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January 28, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-01-28

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Page 4-Saturday, January 28,1978-The Michigan Daily
b td an atg
Eighty-Eight Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 98
News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
Civil rghts for all

Society adopts

'the finger'

an easy tenet to defend when we
can at least tolerate the speaker's
views. But when that speaker is a
group shose beliefs are as repugnant
and wholly unacceptable as those of
the American Nazi Party, even the
staunchest civil libertarians are
thrown into a quandary.
Yesterday, the justices of the Illinois
Supreme Court were faced with this
dilemma, and they ruled that
swastika-bearing Nazis have a right to
march through Skokie, Ill., a
predominantly Jewish suburb of
"The display of the swastika, as of-
fensive to the principles of a free
nation as the memories it recalls may
be, is symbolic political speech inten-
ded to convey to the public the beliefs
of those who display it," the court said
in an unsigned decision.
We agree with the court's decision
and its analysis of the situation.
In 1919, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Oliver Wendell Holmes explained that
what the Constitution must protect is
"not free thought for those, who agree
with us but freedom for the thought
that we hate."
It is clear that Holmes' statement
applies in this case, for even though we
hate the views of the Nazi Party, its
right to express them must be protec-
ted. Those who oppose the march con-
tend that because thousands of
relatives of victims of the holocaust
and many actual survivors are among
Skokie's 40,500 Jewish residents, that
they may be provoked into violence by
the painful memories evoked by the
sight of marching Nazis.
But the principle of free speech can-
not be compromised simply because of
possible violent reactions. It is the
premise upon which all other freedoms
are based, and it must be protected at
any cost.
In many ways the situation in Skokie
is analagous to Martin Luther King's
civil rights march in Selma, Ala. in
1965. There, the vast majority of the
population was opposed to the march,
much as the majority of Skokie
residents are opposed to the Nazi's
march. In Selma, those who opposed
the march argued that since the belief
in black inferiority and segregation
was so strongly felt in the hearts and
minds of local whites, that the sight of
< blacks marching would provoke a
"violent response." In addition, many
contended that the blacks simply
didn't have the right to march. But the
march was permitted, and the predic-
ted violence did erupt, resulting in one
While the two marches are vastly
different, and while we do not intend to
compare them on their relative merits,
the arguments against them are

IMPLY STATED, the Nazis have
the right to march in full uniform
unless by so doing they deny others
their rights. And while the march may
well dredge up horrible memories, it
does not directly impinge upon
anyone's legal rights.
It has also been argued that the
Nazis are not planning the demon-
stration because they desire free ex-
pression, but rather are marching only
to stir up trouble, and get publicity.
But although this may well be true, it
has no bearing on the Nazis' rights.
The Constitution makes no stipulation
for denying First Amendment rights
because of speculations about an in-
dividual's, or a group's, motives. It
would be a dangerous precedent to set
if the court were to dany someone the
right to free speech because the
justices suspected the person's
The Nazis have the right to march,
but no one is required to pay any atten-
tion to them, and this seems to us the,
most appropriate course of action for
Skokie residents. An organization as
despicable and outrageous as the
American Nazi Party does not deserve
the satisfaction and respect of having
anyone pay them heed. If indeed the
Nazis' purpose in staging the march is
to gain publicity, then the best policy
would be not to honor their presence
with any response whatsoever.
tre tti


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The Associated Press
Hartford, Conn.-In one of those less than
landmark decisions, but one that could point
the way our society is headed, the Connecticut
Superior Court'has ruled that giving someone
the "digitus impudicus"-legal lingo for "the
finger"-is not punishable as an obscenity.
-The case involved a high school student, not
necessarily a latin scholar, who wiped off the
rear window of a school bus to deliver an
upraised middle finger to a state trooper
pulled up behind at an intersection.
Smokey turned on his siren, pulled the bus
over to the side of the road and made a collar,
as they say down at headquarters, of the
finger gesticulator who had been fingered by
his classmates.
The Court of Common Pleas convicted the
youth of having made an obscene gesture. On
appeal, the Superior Court overturned the
decision unanimously, ruling that an obscene
gesture had to be "erotic . . . and appeal to
purient interest in sex," while the finger at
most could only arouse anger, not "sexual
"Digitus impudicus" is Latin for lewd
finger and reputed to have been the doomed
gladiators' answer to Nero's thumbs down.
The learned judges, however, noted that it
was a disrespectful gesture of even more an-
cient origin, citing the case of Diogenes, the
fourth century B.C. cynic, who gave a digital
uplift to the great orator Demosthenes. This
put him almost two and a quarter milleniums
ahead of Nelson D. Rockefeller, who similarly
signaled his disapproval of platform oratory
at the Republican convention in Kansas City a
while back. -

