Darfur. Billions look on as these atrocities occur, and billions do nothing.
Even on a somewhat smaller scale, hundreds of thousands are still reeling from the effects of recent hurricanes, and yet their struggle has faded to background noise. Families are still devastated by the Las Vegas mass shooting, and yet that story made its way out of the newsfeed in about two weeks.
In many ways, we cannot help the way we are built. In all of these tragedies, people become numbers, and numbers mean nothing. It is the unfortunate truth that when we see numbers we do not see a human life, pulsing and vivid and vibrant as ours.
Is there a solution to psychic numbing? No, but there is a comparatively mild remedy. We need to start to care. Not in a passive, “aw, that sucks” kind of way, but in a tangible, deliberate sort of way, marked by real actions rather than simple words. This is easier said than done, of course, but it is possible. We must focus on the individuals of a tragedy if we wish to help the whole. Progress will be slow, often moving at a seemingly glacial pace, but it will still be progress all the same. Instead of fearing our inability to make change, we must fear our own indifference.


Letter from the Editor

Hello, and welcome to our first issue of the 2017-18 school year! In this issue you will find interviews with new teachers, political satire and political analysis, pop-culture reviews, and as always, a small snapshot of the achievements of students at Ridgewood High School.
This month, our cover art comes from the graphic artist NotKayChan. This creative Tumblr user employs stunning graphic art with vibrant watercolors.
After you are done reading our physical issue of The Rebellion, make sure to head over to our website,, where you will find even more outstanding content.
And of course, thank you to our talented writers, editors, and advisor, Mr. Lippstreuer, for making this issue possible!

Interview with Mr. DiCristofano

by James Lakosky

1. Do you believe in any conspiracy theories?
I would say for the most part no, but I’m open to new conspiracy
theories if anyone’s willing to tell me them–but I do believe in

2. What are your hobbies?
I like to skateboard, been skating for ten years now. I like
to go to skateparks around the area. I also like to play music, and used
to be in a band in high school. I like to play rock, folk, and
occasional jazz.

3. Have you ever participated in a protest?
Not that I know of.

4. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
When I start talking and forget where my conversation is
going, like “oh man, I just forgot where this is going.” I just don’t
like when people are on their phones, and society is getting away from

5. Do you enjoy teaching?
Absolutely, for the most part I like working with a lot of
different kids. It’s interesting, and this is a job that
allows me to work with a lot of different personalities.

6. What’s your favorite food?
I feel like I should put something Italian or I’m gonna be
killed, but my favorite is corn beef and mashed potatoes.

7. Favorite TV shows/movies?
Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Westworld. Big fans of
all those. Also, How It’s Made.

8. Favorite genre of music?
Oh man this is tough, but I would say older folk music from the
sixties, like Bob Dylan. I’m into a lot of things and there’s very
little I don’t like.

9. Favorite pun?
Mr. D is struggling and googling puns. How do you throw a space
party? You planet. . .

10. Do you have any family in town?
I have a great uncle who lives right by Divine Savior, who is my grandma’s brother; he still lives in town. My uncles don’t live in Norridge but they used to. I used to have more family but they moved back to Italy. And no, I’m not related to the dentists on Montrose.

Shawn Mendes: Illuminate World Tour

by Katherin Barnas

Minutes. That is how long it takes a celebrity like Shawn Mendes to sell out a show. Thousands of dedicated fans wait months or even years to get a chance at seeing Shawn live, or even better–in person while meeting him(delete). Illuminate is Shawn’s second album following Handwritten, containing hits like “Treat You Better” which reached the top 10 in the Billboard Hot 100. The tour started in March of 2017 and is ending in December, with a total of 60 shows and over 600,000 people attending.
But Shawn Mendes was not always such a teenage heartthrob; just four years ago he was a normal teen singing covers on Vine and YouTube. One day, he posted a 6 second cover of Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me” on Vine and the next morning he woke up to thousands of views. From there his popularity just rose, as he eventually toured with Magcon and signed his first record deal with Island Records in May of 2014.
I had the privilege to watch him live on August 3, 2017 during his show at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. I consider myself a very big and dedicated fan–maybe even a little too obsessed. There were three available V.I.P packages and I bought the silver package, which included a Q&A with Shawn and early access to the show. One of my best friends and I bought the tickets back in early 2017 and we had been counting down the days ever since. We waited and waited and waited some more, until the day before the concert finally hit, when we could not be more excited. We couldn’t go to sleep because of eagerness and nerves, and before we knew it, it was the day of the concert. The show was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. but we were ready and out the door by 9 a.m. Crazy, right? As we arrived we saw other girls waiting by the fence trying to catch a glimpse of him, but minutes and hours went by without Shawn’s arrival. Then, at 11:28 a.m., we all saw a tour bus pull up and it was him! After that moment, I did not care that my feet hurt and that it was hot and humid; all that mattered was that I had just seen my idol in person. At 3 p.m. the Q&A with Shawn started and it was an amazing way to get to know him on a more personal level.
Charlie Puth opened the concert with an astounding performance, and then it was finally time for Shawn’s performance. The second he stepped on stage, it felt unreal. He opened the concert with his hit “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” with every girl screaming and singing along. With every song he sang, everyone could feel the emotion he poured into his music. Each song was able to make us cry or put us in our feels. By the end of the night I couldn’t feel my feet, I had lost my voice, and was in complete shock and awe over what had just happened. One thing was for sure–it was a night to remember. Throughout the day I had met some great girls, whom I still talk to today, and experienced something that everyone should at least once in their lifetime.

