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April 03, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-04-03

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 3, 1995

G7be L'rbiWan ?tilg

420 Maynard
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

MICHAEL ROSENBERG
Editor in Chief
JULIE BECKER
JAMEs NASH
Editorial Page Editors

JAmEs R. Co . BENEATH THE PALIMPSEST
Simpson, serial rapists
and the new world of DNA

0
0

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of a majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters, and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
Women health
'U' deserves praise for increased awareness

This week marks an important point in the
acknowledgment of women's health is-
sues on campus. Today University Students
Against Cancer are sponsoring "Breast Health
Awareness Day," and on Wednesday the
Women's Health Initiative sponsors a day
dedicated to women's health. In addition,
last month the University opened its Women's
Health Resource and Education Center on
the Medical campus. These events signify an
across-the-board increase in involvement in
women's health on campus. From student
activism to University Medical Center re-
search, this involvement deserves praise.
For the women of both the University and
the Ann Arbor community, the Health Center
is the first real clinic to provide a confidential
care center on issues ranging from cancer to
pregnancy issues to general wellness. Mod-
eled after other successful clinics on many
other medical campuses nationwide, the cen-
ter at long last provides an open environment
for women to address their health concerns
without the infimidation and waiting com-
monly associated with a large hospital.
The opening ofthe center and other women's
health events on campus demonstrate a long-
overdue recognition that women deserve the
opportunity for easy access to specialized health
care. Problems such as breast cancer, cervical
cancer and pregnancy complications can often
be avoided or detected much earlier with pri-
mary obstetric-gynecological care, breast self-

examination education and prenatal care. For
far too long, the medical community - at the
University and elsewhere-has ignored these
issues. In the 1980s, while funds were in-
creased for the treatment of women's dis-
eases in their later stages, money for preven-
tion and early detection of these same dis-
eases was neglected.
Fortunately, the medical community has
begun to realize that research in the areas of
initial primary care can offset major health
problems down the road. Eventually, the eco-
nomic benefits of this new look at medical care
will be realized when the number of diseases
caught too late to be cured decreases, and the
number caught in the early stages increases.-
Most important, increased awareness of
women's health on campus is beneficial to
women themselves, in creating an accepting
and supportive atmosphere for health issues.
The Women's Health and Resource Educa-
tion Center not only provides the advantages
of primary and preventative care to the com-
munity, but also creates a comfortable atmo-
sphere for its patients. The pressures of large
hospitals and impersonal doctors can too
often deter people needing only birth control
or pregnancy information.
Far too often, ignorance leads to a cycle of
self-neglect. The University's faculty, staff
and students are to be commended and encour-
aged for supporting the trend toward women's
health awareness.

A nn Arbor assistant public defender
David Lankford is no Johnnie Cochran
Jr. or F. Lee Bailey, but like O.J. Simpson,
the fate of Lankford's client rests on a key
strand of evidence - DNA fingerprinting.
Lankford represents the accused Ann Arbor
serial rapist, Ervin Dewain Mitchell Jr.
Mitchell has been charged with one count
of murder and four counts of rape. Judge
Ann Matson of the 15th District Court or-
dered Mitchell last Thursday to stand trial
on all the charges, concluding a preliminary
hearing that included nearly 20 hours of
testimony by 27 witnesses and by DNA
experts from the Michigan State Police
Crime Lab. The DNA evidence that could
land Mitchell in prison for the rest of his life
is the same evidence that exonerated him
last week of the rapes of six Black prosti-
tutes in Inkster, Mich.
Like the Simpson trial, the Ann Arbor
case involves a bloody glove found on
Mitchell at the time of his arrest, circum-
stantial evidence and DNA. The prosecu-
tion has neither eyewitnesses nor incrimi-
nating physical evidence linking Mitchell
to the crimes. None of the surviving victims
could identify her assailant. The linchpin in
the prosecution's case is DNA evidence
present at all the crimes that fingers Mitchell.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the
basic genetic material contained in all living
cells that determines a person's personal
traits. It's what allowed scientists to create
dinosaurs in the hit movie "Jurassic Park".
(They really didn't create dinosaurs.) DNA
fingerprinting describes a nascent technique
used by forensic scientists to identify indi-

viduals using only small samples of body
fluids such as blood, semen or hair. In both
the Simpson and the Mitchell cases, the
prosecution's argument is based, in part, on
the similarity of the defendant's DNA pro-
file to that obtained at the crime scene.
In theMitchell case, Dr. Stephen Milligan
of the state police crime lab testified in
reference to a 1992 rape that the likelihood
the DNA found on the victim matches an-
other person is one in 7.8 trillion among the
white population and one in one trillion in
the Black population.
DNA fingerprinting is on trial in both
cases. As evidence, it should be used cau-
tiously, as there is much potential for mis-
use.
First, DNA fingerprinting, while very
persuasive in the courtroom, should not be
the sole criterion in convicting a suspect.
Innocent people can be convicted if labs that
conduct these tests make a mistake. In both
cases, we see defense attorneys questioning
the manner in which blood samples were
collected and handled and the accuracy of
the DNA analysis.
Second, samples recovered at a crime
scene are not immediately useful without a
suspect in custody. The Ann Arbor Police
Department has been accused of strong-
arming and manhandling local African
Americans, as well as violating their indi-
vidual rights, in the search for the Ann
Arbor serial rapist.
Kinesiology sophomore Marshelle
Brooks said, "I'm pretty upset with the
way the police randomly picked up Afri-
can American men who may have fit the

