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January 18, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-18

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Page 4

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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Wednesday, January 18, 1989

The Michigan Daily

speech for all

Vol. IC, No.77

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 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.
Exploitative pageant

Pa la Giddings, author of When and
Wtere I Enter: the Impact of Black
Women on Race and Sex in America,
spoke about the blurring of distinctions
between sexism and racism. The lives
of, women of color delineate this
problem, they are caught in a dual
oppression, forced to prioritize two
problems of overwhelming importance
to ptheir lives. When the agendas of
anti-racism and anti-sexism conflict, it
Is +women of color who are most
haimed. Kappa Alpha Psi's "Miss
Black University of Michigan" pageant
exemplifies this difficulty.
Black women are one of the most ig-
nored groups on campus. Very few
institutions exist to celebrate their
achievements. In fact, last year two
Block women were excluded from
conpeting in the Homecoming Queen
Pageant. The "Miss Black U of M"
Pageant is in part an attempt to create
an opportunity for Black women to
participate in the same types of
competition as white women, an
attempt to, as the poster advertising it
reads "showcase and accentuate the
talent and accomplishments of Black
women on campus." However, as
Perlita Muiruri, a first-year student,
said, "It should be Black women
celebrating Black women, not just
Black women up on a stage for the
world to approve or disapprove of." A
beauty pageant will not celebrate the
real talents and achievements of Black
women, but will judge only their faces
and bodies.
Beauty pageants are profoundly
sexist and exploitative. By
concentrating only on women's
physical appearance, they objectify
women, turning them into decorations
to:be validated or rejected by male
judges. Women parade across stages in
high heels and bikinis, often starving
themselves for days before, gluing
down their suits to prevent wrinkling,
taping their breasts so they won't sag.

There is psychological pressure to
participate in these events - to be
admired, to be considered "feminine,"
and also economic pressure: beauty
pageants are the single largest source of
scholarship money for women in this
All this to conform to male standards
of femininity, to reproduce the images
stamped on the national consciousness
- blonde, large-breasted, smiling the
vacuous beauty-queen smile. Not only
does this create a male image of the
ideal woman to which women must
conform, this standard becomes one by
which women judge themselves.
This creation of an ideal image adds
another problem for women of color.
White mainstream culture creates an
image of the beautiful woman that is
undeniably Caucasian. This white
system of values is imposed on Black
women, so that the Black women who
win beauty pageants are the ones who
have "typical" Caucasian features. The
picture on the Kappa Alpha Psi poster
is of a Black woman with Caucasian
features and this month's Vogue cover
features a similiar picture. In this way,
Black women are forced to conform to
standards of beauty which are not only
sexist but also racist.
A beauty pageant, even one including
a token "talent" competition, cannot
truly celebrate or empower Black
women. Though it does allow Black
women to achieve recognition in one of
the ways white women can, this sort of
recognition only objectifies all women.
Equal exploitation is not a step toward
real equality.
It is vitally important to celebrate
Black women, who are doubly
excluded from society's recognition
and rewards. However we must remain
aware of the harm caused when an anti-
racist action serves only to further
subject Black women to sexism.

By Jesse Walker
In his column defending the Michigan
Student Assembly's recent decision to
derecognize Tagar and the Campus Chris-
tian Fellowship, "1st Amendment: right
to silence," (Daily, 1/9/89) Jeff Gauthier
frankly admits.his opposition to freedom
of speech. Rather, he claims, we must re-
alize that "the first amendment interpreta-
tion fails to do justice to the critical
points at issue in this debate." What ex-
actly these "points" that transcend natural
rights are he seems at a loss to explain
without the aid of perverted language and
bizarre leaps in his reasoning.
According to Mr. Gauthier, the "first
amendment defense of freedom" (note how
that is phrased, so that it is not only the
First Amendment but freedom itself which
is under attack) is based upon two
"assumptions" for its "plausibility." First
of all, "it assumes that, barring state re-
strictions, all persons have free and open
access to expressing their points of view."
Second, it assumes that a removal of these
restrictions will bring "an atmosphere of
freedom and openness essential for the de-
velopment of free individuals." Of course,
the First Amendment does not assume
anything of the kind; it is a protection
from the State, not a program for "the de-
velopment of free individuals" -- indeed, if
it "assumes" anything, it is that people
have the inherent right to make their own
decisions, not that this freedom must be
"developed." At any rate, Mr. Gauthier's
Jesse Walker is a Residential College