In England the upraised middle digit is
known as the "Harvey Smith," after the great
equestrian star of the same name who saluted
the judges at a horse show with what ever af-
ter he insisted was- a victory sign. A royal
connotation also attaches itself to this im-
perious if not imperial 'gesture' since Prince
Philip, Prince. Charles and Princess Anne
have all been thought to have greeted their
subjects, especially photographers of the
realm, with it on ceremonious occasions.
Others associate the upraised middle finger
with the game of tennis, a championship
gesture favored by Jimmy Connors and Illie
Nastase to signify their total unconcern for
the pronouncements of the line judges.
Often it is followed by rude noises from the
galley, which in turn is treated to;further pan-
tomime from the stars in the center court. At,
Wimbledon such scenes are rarely followed.
by cries of "good show, old chap."
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israeli
paratroopers down on the Suez Canal front
devised a double digital affront to their Egyp-
tian enemies on the opposite bank. The ritual
called for holding aloft the middle finger in
vertical thrusts and then in horizontal jabs,
followed by the instructions, in Hebrew:
"that's for you, and that's for your .camel."
The law is always a complex entity, and the
Connecticut Superior Court decision fails to
shed any light on whether the umpires erred
in tossing Ted Williams out of a game one
day up in Boston. More than a finger was in-
The Splendid Splinter had struck out with
the bases loaded, an outrage thatwas greeted
with an avalanche of boos and seat cushions
from the Fenway Park bleacherites. Accord-
ing to the evidence delivered by Red Smith,

the world's most literate sports writer,
"Williams responded with an ancient Roman
gesture, reminiscent of a man with a par-
ticularly pesky mosquito in the crook of his
elbow, that included everyone from home
plate to the right field foul flag." The umpires
signaled him to the showers with wagging
thumbs reminiscent of hysterical hitchhikers.
In Sicily, where the Godfather was bap-
tized, the body language so eloquently spoken
by Williams is credited with keeping down
unemployment among the island's
gravediggers. Boston, the Hub of American
culture, responded on that historic occasion
with words unknown to Longfellow and
Emerson until Mark Twain arrived fresh
from the mining creeks. Or was it from Har-
tford, where Twain later lived, not far from
the courthouse? Anyhow, Twain would have
had no trouble understanding what Ted
Williams was trying to convey above the din.
For all its fine Latin and deep scholarship
into the Diogenes version of the silent rasp-
berry, the Connecticut Superior court has yet
to take a stand on what freedoms are at stake
when a proponent, face to face with a
deponent, attaches the tip of his thumb to the
end of his own nose and begins playing the
William Tell Overture on an imaginary flugel
Chief Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes, in a
classic case, ruled that "the freedom of your
fist ends where my nose begins." Perhaps it is
time for the high court to consider guidelines
for determining justice in cases where both
nose and fist with inpointed thumb are
property of the offending party. The moving
finger writes but often says more when its
message is conveyed in sign language.



