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January 22, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-01-22

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Page 4

Tuesday, January 22, 1985

The Michigan Daily



Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan


Vol. XCV, No. 92

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

/9 e 4


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

I ,


U NIVERSITY VICE President for
Student Services Henry Johnson
put the administration's collective foot
in its mouth this month. His flippant
remarks about campus rape, prom-
pted a group concerned with the
problem of sexual assault on campus
to camp out in his office yesterday.
They wished to make the point that
rape is something that the University
must face up to. The University must
do its best to extend to all members of
the community the right to a safe cam-
pus environment.
Johnson's remarks, however,
illustrate the University's efforts to
sweep rape under the rug, in the hope
that prospective students will not be
discouraged from applying here. John-
son was quoted in this month's
Metropolitan Detroit magazine as
saying: "Our responsibility is to
provide, within our resources, a safe
environment. Given the current
(financial) climate, I just don't see
something labeled 'Rape prevention
clinic' or 'office' as necessarily ger-
maine to the mission of the institution.
It's a cold thing to say, but it's (so)."
Johnson is absolutely correct; his
remarks are very cold.
Johnson went on to say that "(The
University) wants to present an image
that is receptive and palatable to the
1i YEARS LATER, papers have
come to light that show that Gerald
Ford deceived the University com-
munity at his commencement address
in 1974. The papers, discovered in the
Gerald R. Ford Library by senior
history student Adam Ruskin, are
original notes from a meeting between
Warren Rustand, Ford's deputy
assistant for Scheduling and Appoin-
tments, and Robert Hartman, Ford's
chief of staff. The notes indicate that
Rustand called for planting a fake
protester in the midst of students
during Ford's commencement address
for the University class of 1974.
By planting that fake protester, with
a sign pre-arranged to read, "Gerald
Ford in a neo-fascist," Ford and his
speech writers were able to write an
elequent and moving rebuttal to the
"protester", which they passed off as
ad-libbing by Ford.
The incident, although 11 years old,
is nevertheless disturbing for many
reasons. It was a lie on the part of one
of our most important politicians, and
the protester's action and Ford's
rebuttal have since been recorded in
his autobiography as an historical fact.
There is ample evidence to indicate
that Ford was aware of the deception
as he spoke before his alma mater in
1974. In addition to the notes between
Rustand and Hartman, Ruskin found

potential student cohort." Down-
playing the issue of student rape is not,
however, the way to approach such a
crucial issue.
Prospective students must be aware
of the probability of being assaulted
before they choose to live in Ann Ar-
bor. If students are discouraged by the
incidence of violent crime in this
community and enrollment suffers as
a result, perhaps then the University
administration will have reason
enough to consider preventive
Johnson, however, has made it clear
that the University has no intention of
making the campus safer in the near
"Rape is an issue like Alzheimer's
disease or mental retardation which
impacts on a small but sizeable part of
the population," said Johnson. He has
a point. Rape affects the minority of
any community, but like mental illness
or Alzheimer's disease it can affect
anyone at any time. And unlike these
diseases, it is within the University's
power to prevent many campus rapes.
Johnson's remarks brings to light an
issue that is being ignored by the
University. Now that it is clear where
the University stands on this issue, it is
time to confront the problem in a con-
structive manner. Obviously, lying to
prospective students is not the answer.
Ford's prepared copy of the speech
which already included the supposed
off-the-cuff reaction.
Although the dishonesty of
politicians seem common, it should
still be a cause for outrage when one of
our leaders tries to manipulate
situations to present his or her case
more effectively. Ford benefitted from
the incident by appearing more in-
telligent than he really is, and the en-
tire validity of protesting as an effec-
tive means of expression was called in-
to question.
Finally, by recording the incident in
his autobiography, A Time to Heal,
Ford made a historical fact of his
stages response, passing off the in-
cident as truth. Ford distorted his per-
sonal abilities as well as the attitude of
the protest community of the mid '70s
thus discouraging accurate historical
According to a Ford spokesman, tac-
tics such as those used at the 1974
commencement address are common.
The fact remains, however, that such
actions run contrary to everything that
this University and this democracy
stand for. It is too late to pursue any
actions against Ford for the deception,
but it is not too late to be outraged at
the social and political consciousness
that feels such tactics are ap-


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Speakers worth disrupting

By Brian Leiter
Some twenty years after the
birth of the Free Speech
Movement at Berkeley, we are on
the verge of another crisis
surrounding free speech at the
universities. Discruption of CIA
recruitment at the University of
Michigan, Brown University and
elsewhere, the heckling of con-
servative speakers like Jeanne
Kirkpatrick and Alexander Haig,
and even the cancelling of their
appearances for fear of disrup-
tion, give evidence of a student
mood which isunwilling to make
the college campus open to all
'viewpoints.' University
President Harold Shapiro, joined
by many faculty, emphasizes the
need for making the university a
forum for the exchange of all
ideas; meanwhile columnists
George Will and William Buckley
lambast what they see as the
hypocrisy of students who uphold
freedom only for those whose
political views they share.
With an impending war in
Nicaragua, nuclear weapons
heading for space, and a new
round of Reagan budget cuts, it is
quite likely that there will be
even more opportunities for
students to clash with defenders
and agents of state policy as the
latter pursue the task of
justifying the actions of the Ad-
What should students do during
these future encounters? What
principles might guide us? What
is really at stake?
We should begin our thinking
about this issue with the legal
source of the entitlement to free
speech. One is struck by the fact
that the first amendment to the
Constitution provides only that
the government will not inter-
fere with the speech of
the citizens. It says nothing about
the case when citizens interfere
Swiththe speech of agents of the
government or of government
policy (the case we have seen
most frequently on college cam-
puses recently).
But is the absence of such a
provision significant? In fact, the
inherent good sense of the actual
Constitutional requirement
should be apparent: whereas the
government in all likelihood has
the capability of stifling in-
dividual expression of minority
views (and thus needs to be con-
strained if these views are to
flourish), it is unlikely and im-
practical to imagine that in-
dividuals could effectively
prevent the state from
promulgating its views.

