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September 28, 1990 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-28

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Page 4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 28, 1990
be Aidifan aig


420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109

who ,-O\


Editor in Chief

Opinion Editor

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.



-& ( r- -
/' 49


Election reform II

Getting rid of big money
long been a reality in the American po-
litical system, last week's primaries
indicate that tradition may be changing.
In what is being called the "war on in-
cumbents," voters from Massachusetts
to Oklahoma signalled they are tired of
elections in which the same old faces
run and win on platforms that are
sketchy at best.
The number of Americans who
don't vote has been rising for decades,
and reached an all-time high in the
1988 elections. Many people who
don't vote have known for a long time
that in a process dominated by money
rather than ideas, in parties controlled
by hierarchy rather than ability, and in
a process more preoccupied by power
than people, abstention seems the best
Last week's voters, in an angry
echo of this. cynical theme, made
choices demonstrating their own rejec-
tion of a system that has long ceased to
genuinely represent them. Voters
clearly were not voting for anyone or
any particular set of ideas but rather
casting anti-votes - differing in degree
but not in kind from the choices made
by abstainers.
Did the extremely conservative John
Silber win the primary in the histori-
cally progressive state of Mas-
sachusetts because the voters agreed
with his views about all Blacks being
"drug addicts" and all welfare recipi-
ints "spongers"? Or did they not rather
choose him because they wanted to
state their dissatisfaction with the cor-
ruption and mismanagement surround-
ing those in office?
Throughout the country, this anti-
government backlash is on the rise;
more than two-thirds of all Americans
now say that they have no faith in their
government. Recent polls concerning
the California gubernatorial race
forcefully drive this point home. Voters
there believe that the astronomical
amount of money being spent on this
election, $36 million, has contributed
: to the deterioration of an already su-
perficial exercise offering little choice
and less distinction between the two
main party candidates.
As a result, many have said they do
,not plan to vote - even though they
are drowning in commercials, ads, and
soundbitep encouraging them to do so.
In Oklahoma, voters confirmed this
trend by voting in favor of an initiative
- which received bipartisan backing
- limiting to 12 the total number of
- years a state legislator can serve. Simi-
lar initiatives are on the ballot in Col-
orado and California.
Knowing why voters have made the
choices they have does not mean these
choices solve the problems voters are
trying to redress. Oklahomans clearly
hope that limiting the number of terms

will improve the system
their representatives can serve will as-
sure that those representatives will keep
in touch with - and be accountable to
- their constituents.
But limiting the number of terms
legislators can serve challenges neither
the disproportionate power of corporate
contributions in their elections nor the
corrupting influence of big money,
which is present from the beginning of
their first campaign. Legislators don't
grow less accountable to their con-
stituents over time; they are forced to
be unaccountable to them from the very
beginning because they depend on Po-
litical Action Committee (PAC) money
to survive.
Former Congressional Representa-
tive Mike Barnes (D-Maryland) once
estimated that he and his colleagues
were forced to spend between 80 and
90 percent of their time raising money.
He eventually left Congress, because,
as he said in a 1988 interview, "That's
an absolute outrage, because the candi-
dates should be talking about the issues
and meeting with constituents and vot-
ers and working on policy questions."
It is in this context that the Daily
called last week for all elections to be
publicly financed, thereby giving can-
didates - and presumably a wider ar-
ray of candidates - time to concentrate
on formulating comprehensive views
on substantive questions rather than
delivering superficial soundbites for
hefty PAC checks.
The idea of public financing is
hardly implausible; public finance bills
introduced in Congress in 1985 would
have cost $87 million for the House
and $49 million for the Senate. The
two figures combined are less than
what the Pentagon spends in a year just
on its military bands ($150 million), let
alone what PAC-influenced legislation
on items like sugar and dairy subsidies
- which run in the billions - have
cost the American taxpayers, who pay
more for both items than anyone in the
The inherent deficiency in the Okla-
homa amendment lies in its scope: the
changes it calls for are cosmetic. The
problem of constituent accountability
will not be resolved until the vdry
structure of the electoral process is
changed. Eliminating money from
politics would allow for more
candidates to compete; a wider range of
substantive views; accountability to the
voter, not to the donor; and, most
importantly, a sense among those
voters that they not only had more
options but that their input mattered.
Under these circumstances, the only
limitations placed on the time legisla-
tors could serve would be a conse-
quence of their inability to adequately
represent their constituents - con-
stituents who would, at long last, have
a stake in the system that is their consti-
tutional right.


