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November 13, 1971 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-11-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


rie Mirligan Baity
Eighty-one years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan


Good Humor: Laughs sold at others' expense

by lynn weInerI


420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

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







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"People can't laugh at themselves anymore."
Daily sports staffer, 197il
NOPE, PEOPLE can't laugh at them-
selves any more. Pity. Aren't the
cartoons with this column clever? Why
should Communists, immigrants, or Jews
be offended by the art work of the White
Nationalist Party, and why should women
be insulted by the advertisement in this
month's Gargoyle?
The creators of the two cartoons are
white males, and humor is poked at those
who are non-"white" or non-male. The
creators are not offended, for the butt
of the joke is a member of a minority.
class of society which is threatening in
some way to the elite and therefore must
be undercut with laughter.
And so 'we suffer under a deluge of
Polish, chicano, "womens lib", or sexual
jokes which aim to minimize the move-
ments they concern and to bolster the self-
image of the white male elite who deter-
mine that what is funny is what they are
The phenomena of this political humor
are used as a tactic to stave off rising cul-
tural and social groups by demeaning
them. But these minorities are no longer
passively accepting the use of their stereo-
types to define the non-humorous - the
"to be taken seriously" white male cul-
AMERICAN INDIANS, for example, an-
gered by a 90-minute comedy skit on the
Glenn Campbell television show, confronU-
ed television officials last week with de-
mands to delete the serialized skit and to
give them air time to answer it. And
chicanos have protested the "Frito Ban-
dito" stereotype nationally, and locally
have fought such stereotypes as a Daily
ad of a lazy Mexican inviting the campus
to a meeting, in standard dialect.
The original "stereotype" was a metal
printing plate cast from a mold made from
set type. Now, the word connotes a mental
image cast from a one-dimensional mold
of thinking, a mold which -is in the refer-
ence of the elite group as it catalogues the
world to its standards.
In this sense,dhumoraimed at groups of
people with the goal of denigrating them





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is as political, ina covert way, as the
Nazi hate literature or Southern anti-
black material is, in an overt, blatant man-
THE DAILY sports pages often illustrate
the covert politics of humor.
Last week Associate Sports Editor Rick
Cornfeld wrote a column using the meta-
phor of a woman as a football, in what one
sports editor termed a "light, clever style."
"They treated the ball as if they were
gingerly trying to make advances on a
scared, whimpering girl."
"The few times the gawkeyes had the
ball they acted as if the pigskin might
slap them if they squeezed it in the
wrong places."
"Even if you ignore the visiting cheer-
leader who a few weeks ago got passed up

the stands while horny sports fans tried
to cop feels, Michigan games do provide
their moments of interest."
Examples of a light, clever style? Or of
a political attitude which detremines that
women are objects - and so which is clev-
er only to those who accept this vision of
women and who wish to reinforce it with
all its social implications?
And Gridde Pickings - the Daily sports
feature in which readers guess the out-
come of football games - continually
prints "funny" copy about women or gay
people, the most obvious threat to the
standards of macho football culture.
Other student publications also mirror
the elite humor. The Gargoyle, the inter-
mittently-published ,magazine which will
be sold this week, overflows with copy

which is "funny" to a select audience -
the white, male University student. A
full page on "Kinner's Easy Cares Abor-
tion Kit," a cartoon of a black being
arrested with the cutline "Police search
for M&M chocolate mess," a photograph
of a Buddhist monk in front of a tank4
with a caption "need pressing done?" and
the advertisement of the woman prited
in this column - all are humorous to
the humor elite in the same political way
as hate propaganda is to other self-styled
NO, PEOPLE can't laugh at themselves
any more. But it's tremendously easy for
some to laugh at others - ind to be be-
wildered when their hollow chortles are not
joined by the objects of their scorn and


