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November 10, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-11-10

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40

OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, November 10, 1988

The Michigan Daily

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Readers

responc
Primary

I

to

sketches

concern

1S

JESSICA GREENE /Daily
A student protests composite pictures printed in the Daily.
Ullir icb~juA £U
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. IC, No. 46 An n A rbor. MlI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
Damaging Camp aign

arrest
To the Daily:
A few days after the Daily's
publication of a suspected
rapist who appears to have
been a Black man, the Detroit
Free Press printed a composite
of a suspected Black rapist of a
Black, 13-year-old Detroit
honor student. I doubt that any
member of the girl's commu-
nity, who is in touch with
reality, objects to the printing
of that sketch. Perhaps it will
help the authorities catch the
rapist before he attacks again.
Isn't that the number one issue
in cases such as this?
In the Ann Arbor case, as a
Black parent of a University
woman student, a husband and
a fairly rational member of this
community, I hope that the
Daily and all other print media,
post offices, grocery stores,
etc., will do everything they
can to identify and catch a
rapist of any nationality, com-
plexion, religion, etc.
I don't think that the major-
ity of Black people - students
or non-students - identify
with rapists. Should every na-
tionality begin to protect "its
own" criminals, deadbeats and
socio-paths in some perversion
of "race pride?" Are you going
to call non-Blacks racists every
time they take reasonable mea-
sures that are practiced world-
wide to catch Black killers and
rapists? If so, you are children
crying wolf, and you will find
yourselves ill-prepared when
the wolf is really in the fold or
at the door.
Should we assume that
sketches that help the police
and public identify rapists in-
fluence all or even many
whites to think that all or even
many Black men are rapists?
That's an absurdly fantastic
notion, as is the statement in
the protesters' letter that the
number one issue is that police
sketches are a "perpetuation of
the 'myth of the Black rapist."'
Myth? What myth? Yes, Vir-
ginia, there are Black rapists.
And the better the sketch or
other description we have of
Black or any other rapists,
Black or Skinhead teenage
street hoods, or any other Black
or non-Black crook, the less
likely we are to see the wrong
people being questioned, de-
tained or arrested.
Should only the police have
a sketch of a rape suspect?
Should only the police know a
suspected rapist is Black? or
white? or Asian? or someone
with an Elvis haircut and
swastika tattoo? Should the
sketches only of non-Black
rape suspects be published?
The answer to each question is
NO. Virtually all Black citi-
zens are concerned about racist
stereotypes, and even more
concerned about the racist con-
ditions that lead to pathological
behavior in Black youth and
other youths who are victims
of socio-economic injustice.
But that does not mean that
Blacks think that the commu-
nity of which they are a part
should make it easier for vio-

lent deviants to perpetrate their
crimes.
It seems to me that the
protesters in this case ought to
examine their hearts and mind
and ask themselves why they
haven't shown concern for the
victims and 'potential victims
of rapists and street punks in-
stead of preoccupying them-
selves with the fantasies that
may blaze in the minds of a
certain percentage of whites.
As for stereotypes, I will bet

Composite
pictures
help police
To the Daily:
No intelligent person can
honestly believe that publish-
ing composite drawings of a
rape suspect, constructed based
on the victims' accounts, is a
racist action, even if the man
in question does happen to be
Black. The police release com-
posite drawings of suspects so
that anyone who believes that
they have information regard-
ing the suspect's identity or
whereabouts can report it to the
authorities. Both victims ap-
parently identified the rapist as
being a Black male. To deny or
deliberately withhold that or
any other piece of information
that might lead to a positive
identification could hardly be
considered responsible journal-
ism on the part of the Daily.
To state that the publication of
the drawing helped to foster
"'the myth of the Black
rapist'...that all men who rape
are Black and that all young
Black men are rapists who rape
white women" is ridiculous.
Except for the pictures and a
statistical description released
by the Ann Arbor Police, no
mention was make in the arti-
cle as to the suspect's race.
Likewise, the article never
mentioned the races of the vic-
tims.
The issues of racism and
sexism have clearly gotten out
of hand. My geology professor,
afraid of being labeled "sexist,"
prefaced a lecture on radioactive
decay with the assurance that
the terms "parent atom" and
"daughter atom" were estab-
lished scientific terms that had
been in use for years. He did
not come up with the terms
himself, and was sorry if we
thought them sexist and were
offended by their use. To me,
the fact that he felt it necessary
borders on absurd. To use a
term with feminine connota-
tions to describe the product of
a chemical process is hardly
degrading to the female sex!
Likewise, describing one par-
ticular rape suspect as "Black,"
who is indeed Black, so as to
aid in the man's identification
and hopefully his apprehen-
sion, does not castany asper-
sions on Blacks as a group, or
in any way constitute or con-
done racism.
Many people feel that the
best way to raise public con-
sciousness and to get positive
action os to stir up and publi-
cize controversy. To an extent,
this is true. Ironically however,
this all too often involves
slander and false accusation,
thus infringing on the very
same personal rights that it
pretends to fight for. The
fabrication and manipulation of
facts in order to get across a
message, no matter how
necessary and legitimate a
message it may be, is in no