.«'. t
* *.

_ ..---'74 '
- , ; .


MPAA changes movie rating system

By Jen Bilik
The Motion Picture Association of
America (MPAA) and the National Asso-
ciation of Theater Owners announced
Wednesday that the MPAA has finally re-
lented to demands for an adults only, non-
X rating. In instituting its new "No Chil-
dren Under 17 Admitted" (NC-17) classifi-
cation, the MPAA has made its most fun-
damental change since 1968 when it came
into existence in its modern form under
the direction of Jack Valenti.
From the early days of film in the late
teens and early '20s, morally conservative
groups have protested the content of film,
especially because the new art form catered
to a working class population that seemed
particularly in danger of moral depravity.
In the wake of highly publicized Holly-
wood scandals that seem tame by modern
comparison, distributors and producers,
tired of being protested and picketed,
formed the Motion Picture Producers and
Distributors of America (MPPDA) in
Because different areas of the country
had different standards for obscenity and
controversial subject matter, the founders
of the MPPDA felt it was in their interest
to rate their films according to the lowest
common moral denominator so that they
could be distributed across the country.
The MPPDA brought Will Hays,. a
former U.S. Postmaster General, to super-
vise the rating system. Under Hays, the
MPPDA created the Motion Picture Pro-
duction Code (popularly known as "The
Hays Code") which lasted through the
middle of the '40s. The Code established a
self-regulatory censorship system that
soon developed a monopoly of studios so
that it became financially impossible to
release a film that hadn't been filtered
through the Hays administration.
In 1968, the system was overhauled
into its current format, prompted by the
MPAA president in response to court rul-
Bilik is a Daily Film Editor.

ings regarding obscenity and increasing
social permissiveness. For years, the rat-
ing system consisted of G (general audi-
ences; all ages admitted), PG (at first M.
GP; all ages admitted but parental guid-
ance is suggested, R (restricted; children
under 17 admitted only if accompanied by
parent or adult guardian), and X (no one
under 17 admitted; that age limit may vary
Because the MPAA failed to obtain a
trademark for the X category, pornogra-
phers were able to appropriate the rating as
advertisement, leading to countless "triple
X - XXX" films. The patenting process
for the NC-17 rating is in the works. The
ensuing distinction between pornography
and serious film as indicated by the X led
most theater owners and distributors to
refuse to have anything to do with X rated
movies, usually according to their rental
contracts. In addition, films that carried no
rating met with harsh financial repercus-
sions because many theaters refused to
show them.

that receive the R classification so that re-
viewers and theater owners can explain ex-
actly which content necessitated the rating.
There will be no explanation for the NC-
This past summer, three films in par-
ticular prompted much of the controversy,
that led to the modification. Tie Me Up!
Tie Me Down! ,IHenry: Portrait of a Se-
rial Killer and The Cook, The Thief, His
Wife and Her Lover led the fight as seri-
ous, quality films whose content, for rea-
sons either of sexual explicitness or vio-
lence, fell between the demure R and the
hard core X.
Valenti's position regarding any sort of
change regarding the obsolete system was
at best inflexible. and at worst illogical. In 1
a televised interview with Roger Ebert last
spring, Valenti repeatedly evaded direct an-
swers to questions about the ratings sys-
tem, and appeared to be rigid to the point
of stupidity.
The first film to be released under the
new rating will be Philip Kaufman's up-

The impact of this decision

will be felt broadly both by

independent filmmakers and countless theaters and
distributors across the country.