_. 'R-~.,r -

"We're not going bock 100 years! . . . Just to 1954!",

Letters: Candidates respond to The Daily

Zhivago at the U'
and an indictment

To The Daily:
IF THE STAFF of The Daily had
not been so fascinated with their own
cigar smoke and the perpetual ad-
justment, of a shelf that kept falling
down during my interview, they might
have gleaned more of my politics than
"traditional Left rhetoric." However,
since striking the pose of 'macho re-
porters' seemed to be more crucial
than the content of the interview, it is
I who must bear the onus of their
frivolous attitudes towards reporting.
While' recognizing that other candi-
dates besides myself have little or no
experience with SGC, The Daily feels
this is particularly significant in my
case, while mysteriously unimportant
in others. The fact that I have at-
tended only one SGC meeting came
out of my observation that people are
isolated from all levels of politics, in-
cluding SGC, largely because 'politics'
are mystified: people don't under-
stand the workings of it, or what it
can do for them. I want to promote
the idea that politics is accessible, to
all, while The Daily scorns that any-
one who hasn't sat through endless
hours of "Point of order!" bullshit can
know their ass from their elbow. The
mystification of politics is no more
rhetoric and no less a fact than the
Vietnam war or police occupation of
the ghetto communities.
Finally, The Daily claims that I
have based my campaign on the fact
that I am a woman. This is such a
distortion of what I told them on the
topic that it's hard to believe it wasn't
willful on their part. I pointed out
that women were under-represented
among the candidates and that I was
responsive to the needs and interests
of the community of women. The Daily
rightly values such group identifica-
tion on the part of the Asian students
who are running (since they are "good
liberals", racism is 'out') but sexism
still goes: women's oppression is more
a source of amusement than something
to be taken seriously.
By the Daily's dubious standards, I
am 'not recommended" as a candi-
date for SGC. I return the compli-
ment and do not recommend The
Daily for anything more than uncon-
scientious, biased reporting,
-Allison Stieber
SGC Candiate
Radical People's Coalition
Nov. 12
To The Daily:
IT IS NOW 4:30 as I sit writing
phis letter in East Quad, and I have
half an hour left to respond to The
Daily's screw job SGC election en-
dorsements. So please excuse me if I
am not clever and witty or polished
out merely brief.

;estion for SGC projects as one would
surmise from the Daily's article.
Both Allison and I opposed appear-
ing before The Daily, and we must take
2he blame for allowing ourselves to be
pressured into participating in this
togie and Southern Com-fort game.
But for future candidates, a word to
the wise - make use of Student Ac-
-Jean Teshima
SGC Candidate
Radical People's Coalition
Nov. 12
LSA Student Govt.
To The Daily-
I AM WRITING in regard to Chris
Parks' article "Heated Meeting: LSA
Student Gov't picks VP" (Daily, Nov.
11) and Rick Perloff's quixotic quest
-- "Responses to a Speech" (Daily.
Nov. 11). Wednesday's LSA Student
Government meeting was my last
meeting as a member-at-large of the
Executive Council. During my year
of student government work I have
seen an ineffectually operating coun-
cil become prevented from ever being
effective by the ego of one of itt's
newer members.
Under David Brand and Brian Ford.,
the first president and vice president,
the government was ineffective. This
was due primarily to the structure of
the government - council did not have
its total membership until a year after
its instigation. There was also apathy
on the part of the student body to
contend with as well as disinterest by
The Daily, who refused to even cover
the meetings.
To pick up The Daily this morning
and read a one-sided account of last
night's meeting written by a Daily re-
porter who was not even there, has
infuriated me. Yes, council members,
Russ Bikoff and Bob Black did walk
out of the meeting (undoubtedly
straight over to the Daily building).
But only because Black didn't get his
own way. The vice-presidential selec-
tion was not ramrodded t h r o u g h
It is Black's fault if he didn't get
a chance to voice his objections to the
election -- he was too busy telling his
cohorts how to vote when objections
were asked for. Further,when asked
w hy elections should not be held last
night, Black gave no good reason.
Eve ryoneknew, however, that he wish-
ed to wait until his puppets, running
for council, were seated. Black forgot
the most important qualification of the
VP - to be able to work effectively
with the President. Black clearly wish-
,s to further ineffectualize council.
It seems contradictory that the