description of the serial rapist, and tested
their DNA. They would never have picked
up white men off the street."
Finally, genetic experts are called to
court at the request of the prosecution or
defense. Any lawyer defending a client who
has been charged in a crime in which DNA
evidence is introduced wants to find scien-
tists who will refute the evidence. An attor-
ney for the prosecution wants to find scien-
tists who will corroborate the evidence.
Because opinions vary widely in science, it
is possible to find an expert with any given
opinion who will testify.
Experts - who average $250 per hour
- testify for a variety of purposes. Some
are commendable - the advancement of
science or protecting individual rights. Oth-
ers are not - easy money, television ap-
pearances and frequent flyer mileage.
In any case, expert testimony is inher-
ently biased. Jurors may know this and thus
ignore the testimony, but why should a legal
system encourage testimony that ought to
be discounted? As the same experts testify
in case after case, they become advocates-
for or against a technology. Objectivity
disappears.
For O.J. Simpson, who's paying for the
expert testimony of the scientist who in-
vented the DNA test used in forensic sci-
ence - the PCR test - as well as an
entourage of investigators and lawyers work-
ing for him 'round the clock, justice, it
seems, is based on how many millions you
have. Will Mitchellwith his court-appointed
attorney, receive justice and a "fair" trial?
Well, you get what you pay for.

.

Jim LASSER

SHARP AS TOAST
ar4dZn4str

HER~E YOVAKE SONNY,
ARE YOU SAVIN C-c UP

WHAT
FO R

Lift the ban
Court rightly axes 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

(4
- e

(J' on't Ask, Don't Tell." A confusing
term with a confused history. When
President Clinton made a campaign issue out
of allowing homosexuals to serve in the mili-
tary, hope was given to all with an interest in
civil rights that the military's ban on gay men
and lesbians might finally come to an end.
Unfortunately, Clinton's lofty goals disinte-
grated after the election into a political brawl
- and the president caved in to conservative
pressure. The result was the ridiculous "Don't
Ask, Don't Tell" policy, a sly compromise that
represented real little change for homosexuals
serving in the military.
As expected, the policy was struck down
last week in federal court as unconstitutional.
The judge ruled that it violates the equal-
protection clause of the 14th Amendment. He
correctly noted that the military cannot ban
people for simply "acknowledging who they
are" and criticized the military for offering gay
man and lesbians "inducements to lie."
The Justice Department refuses to acknowl-
edge the sense in this ruling. Government
attorneys have vowed to take the issue to the
Supreme Court if necessary. However, this
would be a grave mistake, as it would continue
a protracted court battle that would likely
reaffirm the ruling. In the interestofjustice and
prudence, the Clinton administration - as
well as Congressional proponents of the
policy - should give in and lift the ban.
The Justice Department argued in court
that allowing homosexuals into the military
will harm morale, because "heterosexual ser-
vice members will be so upset by a coworker's
mere statement of homosexuality as not to
work cooperatively in a unit." The fact that the
government argued this incourt is shameful-
the very same argument was used to prevent
the racial desegregation of the military back in
the 1940s. In addition to being outdated and
How TO CONTACT THEM

bigoted, the argument is inherently illogical.
The military has extremely strict codes of
social behavior on and off duty. It is illegal for
any serviceperson to display affection to a
coworker, show preference for one sex over
the other, or to encourage or invite sexual
activity with another serviceperson. As any
heterosexual can easily be discharged from the
military for sexual misconduct, so can homo-
sexuals.
Banning homosexuals from the military
assumes that they already will engage in sexual
misconduct, by the very virtue of their sexual
orientation. However, homosexuals have been
secretly serving in the military since its incep-
tion, with no less acclaim than heterosexual
service members.Of the six military personnel
named in Friday's court ruling, four were cited
for outstanding service records and none was
discharged for specific sexual misconduct.
They were thrown out solely due to their
admission of homosexuality.
The military lifestyle is rigorous and ap-
peals only to a small proportion of people,
heterosexual or homosexual. Lifting the ban
will not engulf the military in "flamers" wait-
ing for every opportunity to tempt other ser-
vicemen into sexual trysts, as many in the
military brass fear. Rather, it will simply allow
a small group to acknowledge who they are -
and then go back to the job they have had all
along: serving their country.
As Barry Goldwater once put it, "You don't
have to be straight, just shoot straight." True
enough. The ban on homosexuals in the mili-
tary is wrong and should be lifted. As the most
recent court ruling demonstrates, "Don't Ask,
Don't Tell" is a fraudulent attempt at tolerance
that loosens the old ban in name only. Con-
gress and the Clinton administration should
recognize this, heed the judge's words and
lift the ban in its entirety.

