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November 23, 1980 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1980-11-23

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Sunday, November 23, 1980

The Michigan Daily

You

don't even have to be

Catholic

If etiquette experts think politics and religion
bad topics for polite conversation individually,
they should try compounding the sin by
discussing religion in a political setting - like
the editorial page of a secular daily newspaper,
for instance.
Virtually any time this newspaper (or any
other, I would imagine), has seen fit to criticize
a particular religious institution's actions or
philosophy, we have received letters decrying

Obiiquit y
By Joshua Peck

sin: for his stances against "artificial"
methods of birth control, against freedom of
choice in abortion, and against homosexuality.
We inevitably hear via the mails and in face-to-
face confrontations about our alleged arrogan-
ce: "How dare you pronounce judgement on a
theological matter of which you have no under-
standing, when infinitely more experienced
and wise men have deliberated centuries to
come up with the tenets of the Catholic faith?"
How dare we? I cannot speak for all my
colleagues, but I feel perfectly at east with non-
Catholic criticism of the Catholic church.
Religion does have an obligation to the world at
large, and it is easy to spot religious movemen-
ts, individuals, and ideas that do not meet that
obligation.
I acknowledge, whether or not I like it, that
most of the world's people, and virtually all of
its politicians, act primarily in their own in-
terest. The actions politicians take always
benefit some segment of the population as well,
but there is a long-term personal reward for
those elected officials who manage to do well
consistently by some significant portion of the
population.
Religion, at least the Judeo-Christian
variety, claims to be above all that selfish scut-
tling about the business that will propagate and
perpetuate the individual's power, wealth, and
happiness.
Thereis, of course, a large part of every
religion that deals strictly with Man's relation-
ship with his creator, which is no concern of the
secular world. The practice of prayer comes to

mind as one element of religious devotion that,
is clearly immune from worldly con-
siderations.
But those worshippers who imagine that all
their religiously-related actions are ,equally
private are mistaken. There is evidence, even
in the Good Book itself, that religious directives
concerning man's relationship with his fellow
man bear equal weight-at least-with more
'personal matters.
The Ten Commandments, embraced as the
basic tenets of both the Jewish and Christian
faiths, are divided by theologians into two
distinct categories: Law concerning man and
God, and that concerning man and man. The
first are matters that clearly belong in the
private sphere: "I am the lord thy God,"
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy
God in vain," and so forth.
But now the rest: Thou shalt not murder,
commit adultery, steal, bear false witness
against your neighbor, or covet his spouse or-
possessions. These are matters of civic respon-
sibility more than they are of faith. Surely
argumentation-over such matters belongs in
the public sphere, even if the source is said to
be divine,
Once the hurdle barring secular examination
of moral precepts is surmounted, religious
sources yield much fascinating material that
give clues to the hidden and overt sources of
Biblical morality. One particularly relevant
example can be found in Genesis 38:8-10. It
concerns a young man, Onan (etymologists will
recognize the name), who had the unfortunate

experience of being slaughtered by the good
Lord for the sin of wasting his semen - he
chose to spill it on the ground rather than
depositing it in his sister-in-law.
Onan's fate is at the root of all the pope's
notions barring non-reproductive sexual ac-
tivity, from masturbation to homosexuality
(though this is proscribed elsewhere as well) to
the use of contraception in heterosexual inter-
course. The authors of the Bible evidently
believed, like many other people of their day,
that the capacity to reproduce was limited and
therefore precious, and that wasting semen
was tantamount to murder.
This ethic looks a little silly in light of the
modern understanding that even normal inter-
course "murders" the potential population of a
good-sized city or two. But that may be just the
point: Religious reaction to secular criticism
has to be quick and angry if it's to be successful
in keeping the godless world from debunking
such religious superstition as the Onan story.
Those who prefer reason to mythology ought
not to be swayed by ecclesiastical admonitions
to "stay out of our business." When, indeed,
has religious blundering ever been corrected
by any within a given faith? It is, in fact, the
responsibility of the skeptical world to peel
back the obscuring folds of Faith. No one else
will do it.
Joshua. Peck is the co-editor of the
Daily's Opinion page. His column appears
every Sunday.

