I am a Political Science major at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH attempting to encourage involvement with political initiatives around campus and throughout the local community.

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Take Back The Night

On Thursday, April 21st at 6pm, Franklin Pierce students and faculty will gather in the library courtyard to participate in the annual Take Back The Night walk through the campus. According to the Take Back the Night twitter page, the TBTN Foundation, “…is a 501(c)3 publicly funded charity with the mission of ending sexual violence in all forms and lending support to survivors.”

FPU, as well as many other communities throughout the country, takes one night out of the year to hold activities devoted to calling attention to sexual violence, reducing fear, and showing support to victims.


1) Attend student Jeff Payne’s presentation in Marcucella Hall on Thursday, April 21st at 4pm entitled, When Funny is Serious : TV Sitcoms and Rape

2) At 6pm, gather in the library courtyard for the Take Back the Night Walk around campus.

3) Watch Reality Check perform three skits inspired back Take Back the Night in the Alumni Lounge at 630pm followed by a speak out and snacks.

4) Speak out on twitter, facebook, and your blogs to call attention to the events and to the reality of sexual violence.

Image courtesy of University of Wisconsin Library Archives


1)1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).

2) About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

3) Victims of sexual assault are:

3 times more likely to suffer from depression.

6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.

26 times more likely to abuse drugs.

4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

4) Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.

For more information on TBTN events, legal resources for victims of rape or sexual assault, and news, please visit the Take Back The Night website.

For more about the RAINN Organization, visit their website.

For more information about the events to be held at Franklin Pierce, please contact Tawni Turcotte or Prof. Donna Decker through FPU email. 

Satire as an Accessible Force in Democracy

Over the weekend I attended the National Conference for Media Reform in Boston representing Piercing Politics. The goal of my trip was to meet with other bloggers to learn how they communicate as well as to speak with politicians and media makers to find out how they galvanize youth into activism. I attended as many presentations as I could, along with my fellow student blogger, Andrea.

During our journey we encountered so many people and ideas that my brain is still a little foggy, but in my opinion the most powerful and pertinent panel we encountered was the one entitled How Comedy and Satire Can Help Reform the Media. During the discussion, we were drawn into the world of satire by Erin Gibson, Sara Benincasa, Matthew Filipowicz, Elon James White, and Katie Halper who utilize their hilarity to make an impact on politics.

All of the panelists were more than willing to reach out to the audience by answering questions and sharing advice. It struck me as I sat in the room packed full of eager listeners that this is the ideal way for college students to get their political message to their campus and the world.

During the discussion, Elon James White spoke on the topic that inspired by blog; the necessity of drawing people into the political world who previously felt they had no need for involvement.

When he spoke about his work, White said, “What I do is specifically targeted towards youth… it is aimed at getting people who wouldn’t normally pay attention to pay attention…I look at them, not the people already agreeing with me.”

This brings me to what I really learned from the convention. Everyone has a voice and with the internet, they also have the ability to reach out to everyone in our global community.


1) Youtube - a free account can bring you into potential contact with millions around the world. You can create the next Michelle Bachmann Saves America in just a few simple steps.

2) Twitter - Say anything that comes to mind. As long as its 160 characters or below. Even if you aren’t so self centered as to think that everyone wants to know what you ate for lunch, use it to retweet posts from others or promote ideas.

3) Start a blog - Be hilarious or not. You can create your own tone, your own audience and be unique.

4) Yell and scream, and tweet, and post until your voice is heard. There is no voice too quiet that it can’t find a home on the internet and there is no opinion that doesn’t matter. Whatever side of the debate you are on, you have a responsibility to engage in our political system.

Fools are my theme, let satire be my song. - Lord Byron

The Mission of Piercing Politics

The reason that this blog was created was to foster support for college students working on behalf of their political causes and beliefs as well as to encourage those not previously involved to become active in their political community.

The intention of Piercing Politics is not to be an outlet for partisan favoritism, but to do what it can to promote ANY cause, no matter the impetus. Piercing Politics is founded on the belief that education and action go hand in hand in the effort to sustain a healthy democratic republic.

Please support this mission by sharing the blog with friends, commenting, reblogging, liking Piercing Politics on facebook, or alerting us about future events or projects.

The media is absolutely essential to the functioning of a democracy. It’s not our job to cozy up to power. We’re supposed to be the check and balance on government.
Amy Goodman


Piercing Politics will be attending the National Conference For Media Reform in Boston, MA on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Keep reading for updates!

Video footage of the ongoing rallies in Concord, New Hampshire organized to protest budget cuts for social programs recorded by NewHampshireWatchdog. 

Linda Quintanilha - Parent and Activist

After the presentation by Gordon DuBois on March 22nd, he introduced a woman by the name of Linda Quintanilha to the group of students and faculty remaining in Pierce Hall.

She told a story of an average childhood which blossomed into an average adulthood that included marriage, a home, a career, and eventually two delightful children. In 2005, however, the story of Mrs. Quintanilha’s life changed and she was confronted with challenges that for the first time set her apart from the other “normal” families she had been exposed to all her life. In 2005, Linda Quintanilha’s daughter was diagnosed with autism.

When Linda delved into the world of developmental disorder workshops, support groups, and community programs in order to assist her daughter and save her family, she soon realized how valuable they were to her life and to others experiencing similar circumstances and joined the activist group Able New Hampshire.

In her few moments before the audience, Linda Quintanilha balanced her time between sharing personal experiences and biting political criticism of the budget cuts soon to be voted on in Concord. She informed the crowd that there were over 600 families who testified with the New Hampshire state legislature to prevent the new budget from eliminating all state funded programs for disabled state residents, but even in the budget’s current incarnation all of the services in New Hampshire communities dedicated to caring for disabled citizens in existence today remain in jeopardy.

