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THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 1969
NIGHT EDITOR: MARCIA ABRAMSON
Dionysus in 69:
A flaming rerun
IT IS IRONIC that the newest fight over
artistic freedom on campus centers
around a modern adaptation of Euri-
pides' classic drama, "The Bacchae,"
which provides a vivid portrait of the
troubled mind of the censor.
One could place the recent threats by
the Ann Arbor Police that legal pro-
secution may ensue from this Sunday's
presentation of Dionysus in 69 in the
context of the age old struggle for crea-
tive artistic innovations against the
heavy hand of the censor.
But these battles against local Yahoos
are far from unprecedented on college
campuses in general or, unfortunately,
in Ann Arbor In particular. And an at-
tempt to reiterate the many potent ar-
guments against censorship would be
highly repetitive and unnecesary.
Rather, in this rerun of the 1967
"Flaming Creatures" crisis, we should
focus our attention on the seeming legal
untenability of the actions of the local
police. And we should note, as well, the
extremely distressing response of the
University Administration to this latest
example of community harassment.
AT FIRST GLANCE many would see
few legal differences between the
police warning that presentation of a.
play by the University Activitie Center
may violate obscenity statutes and high-
way signs informing drivers that speed-
ing may lead to arrest. However, in fact,
substantial legal differences do exist be-
tween the two cases.
Unlike the right to exceed the speed
limit, dramatic productions are clearly
protected under the "freedom of speech"
clause of the First Amendment. Conse-
quently, the laws that regulate alleged
abuses of the freedom of speech sped-
ffcally forbid the kind of implicit pre-
censorship that the Ann Arbor 'olice ap-
plied in this case.
In other words, our incredibly murky
obscenity laws are such that a play can-
not be declared obscene until after it is
And in light of its legally unhindered
run in New York City and the gradual
liberalization of obscenity statutes in re-
cent Supreme Court decisions, it is dif-
ficult to believe that any arrest arising
from a presentation of Dionysus in '69
would be legally valid.
ONE CONSEQUENCE of the warning is-
sued by the police is that the directors
of the Michigan Union and League have
been under internal and external pres-
sure to prevent the presentation of the
play in the Union Ballroom.
While the League wisely voted 1 a s t
night ,to uphold UAC's decision to pre-
sent the play, it is easy to envision the
potency of this kind of police harassment
under slightly more unfortunate
The problem with censorship battles
is that artistic considerations tend to
become buried under a welter of legal
technicalities. Artistic considerations are
especially important in this case because
this experimental drama is peculiarly
sensitive to pre-censorship.
Rather than being a formal set pro-
duction, Dionysus in 69 consists in large
measure of improvisations designed by
members of the cast on the spot. And
nothing is more conducive to destroying
the creativity and inspiration that are
at the heart of this production than the
numbing knowledge that members of the
local police are in the audience eagerly
waiting for one false move.
YET EVEN if the play is allowed to be
presented without further legal difficul-
ties, one can only be deeply distressed
by the University's administration's re-
action up to this point.
Clearly reflecting his background as
a labor mediator, Fleming has seen his
role in this crisis as a kind of honest'
broker poised midway between the po-
lice and the students who are present-
ing the play.
When the University followed a sim-'
ilar policy of benevolent neutrality two
years ago, it allowed three students and
pn instructor to suffer the protracted
legal consequences of the Flaming Crea-
In light of the recurrence of a similar
controversy, one cannot attribute m u c ,h
tactical success to the University's lack
The University must make clear to
the rest of the local community, which
receives enormous financial and educa-
tional benefits from its existence, that
it will not tolerate future disruptions or
harassment of campus functions.
AT PRESENT the most effective way
the University can do this would be
to petition Federal District Court to is-
sue a restraining order forbidding fur-
ther police interference with the showing
of Dionysus in 69.
While the legal implications of such
an appeal predicated on First Amend-
ment grounds are difficult to assess ac-
curately, it is possible that the Federal
Court would grant the request or even
rule that under the relevant obscenity
statutes the play is not obscene.