'M C-oNNvA
RUCN FOR~
PRESIDVENT IN
LEMONADE

NOTABLE QUOTABLE
"The police
officers on
campus will arrest
you for smoking
marijuana and we
gotta change that.
..We gotta vote
the regents the
hell out of this
University and
vote some new
ones inl"
- Hash Bash organizer
Adam Brook

0

I._

LETTERS
Letter writer misrepresents 'Contract' protest

To the Daily:
This letter is in response to
the misrepresentation perpe-
trated against our march to pro-
test the Contract on' America
by Mr. Mark Fletcher ("Anti-
Contract march a farce," 3/28/
95). The first of many misrepre-
sentations Mr. Fletcher uses in
an attempt to discredit the march
is that it is simply a "Democratic
trick" organized by party "lack-
eys". Although many Democrats
surely oppose some elements of
the Contract, they are not re-
sponsible for organizing the
march at the University. What
Mr. Fletcher refers to as the
"uniquely" named coalition is
so called because it is exceed-
ingly appropriate. The march is
endorsed and organized by over
30 student groups who have put
aside personal differences due
to the Contract's extensively det-
rimental proposals.
The second misrepresenta-
tion which Mr. Fletcherengages
in is nothing more than a vicious
exaggeration, "If the best the
Dems can do against the Con-
tract is pit Beavis and Butt-head
against Newt Gingrich, I say
that's pretty pathetic."Although
in my involvement with the
Coalition I have never heard
any such proposal, I feel it is

grate our efforts by criticizing
what may have been one satirical
comment. In addition, unfortu-
nately this would not even be a
very effective skit considering
the fact that Newt Gingrich's ig-
norance far surpasses that of any
fictional character.
The third misrepresentation
which Mr. Fletcher details is a
supposed flyer describing the
genocidal Prop. 187 as a com-
ponent of the Coptract. To be-
gin, this is not what the flyer
states. The flyer does compare
Prop. 187 to measures in the
Contract, such as portions of
the Personal Responsibilities
Act. This scapegoating act de-
nies benefits to legal immigrants
despite their tax dollars and other
contributions to our society. In
addition, Prop. 187 and the anti-
immigrant measures of the Con-
tract are a part of the same po-
litical attitude which takes ad-*
vantage of less-empowered
groups such as immigrants,
women, people of color, low-
income groups and students for
the sake of spend-thrift political
appearances.
Mr. Fletcher's fourth misrep-
resentation states that the "Con-
tract has nothing to do with gay
rights." Although there are no
specific measures against lesbi-
~nc oavc or hisexualk in the

Contract, Mr. Fletcher surely
does not mean to imply that the
authors and supporters of the
Contract are in favor of the civil
rights which those groups are
entitled to as Americans. In ad-
dition, the supporters and au-
thors of the Contract have al-
ready made proposals to cut fed-
eral funding from activities that
"directly or indirectly" condone
or accept homosexuality.
In conclusion Mr. Fletcher
only builds on his malignant
dishonesty. Fletcher concludes
his letter with, "The important
thing is that the Republicans
will soon have been able to ac-
complish more ... How many
honest Americans are going to
protest that?." It is obvious that
Mr. Fletcher does not understand
the mission of the U.S. Congress,
which is not to pass some enor-
mous number of scapegoating
bills creating an equally enor-
mous amount of harm to our so-
ciety. The point is to accomplish
real progress on the American
values of liberty, equality and
justice.
Nora Lynn Salas
Member, Coalition Against
the Contract 'on' America
Co-chair of Public Opinion-
elect, Alianza
Pr1 cnrnr'irmrP

Editorial unfair
to candidate
To the Daily:
During the recent MSA elec-
tion, some extremely unprofes-
sional behavior was brought to
my attention. Prior to the elec-
tion, the Daily printed an ex-
tremely offensive editorial that
personally attacked the now LSA
Student Government president-
elect Rick Bernstein (LSA-SG:
Vote Students', 3/21/95).
The Daily has a right to ex-
press any political opposition to
a student's campaign. However,
the editorial barely focused on
Mr. Bernstein's platform. In-
stead, personal epithets were
strewn about in an attempt to
weaken his campaign. It is diffi-
cult to believe that such a self-
proclaimed "liberal" newspaper
would so blatantly and harmfully
attack a student. Hidden agendas
and personal vendettas do not
belong in this publication. The
Daily has a responsibility to in-
form students, not intimidate
them. This editorial crossed the
line of professionalism, legiti-
macy and basic human dignity.
Fortunately, the majority of
the student body supported Mr.
Bernstein's ideas, abilities and
visions. I only wish the Daily
wasn't so limited in that respect.

Office of the Ombudsman
Interim Ombudsman Jennifer Walters
3000 Michigan Union
T 13 F1CAr.

Ruth A. Rott

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