. ,
*.
a .F.
a A t
g

us for daring to attack on secular grounds the
private decisions of religious authorities. It has
happened in response to mention of the
Unification Church (Moonies, for the
uninitiated), and when we have subjected the
Mormon Church to barbs for various matters of
bad taste such as its racism and sexism.
But the religious institution that finds its
name on this page most often is one with a
history richer and slightly more influential
than either the Korea- or Utah-based sects. I
speak, of course, of the Roman Catholic Chur-
eh.
We have scolded the pope for all manner of

,, ;

Pope John Paul 11

-r

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. XC1, No. 70 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Porter, SAID ticket are
clear LSA-SG choices

Feiffer
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11

THE ALTERNATIVES in this
week's LSA-Student Government
Oection are very clear-continued
progress or regression. At the polls
tomorrow and Tuesday, students will
hlave the opportunity to determine the
direction that LSA-SG will follow in the
doming year. There is clearly only one
4hoice. In the LSA-SG presidential
election, Sue Porter offers the ability
and courage to fight hard for student
interests against a University ad-
m~inistration that has long been reluc-
tant to include students in its decision-
snaking process.
Porter's opponent is Tim Lee of the
Student Alliance for Better Represen-
(ation. He offers stagnation at best,
and regression at worst, for LSA-SG.
Porter, who is heading the Students
for Academic and Institutional
bevelopment ticket, has shown a
;riving consistency in her work with
LSA-SG that is essential to success in
the slow process of gaining real
student influence in administrative
Decisi'ons. Furthermore, as an LSA-SG
veteran, Porter has proven her ability
to work in assertive cooperation with
members of the faculty and the ad-
inistration. She has shown an un-
swerving commitment to winning a
student voice in administrative
decisions regarding the impending
Oudget cuts, to pushing the University
to develop an effective program to
ieet its affirmative action goals, and
to dramatically improving the
qualifications of teaching assistants.
Porter and her running mate
Margaret Talmers will seek greater
student input into budget-cutting
decisions through work on faculty and
administrative committees. Porter
has already proven successful at
asserting student views during her
tenure as chairwoman of the Student-
Faculty Policy Board. In that position,
Porter fought hard to defend and ex-
pand student influence in decisions
that directly affect the quality of
education.
Lee, on the other hand, seems to lack
any clear direction. He speaks in
vague terms of an overhaul of the

prominent role in his judgments as
LSA-SG president. Currently, one of
LSA-SG's major functions is the
allocatton of funds to student
organizations. Lee freely admits that
his decisions as president regarding
which campus groups would receive
LSA-SG funds would be based largely
on his evaluation of the political at-
titudes of the organization. For exam-
ple, Lee said he would "absolutely" at-
tempt to block funding to any left-wing
or radical student group. Clearly, one
of the great virtues of this campus lies
in the diversity of its students and their
organizations.
For any student government
president to allow personal prejudices
to enter into funding decisions is un-
conscionable.
Indeed, most desirable would be a
redirection of LSA-SG's focus away
from an emphasis upon allocations and
more toward efforts to improve the
quality of academics. But, if
allocations continue to be a major fun-
ction of LSA-SG, funds must be
distributed on the basis of the con-
tribution a given group makes to cam-
pus life-not on the basis of politics.
Perhaps most disturbing, Lee has
shown himself to be prone to commen-
ts and actions which are less than well
thought out. In fact, one can never be
quite sure what to expect next from
Lee. He simply has not exhibited the
maturity essential to effective
negotiation with faculty and ad-
ministration officials. The anti-SAID
smear campaign of distortion he has
been waging is clear evidence of that.
Students for Academic and In-
stitutional Development is the clear
choice for a responsible and effective
student government that will fight for
student interests.
The accomplishments that the SAID
leadership has made in LSA-SG during
the past year are not achievements
which are usually glorified. They are
the silent victories in closed-door
negotiations with the administration.
They are the hard-fought gain of one
more student seat on the ad-
ministration committee for the selec-
t' -- -P - _--' T C4* -1- - r1_- .- -U-

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4

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Federal mandatory deposit la

