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January 07, 1984 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-01-07

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4

OPINION

Page 6

Saturday, January 7, 1984
Sinclair

The Michigan Daily

Edite fRdbtgan e aity i
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

CAIDID1

Vol. XCIV-No 80

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

4

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

Salvador's
Congress must be considering
military aid for El Salvador again.
It's easy to figure out when a vote on
aid is coming up-just look for the
Salvadoran government to make a
token improvement in the abysmal
human rights situation there. And to
and behold, just such an empty gesture
was made this week. The government
transferred two government officials
with connections to right wing death
squads to posts outside the country.
The hope among Reagan ad-
ministration and Salvadoran officials
is that these meaningless moves will
pacify congresspersons opposing
Salvadoran military aid long enough to
get such aid through Congress. Such a
policy has worked in the past and will
undoubtedly work again unless
Congress stands up to such tactics.
The death squads are responsible for
an estimated 39,000 civilian deaths, in-
cluding 6,000 last year. Human rights
advocates want the government in
Salvador to clamp down on the squads
as a - prerequisite for continued
military and economic aid from the
United States. Until this year a law did
link aid to improved human rights, but
even that connection was tenuous and
led to little improvement.
In fact, since Ronald Reagan
became president, reform in Salvador
has reversed. Land reform programs
which many agree are crucial to the
survivability of Salvador's gover-
nment have virtually ceased. Death

rights sham
squad murders have increased
dramatically in the past few years.
Much of the blame must go to
Reagan, a president too wrapped up in
an ideological struggle against Com-
munists to see wrongs of other per-
suasions. Reagan cannot see that
terror from the right is no better than
terror from the left.
Reagan's philosophy is showing it-
self in other ways. He ended the non-
partisan composition of the Inter-
American Foundation, which is
responsible for handing out aid for
small-scale projects to combat specific
problems in American nations.
Though Congress prescribed that the
foundation be non-partisan, Reagan
appointed three conservative mem-
bers to shift the panel's balance in his
favor. Now, it will give its aid in ac-
cordance with Reagan administration
plans-without considering human
rights.
These are the kinds of actions that
will continue to cause problems both
for the Salvadoran government and the
Reagan administration. Until the
Salvadoran officials put a stop to the
death squads and prosecute those who
participate in them-not just transfer
them-they cannot claim respec-
tability in their fight against the
Marxists. Until Congress or the
Reagan administration is willing to
stand up for human rights and insist
upon lasting improvement, the U.S.
policy in Latin America will continue
to flounder.

4

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Minneapolis fighting to aim

4

civil

The Great Ticket Caper
T'S HARD TO tell if the prosecution examples would probably be ineffec-
of three alleged Ann Arbor ticket tive. Come next fall the three charged
scalpers is a foreshadowing of a police and the rest of the bunch will be back
crackdown on the institution of on the streets with the November
scalping or if the move is a half- arrests lost to the past. If any crack-
hearted attempt to scare scalpers. If it down is to come, efficiency would call.
is the latter, as it appears, the Ann Ar- for it at the beginning of the season.
bor Police and Washtenaw County Instead, three men may bear the
Prosecutor should recognize the brunt of punishment for an activity
futility of their effort. that is pursued in a widespread, if
One has to wonder why no scalpers varied, manner throughout Ann Arbor.
were arrested until the final game of If it is presupposed that the police
the year. It would be foolish of law en- sincerely are trying to limit the
forcement officials to claim no prior amount of scalping in Ann Arbor, the
knowledge of this not-so-rare activity questions of why only three arrests,
since it is impossible to walk anywhere and why after the season has ended,
around central campus without appear perplexing.
hearing sales pitches being raised by The untimely arrests are a wasted
scalpers on the days preceding any effort aimed at an occasionally lovable
home football game. element of our community. Our
The charges serve no constructive resident scalpers actually serve an
purpose. Scalpers don't work on into important function during the football-
the post-season, so any setting of oriented fall. Where else will students
get tickets for their parents?

