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October 05, 1983 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-10-05

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I

OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, October 5, 1983

The Michigan Daily

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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Stewart

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-Mr.-

Vol. XCIV - No. 24

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

THIS BENCHING
RULE. SUCKSo
ALL. WEK T
VN PLAY T1

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

Gagging Helms

FRESHMEN
. PRACTICE AIN T SO BAD-
HOST THINK OF ALL
THH MOMEWJORK WE LL
GET DONE,,,RGHT
TUTOR?

14

SEN. JESSE Helms' filibuster against
a bill that would make Dr. Martin
Luther King's birthday a national
holiday was a ludicrous attempt to drown
the legislation in a wave of anti-com-
munist banter.
Helms (R-N.C.) started the filibuster
Monday claiming that King's "action-
oriented Marxism... is not compatible
with the concepts of this country."
If King's ideas about peace and
equality among men are not com-
patible with this country's concepts,
what is? King was the greatest civil
rights leader the country has known.
With his guidance, millions of blacks
awakened to demand the equal treat-
ment under the law due them. Millions
of whites had their eyes opened to the
country's institutionalized racism.
King's belief in non-violence and a
brotherhood among men won him a
Nobel Prize.
To attempt to cloak these

achievements behind a dark cape of
communism is outrageous. King was
not a communist, though some of those
he worked with may have been. His
ideas and achievements went beyond
political ideology to reach human
beings. He unalterably changed the
history of civil rights in this country.
Helms' fellow senators should
recognize his objections for what they
are - pure bigotry. He fights most, if
not all, civil rights legislation. Helms.
doesn't object to the proposal because
of King's politics. He objects because
King was black.
The bill to make King's birthday a
national holiday passed the House by a
wide margin this summer. It has
strong support in the Senate, and
President Reagan would be under
heavy pressure to sign it if it crossed
his desk.
The bill has well-deserved support. It
should be passed. So do us a favor Sen.
Helms - shut up.

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Holstering handguns

THE UNITED States Supreme Court
gave handgun control proponents,
a big boost Monday. The court refused
to hear an appeal of a lower court
ruling which upheld a Chicago
suburb's handgun ban, thus affirming
the law.
Though the gun control victory is
welcome, the Court may be seen as
backing away from a hotly-contested,
emotional issue. Until the Supreme
Court hears a case involving handgun
control no clear interpretation of the
Constitution's Second Amendment will
be available to answer at least some of
the questions posed by the dispute.
The National Rifle Association and
the American Civil Liberties Union
have been fighting court battles about
the Morton Grove, Ill, handgun or-
dinance almost since the day the
village passed the measure. Last
December, a three-judge U.S. Court of
Appeals panel voted 2-1 in favor of the
village and the ACLU. The appeals
court rested its ruling on the only two
Supreme Court rulings involving the
controversial Second Amendment.
The first decision, in 1886, said the
right to bear arms was meant as a
check on Congress and the federal
government, not on state and local
governments. The other ruling, in 1939,

said the only arms covered by the
amendment were those necessary for
"a well-regulated mlitia.''
Relying on those precedents, the ap-
peals court ruled that handguns are not
necessary for "a well-regulated
militia.'
Though the Supreme Court has
decided to remain silent, the handgun
control battles are not over. The NRA
announced it will continue to fight the
Morton Grove ordinance in Illinois
state courts. Other villages and towns
were waiting for the final outcome of
the Morton Grove case before they ac-
ted on similar proposals. In fact, just
hours after the Supreme Court an-
nounced its ruling, lawmakers in
Skokie, Ill. - Morton Grove's neighbor
- voted down a similar handgun ban
after a heated debate.
The debate over the right to own a
handgun isn't going to disappear no
matter how deafening the Supreme
Court's silence is. The Court still needs
to answer a few questions: Does the
Constitution guarantee the right to own
a needless weapon? Is that weapon
"necessary to the security of a free
society?"
It would be nice to hear some an-
swers.

SAN FRANCISCO - Wielding
the power of public opinion,
citizens' groups are, in effect,
taking the law into their own
hands. And so far, few elected of-
ficials seem willing to fight the
trend.
This "new vigilantism" is most
evident in California, where John
Mancino, for one, finds the
justice system too permissive. He
sees parole, probation, and bail
policies as "experimental." So
two years ago Mancino founded
Citizens for Truth to "do the work
of our public officials."
THE GROUP WATCHES the
schedule of state parole board
hearings in California to see
when particular cases are due,
circulates petitions to oppose
parole, monitors the activities of
parolees, and lobbies for tougher
sentencing laws.
The year before, relatives of
victims of drunken drivers for-
med Mothers Against Drunk
Drivers. MADD, which now has
chapters in 41 states, publishes
lists of judges its members con-
sider "lenient" and presses to
have them - and "lenient"
district attorneys - removed.
Chief Justice Rose Bird of the
California Supreme Court, her-
self the object of a recall attempt
by Citizens for Truth and others
as "soft on crime," believes that
"the increasing attacks on the
courts and on the legal profession
reflect a dangerous impatience
with the rule of law."
MANCINO admits he is im-
patient, but says the danger is in
the judicial process itself. "We
are less concerned with
procedural rules than we are in
protecting ourselves from known
killers," he says.
Citizen intervention in the
judicial process is far from
unknown in U.S. history. From
the time of the Puritans on,
various "vigilante" groups have
pursued their own view of justice,
sometimes in the absence of
government action, sometimes
despite it. But in the past decade,
such forces have achieved new
force - and new respectability.
In San Francisco, for example,
politicians, including the mayor,
have responded to pressure from
gay citizens' groups and asked
the U.S. Justice Department to
charge former city supervisor
Dan White with violations of civil
rights. White, who is scheduled
for parole in January, was jailed
in 1978 for killing two city of-
ficials, Mayor George Moscone
and Harvey Milk, a fellow super-
visor and a gay activist.
JOHN WAHL, THE group's at-
torney, makes it clear that the
object is not a federal trial, but a
longer sentence for White.
Established civil liberties
organizations - which first used
federal civil rights prosecutions
in cases where it was felt local
criminal prosecutions would be
inadequate - find such sen-
timents disquieting. This new
concern surfaced recently in

