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February 20, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-02-20

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0

OPINION

Page 4 Wednesday, February 20, 1985 The Michigan Daily

Edieb tu s a niig an l
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

A sexist and popular outlook
By Susana Hayward

Vol. XCV, No. 117

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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

A soldie-
M ONDAY'S SETTLEMENT in the
spectacular Westmoreland libel
trial was somewhat reminiscent of the
conflict which spawned the entire
situation. Like the war in Vietnam, the
trial has been long, tedious, and poin-
tless, costing baffling sums while
resolving none of the basic conflicts.
Monday's brokered settlement of the
case could not have been more ap-
propriate.
After three years in court, General
William Westmoreland dropped his
lawsuit against CBS. Not surprisingly,
both the general and the network
claimed victory. CBS stood by the ob-.
jectivity of their news documentary,
and Westmoreland said that his name
had been sufficiently cleared. But as
important as a general's honor may
be, Westmoreland's case should never
have gone to court. By using the legal
system to soothe his own conscience,
Westmoreland has wasted a great deal
of limited court time and money.
The controversy surrounded a CBS
News documentary on the Vietnam
war. The program stated that West-
moreland had been a part of a gover-
nment misrepresentation of enemy
capabilities during his service as
commander of the U.S. forces in Viet-
nam. The general held that post from

9S

story

1964 tox1968. Westmoreland, along with
many others in command position at
that time, was shown to have un-
derestimated enemy battle strengths
in reports to higher officials and the
press. 15 years after the fact, CBS saw
fit to air a documentary on the whole
affair.
Westmoreland could not disprove the
accusations. Inflated body counts and
positive battle.reports, although they
should not be condoned, are an
inevitable part of war. Leiutenants
seek to impress generals so they stret-
ch the facts. Generals are responsible
to their superiors so they further ad-
just the figures given to them to appear
more positive. By the time the public
has a look at the battle situation, the in-
formation the government provides
has been so twisted and inflated that it
is nothing more than useless
propaganda.
Westmoreland, and many others in-
volved with information gathering in
the Vietnam war are guilty of this of-
fense. Because a news agency decided
to publicize facts that were in-
criminating, Westmoreland does not
have the right to knowingly bring a un-
substantiated suit to court. It was a
lame attempt by a publicly defamed
soldier to clear his record.

DALLAS - Joe Briggs is the most sexist,
most bigoted syndicated drive-in movie critic
OK. So he's the only one.
He's infuriated women, angered Mexican-
Americans, and been called a racist, a jerk,
and worse. The Texas redneck is also one of
the most popular columnists in Dallas, and an
estimated 4 million people now read his raun-
chy reviews in 50 newspapers.
"Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In," which as run
weekly in the Dallas Times Herald since
January 1982, was picked up by the Los
Angeles Times Syndicate last March.
In a typical blast, these were the tamest
words Joe Bob had for Bo Derek in the movie
"Bolero":
"...We knew it was only a matter of time
before the bimbo ripped all her clothes off and
ran around acting like a goose that's been
wired up for brain research."
If a woman is insulted when he calls her a
bimbo, a Hispanic offended by the word
Meskin, or a black by the term Negro, Joe Bob
figures they're just wimps.
"There ain't no sensitive subject. Just sen-
sitive people," says Joe Bob, who claimsto
hail from "Frontage Road, Texas, dirt
mining capital of North America."
Pictures of Joe Bob show only the back of a
head, but the character is widely believed to
be the creation of Times Herald columnist
John Boom.
Bloom, a soft-spoken 31-year-old intellec-
tual, denies he and Joe Bob are one and the
same. He tells questioners he couldn't
possibly be the drive-in movie critic because
he's college educated and drives a foreign
car. Joe Bob is 19, flirted with college for two
weeks and- drives a 1972 Oldsmobile
Toronado, Bloom said.
His heroes are Charles Bronson, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, and Ralph
the Diving Pig, a paddling porcine at
Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, Texas, Joe
Bob said in response to written questions.
Bloom said his fellow columnist responds only
to written questions.
His favorite movie is "The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre," a low-budget cult horror film
made in Texas. Indeed, if heads roll, blood
spills and cars collide, it's Joe Bob's kind of
movie. And it had better be showing at a
drive-in. Joe Bob's crusade is to save drive-.
ins from extinction.
"We've lost about 750, but I don't think it's
any cause for alarm. We still got 3,500 left,"
he said.
He's been called a communist, racist, of-.
Hayward wrote this article for The
Associated Press.1

I

'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is syndicated columnist and educated redneck Joe Bob
Briggs' favorite film-which says a lot for his taste in movies.

