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What I wish we hadn't learned in 2014

By Dean Obeidallah
updated 8:28 AM EST, Mon December 29, 2014
<strong>January 1:</strong> Couples kiss in New York's Times Square to ring in the new year. January 1: Couples kiss in New York's Times Square to ring in the new year.
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2014: The year in pictures
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah says 2014 would have been better with less Kardashian, Bieber news
  • He says other cringe-worthy things include politicians' scare-mongering over Ebola
  • Obeidallah: Most people probably unhappy to find out Grumpy Cat makes more money than they do

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report." He's also the co-director of the documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- Did you learn anything new in 2014?

Of course, your brain is filled with facts about this year's events from the rise of ISIS to the ALS ice bucket challenge. But my question is: Are you saying goodbye to 2014 having learned some new life lessons? I'll give you a moment to think about it. (Cue "Jeopardy" music).

To be honest, many of the things I learned in 2014 -- as in 2013 -- sucked. And no doubt many of you would agree with me.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

Here are nine things I wish we hadn't learned in 2014:

1. A really excited black man is called a "thug," but a white criminal is called Justin Bieber.

In January, Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman caused a media uproar because of his animated post game interview after his team won the NFC championship. Apparently to some, Sherman was too excited for their liking and they labeled this Stanford University grad a "thug."

Yet in the same month, Justin Bieber was arrested, accused of drag racing and driving under the influence after admitting to smoking marijuana and taking pills. Later this year, he was ordered to pay $80,900 in restitution for throwing eggs at his former neighbor's home and was placed on probation, with a requirement that he take anger management sessions and perform five days of community labor. If Sherman had done that, what do you think they would have called him? Likely answer: Prisoner number_______.

2. A cantankerous cat earns more money than me (and likely you, too.)

Yep, I'm talking "Grumpy cat." That grouchy feline's petulant puss is plastered on products from mugs to T-shirts to even a grumpy cat pillowcase for those who want Grumpy's face to be the last they see before they fall asleep and the first thing they see when they wake up.

How much did this cat rake in? It's unclear but the cat's manager (and, yes, the cat also has a manager) claimed it was in the seven figures while the cat's owner claimed it was less. In any event, the lesson is if you have choice between getting a really cute cat or one that looks like an angry New Yorker waiting on a long line, pick the latter.

3. Some politicians will even use a deadly disease to score political points.

I thought I had seen every way politicians could scare us, but Republicans came up with something new to use in 2014: ebola.

While medical professionals were telling us to remain calm, some Republicans were telling us to freak out. One Republican senator even warned of the "real and present danger" that ISIS fighters might infect themselves and then infect us. Of course, after Election Day, we didn't hear a peep from these same people about Ebola as it became clear that the risk to the United States was minimal. Can you imagine what they will use in 2015 to scare us?

4. A "hot" mug shot can get you not one but two Hollywood agents.

You might not recognize the name Jeremy Meeks but you likely recognize his mug shot. He was the guy known as the "hot convict" whose photo, taken after he was arrested on gang and weapons related charges, became a viral sensation this spring. Next thing you know, he had a modeling agent and a second agent to help him with endorsements and acting work.

The takeaway here is that if you are trying to be discovered, forget acting classes or toiling away in small comedy clubs, just make sure you look "hot" when you get arrested.

5. Afghanistan had a higher voter turnout than the United States this year.

In April, Afghanistan's presidential election saw about 60% of eligible voters cast a ballot. But in our country, only 36% bothered to vote in November. And keep in mind, people in Afghanistan risked their lives to vote because of threats by the Taliban.

In our country, the biggest fear if you voted was missing an episode of "Dancing With the Stars" or "Game of Thrones." Perhaps we need the people of Afghanistan to make PSA's telling us about the importance of voting?

6. Racial inequities are even worse than many of us suspected.

Black teens have a 21 times greater chance of being killed by the police than white teens. In a year marked by controversy over police tactics and race, this report by Pro Publica released this year painfully crystallized the issue.

They found, based on the limited data available, that, shockingly, black teenagers are far more likely to be killed by the police than their white counterparts. Pro Publica deserves credit for bringing this finding to light, and we can only hope that it will help spur change in 2015.

How do black parents tell their teenagers that simply because of his or her skin color, there's a 21 times greater chance that the police will kill them than their white teenage friends?

7. Kim Kardashian's butt can break the Internet.

America seemingly lost its mind over photos of a seminaked (and really naked) Kim Kardashian that were published by Papermag.com. It's as if people didn't realize that the Internet was already filled with naked photos of this famous reality show star.

Yet these images were the talk of countless media outlets and drove 4 million people to Papermag.com's website, which was a 2,379% increase over visitors to that website from the month before. On the upside, however, the photos did launch a multitude of hilarious memes including one featuring "The Family Guy's" Peter Griffin.

8. The naked selfies I took might be hacked.

OK, I don't have any naked selfies. To be honest, I barely can look at photos of myself fully clothed and not be struck with a sense of disappointment. But this year a bevy of celebrities found out that even your most private photos that have been stored in what has been billed as a secure server are not safe.

This is just another example of how it appears that we are collectively losing any hope of privacy.

9. The 2016 presidential race could be Clinton versus Bush.

With former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush recently announcing that he was exploring a run for president and almost instantly topping the polls among GOP contenders, and with Hillary Clinton being the presumed Democratic front-runner, we could see a replay of families from the 1992 presidential race in 2016. While they are both solid candidates, I fear a match up between these political "royal families" could turn more people off from politics. Can we at least mix it up a little and get a Kennedy or Roosevelt into the race?

So that's my list, but what about yours?

C'mon, there must be things you wish you hadn't learned in 2014. Tell us about them in the comments section below. And best wishes for a happy and healthy 2015 filled with lessons you are glad you learned.

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