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September 09, 1969 - Image 4

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Miinder the rug

xhe Airhigan Bi
Seventy-eight years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan

On dodging obscenity in The Daily

byv sieve IIJ'seII

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-05521

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 1969

NIGHT EDITOR: JIM NEUBACHERI

-1

Two millage proposals:
One yea, one nay

THE VOTERS of Washtenaw County will
have the opportunity to vote on two
millage issues today. The first proposal
could give additional power to the already
dangerous county sheriff's office; the
second would provide much-needed ex-
pansion of park and recreational facili-
ties.
The County Board of Supervisors has
requested a one mill increase in pro-
perty taxes throughout the county for the
purpose of improving county law enforce-
ment. The Board of Supervisors insists
that this increase, calculated to raise $3.5
million over the next three years, will be
allocated according to a system of 16
priorities recommended by a Law En-
forcement Subcommittee report. Most of
these priorities, such as a police academy,
establishment of a public defender's of-
fice, and upgrading of the services of the
office of the Friend of the Court are badly
needed reforms.
BUT PRIORITY Number 11, an "Emer-
gency Contingency Fund," is dangerous
enough to make the whole appropriation
worth defeating at the polls. A Board of
Supervisors which has been content with
Sheriff Douglas Harvey's previous re-
cord might well give this "emergency"
fund top priority and use the whole
amount to support his suppression of civ-
il liberties in Washtenaw County. Sheriff
Harvey's endorsement of the millage is
hardly reassuring.
It is strange that the Board of Super-
visors should suddenly become so con-
cerned with the improvement of the
"administration of justice" in the county.
The Supervisors were not overly concern-
ed with the sheriff's show of force toward
local welfare recipients last fall or with
his brutal treatment of persons on South
University this summer.

AT THIS POINT, it seems likely that the
money collected from the increase in
the millage could easily be allocated to the
sheriff's department for the purpose of
meeting the salary demands of the Depu-
ties. Even if this were not the case, the
sheriff's office would still gain the
greatest benefit from the millage since
Harvey has the largest police force in
the county. The only other significant
police force, in Ann Arbor, is prohibited
by state law from receiving any direct al-
location of funds. Its only benefit would
be from the police academy.
Passage of the millage would give a
blank check to the Board of Supervisors-
g board which has the power to inhibit
Harvey but which has not done so. A
vote for the millage is thus a vote- of
confidence for the board, for Sheriff
Harvey, and for his conduct over the last
four years.
IF THE COUNTY is to raise the property
tax, it should do so in the public in-
terest rather than for "law and order"
purposes. The second proposal would raise
the property tax by one-quarter mill over
a three-year period so that the county
might acquire more land for park and
recreational purposes.
Although millage hikes generally fail
at the polls, voters should overwhelming-
ly approve this one. Taking a lesson from
Detroit, where citizens neglected s u c h
millages and now have only one-tenth as
much park land as recommended by fed-
eral standards, voters should endorse the
plan to raise $879,000 for land purchase
before the open spaces in the Ann Arbor
area are overrun by urban sprawl and
suburban development. The second mill-
age proposal is strongly endorsed.
-BOB FUSFELD

ALL THAT IS necessary for tyranny, it has been said,
is for enough good men to do nothing.
Last week's arrest of Ken Kelley, editor and publish-
er of the Ann Arbor Argus, provides a graphic illustra-
tion of this principle.
Kelley was arrested for publication and distribution
of an allegedly "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, inde-
cent, or disgusting newspaper." But obscenity was hard-
ly the issue.
Rather, Kelley's arrest represented a clear case of po-
litical harassment and intimidation, a frontal attack up-
on the right of freedom of the press in this country.
Obscenity laws are an invaluable tool for such har-
assment, because they are so vague in wording that law
enforcement officials can interpret them as they please.
Thus, it is not surprising t h a t County Prosecutor
William Delhey should choose such a law to appease fel-
low-politicians by trying to shut down the Argus.
BUT THE most deplorable part of the affair was the
willingness of the liberal community to hide its head in
the sand and all but ignore the political implications of
the Argus arrest. Mayor Robert Harris, as usual, said
nothing and did nothing, and neither did his Democratic
city councilmen.
And sadly, neither did The Daily.
The senior editors of the Daily deadlocked 5-5 on the
question of whether or not to reprint the picture that
resulted in Kelley's arrest. The allegedly obscene photo
is of City Councilman James Stephenson w i t h hands
folded on his lap, An outline drawing of a penis is sup-
erimposed on the picture so that it appears to sprout
from between Stephenson's hands.
Since there was not a consensus on the senior staff,
it was decided to put the issue to an all-staff vote. The
editorial, sports, photographic, and business staffs as-
sembled to consider the question, and eventually voted
46-25 not to print the picture.
Those who argued against printing the Argus picture
claimed the risk to The Daily from criminal prosecution

