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August 01, 1973 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1973-08-01

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Summaer Daily
Summer Edition of
Edited and managed by students at the
University of Michigan
Wednesday, August 1, 1973 News Phone: 764-0552
Election reofformwl~ bill
takes needed steps
FOR YEARS ADVOCATES of election reform have sub-
mitted legislation to make necessary changes in the
electoral process. But each time the suggestions were
presented to the Congress they would be watered down
or disregarded totally.
Now Watergate is upon us and the Congress can no
longer afford appearances of 'orruption or lack of the
reforming spirit.
Yesterday, the Senate moved in the right direction
when it passed the Federal Elections Campaign Act by a
82-8 vote.
The bill establishes for the first time a bipartisan
commission to enforce election laws new established.
thority to initiate criminal prosecution or levy civil
penalties up to $10,000 against violators.
The legislation makes embezzling of campaign funds
or converting them for personal use or using them to de-
fray the legal costs of anyone accused of committing a
crime subject to penalties of up to 10 years in prison and
fines of $25,000.
This provision would prohibit activities like the de-
ferring of the excess funds of the Nixon campaign to
pay the legal exoenses of the Watergate defendants.
The bill limits to $3000 the amount a contributor may
give to an individual candidate for Congress or President
and makes $25.000 the ceiling that an individual may
give to the candidates for federal office in a year.
This portion would eliminate million dollar contri-
butions like W. Clement Stone's to the campaign of Presi-
dent Nixon or the hundreds of thousands of dollars given
to McGovern by Stuart Mott. These large donations make
a candidate beholden to the contributor.
The campaigns of the congressional and presidential
candidates were given a limit for the first time. Candi-
dates may spend 10 cents times the voting age popula-

Gay demonstration tactics assailed

WHEN I SAW that "The Boys in
the Band" was booked for a
summer showing at the Ann Arbor
Film Co-op, I anticipated protest
from many of my gay brothers be-
cause of the self-nitving nature of
the film. Your editorial concerning
the recent attempt by some of them
to stop the showing of the film
hit unon some key issues discussed
months ago at a GLF meeting,
when we were deciding whether or
not to leaflet a showing of "Some
of My Best Friends Are . . .", the
Grade-Z counterpart to "Boys'.
Many were ready, even before
viewing the film, to "trash" it. and
stop it from being .shown. They
were, and quite justifiably so, sick
and tired of the neurotic, limp-
wristed stereotypes of gay people
nerpetuated in films for so long.
But some of us decided that a more
peaceful mode of protest (i.e. leaf-
letting) would educate and hope-
fully win support rather than alien-
ation from the audience. Up until
the recent showing of "Boys" this

peaceful tactic was employed, but
this time around someone appar-
ently thought an attempt to close
the film down completely would be
a more effective method of pro-
Again * wan to voice my objec-
tion to such an alienating tactic.
It does border on what you refer-
red to as "self-nroclaimed censor-
shin." Though "Boys" has many
flaws. I believe neonle should have
the rinht to see it if they so desire.
More is to be gained from a first-
hand experience with the film's
mistakes than from someone telling
you what is wrong with it. (I can
already hear someone saying, "But
I don't have to burn myself to
know that fire is hot.") The irony
of the protest of "Boys' is that
there were many gay people pre-
sent in the audience at the time.
Another thing I find' strange~is that
I have heard many gays who vehe-
mently object to the film's char-
acterization of Super-Nellie Emory
laughing the loudest over his shen-
anighans at past screenings. Was

Free expression far fi

not it necessary for them to see
the film first to know that it was
offensive? Personally, I would ra-
ther make up my own mind on
such matters.
your editorial (a pre-arranged rap
before the films we find offensive)
in a good idea, and should comple-
ment the leafletting that ought
to take place as well.
But you made a few errors else-
where in your judgments that I
am compelled to bring to your at-
tention. You mentioned that this
rap would be a good alternative to
"inviting a police confrontation and
losing all the audience's interest".
How can you say that the protest-
ors lost all the audience's interest
when in your news coverage of the
incident you reported that "near-
ly all viewers remained"? At this
point your editorial takes on a
smug "I-know-what's-best-for-you-
children" attitude, and even contra-
dicts your attitude on the subject.
Your concluding remarks are what
I object to the most: "It is pre-
cisely the sympathy of heterosex-
uals that gay people must start us-
ing to create an unoppressive at-
mosphere for themselves". That
is a dangerous and condescending
statement to make,,and threatens
to negate all that you have said
before. It's almost as if you're ad-
vising us to ask (or is it beg?) for
that same degrading "pity" that
"Boys in the Band" does.
WELL, GAYS have been on their
knees long enough and now can
stand and feel free to say "no
thanks" to such tokenistic 'sym-
pathy'. If you want to support us,
that's one thing; what we don't
want or need is anyone's pity. If
by 'sympathy' you mean emo-
tional or active support free of
phony liberal thinking, then I se-
cond the emotion. If not, I suggest
you get your consciousness a little
more together.
Kyle Counts is a student in the
ram holy
tum that a person has a right to
do anything he wants within one
inch of my nose - are not only
presumed to be true, they are pr-
sumed to be self-evidently true.
Such a position reveals an ulti-
mate political value of freedom
from coercion (physical though not
economic) and the presupposition
that a society is a good society in
direct proportion to the extent that
it miimizes coercion. Democratic
society comes o be identified as
one in which freedom from coer-
cion (i.e. liberty) is not the only
(certainly not obviously the best)
candidate for an ultimate politicl
value. An equally attractive alter-
native, one which I favor, is he
value of human dignity. From
this viewpoint, coercion is bad
only to the extent that i manifests
itself a denial of human dignity
or is an impediment to t s achieve-
Consequently, in certain cicum-
stances, free speech may have to
play second fiddle to higher values.
Perhaps the "Boys in the Band"
incident was such a case.
IN SHORT, Liberal ideology plac-
es liberty at the pinnacle of its
political value structure, thus mak-
ing it inviolate. Further, that liber-
ty is the ultimate political value
is held by Liberalism to be self-
evident, thus blinding it to alterna-
tive ideological viewpoints.
Michael Starr is a graduate
student in philosophy at the Uni-
versity of Michigan.

