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December 06, 1991 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-12-06
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The War of the Worlds Revisited

The William Kennedy
Smith rape trial probably isn't
worth commenting on, except
that it's being broadcast, live,
on television. And if
something is on television, it is
probably worth writing about,
if only for reasons of self-
Let me explain. On this
JES E planet, the print media are the
WALKER media of record. If you want to
look something up, you go
after the back issues of The
New York Times or some other big, heavy newspaper or
magazine. If it's not there, it's probably in some letter or
diary or unpublished memoirs stowed away in a university
library or rich widow's attic. If you're lucky, somebody's
already found it for you and has written a book about it.
The point is, it's inprint. This is the stuff historians look
at when they want to see what was up 10 or 100 years ago.
On other planets, it doesn't work that way. No one
there has access to our newspapers; deliveries simply
aren't made over such great distances. Instead, they watch
us on television. I can say this with some degree of
certainty, for chances are good that there is intelligent life
somewhere out there in outer space, and that at least some of
these intelligent alien species have developed radio/TV
technology. Others, through a freak of nature, may be so
evolved that they themselves are capable of directly
receiving radio and TV broadcasts. And, as has been
pointed out ad nauseum by other commentators,
everything that has ever been broadcast over the open air
continues to radiate out into space, forever and ever and
ever. So if no one out there is watching us now, it can still
be assumed that they will start watching us eventually.
The upshot of all this is this: long after our historians'
precious printed manuscripts have crumbled to dust -
indeed, long after our historians themselves have
crumbled into dust - reruns of WAo's the Boss? and
Manimal will be producing cargo cults on the other side of
the Galaxy. Antennaed hunter-gatherer tribes on faraway
moons will have communal dream-visions of Connie
Chung and Kirk Cameron, leading to cultural revolutions
whose effects cannot be predicted. Alien archaeologists
will painstakingly deduce the English language and

construct a multi-volume history of the planet Earth, each
book of which will be divided into half-hour chapters with
happy resolutions.
So if William Kennedy Smith wants history to absolve
him, he had better aim for the long run. Don't play to the
press gallery, William. Play to your extraterrestrial
PROSECUTOR: "Mr. Smith, are you or are you not
guilty of raping Ms. (BEEEEP) on the night of-"
SMITH: Klaatu barata nikto!
PROSECUTOR: Excuse me?
SMITH (salivating): Yep yep yep yep yep, uh-huh uh-
huh uh-huh. Yep yep yep yep yep, uh-huh uh-huh uh-
And on it would go, with the defendant imitating the
Martians from Sesame Street in hopes of swaying the alien
observers, or at least getting off on grounds of insanity.
The average Earth-bound viewer would have no idea
what was going on, of course - unless he or she watched
the proceedings on Court TV.
I only just encountered Court TV for the first time two
weeks ago, watching television in a Washington, D.C.
hotel. I didn't see enough of it to really grasp the full
scope of the channel's programming, but it appears to be a
station fully devoted to live broadcasts and taped
highlights of significant trials from around the country.
But that's not all: not content to simply show us the
proceedings, at recess the programmers cut to trial
commentators. These people tell us who they think will
win and what strategies the legal teams are likely to use
after the half; I keep expecting one of them to say
something like "Y'know Brian, the defendant isn't
winning many points with the jury out there, but he sure
is showing a lot of character."
This is the sort of material that could destroy whole
extraterrestrial civilizations if it were received on a planet
that has yet to attain our level of cultural evolution. But
here, it could provide useful commentary on legal niceties
that might escape the naive viewer:
BUD: Whaddaya suppose Smith is doing right now,
BRIAN: Well Bud, I'd say he's imitating the Martians
from Sesame Street, either in an attempt to be pronounced
insane or as a means of greeting our new viewers in
WGHD, Alpha Centauri.
BUD: That isn't going to win him many points with

the jury, Brian.
BRIAN: It sure won't, Bud. But you've still gotta
respect him; he's showing a lot of character out there.
I have a theory that most of the UFO sightings,
appearances of the Blessed Holy Virgin, and holy visions
that have struck our planet since the dawn of human
culture are, in fact, nothing more than stray television
programs from somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy, as
interpreted by uneducated witnesses. Indeed, it is
entirely possible that they are simply the aliens' version of
Court TV, in which case their legal system can boast of a
complexity that our lawyers can only dream of.
In the meantime, though, we should be concerned
about the effect that our TV shows are having on other
worlds. If one of them gets wind of just who the jokers are
that have been sending them this stuff, they just might
attack our planet in retaliation. Which is why I am writing
this commentary in self-defense. If anything is going to
set the aliens off, it will be William Kennedy Smith's
protestations of innocence. We must begin preparations
for their coming invasion now.
Yep yep yep yep yep. Uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh.

Continued from page 7
Randon. "I think a lot of Black
people would be willing to phase
out affirmative action if we had a
government commitment to
Satchel agrees. He sees the need
for a "more holistic remedy" to
the problems faced by Blacks.
"Any solution has to focus on
education and things that cause
the destruction of the Black
family and the Black community
- but that includes racism. That
factor can't be taken out of the
But Hill is dubious: "I believe
if there was some clear cut
solution to racism - if someone
had it -that they would share it
with us, whatever it is."
And Cruse expresses doubt
that a dissatisfaction with civil
rights policies will translate into
new policy ideas.
"It mostly translates into
neutralism," he says. "There are
no issues. If it isn't civil rights it's

nothing. The civil rights leaders
aren't clinging on to this
argument because of it's validity.
They're clinging on to it because,
although they can't admit it,
they have nothing else."
He says, though, that if there
is to be a solution, it must focus
on revitalizing urban areas - "a
kind of domestic Marshall Plan
for the cities."
Satchel says the basis of any

solution has to involve an effort
by both Blacks and whites to
assess their own behavior.
"I think it's time to stop
blaming each other and start
blaming ourselves and each
other," he says.
" i..
Clarence Thomas was far
from what civil rights leaders had

in mind when they pressed for
entry by Blacks into places like
the Supreme Court, Allen says.
"But we cannot push for
recognition of our individuality
and then when we move in the
direction that contradicts our
original direction, say we don't
want this individuality. There's
an old saying: What makes me
laugh can also make me cry."
And this "new diversity,"

and t

Walker Hits the Road
This is Jesse Walker's final column for
Weekend, assuming that he doesn't flunk all of
his exams or do something dumb like that. He
should be graduating at the end of the term.
Walker has been a Weekend Columnist since
September of 1990 and has served as Associate
Editor of Weekend since September, 1991.
In addition to his writing and editorial'
duties, Walker conceived and coordinated
Weekend's special religion issue that ran
earlier this semester and helped make the
selections for last month's special fiction issue.
Having completed his academic career,
Walker is faced with an uncomfortable choice:'
either sell out to the easy money and fame of
an FBI payroll, or commit suicide in a fit of
existential despair. His decision is still
Like Mycroft, at times he is the British

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December 6, 1991

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