or a civil suit for libel was greater than the potential
good The Daily could accomplish by printing the alleged
obscenity.
THAT KIND OF logic smacks of self-interest. Several
years ago The Daily printed a story exposing a Univer-
sity Regent for conflict of interest. When we ran that
story, we knew that all hell would break loose. But we
printed the story anyway, because we thought we were
right.
That's the responsibility of a good newspaper: to take
stands and make moral decisions without regard for pos-
sible negative consequences to the paper or its editors.
By declining to print the Argus picture, we disre-
garded that commitment. We allowed ourselves to be in-
timidated by the fear of prosecution and left the Argus
alone to fight the political harrasment and repression
which prompted Kelley's arrest.
Even more important, we did a great disservice to our
readers; for they had a right to see the picture, and to
judge it for themselves.
NO DESCRIPTION of the alleged obscenity will suf-
fice. For no matter how hard a writer tries, it is diffi-
cult to prevent the reader from conjuring up an image
far more vile than the picture really is.
Rather, it is a political cartoon, commenting on a po-
litical issue raised by Councilman Stephenson himself.
Shephenson had repeatedly and publically attacked the
Argus in the weeks preceding Kelley's decision to print
the cartoon.
"The typical picture in the Argus is a male genital in
a discernibly turgid state," Stephenson said. The Argus,
unable to find such a picture in its files, decided to
oblige the councilman-hence the drawing.
Since he raised the political issue, Stephenson must
be willing to accept the consequences, just as other polit-
ical figures accept that they will be the subject of polit-
ical attacks. The only difference between the Argus car-
toon and Herblock's caricatures of Richard Nixon in the
Washington Post, is the fact that the Argus represents a
different kind of media.
Furthermore, it is far easier for county politicians to
suppress the Argus that for Richard Nixon to harass
the Washington Post.
THE U.S. COURTS have recognized the necessity to
protect absolutely such political expression. Anything
less would invite fascism. The power to suppress political
statements should not be left in thehands of politicians.
Thus, in Sulliva'n v. The New York Times - and sev-
eral subsequent decisions, the courts have ruled that a
political figure must accept as part of the notoriety of
public life, attacks, even false ones, in the media. As long
as there is no clear malicious intent on the part of the
publication, and no malicious disregard for the facts, then
political statements such as the Argus cartoon are pro-
tected under the First Amendment.
BY PRINTING the picture, the Daily would have
demonstrated its devotion to that principle.
However, that kind of commitment could not have
been made without some risk. Had we reprinted the
photograph, we might have been dragged into a court
fight, and it may have been costly.
I, and others, argued that it was a risk we should
have taken, that the responsibility of the free press to
oppose political repression could not be ignored. I argued
that we couldn't just stick our heads in the sand and say
"it's their fight, let's not get involved."
Admittedly, the picture might have offended some
of our readers. But the right of the public to be fully
informed, and the obligation of the newspaper to take a

StepJhenson.