Citizens
Of vigil
By Michea

from various state and county
governments, a petition from the
g r o u state's attorney general, and a
roups. resolution from the state senate4
OPS''- all demanding that the parole
be rescinded. So Fain's parole
was denied because of the
"widespread unprecedented and
p o sse extraordinary public outcry."
This ruling was reversed in the
courts. But when Attorney
General George Dfukmejian
became governor, he exercised a
rarely used statute giving him
powerto revokespare. Fain
again appealed successfully -4
yet he is still in prison, waiting
d Kroll for a rehearing sought by the
governor. In the meantime, a
sharp focus. One is that of constitutional amendment has
Gregory Ulas Powell. In 1977 been introduced to give the
Powell was given a release date governor precisely the power the
f 1983, when he would have ser- courts have said he does not have
ved 20 years. This was reaffir- - namely, to block the parole of
med at several subsequent any prisoner with a life sentence.
hearings. Citizens for Truth, which led
Then, in February of 1982, the the "Keep Fain In" campaign,
movie, "The Onion Field," which applauded the governor "for
ncluded a graphic re-enactment having the guts to ignore
f Powell's crime, was shown on politics."

popular sentence would pose the
same dangers that the con-
stitutional law against double
jeopardy - prosecuting someone
twice for the same offense - is
designed to prevent.
STILL, THE JUSTICE Depar-
tment, acknowledging the
protests, announced that it will
ask a federal grand jury'whether
the two men should be tried on
federal charges.
In California, some of these
pressures have been incor-
porated into law. A ballot
initiative passed last year, the
"Victims Bill of Rights," allows
the close relations of victims of a
crime to testify at the criminal's
parole hearing. The state parole
board already has received more
than 50 requests for notice of
hearings, and the number is in-
creasing rapidly.
Although the board rarely
grants parole - 97 percent of all
cases in 1982 were denied - ac-
cording to Mancino, no one "can
assure us that these dangerous
individuals are rehabilitated.
Parole is just an experiment at
the expense of the public."
TWO CALIFORNIA cases have
brought this issue into especially

s
o
rr
it
of

national television. Within a few
weeks, the parole board called a
hearing to rescind his parole,
noting that the then-governor and.
the Los Angeles district attorney
- both running for office in the
state at the time - had written to
oppose the parole.
In April 1982, the board voted to
rescind Powell's parole. This.
month, a Superior Court judge
ordered Powell released, but the
state attorney general's office
has appealed It will be six mon-
ths to a year before that appeal is
decided.
POWELL'S CASE IS linked
with that' of another California
prisoner, William Archie Fain.
Fain, too, was promised parole in
many hearings. Then the board
received petitions containing
62,000 signatures, resolutions

IF THE CASE does reach the
California Supreme Court, a
clash is likely between Citizens
for Truth and Chief Justice Bird.
Speaking on the "State of the
Judiciary" in 1982, she said, "On-
ce special interest politics begins
to undermine the rule of law, it is 4
not hard to imagine a system
where judges put their moistened
fingers to the wind, decide what
is perceived to be the prevailing
view, and rule accordingly."
Such a system, Bird believes,
"would as surely be the end of the
rule of law as would the destruc-
tion of our Constitution itself."
Kroll wrote this article for {
the Pacific News Service.

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY
Why re quire foreign language?

To the Daily:
I am writing to contest LSA's
foreign language requirement. In
their infinite wisdom, the ad-
ministrators of this fine college
have deemed the study of _a
foreign language essential to my
education. To this I respond, for
what reason? Granted that a case
may be made for the advantages
of acquiring a second language.
But not so much that it should be
an inflexible requirement. A
strong case can also be made for
the study of mathematics or
political science or history.
However, the pursuit of these
subjects is left up to the student
within the general guidelines of
BLOOM COUNTY

area distribution requirements.
This ensures the student will
receive a well-rounded education
without forcing an arbitrary
requirement upon him.
As to the frequency I will use
my new found skills, I would
project it as nil. After living three
years in England and travelling
the continent, I did not feel com-
pelled to study a language. As my
future plans are to settle down in

a small city in western Michigan,
I see no need to begin now.
Since foreign language is a
requirement, I will continue to
suffer through my Spanish
classes. Despite a total lack of
motivation, I will pass this class
- and then proceed to forget it
all. I can only hope things get bet-
ter for those who follow me.
- Scott T. Rickman
September 4

I

4

Unsigned editorials appearing on the left
side of this page represent a majority opinion
of the Daily's Editorial Board.
by Berke Breathed

WUNOW, 5.2 E
MR5. Sf-fTUR.AMefkICA'5FIR5T

SO 115 15 A-

MY HEAVCM5, W~!
Io Y'OUV'J I JUST wA 7D

YOUI REAlUze, OF
COLIRSC, TH1T YOUR

I

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