Films with an X rating are restricted
from advertising on television and in
many newspapers and magazines, prompt-
ing many filmmakers to modify their
films after the dreaded X blow. Many
filmmakers sign agreements that they will
cut offensive scenes from films that earn
the X.
For example, David Lynch's recent
Wild at Heart received an initial X rating,
but Lynch had agreed to modify it to an R
before he began work on the film. So the
version distributed in the States differs
from that of Europe, arguably a deviation
from the artist's initial intentions.
With the additional rating, the MPAA
will start providing explanations for films

coming Henry and June, which tells the
story of the mdnage-a-trois between Henry
Miller, his wife June, and Anais Nin.
The impact of this decision will be felt
broadly both by independent filmmakers
and countless theaters and distributors
across the country. It opens many of the*
large theater chains to both foreign and in-
dependent films, both of which often fall
outside the implicit standards for cloaking
sex and violence in major studio films.
There are more than 20,000 American
movie theaters that do not accept X rated
movies. Although it is uncertain which
will show the new NC-17 films, it is cer-
tainly a step in the right direction.

e _ i

Death penalty

U.S. policy on human rights shows its hypocrisy

pleas for mercy had been steadfastly
rebuffed, Charles Walker was put to
death. However, Walker's killers were
not members of the murderous Sal-
vadoran death squads, nor were they
the members of a heinous underworld
mob. Walker's executioners were em-
ployees of a less notorious, yet no less
efficient, homicidal institution: the
courts of the United States of America.
Since 1976, when the U.S.
Supreme Court ruled that states can
constitutionally use capital punishment,
there have been 139 government-
backed executions in the United States.
Of these, 123 can be attributed exclu-
sively to Southern states, giving one
the initi1 imnrecsinn that the use of

cal. As the U.S. government condemns
human rights violations in Iraq, U.S.
gubernatorial candidates boast of their
willingness to end another person's
While the U.S. urges the People's
Republic of China to end human rights
violations, the Supreme Court endorses
the execution of individuals who are
mentally retarded and as young as 16.
From 1985-1988, 2,000 people
were sentenced to death in the United
States. If they had all been executed,
our nation would have led the world in
executions during that period.
Execution, by it's very nature, ad-
mits no possibility of cure or correc-
tion. Criminals are created by - not

Organize to help fight
University police force
To the Daily:
Last week, hundreds of students
demonstrated against the regents' decision
to ignore student wishes and arm their
own, private police force. Students rallied
in solidarity-against the regents at The
Cube, then vehemently criticized the deci-
sion at the public comments session.
The administration argues that an
armed security force would improve cam-
pus safety. But although there are legiti-
mate concerns over safety on campus,
there is no evidence deputization will pro-
vide an answer. As Dawn Paulinski said in
her "five-minute allotment" at the public
comments session, to feel safer, women
need better lighting, expansion of Night
Owl and Safewalk services, and most im-
portantly, increased education to promote
awareness of our misogynist culture.
These ideological ills cannot be ame-
liorated by cops with guns.
Of course, the regents' goal is not
safety; Regent Baker's open homophobia
reveals a desire to victimize groups that
are discriminated auaingt on camnus not

manouvers are done to insure a golden
image and bogusly establish an "ideal
We must halt these attacks on students'
rights and reverse the tide toward a demo-
cratic campus. The first step is to stop the
insidious move toward deputization. Help
us organize to fight for our democratic
freedom. Come to the Students' Rights
Organizing Committee Mass Meeting on
Sunday, Sept. 30, 7:30 at the MSA office
at 3909 Michigan Union.
Craig Carmack
SROC Organizer
Booze at the UGLi?
To the Daily:
Why not just go all the way? I vote
that the University obtain a liquor license
for the UGLi.
I mean, let's be realistic, the UGLi is
Charlie's minus alcohol.
. I can picture it now, "Yes Ms. Librar-
ian, I'd like the Economic Report of the.
President for 1989. Oh yes, and please
give me 2 jello shots and a bottle of Mol-
Or how about the library kegs. They
could set them up in the back of the sec-

Murder in the Stacks
Sprawled on the floor
Torn and misshapen
The pages of my favorite book
Lie dead
The smell of decay
Hangs in the still air
But the ground smells
Of murder
A footprint leads
To the source of the death
A little boy
With a burning hand
"Heresy," he told me
"No, history" I said
"Blasphemy," he hissed to me
"No, prophecy," I said
"Classless," he warned me
"No, classics," I replied
"Litter," he informed me
"No, literature," I tried


"Who told you." I inquired

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