4

fensive and, of course, sexist, as in this
review of Brian de Palma's "Body Double":
"But what we got here is 26 breasts, in-
cluding four full-screen wide bodied garbonza
closeups. One vampire. One sardine
imitation. Two porno scenes. One bimbo slap-
ped around. Two motor vehicle chases ... Two
dead bodies. One Supremo power-drill scene.
One attack dog. Three gallons blood."
Offensive or not, Joe Bob has clearly struck
a nerve.
"Oviously we thought it would be a lot of
fun," said Times Herald Managing Editor
Kerry Slagle. "But we had no idea it would
turn out to be such a phenomenon... It's one of
the most popular features of the paper."
Michael Carmack, promotions manager for
the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, said com-
pany officials picked up the column because it
was "enough off-the-wall that it might really
work." They were right.
The Cleveland Ohio Plain Dealer'yanked
Joe Bob's column for two weeks last fall
"because of a number of complaints... that
basically he's a sexist pig," said Robert
Snyder, the newspaper's features editor.
Snyder said he soon realized his mistake.
"The first day we got 450 telephone calls,"
he said, the most the paper has ever received
over a column. Snyder stopped counting let-
ters after 1,000 but estimated the newspaper
received a total of 4,500.

The Plain Dealer "surrendered" and Joe
bob was reinstated, although "offensive"
words are now edited out.
Greg Getz, a professor of sociology at Texas
Wesleyan College in Fort Worth who reasear-
ches the sociology of film, said one ex-
planation for Joe Bob's popularity could be
that "people like to be offended."
"A possible analogy is sportscaster Howard
Cosell," Getz said.
"Some people are so offensive that they
generate a constituency."
Bloom, a former movie critic who now
writes a regular column on the Times
Herald's Metro page, attributes Joe Bob's
success to his honesty.
"Joe Bob is a redneck, an intelligent one,"
said Bloom. "He's honest about bigotry and
prejudice. Therefore, you can't hate him as
much as a person who's secretive about it."
But there is hate mail.
One letter to the San Francisco Chronicle
read:-""We are appalled at the offensiveness
of your new columnist, Joe Bob, and are
shocked at the irresponsibility and disrespect
to our community in choosing to publish it."
The letter was signed by 27 people, most of
them doctors, psychiatrists, attorneys, and
counselors at family oriented clinics.
"Joe Bob loves hate mail because it always
comes from stuffy organizations and stuffy
people," Bloom said.

Dynamic duo

Letters

ARTISTIC and political speakers
can be the spice of the University,
and the last few days hasseen outstan-
ding pair.
Poet Nikki Giovanni spoke on Sun-
day night during a salute to black
women sponsored by the Black Student
Union, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity,
and the Michigan Student Assembly.
Before reading any of her poetry,
Giovanni argued at length that blacks,
poor whites, and all citizens hurt by
President Reagan's policies must
make themselves heard.
Famed political and environmental
activist Abbie Hoffman spoke Monday
and showed time hadn't changed his
politics. Noting that college campuses
these days have become "hotbeds of
social rest," he asked students to think
about issues around them-from rising
tuition and lack'of responsiveness by
the University administration to
Nicaragua and impending restrictions
on abortions-and to act on them.
Both speakers talked before full
houses and both were well received by
their audiences. In addition to presen-
ting fresh viewpoints-which are vital
to sustain the open exchange of

opinions at the University-the two
speeches indicate student political
concerns.
Giovanni summed up her speech by
saying, "I don't want to make you'
mad.. I just want to make you think
about what's going on." Hoffman, who
never mentioned he was aware of
Giovanni's visit, echoed her by saying,
"The (University) administration
looks at students as so much meat to be
processed through...You find out about
power in this society only when you
challenge it."
Simply having a pair of noted
speakers talk about student em-
powerment won't make any significant
number of students suddenly become
active, but it does indicate they are
concerned with the issues the two
raised. And that concern may even-
tually give birth to active response of
the sort both speakers seek.
The fact that there were two
politically active speakers in such a
short time is a good indication of in-
creased political awareness on cam-
pus. Although that awareness may not
translate into action, it nonetheless
represents a healthy concern by
students over issues that affect them.