or Black's in the article, Who's try-
ing to shove who?
-Francine Hymen
LSA Student Governmept
Executive Council
Nov. 12
Editor's note: The picture appearing
nexthto Rick Perloff's article was plac-
ed there by mistake,
Harris on tax
To The Daily:
I HOPE The Daily will give as much
space to this support of a city income
tax as it did to HR-RIP's attack on
such a tax.
In fiscal 1972-3 the City of Ann
Arbor must either increase its taxes
or drastically cut existing city serv-
ices. We are $3,000,000 short of being
able to maintain the identical serv-
ices provided in 1970-1. We are about
$4,000,000 short of the City Adminis-
trator's "desirable standards" budget:
a moderate improvement in human re-
sources programs accompanied by im-
proving the staffing of the fire, po-
lice and parks departments-all of
which are well below accepted stand-
ards of ratio of city employes to popu-
We are far more than $4,000,000
short if you desire-as I do- to do
more about environment problems,
traffic problems, in-service training
of police, etc.
Unless the city raises taxes con-
siderably, we will be laying off large
numbers of city employes in 1972-3
and reducing all city services sharply,
instead of increasing services as we
should be doing. And each succeeding
year that we continue without an in-
crease in taxes, the 'layoffs and the
service cuts will get worse-to the tune
of about one million dollars per year.
Michigan law provides cities with
only three ways to raise taxes: (1)
adopt the Michigan Uniform City In-
come Tax-1 per cent with a $600 per
person exemption; (2) increase pro-
perty taxes: and (3) increase user
charges, such as parking rates and
parking fines. Of the three alterna-
tives, the Uniform City Income Tax
is mildly progressive (because of the
$600 per person feature) and the other
two are strongly regressive.
Hence the Democratic Party's sup-
port of the Michigan Uniform City
Income Tax as the best of the avail-
able alternatives. Democrats in the
Michigan House are presently fight-
ing to put on the state ballot a pro-
posed constitutional amendment which
would permit progressive rate city and
state income taxes City Democrats are
suoporting this effort.
However, to date Senate Republi-
cans have blocked the effort and nei-
ther House Democrats nor Governor

issue when it says we should not be
passing the 1 per cent city income
tax now, but should instead be lobby-
ing for a steeply graduated city in-
come tax. Such lobbying is going on,
but it is a long road and the city
needs money right now.
HR-RIP objects that some of the
new money that would be raised by an
income tax would go to expand the
police department-or at least to pre-
vent its further contraction. But HR-
RIP fails to explain how a city is to
retain and attract good police officers
while overworking them and giving
them poorer wages than other com-
munities. Nor does it explain how we
would institute in-service training if
we lack funds either to increase the
size of the force or pay overtime for
Nor does HR-RIP explain how it
would meet the 26 per cent increase in
police calls in the last year while we
are contracting the size of the force.
Not even HR-RIP will deny that an
adequate police force may be import-
ant while burglary, rape, and heroin
sale are apparently on the increase.
Nor will HR-RIP deny, I assume,
that the overworked police officer is
more likely than the rested officer to
make a dangerous mistake.
I have never suggested that all new
revenue would go to police. Nor have
I denied that some of it would go in
that direction, just as some of it would
go to human resources programs.
If we have no income tax next year
and we have to make drastic cuts in
all departments, the police and the
fire department will not be the only
departments slashed. Inevitably, the
cuts will come in bus transportation,
human rights, emergency housing, day
care center funds, drug treatment, Oz-
one House, housing inspectors, plan-
ning, parks, recreation, and the traf-
fic and road programs, too.
Respectfully, I suggest that HR-RIP
is irresponsible in refusing to face the
bitter fact that the city is currently
facing a four-way choice: (1) adopt
the Uniform Michigan City Income
Tax; (2) increase the property tax;
(3) increase parking rates and fines:
or (4) slash all city services dras-
tically. There is no fifth alternative
and it is intellectually dishonest to
pretend such ar alternative exists.
-Robert J. Harris, Mayor
Oct. 27
Editor's note: City Council rejected
a bid Monday to enact the Michigan
Uniform City Income Tax for Ann Arbor
and instead voted to place the issue on
a city-wide advisory referendum in Feb-
.! aigont
To The Daily:
WHILE THE corner of State and
Washington Streets has never been my