GEORGE LOBSENZ.............. Managing Editor
STU McCONNELL...... .. ...Managing Editor
PATRICIA MONTEMURR.....Managing Editor
KEN PARSIGIAN... .................Managing Editor
BOB ROSENBAUM ...................Managing Editor
LINDA WILLCOX................... ,.... Managing Editor
MARGARET YAO... ....... ....Managing Editor
Sunday Magazine Editors
Associate Magazine Editor.
STAFF WRITERS: Susan Barry, Richard Berke, Brian Blan-
chard, Michael Beckman, Lori Carruthers, Ken Chotiner, Eileen
Daiey, Lisa Fisher, Denise Fox, Steve Gold, David. Goodman,
Elisa Isaacson, Michael Jones, Lani Jordan, Janet Klein, Garth
Kriewall, Gregg Krupa, Paula Lashinsky, Marty Levine, Dobilas
Matunonis, Carolyn Morgan, DanCOberdorfer, Mark Parrent,
Karen Paul, Stephen Pickover, Christopher. Potter, Martha
Retallick, Keith Richburg, Diane Robinson, JulieRovner, Dennis
Sabo, Annmnarie Schiavi, Paul Shapiro, It. J: Smith, Elizabeth!
Slowik, Mike Taylor, Pauline Toole, Sue Warner, Jim Warren,
Linda Willcox, Shelley Wolson, Tim Yagle, Mike Yellin, Barbara
Zahs, Jim Zazakis
Mark Anorews, Mike Gilford, RichardFoltman
Weather Forecasters
KATHY HENNEGHAN..... .............Sports Editor
TOM CAMERON ............. ..... Executive Sports Editor
SCOTT LEWIS ........... ....Managing Sports Editor
DON MacLACHLAN....... .....Associate Sports Editor
JOHN NIEMEYER............... Contributing Sports Editor
NIGHT EDITORS: Paul Campbell, Ernie Dunbar, Henry Engel-
hardt, Jeff Frank, Gary Kicinski, Rick Maddock, Brian Mar-
tin, Bob Miller, Brian Miller, Dave Renbarger, Cub Schwartz,
Errol Shifman and Jamie Turner.

Letters, to


A new respect for women

township 20
To TheDaily:
The decision handed down by
the Michigan Supreme Court on
Jan. 23 re the "Township 20" is
extremely important from a
Libertarian point of view in
that it puts the burden of proof
squarely where it belongs-on
the government. The City Reg-
istrar and the local court were
quite willing to deny the 20 their
Constitutional rights in order to
cover the fact that the Gegis-
trar had erred in registering
these 20 to vote in a city
election. This is not the first
time that government has at-
tempted to cover up by the use
of such tactics-the Nixon
years and the VA Nurses affair
come to mind; and also one
must not forget the words of
(monroe County visiting)Judge,
James Kelley, as quoted in
Tuesday's Daily: I always won-
dered about {asking the voters to
tell), but that was the law, and if
(the Supreme Court) wants to
change it, I say fine."
From the quote, it would seem
that the judge could not care less
whether or. not Constitutional
rights were upheld. It is well for
the 20 that the penalty for not*
revealing how one voter was not
being taken out and instantly shot ;
".- . .that was the law ..
Thetreally unfortunate thing
is that because of the laxity of
the City Registrar's Office in
not checking out in a proper
manner the Corporation bound
aries, the citizens in Ann Arbor
may be forced to pay for
another election if the court
voids the Belcher/Wheeler elec
tion. This is worthwhile remem
bering when your tax bill or
rent takes another jump cue to
"city costs". Gs
..James R. Greenshields

and was involved in personnel
and policy issues, including Mr.
Black's grade complaint, be-
fore the Department. Mr.
Black's letter contains a num-
ber of errors which must be
1) Mr. Black's grade in prof.
Samoff's course was based on
his failure to meet the require-
ments of the course. The Grade
Complaint Committee of the
Political Science Department
and the LSA Administrative
Board did not dispute the fact
that Mr. Black had failed to
meet the requirements of the
2) Mr. Black argues that
Prof. Samoff "connived" with
the Political Science Depart-
ment to make the departmental
grade complaint procedure a
"whitewash." This is simply"
untrue. Prof. Samoff was not
involved in the selection of the'
Grade Complaint Committee
nor did he take part in their
deliberations. He, like Mr.
Black, Was at the beck and call:
of the Committee. The Political
Science Department grade
complaint procedures are pur-
posefully designed to keep fac-
ulty members involved in a
complaint at a distance.
Mr. Black argues further that.
the Grade Complaint Commit
tee heard Prof. Samoff's case
before they heard his com-
plaint. Whatever the order may
have been Prof. Samoff had
nothing to do with it The,
Committee set its own sched-
3) Mr. Black makes a similar'
argument about the LSA Ad-
ministrative Board. Again,
Prof. Samoff answered the call
of the Board which followed its
established procedure in set-
ting its schedule.
4) Mr. Black states that the
LSA Student Government con-
demned both the Political Sci-