way justifiable. When it gets
to the point of mindless, irra-
tional accusations, it begins to
sound frighteningly similar to
the Red Scare of the 1950s, or
perhaps to the Salem Witch
Trials. A college professor
should not have to worry about
the use of a harmless scientific
term, nor should a responsible
newspaper be attacked for try-
ing to aid in the identification
of a criminal. When so-called
"social consciousness" threat-
ens to impede the progress of
education and justice, it be-
comes detrimental to society.
Instead of weakening racism
and bringing the different
groups together into the one

are being manipulated, and it is
stunts like last Thursday's
protest at the Daily that give
otherwise potentially effective
organizations like UCAR a bad
name.
-Heather Howard
November 4
Drumming
up
prejudice
To the Daily:
Your recent editorial, "Myth
of Black Rapist", (Daily,
11/5/88) raised the rape issue
to a new height of illogic.
You claim that (1), in 90
percent of rape cases, the as-
sailant and victim are of the
same race; and (2) rapes com-
mitted by Black people are five
times more likely to be re-
ported than rapes by white
people. If the second statement
is anywhere near the truth, then
the first statement must be
nonsense, because you obvi-
ously are not in a position to
say anything about the racial
composition of rapists and
their victims; you simply don't
know. Furthermore, the second
statement is inherently un-
knowable; if rapes are unre-
ported, how can you know who
did it? "Unreported" rape is
very convenient; one can make
up whatever facts are necessary
to match ones prejudices.
My point here is not that
rapists are Black (far from it!)
but rather to show the com-
monalty of prejudice between
old-time racists and new-time
feminists. Both use rape as it
has been used since the dawn of
history - to drum up prejudice
against disliked groups. The
poor Daily had to squirm art-
fully to promote the feminist
-prejudice against men, while
condemning the racist prejudice
against Blacks. In fact, your
attempts to promote prejudice
against men will always rico-
chet into prejudice against
Blacks because a
disproportionate number of
people jailed for rape are
Black.
The real answer, of course, is
to oppose all prejudices in the
matter, not just one's own. A
responsible paper might warn
that rape charges have been
used on occasion to pay off
personal scores against anyone
from a former boyfriend to a
racial minority. Rape accusa-
tions are often true, but they
are sometimes lies. That's why
the authors of the Constitution
included the words now deemed
subversive by at least one po-
litical party: a man is innocent
until proven guilty.
-Sandy Sillman
November 3
Editor's Note:
"Reported" means reported to
the authorities. Statistical in-
formation is acquired through
surveys and polls about rapes.
These rapes are not necessarily
officially reported and prose-
cuted.

Efforts
weaken
the cause

fact is that some dirtbal socio-
path is attacking innocent peo-
ple. The group claims to com-
bat racism. I applaud them, but
present the following challenge
to them. Don't allow your ef-
forts to be twisted into a per-
verse smoke screen for perpe-
trators of crime. Instead, be-
come angry of those that
weaken the cause by becoming
fodder for "myths." I hope that
someone who had direct in-
volvement in the protest can
respond with further informa-
tion and reasons for the protest.
-Patrick Cooke
November 5
Victims
deserve
respect
To the Daily:
In reference to your editorial
"Myth of Black Rapist,"
(Daily, 11/5/88) while I agree
in general, you seem to have
missed the point of publishing
pictures. I assume the artist
renderings were published be-
cause they are still looking for
the rapist. Pictures of rapists
who are known don't have to
be published. I doubt that it is
fear of lawsuit that keeps these
pictures out of the paper. More
importantly: give Griffith Neal
a break. The media protects the
names of female victims. Grif-
fith Neal was also a victim. He
was vindicated by the courts,
but his name continues to be '
followed by "accused rapist."
Innocent victims, both male
and female, deserve the respect
not afforded Neal.
-Thom Johnson
November 2
Editor's note:
The Daily has not referred tp
Neal as an "accused rapist."
Sketches
have crime
value

