The Michigan Daily--Tuesday, February 6, 1979-Page 5
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Jeff Cristle finds himself head and shoulders above his father, Pete, sooner than he expected.
Russian satire ives on
By JOE VARGO
Russian satirist Emil Draitser told a
crowd of ,50 yesterday in the Modern
Languages Building that, contrary to
what some Americans believe, humor
and satire are alive and well in his
In his address, sponsored by the Cen-
ter for Russian and Eastern European
Studies, Draitser said two kinds of
satire exist in Russia-the country he
left in 1974.
"THERE IS OFFICIAL satire, which
the government needs to fight red tape,
mismanagement," and the
bureaucracy," he said. An example of
official saitre, he said, would be an at-
tack on alcoholism: "But a government
official would never be personally ac-
cused of alcoholism unless it was
deemed necessary by upper echelon
But, according to Daitser, the
majority of Soviet satire is forbidden by
"Anything that criticizes the regime
is not permitted to appear in official
publications," Draitser said.
"Therefore, most critical satire exists
only in oral forms. Satire is a relief of
distress. It is used to comment on what
is going on in the country. There is no
area where it is restricted."
DRAITSER, WHO teaches Russian at
the University of Califonria (Los
Angeles), said the themes of forbidden
Soviet satire have not changed since the
Communist regime came into power.
"Everything that is forbidden is in the
people's mouths,"he stated.
The government is especially critical
of satire that criticizes high gover-
nment officials, Draitser said.
"Political satire existsrin the un-
derground only," he said. "Anyone
caught criticizing a high public official
can be denounced to the KGB (Soviet
secret police)," he said. "They would
be considered politically unstable and
there could be trouble for them. But the
punishment is less than it was 20 years
ago. During Stalin's regime, anyone
caught telling a joke critical of ,Stalin
was subject to a ten year jail sentence."
Although the government has
reduced penalties against satirists,
Draitser doesn't believe they are com-
pletely safe from attack. "It isn't likely
the facilities of the KGB would be used
to catch satirists," he said. "There are
too many powerful writers outside the
BUT THE forbidden satire continues.
"The need for satire is greater in the
Soviet Union than it is in the U.S.," said
Draitser. "Satire is a form of
criticism." Draitser added that
although satirists have a large and
receptive audience, they do not influen-
ce public opinion. "Public opinion is
made by the government," he said.
Draitser left Russia for several
reasons. "I had no future in Russia," he
said. "I came to understand the nature
of society and of the regime. I didn't see
any development of my works," said
Draitser, who was denied the right to
publish for two years, because he
criticized a high government official.
After leaving the Soviet Union, Drait-
ser immigrated to the United States.
Since then he has writtentwo books,
"Contemporary Soviet Satire" and
"Forbidden Laughter," a collection of
Soviet underground jokes.
Court sets new porn standards
Engineering Research In
FEBRUARY 8 1979
Systems Group Operations An Equal Opportunity Employer a Male/Female
LANSING (UPI)-The Michigan
Supreme Court yesterday decided it
had waited long enough for lawmakers
to plug holes in state pornography
laws and set down its own standards for
judges to use in deciding obscenity
The high court's unusual move came
in one of 13 rulings handed down
IN OTHER KEY decisions, the
supreme court said judges must hold
open hearings in determining whether
to close a trial to the press and public,,
and persons confined in mental
hospitals under the old Criminal Sexual
Psychopath Act cannot be tried for,
their original crimes after their
The court's 5-2 ruling in the obscenity
case is expected to give law enfor-
cement agencies some muscle in shut-
ting down pornography-related
Michgan has not had an enforceable
statute regulating the dissemination of
porgnography among consenting adults
for nearly four years.
THE COURT SAID First Amendment
free speech rights do no apply to por-
nography, even among consenting
All seven justices conceded that
Michigan's current anti-smut law is un-
constitutionally vague. But the court
"reluctantly" took it upon itself to put
teeth into the law by interpreting the
statute's broad language into specific
terms paralleling standards set down
by the U.S. Supreme Court.
aIt said, however, it would have
preferred the legislature to have
resolved the problem, rather than have
the courts step in.
UNDER THE NEW court standards,
materials would be obscene if "the
average person, applying contem-
porary community standards, would
find that the work taken as a whole ap-
peals to the prurient interest" and if it
"lacks serious literary, artistic,
policital or scientific value."
The high court's decision on public
and press rights to open trials stemmed
fromthe case of a Macomb County
school teacher who eventually was
acquitted of charges of sexual miscon-
duct involving a 10-year-old student.
According to the court, the defense
secretary asked that the public and
press be excluded from the trial. The
prosecutor did not object and the
motion was granted by Circuit Court
Judge Edward Gallagher.
Also decided by the high court
yesterday were two cases involving
former mental patients.
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