moral stand on this issue countermanded individual
objections.
Two years ago, The Daily printed a story about the
discounts University athletes were receiving apparently
in violation of Big Ten Conference rules. We knew that
story would offend more than a few people, and it did.
In fact some were so offended they threw bricks through
our windows.
But that didn't deter us from taking a stand against
what we viewed as illegal financial benefits to athletes.
And neither did the risk the Big Ten would suspend the
University.
NO MATTER how strongly we condemned the ob-
scenity law and its use to politically intimidate the Argus,
the fact that we were unwilling to take the same risk
that the Argus took, only add legitimacy to an unjust law.
For if The Daily had reprinted that picture, it would
have forced the prosecutor to arrest us or admit that the
prosecution of the Argus was politically motivated.
An analogus situation is the case of those who protest
the war in Vietnam. It makes little sense to attack the
war as immoral and illegitimate, and then turn around
and allow oneself to be drafted, trained, and employed
by the government to execute that war.
It is more practical and self-preserving to serve in the
Army rather than to face jail, but it is morally objection-
able. In the same way, it is easier and more practical for
The Daily to avoid a court fight and merely to attack the
persecution of the Argus editorially rather than to de-
liberately violate the law. But is it morally consistent?
WE SHOULD EITHER obey laws that are illegitimate
and unconstitutional or we should fight them in every
way possible.
We have a responsibility to stand by a fellow publica-
tion which is being unjustly attacked under an unjust
law. The people have a right ao see just what it is that
has brought about the prosecution of the Argus, to weigh
the facts and understand the dangers to free press that
this case has created .
All that is necessary, for tyranny, is for enough good
men to do nothing.

No more Vietnams?

]OLITICAL EXPEDIENCY has forced
President Nixon to disengage Amer-
ican troops from South Vietnam. But per-
verted idealism in Southeast Asia may
have yet another day.
American troops could again intervene
in response to the pitiful supplications of
our staunch allies in Thailand and the
Philippines.
Fearless leader Spiro Agnew has just
assured the American public on "Meet
the Press" that he personally supported
an amendment by Senator John Sherman
Cooper to "deny funds for combat use
of our armed forces in support of Laos
and Thailand troops in their own coun-
tries."
Agnew said he thought the administra-
tion was "basically in favor" of such an
amendment. Currently 50,000 troops are
engaged in Thailand, officially on support
missions for the Vietnam War.
But Thailand is nervous at the pros-
pect of fending for itself. Thanom Kitti-
kachorn said his government wants some
guarantee of support when his domestic
chickens came home to roost.
Kittikachorn maintains that if t h e
Nixon administration planned to reduce
its forces in Thailand, the reductions
should be made through mutual agree-
ment.
The Filipinos are also alarmed by the
advent of American deescalation in Viet-
nam. The Secretary General of SEATO,
Lieutenant Gen. Jesus M. Vargas of the
Philippines predicted an intensification
of effort by both China and the Soviet
Union to subvert South East Asia and
bring it under Communist control.

Vargas also condemned any 'agree-
ment with the Communists at the Paris
peace talks, declaring that the Commun-
ists will not honor any international ac-
cord in their relentless drive to domin-
ate the continent.
VARGAS DENOUNCED the establish-
ment of diplomatic, commercial and
cultural relations with the Soviet Union,
in the interests of a united front against
subversion.
"The establishment of cordial rela-
tions will facilitate the covert introduc-
tion of personnel skilled in the subtle pro-
pagation of Communist theories and
practice."
Vargas said both Thailand and t h e
Philippines have been targets of "tenta-
tive overtures in the cultural field." He
criticized the Thais for allowing the Bul-
garians to open a trade office in Bang-
kok,
Vargas neglected to comment on
SEATO's state of deterioration. The
French and Pakistanis have been cour-
ageous enough to withdraw military sup-
port from an organization devoted to
protection of democracies like South Viet-
nam.
Can honest Spiro stick tenaciously to
his principles of non-intervention and ig-
nore the impassioned pleas of our pro-
gressive allies? Or will Dick and Spiro
surrender to their softer sentiments and
again feel compelled to carry the torch
of liberty and justice into Southeast Asia?
-TOBE LEV

Kelley,

Letters:

It must not happen here

To the Editor:
YOUR EDITORIAL, "A Liber-
al's Blueprint for 'U' Student Ac-
tivism," (Sept. 4) offers an ex-
tremely perceptive analysis of the
campus political climate this fall.
As one who also shares the ap-
prehension that "this could be the
year," I can only admire and re-
spect The Daily for advocating a
course of action that is patient
and rational, no matter how dis-
tasteful and establishmentarian
those adjectives may sound to
many of the politically active in
Ann Arbor.
Your arguments against cam-
pus politics of violence and con-
frontation are cogent and do much
to illuminate t h e complexity of
the political issues that too many
activists can only see in polar-
ized stereotypes of left and right.
To those arguments I wish to add
only one. As a state-supported in-
stitution, the University is sorely
dependent upon the State Legis-
lature for its funds. Nothing
would more please many of the
conservative legislators in Lansing

than-to be able to point to a vio-
lent Michigan campus, organize a
witch-hunt and tighten the purse
strings.
THE UNIVERSITY desperately
needs more money to be in a po-
sition to adopt the innovative pro-
grams being proposed. It may not
be axiomatic that "good money
gets good teachers," but in this
there may be a g e r m of truth.
Similarly, new curricula raise ad-
ministrative costs and delapidated
residence halls and classrooms
take tax dollars to refurnish or re-
place. Violence on our campus is
certainly not going to get us the
funds we need.
Obviously, funding matters are
not the only consideration in as-
sessing the effect of campus pol-
itics on the delicate relationship
between the University and the
State. Perhaps the worst result of
a violent campus would be the in-
creased exercise of state authority
over the educational process and
general life of the University.
Such an eventuality cannot be ig-

nored, and anyone who is enough
of a radical polyanna to do so may
find his course in American poli-
tics being taught by Sheriff Har-
vey next fall.
--James Graf
'72 Law '
Sept. 4
', ocidist i
To the Editor:
LORNA CHEROT berates "tra-
ditional socialist groups" for the
shortcomings of their analysis of
American society. Those short-
comings are nothing to her own.
She tells us that these groups
will "miss the revolution" when
it comes, but it is difficult to un-
derstand what sort of revolution
she has in mind. If "the white,
worker is the prime and most ob-
vious enemy of the black work-
er," then presumably we are to
see a revolution by blacks, with
allies from the student popula-
tion and the lumpenproletariat,

against both the ruling class and
the white working class.
To advocate a revolution to be
carried out against t h e largest
part of the oppressed majority of
this country - the white working
class - is as evil, as to think it
possible is crazy.
POSSIBLY she doesn't think
these people are oppressed. They
are; and just now the oppression
is especially rough. Real wages
have been going down, industrial
accidents have been going up, so
has the danger of getting killed in
Vietnam. The squeeze on housing
is forcing many people out of life-
long homes - as in Cambridge -
and keeping others in substand-
ard places. And anger is going up
- both in phenomena like wild-
cat strikes, and in misdirected
ways, such as the Wallace vote.
Many white workers have rac-
ist attitudes, and that is a pity.
It is not surprising, given the way
the ruling class has structured the
situation that workers face.
It is a fact that when welfare

goes up, most of the money comes
from workers. It is a fact that
when jobs are given to black peo-
ple, more white people are out of
work. These things need not be
true, but our society has b e e n
structured that way, not by the
workers, but by the conservatives
and the corporate liberals w h o
rule us all.
I DON'T WANT black people to
slow down their fight. First, tell-
ing them what to do would be in-
defensible in itself. And second,
the calculated racist inequality of
American society makes it almost
impossible f o r oppressed blacks
and whites to form a successful
fighting movement together, as
long as it persists.
But neither do I want to kick
white workers in the face, telling
them that they are not only bad,
but somehow anachronistic. It is
in their interest to make social-
ism. as it is in mine, and I want
them as allies. The ruling class is
all the enemy I need.
-Douglas Burke

i

Ev Dirksen

A LOT OF people will miss Everett Mc-
Kinley Dirksen.
Oil and gas producers will miss him.
Insurance and real estate interests will
miss him, and so will the drug manufac-
turers.
People who see Communist subversives
under every bed and behind every tree
will miss him, as will the anti-First
Amendment prayer-in-the-schools fana-
tics. Peonle who believe that one vote in

the bucolic countryside should be worth
a hundred in the sinful city will miss him
very much.
Students of florid political oratory and
flexible principles will miss the example
he set them.
Richard Nixon will undoubtedly miss
him, although it is doubtful that either
Robert Finch or John Knowles will.
RUT -

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