Reagan supporters are

uninformed

To the Daily:
It is ironic that many of those
who voted for Ronald Reagan are
only now examining the issues of
his campaign. It' certainly
couldn't come as a surprise to
any informed person that the
Great Prevaricator would cut
funding for student loans - it has
always been abundantly'clear
that Reagan's policy is "bombs
not books."
A democracy in which voters
vote for a candidate with whom
they don't agree on. more than
half of thetissues is no democracy
at all, and those hyper-patriotic
pro-Reagan types would do well
to examine the rationale (if they
have one) behind their
patriotism. Theirlack of respon-
sible voting practices has en-
couraged government by the
uninformed, for the uninformed.
One really should just let the
Reagan-Bush supporters speak.
for themselves. "The military
build-up is more important than
education" says one obviously
peace-loving Reaganite quoted in
the Daily "Education cuts disap-
point student voters," February
13, 1985). Another from the same
article who also supports Reagan
says "the people who don't have
the money will have to be more
creative in finding the funding"
for college. It has been my ex-
perience that people who make
statements like this are usually
getting a free ride through school
from Mummy and Daddy. Fur-
thermore, I am curious as to
some of this person's more
"creative" ideas. These must be
beyond 60 hour a week summer
jobs - that's passe, and even so,
without a Guaranteed Student
Loan in addition may of us have-
nots will still be slinging hash at
McDonald's come Fall term.
Maybe we couldraffle off a coffee

resourcefulness). The people that
voted for Ronald Reagan without
examining the issue have no right
to be upset when he "fulfills his
mandate" by cutting education
funding. In addition, those who
have no understanding of the dif-
ficulties of funding a University
education should try it some time

without the help of grandfather's
trust fund or checks from home,
before they make slurs on the
initiative and creativity of those
of us who must depend on GSLs
and NDSLs for funding our
education. If Education
Secretary William Bennett would
bother to becone informed, he

would realize that many of us
have np cars or vacations or
stereos to cut out, and that by
treating eduation as a luxury he
and the administration he
represepts once again exhibit
their nauseating elitism.
-Kathryn Grimes
February 13

Daily neglected campus security issue

To the Daily:
We were distraught with your
incomplete and neglectful
coverage of the February 14
regents' meeting. Close to half of
the public comments session in-
volved speakers from the
Michigan Student Assembly's i
Women's Issues Committee ex-
pressing their concerns about
campus security problems. Your
exclusion of this portion of the
Regents meeting implies a belief
on the behalf of the Daily that
campus security is not an impor-
tant issue and subsequently does
not merit coverage in your paper.
We decry this oversight.
Moreover, it detracts from your
otherwise favorable record of
past coverage on this topic. We
hope that in the future your
reporting is more complete and
inclusive of all pertinent issues.

-Anne Ryan
Jennifer Faigel
February 15
Column used
To the Daily:
Jeff Bergida is an excellent
sportswriter, but as a rabid
Michigan basketball fan and
season (soon to be NCAA tour-.
nament) ticket holder, I resent
Jeff's One Small Voice column
reference to Computer Science
majors as people who probably
would not know about our victory
over Iowa.
This uninformed reference
perpetuates the grossly mistaken
image of CS majors as boring

Ryan is Chairperson of
MSA 's Women 's Issues
Committee. Faigel is editor of
the MSA News.
stereotypes
anemics who spend their nights
poring over a terminal in the
bowels of UNYN or NUBS. Those
of us who know what we are doing
probably spend no more time on
our programming assignments
than History majors do writing
papers, Biologists do on labs, or
Daily writers preparing stories.
Please try to refrain from suc
blatant categorizations in the
future.
-Todd C. Sherwood
February 16

^ 1
-

ME
CST
FCR CUR UICIES
K N c.ARA uA!
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Readers are encouraged to submit their opinions on current
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