Free Speech

by Lucia Ruffolo

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (Constitution of the United States of America, 1789). The First Amendment is an important and distinct right Americans can boast about, be proud of, and celebrate. It is the very first amendment that appears in the Constitution–an aspect that makes America, America, even more so than fast food. The First Amendment is the very essence of our patriotism, our pride, and drives(delete) our pursuit of happiness. It was a national achievement that could be celebrated by anyone, even those who do not always agree on everything–or so it was thought. In recent years, specifically in 2016 and 2017, how can we decipher what “free speech” really entails?
To begin with, it is a well-known fact that “free speech” never really meant all speech. There are certain elements that fall into the category of speech that are not protected, including obscenity, threats, perjury, libel and slander, blackmail, child pornography, etc. Some of these elements are more well-defined than others, while some are slightly related. For instance, hate speech and censorship are constantly being questioned, defined, praised, or challenged by Americans daily. The issue of free speech and expression has been especially prevalent at college campuses. Political and social figures are invited on campuses to speak on specific issues or attend and speak at various events. In regards to inviting speakers that have certain political or social views, it may be controversial, unpopular and even considered harmful to students. This has led college students and school administrators to re-question and examine the rights granted by the First Amendment.
Famous conservative/libertarian speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Shapiro, Ann Coulter, Charles Murray, and Gavin McInnes have either been heavily discouraged from speaking or been met with extreme protesting and/or rioting. The arguments for forbidding these individuals from speaking at college campuses is that they incite violence and hateful opinions regarding minorities, and therefore should be banned from speaking. This view coincides with the creation of “safe-spaces”, an environment created for college students in which theoretically a person or category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm. Some argue that safe-spaces are beneficial; the Northwestern University president claims that “the best hope we have of creating an inclusive community is to first create spaces where members of each group feel safe.” Others, including the University of Chicago, claim that safe spaces shelter kids from reality and shield them from opposing political views. According to a 2016 Gallup Poll, 72 percent of college students believe that colleges should not be allowed to filter out certain political ideas or expressions. Even former President Obama has said that college is a time to expand students’ horizons and listen to people who they do not necessarily agree with. In the legal sense, colleges are permitted to turn away uninvited speakers from their campuses. However, if the speaker is invited by a club or other audience, the college has a responsibility to not interfere. It is also unconstitutional to ban certain speech just because some may find it offensive. A main instigator and challenger to free speech is Antifa, short for Anti-fascism, which is ironically fascist in their ways of fighting against “fascism”. Antifa members, known for their extreme far-left ideologies, often become violent–kicking, spitting, punching, and pepper-spraying people who they believe are champions of fascism, racism, and sexism, even if the view presented does not necessarily correlate with those things. While particular speakers may see some issues and the world itself differently than the members of this group, it is not fair to presumptuously assume that they must be hateful.
Another proponent of free-speech that has received speculation is the banning of certain books from libraries for inappropriate content. Some challenged books include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (for being “racially insensitive”), Catcher In The Rye ( for being “foul and negative”), and Beloved (for containing violent and sexual content). These books have been considered literary masterpieces for their reflections on the cultures of the time periods during which they were written. The thought of “banning” these important works of fiction is a hard concept for many to swallow, as the choice of banning a book based on a dislike of its content is ludicrous. Past court cases, like the 1982 case of Board of Education v. Pico, ruled in favor of the First Amendment, stating that the right to read is included within this amendment, and consequently a school cannot ban a book simply because it dislikes its content. Despite these past rulings, book banning still occurs (though not too frequently), often going unnoticed. Whether the reason is for containing violence, sexual content, homosexuality, or for being politically incorrect, books often find themselves quietly removed from a library’s shelf. It is estimated that for every book challenge that is reported, up to four or five books challenged go unreported.
Whether it is banning certain speakers or banning certain books, these problems regarding free speech are important issues that do affect the future of America. How can we work towards agreements and compromise if we refuse to allow everyone to share their opinions? How can we let our children’s minds expand and grow if we bar them from reading certain novels? The more that people refuse to leave their black and white world, the more that change will become less and less likely. However, the more we consider other people’s point of views, even the ones we strongly disagree with, the faster we can create a rich, diverse, and productive society that reflects an America we can love and be proud of.