by them or Reagan, Weinberger,
and others on the network news
channels and in the printed
media numerous times in any
given week - regardless of
whether or not Jeanne Kirk-
patrick is heckled at any par-
ticular college.
The CIA will continue to be por-
trayed in the media as essentially
well-intentioned despite the fact
that one hundred students
blocked CIA recruitment with a
mock trial charging the CIA
with international crimes.
Student disruptions have no
tangible and substantial impact
on the ablitity of these defenders
of state policy to make their
views known.
Let me employ a useful if
somewhat strained analogy.
Imagine you are sitting in the
middle of a football stadium.You
are surrounded by 100,000 loud-
speakers all broadcasting a
similar political message. You
suspect that much of this
message is false and that unwit-
ting acquiescence to it will result
in many ill effects here and
abroad. You* are particularly
distressed that it is quite hard to
hear any really opposing
messages. Unable to match the
magnitude of this message with
your own, you strike out at one of
the loudspeakers, realizing that
the disconnection of one will be
registered by the others and
perhaps even be mentioned as
part of the next day's message.
The message remains in its full
force; but an expression of
protest has been noted.
To put this less abstractly: the
effect and point of student disrup-
tion of speakers is to make a
political statement against a
dominant and unchallenged world
view articulated by the speaker.
The hope, and the realistic goal,
is that such disruptions will
achieve recognition (as an ex-
pression of political discontent)
in the media and perhaps in the
long term generate widespread
questioning of these views and


real forums for alternative
outlooks. .
Such student actions should not
be conceived of as ways of
preventing the dissemination of
"dangerous" ideas ( an im-
possible task even if we bypass
the issue of what is a
"dangerous" idea) or as ways of
silencing the speaker in question.
Such goals bear no relation to the
problems at hand or the solutions
We are now ready to formulate
some principle which might be
used in targeting speakers for
disruption. If the disruption of
speakers constitutes a political
statement against largely un-
challenged views that are widely
aserted, then the logical target
for such protests are those who
act as vroDonents of these views,
most likely agents of the gover-
nment or government policy.
It should also be clear that
this principle would protect those
who really need the benefit of the
university as a forum for the ex-
change of ideas. In this group are
those who represent minority
andunheard views of both the
right and the left: people like
William Shockley, Solzschenit-
zyn, Angela Davis, and Noam
Chomsky. Forums for in-
dividuals like these would be
productive only insofar as they
were open forums with real op-
portunities for exchange and
debate. Under such circumstan-
ces, I would be sorry to see these
speakers disrupted.
Some objections should now be .
anticipated. One might argue
that as long as a forum with
Kirkpatrick provided "real op-
portunities for exchange and
debate," then disruption was out
of place. But this is to miss the
point of disrupting speakers. The
goal is not local and
particularized, it is not a way of
saying "we can't let these ideas
infect our community" - they
will anywaythrough the media.
The goal is national and far-
reaching, it is a way of protesting

viewpoints (and corresponding
ways of conducting affairs)
which go unchallenged on the
national scene and whose con-
sequences are destructive.
Someone, however, who did not
see Kirkpatrick's views as
destructive might object to
disrupting herispeeches: :sure
her views are unchallenged, but
that is because they are basically
reasonable and sensible, even if
not one hundred percent right,
Clearly, then, a choice of prin-
ciple over who to disrupt could
turn into a debate about the
realities of domestic and foreign
policy. Such a debate would go
beyond the scope of this article.
But perhapsit will suffice to note
that there exists a large body
of"reasonable and sensible"(and
scholarly) literature - books by
Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk
Gabriel Kolko and others, the
magazine The Nation, much of
the European press - which
suggests that when Kirkpatrick
gives speeches defending the
distinction between autoritarian
and totalitarian regimes-a
distinction which guides much of
Reagan's foreign policiy - she is
in fact offering a basic
rationalization for the murder,
torture, and exploitation of tens of
millions of people all in the in-
terest of America's imperialistic
aims. As long as these
reasonable and sensible (but
sharply conflicting) views are
ignored by the major media, then
students should continue to
disrupt Kirkpatrick and speakers
like her until the political forums
of the nation take up these issues
in honest and meaningful ways.
With four more years of the Great
Prevaricator - and with the
nation and the media obediently
following his example - the need
for student disruptions and
protests will be greater than
Leiter is a graduate student
in law and philosophy..
by Berke Breathed




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