5) Mr Black contends that
the Political Science Depart-
ment sent Prof. Samoff to
Africa 4ntil he (Mr. Black)
graduated and the controversy
surrounding his grade com-
plaint subsided. In fact, Prof.
Samoff's plans to go to Africa
for an extended period of time
following the 1972-73 academic
year were announced prior to
Mr. Black's filing of the grade
6) Mr. Black states that Prof.
Samoff is arrogant, authoritar-
ian and dogmatic. Mr. Black is
certainly entitled to his opinion.
Howeveriin the student evalua-
tions collected in the years I
was in the UGPSA students
consistently rated Prof. Samoff
one of tie best teachers in the
Finally, Mr. Black argues
that students have nothing to
gain or to lose from the out-
come ofdisputes about which
faculty members remain at the
University and which do not.
On the contrary, the question is
of vital importance to students.
The capabilities students de-
velop toraise questions, think
critically, and respond crea'
tively toithe world before them
depend in large part on the
teachers who support, chal-
lenge, nlid' share ideas with
them. Students know better
than others which faculty mem-
bers are most able to do this.
Consequently their input into
tenure decisions is crucial to
the maintenance of a good
Both the formal course evalu-
ations administered by the
Political SciencerDepartment
and the informal records and
letters of UGPSA show that,
occasional disgruntled stu-
dents nonwithstanding; Prof.
Samoff i$ open, challenging, and
supportiye of students and

clearly deserving of tenure.
-Catherine Shaw
(lfef in (sapolog y-
To The Daily:
In my capacity as a graduate of
UM ('66 LSA; '76 Law), I wish to
vigorously protest the treatment
of women's sports at Michigan as
reflected by the letter of Maureen
O'Rourke that appeared in the
Michigan Daily one Saturday,
PJanuary 7, 1978.
I am an avid supported of
Michigan sports but feel that
women should be treated equally
in all respects regarding
facilities, time, and officiating. I:
sincerely hope Don Canham will
issue a public apology to
Michigan women with respect to
this incident. It is indeed a
shameful display of sexism and
-Pedro Galindo Nieto
Crystal City, Texas
mud bowl outrage
To the Daily:
I realize that this letter is very
late, however, its printing now
might further emphasize how
repulsive (even at this late date)
the; behavior of certain par-'
ticipants wasduring the Frater
nity-Sorority Mud Bowl Game
was to many in attendance that
The "cheap shot, chicken shit"
slugging by . two or = three;
provocateurs was really outrof
place and ruined the spirit of a
splendid new tradition on cam-
pus. Many there would have liked
to have; seen the culprits- whisked:
away ,and used as varsity,
blocking dummies and then
returned to be publicly flogged
and castrated., Truly,', their;
pseudo-macho fisticuffs were:
phoney and immature. rs
Thank goodness the girls per-
formed in a delightfully dignified,
aggressive manner.
-Donald W. Hramiec '62

T WAS NOT TOO long ago that news
of a woman being raped or beaten
would elicit no more than a nervous
sigh or tsk-tsk from the average in-
dividual. The abuse of women-and
wives in particular-was considered
just one of those unfortunate but,
unavoidable quirks in our society.
Things are changing. The emergence
of women's rights organizations in
recent years has altered the course of
public thinking on problems faced by
women in this society. Such a change
has been seen dramatically in this state.
in the way Michigan courts, and now
legislators, have approached the abuse
of females.
Last fall, a Lansing court set a sub-
stantial precedent when it found a
women, Francine Hughes, temporarily
insane and therefore innocent in the
murder of her husband. The court ad-

judicial decision by granting new
provisions for battered wives and
abused women in Michigan's Crime
Victims Compensation Act.
The state Senate this week approved
a measure that would enable victims of
wife-beating to collect up to $15,000
compensation for their suffering.
Through the Crime Victims Act, per-
sons injured in criminal assaults can
apply to the state for reimbursement of
lost wages and medical expenses.
In another bill, the Senate approved
the reimbursement of rape victims for
the cost of medical exams required as
evidence in criminal proceedings.
Both bills now go to the state House
for its decision.
The recognition of wife-beating, rape
and other abuses of women as
"legitimate" crimes in our society,.

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