Daily Guest Writer
DR. ZHIVAGO, at the tender age of 114, has
consented to give and has just completed
a series of lectures at the University of Mich-
igan. He is sitting by himself on one of the
concrete benches on the Diag taking his pulse.
Up approaches a rather dazed young man.
"Have you seen any of our literature?"
"No." l f "
"Christ is with all of us."
"That may very well be."
"The world is drowning in its own sinfulness.
We. must all rediscover Christ."
"By knowing that he is us and we are him.
That in his spirit I love you and you love me."
"But you don't even know me."
"Let me read to you from the Scriptures."
The young lad reads and reads while Zhivago
does deep breathing exercises. A half hour later
the young lad goes chasing after a couple
walking across the Diag.
Zhivago rises and staggers toward his room
in the League when a rather unkempt young
lady shoves a leaflet in his mouth and an-
nounces a demonstration protesting the failure
of the University to hire mores female profes-
'.But I am not a member of this University,"
Zhivago gasps.
"We are all involved in the struggle."
"But doesn't someone have to go on living?"
"Male chauvinist pig! I should give you
a karate chop in the chest for that."
She spits in his direction and walks off.
Twenty paces from the League, Zhivago is
asked for some spare change.
"Would a doll'ar do?"
Zhivago is given a mean sneer and the
offended youth stalks off - love beads, lea-
ther pants and all.
Just as Zhivago -reaches for the door to the
League, he feels a hand in his pocket. Before
he can even turn his head, his wallet is lost
to him forever.
ZHIVAGO COLLAPSES to the mud, takes
out his pad and scribbles something which the
wind blows away.
Thousands upon thousands of his closest
friends attend his funeral and compete to
see who can cry and shriek the loudest.
Months later a University trashman spears a
sheet of paper and out of curiosity reads it.
"But whatever may be the circumstances
of my death, please let me rot where I lie."
He shrugs his shoulder, puts it in the bag,
and goes back to snaring the usual multi-col-
ored leaflets.
wrote that he refused to allow students in
his freshman composition class to use the
word 'alienation.' Howe's impatience w i t h
r-etoric is understandable, yet this does not

What is the graduate student confronted
with? He must ingest all the same professorial
garbage at a greatly accelerated pace and
in addition must demonstrate his own capacity
to produce similar rubbish in thirteen weeks
or less. Rat colonies self-perpetuate.
What is the junior member of a depart-
ment confronted with? Not only must he per-
form all the gut-work of his department, teach
the intro courses, and kiss ass, but he must
prove himself on the fiels, of battle within
five years, i.e., produce yet another worthlep i
book. It is the fourth criteria that will made
or break him.
A number of us believe there are two pri-
mary reasons why Ameltican universities are
of such low quality. First the academics do
not do the reading and secondly they do not
know how to write. Both criteria have rather
involved explanationV.
BY NOT DOING the reading, I mean two
things. Within a man's specialty, the research-
er does not adequately, carefully, and repeated-
ly study his sources. It is not enough just to
have glanced at Thomas Jefferson's Papers.
They must be read again and again. The papers
of all his major contemporaries must be read.
The newspapers, periodicals, and pamphlets
of the period must be perused. My second point
implicitly flows from my first. Thomas Jeffer-
son had a solid grasp of philosophy, literature,
science, mathematics, poitical theory, theology,
etc. To have read Jefferson adequately, one.
must have read Plato, Tacitus, Aristotle, Locke
Newton, et al. adequately. I do not believe
this is being done - not at Michigan, nor at
Harvard, nor anywhere else.
It is almost hackneyed to use the term
'boring professor's book,' yet they are boring! I
believe that style (or to raise the. discussion
to a higher level-art) is a reflection of *
man's totality. It reflects the depth of his
'knowledge, the depth of his thought, and
very importantly the depth of his experience
with life. It is difficult to pigeonhole academics,
yet it has been my experience that they seem
to enter school at age six, get their Ph.D at age
twenty-six, retire at age sixty-six, and at n#
time take a sabbatical to observe and immerse
themselves in the day-to-day world six miles
from their home. This is and is not laughable.
In their journey through Academic Wonderland
they have denied themselves and thus their
victims the benefit of a healthy understanding
of the actual world they claim to seek >
understand and explain. The fact that so many
students are so eager to escape the University
after graduation and go anywhere else and do
anything else but continue their studies is
testimony to my argument.
I BELIEVE there is a political explanation
and an intellectual and political solution to th
above stated problem. This is the most de
generate epoch in the history of the most de-
generate nation the world has ever experi-
encedA. Naiturialy the TUniversity would reflect

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