In any case, such a suit would be a
symbolic affirmation that the University
stands together with the UAC students
in defense of academic and artistic free-
Associate Editorial Director
By STEVE ANZALONE
Special To The Daily
WASHINGTON-The skies on Inaugura-
tion Day were a 'drab Nixonian gray.
The sun made a meek attempt to show it-
self but was never very successful. And for
those Americans not fortunate enough to
be influential Republicans, the Inaugura-
tion itself was not much more colorful.
The closest I got to the august investi-
ture on the steps of the Capitol was a
second floor window in the Senate Office
Bldg. To get across the street, even to the
sidewalk surrounding the Capitol grounds,
required a special pass.
Mysteriously, standing room passes
floated down from a few Senate Offices
(undoubtedly Dempcrats) to some of the
hoi polloi standing in front of the building.
The green passes- transported these for-
tunate people across the street, past the
police contingent, through a fence, past a
line of soldiers, onto the Capitol grounds-
still a very safe 500 yards from the exalt-
ing pageantsof American government.
But this year, the exclusiveness of the
Inauguration did not prevent the young,
the dissatisfied, and the uninvited f r o mn
having festivities of their own.
A COUNTER-INAUGURATION was the
work of the National Mobilization Com-
mittee to End- the War. "The Mobe'", (re-
sponsible left, adult-student orientation,
unusually non-violent) summoned thou-
sands of students and young people to
Washington to remind the new President
that the nation is still deeply disturbed
about the war in Vietnam.
The rain on Sunday morning did not
stop a scheduled demonstration against the
FBI, organized and led by the Ann Arbor
The protest was scheduled in response
to an episode reported in The Daily, which
involved alleged FBI harassment; of an
Ann Arbor businessmen who, rented cars
to the Ann Arbor Mobilization Committee
for the trip to Washington. Car rental
agent Philip Mendis told The Daily that
he received two calls from the FBI telling
him not to rent' cars to the Ann Arbor
The march around the Justice Dept.
Bldg. attracted over 700 people, carrying
signs saying such things as, "Hoover should
stick to cleaning rugs."
BUT THE REAL business of the coun-
ter-inaugural got underway Sunday after-
noon. All the participating groups gathered
for a rally in a striped circus tent that had
been erected near the Washington monu-
The crowd was addressed by Mobe lead-
ers David Dellinger and Rennie Davis, folk
singer Phil Ochs, anti-war G.I.'s, and Ann
Arbor's own Jim Mellen. The oratory gen-
erally explained the purpose of the coun-
ter-inauguration as well as the remaining
After the tent meeting, the crowd spilled Violence had been brief during the day.
out and formed a march of about 10,000 There were sporadic clashes between
strong. The one-eyed estimates of 5-6,000 marchers and the police during the march
people in the morning papers were exceed- and about thirty arrests were made. Most
ingly inaccurate. of the arrests took place after the march
The march proceeded up Pennsylvania
Ave. to the Capitol; the direction w a s
counter to the direction of the Inaugura-
tion Parade. There was a motley assort-
ment of marchers - costumed Yippies,
painted "Freaks for Freedom," and even a
group calling themselves "Anabaptists for
Not only were there young people; the
march attracted manyadults - s o m e
marching with children, others walking
with the help of canes. Reportedly, some
Democrats also took part in the march.
MARCHERS SHOUTED, "Join us!" to
spectators who lined the way. One large
segment ofrthe march stopped and cheered
when a very distinguished looking, elderly
gentleman alighted from parade bleachers
and joined the march. But there w e r e
many other people who defiantly thrust
their thumbs down at the beckoning
marchers. And as usual there were shouts
of "You Commies" a signs saying,
"America - love it or leave it."
The counter-inaugural ball after t h e
march was nothing short, of a disappoint-
ment. Judy Collins and other big-name
entertainment did not appear as promised.
The ground around the tent, was veryl
muddy. But there were many people who
enjoyed the overflowing tent, the plenti-
tude of loud rock bands and pot.
wnen some demonstrators proceeded to the
Smithsonian Institute to heckle guests at
a reception for Spiro Agnew.