Quintanilha brought the message home by sharing the statistic that at least 50 families in the Monadnock region alone would be totally left without care for their disabled adult children. She said, “We’re looking at chaos. We’re looking at families with nowhere to turn… How are we going to live? How are we going to survive?”

Quintanilha implored all audience members, as well as friends, family, and concerned citizens to take a stand and help advocate and show support for the developmentally disabled by attending a rally on March 31st at noon on the statehouse lawn in Concord, NH.

For more information on Able New Hampshire, please visit their website.

For more information about the New Hampshire State budget cuts, please visit BusinessWeek.com or google New Hampshire State Budget.

For more information about the rally to be held in Concord and transportation options for getting to the rally, please contact Linda Quintanilha at Linda.Quintanilha@gmail.com.

Lost In Laconia - A Documentary by Gordon DuBois presented at FPU

Gordon DuBois is an educator, writer, filmmaker, amateur historian, and activist for marginalized and often forgotten citizens of NH. On March 22nd, he spoke at a showing of his film “Lost in Laconia” at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH. The film was brought to FPU through The England Center For Civic Life and the Franklin Pierce Civic Scholars program, headed by Prof. Joni Doherty.

DuBois became involved in activism when, after graduating from SUNY Cortland in 1968, DuBois said he, “…felt called in a way to work with those disenfranchised by society.” In 1977, DuBois accepted a fateful position working at The Laconia State School located in Laconia, NH.

According to Gordon DuBois, former LSS worker and writer and producer of “Lost in Laconia”, he was attracted to the job by the paradigm shift taking place in the way Americans thought about disabilities during the 1970s. During the time period, the country was transitioning from a focus on institutionalized care to community based programs.

After accepting the position at Laconia, Dubois quickly became enveloped in a world that, “…probably 90% of the population didn’t know about; didn’t want to know about. Institutions… they were hidden away. People really were just lost there…to their families, friends, communities.” In the case of LSS, the school served as a dumping ground for members of society who found themselves unwanted and unaccepted due to the circumstances of their birth.

The institution which became Laconia State School was founded in 1901 as an alternative to the regional “almshouses”, set up on local farms to contain impoverished and disabled community members. According to a former employee of LSS, Alberta Sitt, “…it was like a warehouse.” Some of those who came to live at the school like, Samantha Chamberlain, were homeless, some, like Carol Dow, were born into families unwilling or unable to care for them. Still others suffered from developmental disorders and were sent away when doctors encouraged families to abandoned disabled offspring and start over.

 The theory of eugenics was lauded as the driving force behind Laconia and sterilization, usually without consent of the patient, was common practice. Dr. Benjamin Baker, a former employee of the state school and proponent of eugenics wrote on the subject saying, “The world does not need the moron…it could get on much better without them. I strongly support eugenics.” By the time the practice of sterilization at Laconia was discontinued in 1958, doctors had completed over 400 procedures.

The unacceptable care and abuses at institutions like Laconia State School had long been noted by members of the community, but the activism really began to gain momentum when Dr. Richard Hungerford as hired as the superintendent of the institution. He was the first superintendent to be an educator rather than a medical doctor. In his time at LSS, Hungerford helped parents to form support groups and to become a presence in the community, while encouraging them, for the first time, to visit their institutionalized children.

Patients, like Samantha Chamberlain who said in the film, “You had to fear for your life there, you really did…people running around naked and jumping into your bed…Your dignity, your rights, everything, was pulled away from you,” suddenly were given a voice.

As a result of Dr. Hungerford’s work, the NH Council for Retarded Children and the Great Bay Association worked to spread the message of our nation’s inadequate resources for developmentally challenged Americans. Projects like the “Help Wanted” documentary drew national attention and newspapers like The Portsmith Herald published articles and pictures on conditions in the school. The next superintendent of LSS, Dr. Arthur Toll, continued to welcome parents and attempt new therapies designed to aid the patients rather than to just contain them.

In the meantime, the population of The Laconia School just kept growing. According to the film, by 1970 there were more than 1,162 residents and a waiting list of over 400.

The movement which sprung from the activism of the superintendents and others connected with The Laconia State School inspired a class action lawsuit which lead to an order from the Concord Federal Court demanding a switch from institutionalized establishments to community based resources for those with developmental disabilities. During the lawsuit and the subsequent work done to retool the system of resources available, the vast majority of employees of Laconia were supportive of the changes.

Many employees of LSS, like Alyce Jewell, truly had the best interests of patients in mind. Jewell said in the documentary, “If I had to do it all over again I would do it. I wouldn’t change it…I loved them.”

Concerned citizens of New Hampshire rallied around those those being released into the community and those already there by creating the Action for Independence Group, devoted to caring for those who require support to live a fully functioning life.

In 1991, the closing of Laconia State School marked what Gordon DuBois called, “…the end of a dominant paradigm,” in the sphere of developmental disability care. As seen in the film, the closing sparked celebration and made New Hamsphire the first state in the nation to move away from the institutional system.

*Note - All facts and quotations featured in the above article come from the film “Lost in Laconia”, the corresponding press release, or interviews conducted during the FPU showing. Biases can be blamed on the author who may have been slightly affected by the deeply personal nature of storytelling featured in the film.

For more information please visit, the “Lost in Laconia” website.

To contact Gordon DuBois about presenting his documentary at your school or organization, you can reach him by phone at 603-279-0379/229-1982 or by email at forestpd@metrocast.net.