To the Daily:
Although the State of Michigan
has enacted a beverage con-
tainer law, the nationwide
problem still exists. Some people
may wonder how something as
inconsequential as a beverage
container can arouse so much
national attention. The interest
lies in the fact that "the volume
of these throwaway articles had
grown to the unbelievable num-
ber of seventy billion bottles and
cans by 1977. If these containers
were placed end to end, they
would circle the globe nearly two
hundred times."
The impact of throwaway
beverage containers is
heightened each time one glances
at a field along the road only to
realize it has been transformed
into a litterer's paradise. The
situation is especially dishear-
tening when a nature scene is
ruined by the sight of a rusted
beer can. Something can be done.
The federal government should
establish a mandatory deposit
law for beverage containers.
One might ask, why not just*
use the litter laws that are
already on the books? The an-
swer is that these state or local
laws are by and large unenfor-
ceable. In addition, a federal law
is necessary to eliminate the
uneven application that is an un-
constitutional burden on inter-
state commerce. The opponents
of deposit legislationhave argued
that there would be a large num-
ber of jobs lost adding to the
unemployment rate that could be
attributed to returnable bottles.
However, due to the
mehaniatinof the bottle and

three to four month adjustment
period even this cost could be
minimized. On the average,
throwaways cost thirty percent
more to produce than retur-
nables. The National League of
Women Voters, in cooperation
with the Environmental Protec-
tion Agency, surveyed twenty-
four states and determined that
beverages in refillable containers
were actually cheaper for con-
sumers.
There are some powerful
arguments in favor of a national
deposit law. A mandatory law
would reduce the consumption of
raw materials in the container
manufacturing process, in-
cluding 'energy. The National
Commission of Supplies and
Shortages reported that one step
to avoid future shortages of raw
materials is the establishment of
a mandatory deposit on beverage
containers. Foresighted leaders
in the beverage industry even
admit that there may soon be
materials problems due to the
accelerating rate of consum-
ption. Of_ course, studies of
resource savings focus on that
precious commodity, energy. The
Administration Resource Con-
servation Committee reports a
system of reusing bottles and
cans would use only a third as
much energy as the current
system.
Another form of savings iden-
tified with the establishment of a
deposit law is an item everyone is
concerned about, the taxpayer's
money. Between 55 and 70 per-
cent of all roadside litter is bot-
tles andcans and the enormous
cost of disposing of the millions of

suitable is often impossible to
find. Those sites that are found
are located at longer distances,
which means inevitably rising
costs. The solution is to reduce
the solid waste that the cities
must handle.
Another effect of the deposit
law, which cannot be analyzed in
terms of cost, is the observed
reduction in roadside litter. This
is the basis for most of the
legislation's most popular sup-
port. As a society, we cannot put
a price on beauty. However, the
public is becoming more and
more aware of the value and
vulnerability of a clean environ-
ment. A law cannot be truly ef-
fective unless it has popular, sup-
port. Polls taken in many states
where container laws have been
in effect for a few years show

w needed
over 90 percent in favor of the
law.
The very high return rate also
demonstrates the law's potential
effectiveness. Michigan is jusI
one of seven states which have
already passed mandatory
deposit legislation on their own.
Finally, on a nationwide basis; a
poll was taken that showed 73
percent in favor of a federal laW
requiring all soft drinks, and beer
to be sold in returnable con-
tainers.
Therefore, Congress shouid
enact legislation to improve our:
environment while conserving'
both raw materials and tax;
dollars. A federal mandatory;
deposit law would represent our'
commitment to a cleaner
America.
-Patricia Brooks
November 11

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Nuke waste disposal risky
o the Daily. deemed geologically unsound, at
Almost unnoticed by Michigan which point the Nuclear-
itizens, Governor Milliken has Regulatory Commission cans
ormed acommittee to study his celled its plans to bury wastes:
.976 decision that banned the there. If the U.S. government;
urial of radioactive wastes in pulled back, one wonders'why'
he state. On this committee of Milliken is pushing the issue. '
hirteen (twelve men and one Waste from the Michigan reac-
woman), ten have affirmed pro- tors is currently shipped to a ce&t-
uclear power affiliations or per- tral site in Illinois. That is not an
,onal interests, acceptable solution either, for
Now, if the governor wanted an accidents may occur in the ship-
nbiased report on the ad- ping process. Most nuclear
isability of nuclear waste waste is unlabeled, and even the
lisposal in Michigan, why would driver does not know the contents
ie choose a committee of such a of his cargo. Furthermore, it is
omposition? Obviously, the unfair to dump our waste in
overnor has his mind made up another state.
n this issue and just wants an of- However, while there is

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