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January 21, 1982 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-01-21

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OPINION

----------

Page 4

Thursday, January 21, 1982

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Weasel

Vol. XCII, No. 91

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, M1 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

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By Robert Lence
PIPNI- "RE tIZE
ThAT T-WAS PSOMALL'
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The Michigan Theater

:

A tradition worth saving

0l

T HE CURRENT decline in govern-
ment support for the arts and
humanities once again may hit home.
This time, it may hit the Michigan
Theater, a cultural hallmark in a very
culture-oriented community.
This week, the city and private in-
dividuals sponsored a casino gambling
benefit in an attempt to keep the finan-
cially-troubled theater solvent. The
special event was laudable, but it sadly
demonstrated that private funding
probably will not be enough to save the
Michigan Theater, especially because
private donors are currently suffering
from severe economic restraints
themselves.
The theater has a rich tradition that
enhances the University and the city.
Built in 1928, the Michigan Theater is
one of the few grandiose move-palace
theaters still in existence. Its heritage
is expressed throughout the building-
in its unique architectural detail and
even in its classic Barton organ.
But the theater is not merely a relic
of the past; it is as culturally vital
today as ever before. Last year, the
theater housed some 900 events that
were attended by over 150,000 people.
The events included classic film
showings, opera, ballet, chamber
musit, and even the World's Worst
Filr Festival. The theater also
provides services to the community,

such as reduced rates for senior
citizens and benefit performances.
To begin sorely-needed renovations
and restorations, however, the theater
must pin its hopes on receiving federal
aid, even though these prospects look
bleak. This April, the theater ad-
ministration will apply for a federal
grant from the National Historic
Preservation Agency, affiliated with
the Department of Interior. It seems
doubtful that the Interior staff will
show a marked sensitivity to the
preservation of historic sites, when In-
terior Secretary James Watt is willing
to reclaim substantial portions of
American wilderness and national
parks.
The Michigan Theater's plight is
representative of the problems facing
the arts today. With the callous at-
titude expressed by the Reagan ad-
ministration toward cultural
enrichment, the arts frequently have
few places to turn to for help, save the
private sector.
The people are willing to help, as the
Michigan Theater benefit illustrates,
but they can't shoulder the entire bur-
den of fostering and improving the ar-
ts. The Michigan Theater, and similar
institutions across the country, may be
lost unless the federal government
looks beyond budgetcutting and con-
siders long-term efforts to preserve the
nation's cultural heritage.

Growing up in the real world

"(If I were a student) I would share
with my classmates rejection of the world
as it is today-all of it. Is there any point
in studying and work? Fornication-at
least that is something good. What else is
there to do? Fornicate and take drugs,
against this horrible strain of idiots who
govern the world "
-Nobel laureate Dr. Albert
Szent-Gyorgi, 1970
If you are a college student, you probably
heard a lot of questions during your recent
visit home. The lots of questions usually boil
down to one. After asking about summer
prospects, vacation plans, current courses,
and so bn, everybody wants to know this:
What are you going to do when you grow up?
Some students have already made this
choice, by taking up computer science,
engineering, or some other field which is
likely to offer gainful employment upon the
completion of a bachelor's degree. Those who
have studied "liberal arts" (are there "con-
servative arts?") may have to finish one or
two more degrees before moving on to a
"challenging" career and a soft, dull job.
IN THE MEANTIME, the degree you get is
usually the third. Have you sent away for law
school applications? How did you do on your
GRE's? Did you know that there are almost
no jobs for teachers anymore?
It's the what-will-you-do-when-you-grow-up
game, and in order to play you have to start
very early along. Do well in high school so you
can get into a good college. Do well in college
so you can get into a good graduate school.
Do well there so you can get a good job when
you get out. It goes on and on-to the house in
the suburbs, marriage, and children, who
must themselves do well in high school in or-
der to.. .
Perhaps this never-ending cycle of
achievement will make more sense if we stop
thinking of ourselves as individuals. for a
moment, and start considering the role that
we as a group play in society at large. For one
thing, we are not just any college students.
We attend a prestigious university in one of
the wealthiest nations on earth, and we are
being gr omed to take over the intricate
machinery of industrial civilization.
IF WE TAKE a look at the contradictions of
industrial civilization, we may not be so
willing to take our place at the top of it. While
modern society has provided a comfortable
life for many and incredible riches for a select
few, there is a significant portion of the
world's population which still faces a daily
battle for survival.
Over a billion people subsist on an income

By Roger Kerson
of less than $90 per year. Ninety dollars is
enough to buy two pairs of designer jeans, or
enough to keep you and a few friends high on
cocaine for a few hours. But no matter how
low the standard of living might be in some
countries, $90 is not enough to pay for the
necessities of life for an entire year.
And what about us? Will we continue to live
in safety and comfort? Maybe not. Maybe
nobody will. As the U.S. government pursues
an ever-more confrontational foreign policy,
the idea of nuclear war grows from possibility
to probability to near-certainty.
AND EVEN IF we don't blow ourselves to
smithereens, we seem equally likely to con-
demn ourselves to a slow death by gradual
and irreversible destruction of the mother
who feed us all: our planet Earth. Unless we
radically alter the way we interact with our
ecosystem, we may find that large sections of
the planet are uninhabitable by the end of the
next century, if not sooner.
What are you going to do when you grow
up? We've already grown up. The question
is, what are we doing about the problems of
poverty, environmental destruction, and
nuclear war? Never mind what we do for a
living. What can we do for life?
Well, our European brothers and sisters are
taking to the streets to tell their leaders they
will not tolerate senseless death. Unfor-
tunately, the most that the anti-nuclear
movement is likely to lead to is another
nuclear arms limitation treaty.
THIS MAY NOT do us much good, since
previous arms control agreements have been
notably ineffective. Since the Partial Test
Ban Treaty was signed in 1962, nuclear tests
have continued at the rate of about one a
week. When the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty was signed in 1968, five nations
possessed nuclear weapons. The latest count
is nine or ten. And since the U.S. and the
Soviet Union signed the SALT I treaty in 1972,
both countries have significantly increased
their nuclear arsenals, although the treaty
was designed to limit this expansion.
So the European peace marches may not
bring peace after all. But marching in the
streets is not the only way to agitate for social
change. Some people make a career out of it.
Across the country, full-time activists and
organizers are helping low-income residents
fight city hall, working with union dissidents,
fighting price hikes by oil companies-there's
a long list of good work that needs to be done.
But before you sign up to work in the
nearest slum, you should know that working
for social change ain't easy. Jobs are getting
harder to find these days, since a lot of