Letters to The Daily should
be mailed to the Editorial Vi-
rector or delivered to Mary
Rafferty in the Student Plb-
lications business office in the
Michigan Daily building. Letters
should be typed, double-spaced
and normally should not exceed
250 words. The Editorial Direc.
tors reserve the right to edit
all letters submitted.


tion in primaries and 15 cents in the general election. TTE RECENT INCIDENT of the
Gacs' stopping the showing of the
A N EXCESS OF MONEY has often been cited as a con- "Boys in the Band" aroused much
tributing factor in the Watergate crimes. With extra interest. It should also have il-
funds at hand the campaigners found many nefarious ac- amisated samefundamental poli-
tivities into which they could funnel the money. tical issies. Unfortunately, it did
However, the bill has a major deficiency. It does noth- not.
ing to release the hold of large unions on the Demo- it addressedithttelto he th -g
cratic Party nor big business on the Republicans. In fact, m ntal questions of freedom raised
rather than closing the provisions that permit large group by the incident in its editorial
contributors, the Senate has made the provision more which was a standard Liberal de-
liberal. fense of "free speech". The label
'free sneech" is understood to cov-
rI'HE BILL MAKES PROGRESS in the area of election er the right to say who you want,
reform, and with revision and improvement in the read what you want, see any movie
House, it may yet help to eliminate future election scan- you want, etc., so long as you do
Hoe inot injure others or obstruct their
dais. freedom. Despite its well inten-
tioned efforts, the Daily simply
missed the point.
Why, pray tell, is freedom of
speech so almight important? Why
"V WOLOD LItEE414u66O Uf. WHOWOUtN(5ELiEVEtTWit't5, is it so valuable? What value does
MGtN 114TiSI00 ME, tiafatt'JuliIW.Iou0E l . ithave? What end does it serve?
To Liberal ears, these questions
:. will sound almost blasphemous and
at least misconstrued. That this is
so indicates the extent to which
Liberal propaganda has infected
ior thought processes..
TO THE LIBERAL the value of
the traditional political freedoms -
freedom of speech, press, assem-
bly, etc. - is self-evident. They
need not, indeed cannot, be jus-
tified. These freedoms are not
means to an end; they are ends in
themselves. A society which de-
~ ^ fends these freedoms, says the Lib-
eral, is free, just and democratic.
A society which denies them is not.
It is precisely these notions
which I intend to question. And
lest my purpose be misconstrued,
let me say from the beginning that
my aim is not to undermine the
value of these freedoms, but to
put them in perspective.
IN MY VIEW, a society is demo-
cratic to the extent that it allows
divergent and competing interests
equal access to political power;
that is to the extent that it affords
to individuals and groups in the
society the power to influence the

societal decisions which affect their
What basis, then, is there for the
view that the traditional political
freedoms, like the freedom to see
any movie one pleases, are invio-
late? It might be maintained that
the traditional political freedoms
are instrumental; that they are
means to an end. On this view, it is
supposed that if only people were
allowed to speak their minds, pub-
lish their opinions, peacefully as-
semble, etc., then a just and demo-
cratic society could not but flour-
But given the inherent propa-
gandizing effect of modern mass
communication, can we uncritically
assume that as long as we allow
a person to spear her mind, to pe-
tition the government, to put out
a newsletter, to picket, etc., that
her interests will be given a fair
and adequate hearing in the poli-
tical forum? Can we he sure that
the exercise of freedom will always
serve the ends of justice and demo-
cracy? In my opinion, we cannot.
IT MAY VERY well be that those
persons who tried to stop the
showing of "Boys in the Band"
were motivated by the intense be-
lief that their freedom to picket in
protest to the film was puny and
ineffectual and that the exercise
by the viewers of their right to
view uncensored whatever they
chose was oppressive to the dissi-
dents, destructive of their welfare,
and an affront to their dignity.
Strict adherence to the tradition-
al Liberal political freedoms does
not guarantee, and may at times
undercut, the higher values of jus-
tice and democracy.
To the Liberal, however, politi-
cal freedoms, like the freedom to
see whatever movie one wishes,
are intrinsic values, ends in them-
selves. The traditional political
freedoms - speech, press, assem-
bly and the rest - are said to be
in need of, perhaps incapable of,
any further justification by appeal
to higher values.
THUS THE Liberal principles -
expressed by Justice Holmes' dic-

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