How Trump vs Kim Jong-un turned into a boxing match

by Hubert Pach


Just as tensions have grown higher every day in the nuclear tension between the United States and North Korea, their respective leaders have battled with something just as dangerous: words. Since long before the Trump administration, North Korea has been building up its nuclear arsenal and conducted several tests, but the country, once mocked for its empty threats, seems to be closer to being able to carry them out.
President Trump had an important choice early in his presidency: either to fight North Korea with diplomacy and sanctions or to severely anger Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un on his Twitter feed. Obviously, as any rational leader would do, he took the latter option and barraged North Korea with threats of “fire and fury.” More recently, he has mocked Kim Jong-un by calling him “Rocket Man.” Insiders in the White House said he looked “very smug” after coming up with the nickname and apparently saw Trump repeat it to himself in the mirror with “a huge grin.”
North Korea responded with the rhetoric of an aggressive teenager going through a poetry phase, saying Trump had “lit the wick of war.” To counter his humiliating nickname, Kim Jong-un dubbed Trump a “dotard.” There were many insults and threats in addition to these, but the young North Korean leader was surely not expecting what came next.
On October 1st at 4:32 pm CST (at which time Trump was apparently in a “very important meeting”), @realDonaldTrump tweeted out “Enough words, Rocket Man. Let’s box.” The tweet was accompanied by a picture of the president wearing his boxing gloves. Minutes later, this tweet was the most trending topic in every news outlet, classroom, coffee shop, and dinner table. A poll later in the day said that 100% of Americans would be in favor of such a fight.
Two days later, the North Korean press secretary released a statement that both governments had reached an agreement for both their leaders to fight a full 12-round regulation match in Pyongyang on Christmas Day of this year. According to records, Rocket Man v. Dotard is the most anticipated fight in world history. The tickets, the least expensive of which were back row seats worth one hundred thousand dollars, were sold in less than a minute.
Many say this sporting event will bring back the spirit of Christmas, while others worry it will distract from the holiday’s meaning. One thing is for certain, however: the true present this year will be the honest and incredible diplomacy that these two leaders represent.

Interview with Mrs. Anderson

by Caroline Lipski and Olivia Kolpec


Q: What sparked your interest in becoming a physical education/adapted P.E. teacher?

A: In middle school, I had this really awesome teacher that inspired me to also become a gym teacher. As for adapted P.E., I had to fill in space for college classes and so I took an adapted P.E. class. It was a by chance thing, but it turned out that I really liked it and wanted to keep doing it.

Q: What are three words you can use to describe yourself?

A: Competitive, shy, and empathetic.

Q: What is your favorite color and why?

A: Royal blue—I always liked the color blue. It was also the color of my bridesmaids’ dresses at my wedding. And of course because the Cubbies sport blue as well.

Q: What is your favorite part about physical education? Adapted P.E.?

A: I love having a job where every day is different, especially with high school students, because it’s always exciting. In general, I love helping students and knowing I made a difference in some way or another. At the end of the day, I feel good about what I do and to me this is very important.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

A: My daughter Emily. I want to be successful for her, so she can look up to me one day and be proud of what I have accomplished.

Top 5 Underrated Movies Made In The Past Decade

by Maddi Polley


“We Are The Best!” (2013) NR Dir. Lukas Moodysson
(Swedish, subtitled in English.)

Three young and rebellious girls named Bobo, Klara and Hedvig form an all girl punk band at their local community center in early 1980’s Stockholm. DELETE
“How To Follow Strangers” (2013) PG-13 Dir. Chioke Nassor

Casey fakes his disappearance after becoming obsessed with a recent tragedy, which sparks the interest of a woman named Eleanor whom he meets on the subways of New York.
“The Summer of Sangailė” (2015) NR Dir. Alante Kavaite
(Lithuanian, subtitled in English)

A teen who is spending her summer at her family’s lake house becomes infatuated with a girl interested in fashion who works at the local canteen. DELETE
“Asthma” (2014) R Dir. Jake Hoffman

A young rock n’ roll junkie named Gus takes a road trip with his tattoo artist love interest in a stolen classic car.
“A Street Cat Named Bob” (2016) PG-13 Dir. Roger Spottiswoode

Based off of the novel by James Bowen, a ginger tabby cat changes the life of a homeless junkie on the road to recovery in the streets of London.