argument holds no water regardless of
whether we accept these two preconditions
he offers as necessary to the existence of
the First Amendment. Let's take a look at
these so called "assumptions".
"When a culture endorses an ideology of
oppression against certain groups through
its art, its media, and even the structure of
its language... the social conditions
necessary for freedom of access simply do
not exist." As a result, says Mr. Gauthier,
the first assumption fails. This statement,
however, results from a leap in reasoning
that fails to connect with its conclusion.
While we recognize that our culture does
endorse such an oppressive attitude to-
wards various targeted groups, we cannot
see how this limits such groups' use of
their own art, media, and linguistic struc-
tures to fight back. In fact, it is precisely
this differing set of cultural values that
often sets such groups apart. A gay ac-
tivist may not have free access to Forbes
magazine, but he does have freedom of ac-
cess to Gay Community News . If such
access should be denied, it would not be
through any vague cultural ideology but
through state intervention in the form of
interfering with the publication and distri-
bution of Gay Community News.
As for the second assumption, no one
pretends that freedom and openness in all
walks of life must necessarily follow from
an absence of state restrictions on speech.
But when one is forcibly prevented from
stating ones' views, whether by the MSA
derecognizing your group or the regents
administering a blanket code to every word
one utters, one does not suddenly decide
that the powers that be must therefore be
in the right. Rather, the racist, sexist, or

homophobe continues to harbor his or her
opinion without a free outlet for discus-
sion and with the added element of legiti-
mate anger at those who took away his or
her right to freedom of expression. In
short, the effect of the restrictions on free
speech that Mr. Gauthier calls for is to
polarize the community with both sides
feeling suppressed.
MSA and the Regents have accom-
plished what we never thought anyone
could do: to convince the haters that they .
are the targeted group. Naturally,
considering their ideology, these people go
on to blame blacks, feminists and gays as
a whole for their predicament, rather than
just those who have pushed the repressive
measure through, thus actually adding to,
not taking from, the levels of racism,
sexism and homophobia already on cam-
pus. Were restrictions to be removed, and
were the anti-racist movement and others
to focus their efforts on empowering peo-
ple to speak rather than on attempting to q
punish their enemies, then a spirit of
openness would begin to genuinely de-
velop as people began to exchange ideas in
a free environment.
Mr. Gauthier's argument fails both
ethically and pragmatically. In the end,
Mr. Gauthier resigns himself to a call for '
community standards, the legal doctrine 4
usually used by conservatives to justify K
censorship of "obscene" or "blasphemous"
works. If anything, his column proves
that those "liberals" and "radicals" who
claim that the end justifies the means are
no different from their counterparts on the
far right, and will inevitably find them-
selves with both ends and means lost in
their confused drive for power.


Chemical weapons conference ends:



change oting


By Arlin Wasserman
This is the last of a four part series.
This past week, the United Nations
conference of 149 countries including the
United States and the USSR reached an
agreement on chemical and biological
weapons (CBWs) in which all countries
agreed not to use CBWs and to work to
eliminate them from the world's arsenals.
Organizers of the conference met their

administration, he cast the tie-breaking
vote in the House of Representatives (one
of his duties as Vice-president) to pledge
$2 billion over three years to CBW re-
search and production. Later, as a
representative of the United States to the
1984 CBW talks in Geneva, he publicly
stated that the U.S. should not join into
any treaties which explicitly outline plans
for CBW disarmament.
The Bush-Reagan administration is tak-
ing this opportunity to stand on the moral
high ground while at the same time

'Much of the moral debate on our campus is skewed by the
reliance of the University on Pentagon dollars, a problem
which plagues numerous'universities throughout the country.'

P actices hurt both the consumers and the consumed:
Industrial abuse

creased health risks we face. Much of the
moral debate on on our campus is skewed
by the reliance of the University on Pen-
tagon dollars, a problem which plagues
numerous universities throughout the
country. We face health risks-from the
possibility of CBW accidents. Already,
there are national sacrifice zones in Utah
and Arizona where we ,have given up part
of our natural resources to test CBWs.
And in playing the game of economic
strangulation through the CBW targeting
of agriculture, we reduce the world's abil-
ity to feed people and thereby cause in-
creasing starvation.
But perhaps most pragmatically, as our
federal government becomes more and
more militarized, funds are taken from
health and human services including
monies for education, housing and food
and given over to defense-related issues
which allow the U.S. government to
spread the plague of illiteracy, homeless-
ness and hunger abroad while choosing not
to solve these problems domestically.
CBW research is frightening because it
occurs on college campuses in increas-
ingly greater amounts, but it is only part
of the general direction in which the fed-
eral government is heading, one in which
the Pentagon is the largest single con-
sumer in the United States, wasting 6% of
the GNP.
If the United States is truly sincere
about disarmament, then it must commit
itself to specific plans for broad disarma-
ment and reprioritize its economic policies
so that they stress quality of life rather
than strategies of death.