By David Rubenstein
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.-City
fathers-and city mothers-in
Minneapolis have joined with
prominent feminists to propose a
totally new legal approach to
fighting pornography.
The city passed an ordinance
which would define pornography
as a form of discrimination
against women and a violation of
their civil rights. But Mayor
Donald Fraser, citing con-
stitutional concerns, vetoed it
this week. Sponsors of the
measure are working to override
Fraser's vote.
THE LAW would allow in-
dividual citizens to file civil suits
against pornography traffickers
and ask for damages or a "civil
injunction" against further
display or sale of the por-
nography.
The ordinance was co-authored
by Catharine MacKinnon, an
associate professor at the
University of Minnesota Law
School, and by feminist writer
Andrea Dworkin.
Dworkin and MacKinnon
recently offered a course on por-
nography which generated con-
siderable controversy. It also at-
tracted several community ac-
tivists-and, in a sense, led to the
proposed ordinance.
THE CIVIL rights approach is
a novel one. Attempts to control
pornography under the law
usually take one of two paths.
First, it is regulated through
obscenity laws. The courts have
ruled that obscenity is not protec-
ted free speech, and in 1973 the
Supreme Court provided
guidelines for defining ob-
scenity-though it left it up to
local courts to apply these
guidelines.
But local juries have proved
reluctant to define material as
obscene, so this method has done
little to stop what many consider
to be an onslaught of increasingly
violent pornography.
A second approach, now much
used, involves zoning
laws-treating pornography
outlets like factories or bars, and
restricting them to certain areas.
The courts have found this prac-

righ ts
tice constitutional, so long as the
zoning is not used to ban such
stores outright.
THIS SEPTEMBER a Men-
neapolis City Council committee
held hearings on just such an or-
dinance, and residents of the af-
fected neighborhood asked
rMcKinnon and Dworkin to
testify.
To the surprise of most of those
present, the two women spoke
against the law and outlined their
civil rights approach instead. "I
do not believe," MacKinnon
testified, "that pornography has
to exist."
Impressed council members
promptly hired the two women to
draw up the ordinance.
The bill provides a careful two-
part definition. The first, and
crucial, part says, "Pornography
is the sexually explicit subor-
dination of women, graphically
depicted, whether in pictures or
in words."
THE DEFINITION goes on to
list nine other qualities-in-
cluding women portrayed as
sexual objects or commodities
and women portrayed as en-
joying humiliation or any form of
physical abuse.
If one of these nine elements is
depicted along with "sexually
explicit subordination" the result.
may be construed as por-
nographic.
The ordinance has been
strongly criticized by Linda Ojala
of the Minnesota Civil Liberties
Union, among others. Ojala calls
it "blatantly unconstitutional."
"WHAT IS subordination?" she
asks. "Supporters of this bill
may feel they have a very clear
personal vision of what it is, but
there are all kinds of people in
this world, all kinds of viewpoin-
ts."
The law is also vague, says
Ojala, and would have a "chilling
effect on free speech."
MacKinnon replies, "When a
lawyer says that pornography is
a protected right of free speech,
that's an argument, not a fact."
Free speech has never been an
absolute right, she says, pointing
to libel and extortion laws as
examples..
Both sides agree that the or-

4

against porn

4

Does this violate your civil rights? Minneapolis is considering an or-
dinance that would define pornography as a form of discrimination
that violates women's civil rights. Proponents of the measure are
trying to get the city council to override Mayor Donald Fraser's veto.

v,

dinance, if Fraser's veto is
overriden, will likely end up
before the Supreme Court.
THE STRENGTH of this
movement in Minneapolis comes
partly from the fact that women
are a vital, and visible, political
force here, both in the neigh-
borhoods-where spray-painted
slogans from "Castrate missiles"
to "Stop porn" abound-and in
city hall, where six of the 13 city
council members are women.
Women here also have helped
lead anti-military and disar-
mament actions. The wife of the
city's police chief was among
those jailed after a recent non-
violent protest.
Council members in sympathy
with the intent of the ordinance
but troubled by the constitutional
issues may note for it anyway.
The law's backers contend that

any costs of a, constitutional
challenge will be borne by the
plaintiff, not the city.
Whatever the fate of the or-
dinance, it is clear that por-
nography will be a major
political issue here for some
time.
At recent hearings, both expert
and personal testimony was of-
fered, much of it claiming that
pornography is directly connec-
ted with the violent abuse of
women and children.
The debate has changed the
way many people regard por-
nography. As one Civil Rights
Commission member said after
the hearing, "It will be difficult
for anyone to say after this that
porn is a victimless crime."
Rubenstein is a Minneapolis
writer. He wrote this article
for the Pacific News Service.

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BLOOM COUNTY

by Berke Breathed

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