organizations are being Reaganomixed out of
existence. And there are times when it all
seems futile-the letter-writing campaigns,
the public hearings, the meeting with
legislators-and you begin to wonder if it is
really possible for your work to have any
lasting impact.
WHAT'S LEFT? Should we take the
hedonistic advice offered by Dr. Szent-
Gyorgi? I'm all for doing what feels good, so
it's hard to disagree with the good doctor. But
it's also hard for me to feel good as the world
is falling apart.
In 1964, students of the Free Speech
Movement at Berkeley shut down the school
in a dispute over the student right to political
expression. Free Speech activists at Berkeley
were among the* first to express their.
alienation from our mechanized and.
dehumanized society. Urging students to join,
a sit-in, Free Speech leader Mario Savio said:
"There is a time when the operation of the
machine becomes so odious, makes you so
sick at heart, that you can't take part, you
can't even passively take part, and you've got
to put your bodies upon the gears, upon the
levers, upon all the apparatus and make it
stop."
Are we really ready to take on the
machine? Are enough people angry enough to
create a powerful force for social change?'
Probably not. We probably don't have the
courage to face the consequences. Those who
run the machine we call society don't ap-
preciate it when other people get in the way.
Witness the Soviet-sponsored terror in Poland,
for example, and the American-sponsored
terror in El Salvador. Violent repression can
happen here too. Ask the families of the
students who were killed by white racists in
the early sixties, while they were crusading
for civil rights in the South. Or ask the
families of the students who were killed by
National Guard members in the early seven-
ties, while protesting against the Vietnam
war.
For now, the least that you can do is to
think twice before you write your next ap-
plication for graduate school, or before you
attend your next corporate job interview. Do
you want to take your place among the "elite"
of our society? Do you want to be at the con-
trols of the machine that decides who will eat
and who will starve, that tears up the earth
we live on, that closes schools and hospitals so
it can build bigger and better bombs? Is that
what you want to do when you grow up?
Maybe if enough of us just walk away, the
machine will just run out of gas.
Kerson, a 1980 University graduate, is
currently employed as a secretary. He has
no future plans.

",LEAVE THE FA('APES IT BIE JUST
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6
6

I

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Weasel needs open mind on sex

To the Daily:
Ordinarily I enjoy Robert Len-
ce's comic strip Weasel. How
well it captures the humor of
University life! Parody does,
however, take the risk of being
cruel, as evidenced by the comic
which insults homosexuals
(Daily, Jan. 12).
The column depicts Weasel ac-
ting as a character witness at the
trial of Fred, his roommate, who
is charged with burning down the
Economics Building. So far, so
good. Enter the evil prosecuting
attorney to question and in-
timidate Weasel on the stand.
(Booo!) The attorney asks
Weasel what is his relationship to
Fred. "I'm his roommate," an-
swers Weasel. When the attorney

alleges they must be
homosexuals, Weasel becomes
defensive. "No! No!," he cries
emphatically, "Roommates at
school! Everybody's got room-
mates at school!" The attorney
grandly concludes to the jury the
"sick, deranged personality of
the defendant" for attending "a
school full of homosexuals."
O.K. Lence-we live in a
homophobic sociey. The
blockheaded attorney attempts to
establish Weasel as a
homosexual in order to lower
Weasel's credibility. That I can
laugh at. What I find insulting is
that Weasel himself is depicted
as being so uptight about his
sexuality.
Would it be so awful if Weasel

were gay? Sure, he is acting just
as any typical college student
would, but as such a student he is
unacceptable to me as the major
character of .the comic. Until
now, I had the impression he was
a liberal. Even from a humorous
standpoint, the absurdity of the
bigoted attorney is lost against
the overly-defensive Weasel.
Lence could have been both safe.
and funny with a mature Weasel.
Weasel fans
To the Daily:
We are the Daily's earliest
readers. Because of our noctur-
nal habits developed while
working on the yearbook, we cat-
ch the paper between 3 and 4 a.m.
before it is dispersed about cam-
pus.
. What is the first thing we look
for? Even before scanning the
front page headlines, we head
straight for the Opinion Page to

Should Lence wish to undo
some damage and "liberate"
Weasel, he might in the near
future have Weasel show some
physical affection for his room-
mate, now in jail, by perhaps
embracing him. But
please - don't have them laugh
about their awkwardness at such
a moment!
-Donavan Mack
January 12
0cheer. ..

0

talented cartoonist approaching
the par of Doonesbury. Our
favorite cartoons are plastered
all over our office walls-if he
were to compile his work into a
book he would have three im-
mediate sales.
We're glad that there is one
"wit" on the Daily who knows
what he's doing!
-Dan DeVries
Jeff Schrier

A

Letters and columns represent the opin-

I

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