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August 02, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-08-02

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Page 4-Wednesday, August 2, 1978-The Michigan Dai

Eighty-eight Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mi. 48109
Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 56-S News Phone: 764-0552
Wednesday, August 2, 1978
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan

South Quad activism:
Paper towel politics

TV violence wron
censorship worst


A YEAR AGO, 14-year-old Ronnie Zamora
was tried for the murder of an elderly
woman in Miami, Florida. His lawyer claimed
that he didn't realize that what he had done was
wrong since TV had conditioned him to believe
that murder was acceptable. Zamora had seen a
great deal of bloodshed on violent television
shows but the jury found him guilty anyway.
This week, the issue of the affects of television
violence is on trial again. It may cost NBC $11'
million, and the rest of us the right to view or
read violent stories if we so choose.
On September 10, 1974 nine-year-old Olivia
Niemi was attacked by three young girls who
raped her with a beer bottle while a young boy
stood watch. Niemi's lawyers claim the at-
tackers were imitating a similar assault which
had been shown in the television movie "Born
Innocent" on NBC just four days earlier. In that
show, a young girl was raped by four other girls
using a mop handle.
The issue here is whether the First Amen-
dment protects a television network's right to
depict violence.
While we cannot condone the portrayal of such
brutal violence on television, we cannot support
outlawing it. Even the Pshchology experts will
disagree as to whether or not the viewing of "Born
Innocent"could have directly caused the real-life
attack on Olivia Niemi, and it will be equally im-
possible to prove that the three attackers
wouldn't have simply committed some other
horrible act had it not been for the show. Our
point is that if an attempt is made to protect
society from the averse affects of any particular
television show, radio program or news story, we
will severely cripple our First Amendment
If the Niemis win this case, who is to say that
authors and book publishers won't next be
hauled into court for having portrayed violent
scenes? And what of newspapers? Will they be
prevented from covering the news that is
deemed too violent?
The case of Olivia Niemi is a tragic one, but we
must remember that there are certain risks in
a free society. In many nations government has
complete control of the media, and while it may
prevent violence from being depicted, it may
also prevent controversial political topics from
being aired or printed. The risk of such gover-
nmental censorship is simply too great.
Instead of censorship, TV stations ought to be
encouraged to improve a system of notifying
parents before potentially objectionable
material is shown. Furthermore, the public
should letktelevision producers,twriterseand
sponsors know that such brutal, senseless
violence is not the sort of vieawing we want, nor
the entertainment that society needs.

By Richard Berke
It was election night 1976 in
South Quad. Asa joke, a neighbor
down the hall affixed a sign on his
door establishing "Republican
Headquarters." I then put up a
sign announcing my eighth-floor
room as Democratic Headquar-
To my surprise, most of my
friends poured into the room
down the hall to crowd around a
television set and watch as the
returns came in. My room was
empty and remained that way
throughout the night. I even
wandered down and joined the
Ford enthusiasts at times, fin-
ding it hard to sit alone on
election night.
November evening hit me hard. I
had left my home in a liberal
Washington, D.C. suberb expec-
ting my acquaintances at the
University to at least be
somewhat politically-minded.
The expectation furthest from
my mind was to meet individuals
who couldn't care less about
politics. That is, so long as Gerald
Ford won the election.
I came to the University partly
because I liked the idea of a large
school and a college town with
enough activities to keep me busy
ten times over. I thought the
diversity of Ann Arbor's student
population would allow me to
escape the East Coast for a while
without abandoning my
proximity to politically active
types. Not that I spent younger
days picketing at the White
House gate or marching down
Pennsylvania Avenue. But
something about being close to
political involvement makes me
feel as though I have a realistic
picture of what's going on in the
Before settling here I had a
politically progressive image of
the University. I was acutely
aware that it had been the place
where activists like Tom Hayden
got their beginnings, a campus on
which sit-ins and demonstrations
were commonplace. I pictured
this as a political campus with
the advantages of a laid-back,
peaceful setting. I perceived the
;University as sort of an oasis in
the middle of a large cow
pasture where the intelligensia
and politically aware would
gather to share their insights. No
doubt I held a romantic picture,
but that fact didn't soften the
surprise that hit me on election
FRIENDS sometimes call me a
"bleeding heart Democrat whose
only interest is to feed the poor;
feed the poor." At first those
comments were a little hard to
take since I never considered
myself an extremist in the first
Granted, my conception of the
political make-up of the typical
University student might be
distorted since much of it
on South Quad-a lace not

known for its political get-up-and-
go. Still, one example of students
showing their concern and get-
ting involved demonstrates how
only self-serving issues corral
any student concern.
Last fall, the University
removed paper towel dispensers
from dormitory bathrooms as a
cost-cutting measure. Students
formed a committee, met with
Housing officials, and blasted the
University for taking away their
towels. It was refreshing to see

sad: an academic town in which
people can only be reached by
I don't mean to say the Univer-
'sity's realities have diminished
my vision of it as a great refuge
from the isolated Midwest. The
atmosphere is an academic one,
as I had anticipated. The
Republicanism isn't as solid as,
say Grand Rapids; and there is a
certain degree of involvement
here, albeit minimal. Some of the
old standby activists of a decade

- -- - _ AR E
''-- '" y i~~

students get outraged, but over
an issue like paper towels?
Surely there are a few more
critical issues that extend beyond
one's personal convenience.
RELATED TO the lack 'of
political interest among students
I was also surprised to discover
how uninformed many really are.
A great number of my friends
don't even read newspapers on a
regular basis. It seems ironic
that here, where people have
come to learn, they have little
conception of news events in Ann
Arbor and even less of life outside
the city. I-can understand what
with studying, classes and more
studying, why people don't find
time to read the newspaper-it's
easy to let it go. But the result is

ago are pushing their causes. Yet
they are just not the stars
anymore; they are virtually un-
noticed or when they are
acknowledged they are cast off as
oldies-rebelling in an
unrebellious era.
The University is a routine in-
stitution. Students come to learn,
get their degrees, and leave,
hoping to find employment. This
cycle is not uncommon at other
colleges, but I suppose I would
have liked the University of
Michigan to return to a passive
mood a lot less quickly. It could
be I was born ten years too late.
As a Daily Night Editor,
Richard Berke shows no signs
of political depression.

Submissions of essay and opinion to the
Daily s Editorial page should be typed and
triple spaced. They will be returned to the
author only if a request is made to do so.
Publication is based on conciseness, clarity of
thought and writing, and overall appeal.

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