THERE WAS considerably more violence
on Monday when The Mobe activities were
concluded and militants began to do their
own thing. A large group tried to break in-
to the Inauguration Parade and were re-
pulsed by police. Ensuing fights between
police and demonstrators were consider-
able and many police cars were pelted with
rocks. But this violence went virtually un-
noticed by the press and television net-
But on the whole, both demonstrators
and police were well behaved and the pos-
sibility of another Chicago was remote.
The demonstration may have done little
to give the new President additional in-
ducement to speed an end to the war. But
at the same time it was the kind of po-
litical carnival that may be necessary to
relieve many people of the likely boredom
of the coming Nixon years
Hickel and the generation gap
THE SENATE, by consenting to the ap-
pointment of Walter Hickel as Sec-
retary of the Interior, will slash the
last vine holding up the rickety bridge
over Generation Gap, leaving the youth
of the nation staring blankly through the
smoggy air to the polluted river below.
It is ironic that in his inaugural ad-
dress, the new President made a 'number
of tenative appeals to the nation's youth.
Indeed, after Chicago, he could hardly be
unaware of the almost total disaffection
of what we like to think of as the leaders
of tomorrow with the political and social
values of suburban, middle-class America.
PERHAPS IT WAS NAIVE at best to hope
that the new President would attempt
to deal with the generation under 30 in
a responsive manner. But the new Old
Nixon managed to dispel any illusion ev-
en before his inauguration, by appoint-
ing an all-white, all-male, all-business-
men cabinet, and particularly by flaunt-
ing conservationist sentiment with the
selection of anti-conservationist Walter
Mickel for Secretary of the Interior.
I point to the selection of Rickel and
not to the appointment of as notorious
a militarist as Melvin Laird simply be-
conservation withdrawn, youth's desire
to preserve the government is bound to
And should the government act on Mr.
Hickel's predilictions, future youth may
never develop the love of country that
some of us still maintain.
A COUPLE of my m o r e revolutionary
friends once took the weekend off to
drive down from Berkeley to the Big Sur.
They returned talking about Canada and
the draft. "I guess I could always split
out," Art said, "but the coast always man-
ages to convince me that I care about this
crazy country to want to stay and try to
make it live up to itself."
In a strange way, he spoke for many of
us. For with no country to live up to, we
might as well all leave. I hear the air is
still clean in the more mountainous re-
gions of Tibet-.
ANN ARBOR MAYOR Wendell Hulcher
has awarded a new flag to the Hilton
Letters to the Editor
SOME OF US may have too often seen only the darker side of Presi-
dent Nixon. But after reading an advance copy of a volume
entitled "The Wit and Humor of Richard Nixon," one is tempted to
hope that there will be minimal exposure to his lighter side in the new
The jacket of the paperback carries the intriguing announcement
that we are about to.meet "the Nixon nobody knows . . . the man who
can be a humorist in the genuine American grain." In his preface; gem
collector Bill Adler declares that "it has always been my belief that the
wit and humor of a man reveal much of his personality and style."
He presents his Nixonisms as proof that the President has "a de-
lightful sense of humor, a sharp wit and a unique ability to bring
laughter to audiences and friends."
ZI TRUST no partisanship explains why I found myself in a state
of numbed melancholy after examining the 158 pages of Nixon jewels.
Mr. Nixon's Presidency may produce triumph or tragedy, but there is
small peril that he will plunge us into the aisles along the way.
According to the latest edition of the Random House dictionary,
"Humor, wit are constrasting terms that agree in referring to an ability
to perceive and express a sense of the clever or amusing."
Certain samples to be presented in evidence will suggest that the
Adler collection bears little resemblance to the 'promise of his title.
What is perhaps most embarrassing is that, in an effort to provide a
respectable amount of type, he was seemingly forced to use remarks
that Mr. Nixon himself could not have deemed remotely amusing when
he recited them.
Thus on Page 23, there appears an exhortation delivered on Jan.