CONSUMER AND animal rights ac-
tivists have known for years of the
crdel and inhumane treatment given to
calves raised for the production of veal.
Ndw criticisms of the meat industry
which focus on consumer health and
leg#islative action in a number of states
indicate the possibility of a new op-
poftunity for change.
Critics of the industry, among them
tho Farm Animal Reform Movement
(FARM) and the Humane Farming As-
sociation, are trying to educate the
public about threats to consumer health
poked by the industry's factory farming
foremost among these is the
increasing evidence that the widespread
use of antibiotic medications - added
to the calves' daily diet of "milk re-
pl4cer" to increase appetite and prevent
dijease - may have significant health
ramifications for those who eat veal.
These medications have been found in
the meat itself, and the unnecessary in-
take of antibiotics has been shown to
cause a gradually increasing tolerance
to the drugs, limiting their effectiveness
wlen they are really needed.
This new information has the poten-
tial to affect consumers who previously
halven't been concerned about animal
abuse, an issue which has historically
been the central motivation behind
criticism of the industry.
Separated within three days of birth

To combat insistent criticisms of
current practices, the Veal Issues Man-
agement Program of the Beef Industry
Council has prepared an extensive re-
port, attempting to justify these abuses
as being required by the demands of
the market. Their claims are backed up
by the dogmatic research of scientists
whose jobs depend on supporting the
industry which funds them. While their
research suggests the need for preven-
tative medications in the current sys-
tem, it does not address whether ani-
mals raised under less stress, and given
the opportunity to eat right and exer-
cise, would need them.
The report concedes that the current
system may not be perfect, but claims it
achieves the most practical balance be-
tween producer profit, animal health
and consumer demand. This elusive
rationalization is unfortunately sup-
ported by the continuing demand for
"special-fed" veal among American
New York, California and Maryland
are currently considering laws restrict-
ing the abuse of calves by the veal in-
dustry, and a bill will be introduced in
Congress this year as well. But these
represent a small beginning for a chal-
lenge to an industry which hasn't lost a
fight in Congress since the passage of
the Wholesome Meat Act after the
publication of Upton Sinclair's The
.Jung'le.Or~yniFers(exYpct some u

goals of reaffirming the Geneva Protocol
of 1925 which banned CBW usage. But
besides allowing the participating coun-
tries a few moments to stand on a moral
high ground, has the conference accom-
plished anything new?
Similar to its initiatives for nuclear dis-
armament, the Soviet Union presented a
plan for CBW disarmament which the
United States generally ignored. Arab bloc
countries also called for a linkage of
CBWs to nuclear countries, a move more
in their best interests than the U.S. media
has discussed. Clearly there was motiva-
tion on the part of many key countries to
design plans for CBW disarmament and
potentially commit to further steps to-
wards demilitarization of the planet.
But in the words of U.S. Major General
William F. Burns, "the goals here have
been accomplished." These goals include
little movement towards real disarmament.
Indeed, even after ratifying the Geneva
Protocol in 1975, the United States con-
tinued to use CBWs domestically and
covertly in Central and South America as
well as supplying these weapons to
"friendly" governments in Israel, El Sal-
vador, Guatemala, Brazil, South Africa and
South Korea and the contras. This is just a
partial list of organizations receiving
CBWs from the United States.
So the newly adopted guidelines which
echo the 1925 Geneva Protocol have
placed no new reigns on U.S. policies to
disseminate CBWs around the world. In-
deed the only stricter measures that Burns
said the U.S. would have liked to see were
sanctions against private/corporate sales of
CBWs. The United States most likely

avoiding any actions which may hinder its
current status to use CBWs covertly or
through proxy forces throughout the
The Arab bloc countries calling for
linkage with nuclear weapons know very
well how CBWs fit into U.S. strategy for
escalation dominance (escalating to the
brink of nuclear holocaust so that the
other side is forced to back down or runs
out of comparable weapons at an earlier
point). We must always keep in mind that
every weapon the U.S. has built it has ul-
timately used in a hostile manner, includ-
ing the only known aggressive use of nu-
clear weapons against Japan in 1945.
The use of CBWs for death as well as
economic violence is also clearly docu-
mented (see parts one and two of this arti-
cle). CBWs fill in the bottom rungs of an
escalation dominance policy in that they
can cause a great deal of economic hard-
ship (through agricultural weapons) and
demoralization (through sudden illness and
debilitating diseases such as botulism and
dysentery) without causing excessive
death. In this manner they are more easily
used than conventional and nuclear
weapons to intimidate opposing forces.
Also, CBWs such as tear gas and mild
acid sprays can be used to disperse public
gatherings at a lower cost to public image
than, for instance, Israel's rubber bullets
that have resulted in three severe injuries
in the Gaza strip just this past week. So a
linkage with nuclear weapons is a clear
necessity when one sees that the primary
targets of U.S. aggression are not the
USSR but more likely economically de-
pressed countries such as Nicaragua, Viet-



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