Y DENYING POOR WOMEN access
to safe abortions, yesterday's passage
of Proposal A strips them of their re-
productive rights. The effects of Pro-
posal A will soon become apparent, but
the anti-choice campaign for the pro-
posal did even more damage than ap-
pears.
The campaign promoted an attitude
toward survivors of rape and incest
which perpetuates the rape culture.
Proposal A does not provide for sur-
vivors of rape and incest who become
pregnant. The anti-choice movement
asserted that the innocent victim (in this
case, the fetus) should not be pun-
ished. Women who are victimized and
survive rape and incest are also
innocent and should not be punished
by being forced to carry a reminder of
the crime for nine months and perhaps
even having to live with it for the rest
of their lives. The anti-choice
rationalization is part of a victim-
blaming mentality that is prevalent in
the movement.-
David Szymanski, a spokesperson
for the Committee to End Tax-Funded
Abortions (CETFA) claims that states
which have provisions for rape and in-
cest find them unenforceable, resulting
in many women falsely claiming they
were raped in order to qualify for state
OUg LEGAL 6AUCE ,RES FOR.
I.R.A. JSECT A92E SIM?LE
2 SItENCE 'To BE CONS1DERED
I EVIDENCE of GUILT IN COURT...I

paid abortions.
Questioning a woman's assertions of
rape so openly not only intimidates her
her and others into perhaps not report-
ing a rape, but also sets up an atmo-
sphere of disbelief and denial that per-
petuates the rape culture.
This attitude is consistent in
CETFA's literature. In one of their
"Vote Yes on A" pamphlets, they say
that "Pro-abortionists cloud real issue
by using emotionalrape exception
rhetoric... National studies show that
pregnancy from forcible rape is ex-
tremely rare." This statement implies
that there is such a thing as unforced
rape. This mentality is dangerous to all
women, especially survivors of rape
and incest.
CETFA asserts that less than one
percent of welfare abortions result from
rape, but the Federal Bureau of Inves-
tigation says that approximately ninety
percent of rapes go unreported.
CETFA's statistic is not representative
of all pregnancies resulting from rape
in Michigan or elsewhere because there
is no way of knowing how many rapes
occur.
The anti-choice movement seeks to
deny women basic human rights and
perpetuate a culture in which violence
against women is the norm.
i. SILENCE To BE. IMoSED
OW RAVIO AND T.V...
, -

To the Daily:
We are writing in response
to the accusations made by the
picketers outside the Daily
Thursday afternoon. The Daily
was accused of fostering the
"myth of the Black rapist" by
publishing the two composites
of the rape suspect. Although
we agree that stereotypes are
harmful, we believe that this is
much different and does not
suggest that all Black men are
rapists. As women, we deserve;
to know what the rape suspect
looks like for our own safety.
The suspect's race is com-
pletely irrelevant; he is still on
the streets of Ann Arbor and
information regarding his ap-,
pearance is necessary. We do
not feel that this is an issue of
racism - it is of crime-fight-
ing value.
-Rebecca Riseman
Karen Shafron
Linda Frye
Rochelle Israet
November 7

C

To the Daily:
For the past four years I have
paid close notice to the noble
struggle of civil liberties
groups on this campus. I be-
lieve a good deal of positive
results have come from the ef-
forts of these organizations.
Friday morning I read an ar-
ticle in the Daily that altered
my opinion, not of the cause,
but of the personnel represent-
ing these groups. From what I

Editor's note:
On October 28, the Daily printed
two composite drawings, of two
Black men who looked very dif-
ferent, with a caption that identi
fled them as one man.
Correction:
In the editorial "The real
anti-Semitism," by Alan Wald
(Daily, 11/9/88) the author
misidentified the Union of } r
Students for Israel as having
directed a campaign against Dr.

d

3.

S LEN4CRS.

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