14, 1968: "What we need now are fewer marching feet and more willing
hands" - a statement hardly designed to elicit a belly laugh. Or, back
on March 8, 1963: "The Kennedy Administration is brilliant from the
standpoint of salesmanship, brilliant from the standpoint of public re-
lations, but the product doesn't live up to the words." Comment, yes;
SURELY THE SAME must be said of his pronouncement that "a
man must be Judged by the decisions he made or didn't make, not by
how he dots "t" or crosses and "i" (July, 1962).
On March 13, 1960, according to the Adler reseachers, Nixon
declared: "You know, nobody will believe it, but I'm really an egghead!"
(Exclamation point not ours.) Since some earnest Nixon supporters
have long maintained that this is a true description, any element of
with and humor is peculiarly elusive.
OTHER ITEMS CHOSEN at random from the Adler compilation
of Mr. Nixon's brightest jests:
"Now, noting the Kennedy signs here, I want to say I'm glad to
see they are here, because we want some people to convert." (Oct. 4,
"I greatly appreciate music. You know that's one place I'm like
Harry Truman-I used to play the piano myself." (Sept. 28, 1960)
"I like to relax by playing the piano-easy things, Christmas carols
and old barbershop favorites like 'My Wild Irish Rose' and 'The Side-
walks of New York. I can whack it out pretty well." (March 1, 1958)
"I have been heckled by experts." (April 29, 1962)
"It's time to plow ground here, because we want a bumper crop
To the Editor:
j KNOW HOW difficult it is to
J catch extemporaneous remarks
on the run, but I feel I must cor-
rect your account of my discus-
sion w i t h Mr. Kosinski (Daily,
Jan. 16). (1) Far from denying the
possibilities of significant social
change "inspired" from within
our country, insistence on such
possibilities was probably the
main thrust of my comments. (2)
I did not find "inconceivable" the
thought of another country be-
coming economically stronger than
the United States. What I did
question was the suggestion that
such a power could forcibly dis-
arm the United States. (3) Final-
ly, while I do believe that the stu-
dent movement reflects, in part, a
new "aristocracy," with its his-
torically characteristic attitudes
and options, I do not recall hav-
ing said' (nor am I sure I even
understand) that the students can
think in "mass terms."
I feel bad about having to write
this. However, I have talent
enough for saying foolish things
and must decline outside contri-
butions. And what happened to all
again stepped in as defender of
contemporary community stand-
ards, I muttered five minute
string of obscenities. Even though
I did this openly on South Univer-
sity Avenue, happily I was not ar-
rested. Clearly the University Ac-
tivities Center officials should not
While Mary Barkey, ;Hugh Co-
hen, Elliot Barden and I were in
court for too many months, we
learned well that Eugene Stau-
denmaier knows little of the
community whose standards he is
protecting. He and his comrades
refused to see that Flaming Crea-
tures was really not so different'
from the other movies playing in
Ann Arbor, except that it con-
cerned transvesties rather than
the bisexuality of the Pepsi Gen-
It gave Eugene Staudenmaier,
Judges Agar and Elden, the pros-
ecution and others the chance to
stand up as public defenders of
This matter of Dionysius in
'69 appears to be in the same line
of reasoning. The play is not vast-
ly different. from several recent
AFTER THE Flaming Creatures
case ended, I had hoped that
Eugene Staudenmaler and the
prosecution had learned to stay
away from cases of this sort, but
they apparently care very much
aboutareaffirming their position
as moral Judges of the community.
This was clear in July when Eu-
gene proudly got on a plane to
Washington with the copy of
Flaming Creatures seized at Cine-
ma Guild. They had told the de-
fense the print would be burned;
instead it was shown to the Sen-
ate Judicary Committeeaas evi-
dence against Abe Fortas' nom-
ination for Chief Justice, The film
apparently had much to do with
Abe Fortas' withdrawal from the
nomination - and Ann Arbor got
on the map.
The threat of prosecution
against Dionysius in '69 indicates
that these local forces of morality
plan to maintain their role. It is
unfortunate; it is inane; it is blind
to what the contemporary arts are
doing. It is also a big waste of
time and money. It is an obscene
thought but it appears clear that
harassment of this sort will prob-