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January 21, 1997 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-01-21

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4A - The Michig8 Danly - Tuesday, January 21, 1997

~fle £d~gtaig

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

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's editorial board. A ll
other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
World Wide Voting
MSA should open Internet ballots

'My ears felt like they were going to pop out.
My hands were shaking. Not from fear.
From the vibration.'
- Suburban Atlanta resident Melissa Johnson, recalling
her reaction to the explosions at a local abortion clinic
iJ IF4L44L SAWzs W 4js
c 4
- o Vf o
The continuing Ebonies debate

M ichigan Student Assembly elections
never garner a significant number of
students at the polls. Apathy, combined with
the inconvenience of waiting in line, repels
many students. A set of amendments to the
MSA Compiled Code presented at last
week's meeting would offer students the
chance to vote over the Internet. The change
could significantly increase voter turnout
- which would fulfill part of MSA's
responsibility to encourage the participa-
tion of its constituents. However, security
under the new system would be of para-
mount concern.
MSA's purpose is to work for the better-
ment of student organizations and the stu-
dents. If only 12 percent of the student body
votes, as in the fall election, then MSA is
controlled by a small portion of the student
body. If more students voted, MSA could
better represent students.
MSA allocated $10,000 for elections in
its budget - the assembly had better put it
to good use. Electronic polling would save
thousands of dollars - allowing more
money to go in support of student organiza-
tions. MSA would also save thousands of
sheets of paper from use as disposable bal-
lots. If voting becomes cheaper and easier,
MSA could redirect those funds next time
- to student groups.
If the amendments pass, MSA should
spend a small portion of the money saved to
advertise the new convenience. For exam-
ple, parties could use some of their signs to
advertise the web address of the polling site
- to fulfill not only the parties' goal to
influence students' decisions but also to
inform students of how they can exercise
their decision.

MSA, in conjunction with LSA and
Rackham Student Governments, hired the
Information Technology Division to devel-
op a system to collect electronic ballots and
automatically tabulate results. ITD also
would handle security of the new system.
A computer-savvy candidate may be
able to affect electronic voting records if the
proper prevention measures are not in
place. MSA must make sure that the new
voting mechanism, if approved, would be
secure from tampering. If not, the program
would hurt rather than help broadcast the
student voice.
MSA would weed out students who
voted both electronically and on paper.
MSA has taken the right step by proposing
electronic ballots, but it should acknowledge
that the new method is not perfect. The
assembly, for now, should place more
emphasis on the older method, even if it
means a little more work for ballot counters.
In past elections, students said they
either couldn't find a polling site or that it
was too inconvenient to vote during polling
hours. The new policy would make every
computer on campus a polling site, elimi-
nating the lack of availability. Internet vot-
ing also would make it possible to extend
polling hours to a 24-hour period. MSA
should consider this all-day option so that
students could vote at their convenience.
If MSA passes the amendments tonight,
the power of the student voice would
increase. MSA would have to circumvent
normal procedures in order for the new sys-
tem to be in place at the next election. It
behooves the assembly to make whatever
provisions necessary to ensure that secure
electronic balloting is available soon.

Anniversary of f m
Court must protect legal abortion

n Wednesday, the 24th anniversary of
the Roe vs. Wade decision, which
legalized abortion in the first trimester of
pregnancy, worry more than celebration
may fuel women's voices. Last week, explo-
sions at an abortion clinic in Sandy Springs,
Ga., injured at least seven people. The blasts
serie as a sobering reminder that the war
fot women's reproductive freedom is far
from over. The decision is a milestone,
embedded in women's advancements in the
last 24 years. The terrorism surrounding
this anniversary brings back to light the
dangerous situation Roe helped rectify and
thy importance of keeping abortions safe
andl legal for all women.
;For centuries, women in different cul-
tures helped each other to abort. It was not
until the late 19th century that the Catholic
chtrch began to excommunicate women
who had undergone abortions. By 1880,
most abortions were illegal in the United
States unless they were necessary to save a
wqman's life. Yet in the 1890s, doctors esti-
mated that in the United States alone there
were 2 million abortions performed -most
of them unsafe.
Studies have continually demonstrated
that women facing an unwanted pregnancy
will find some way to abort, whether by
legal or illegal means. In the 1950s, approx-
imately 1 million illegal abortions were per-
formed each year. With such startling num-
bers also came more than 1,000 deaths per
yepr due to unsafe, unsterile, illegal abor-
After years of women fighting for their
right to choose, Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S.


decision whether or not to terminate her
pregnancy." Through the famous decision,
the Court declared that only a pregnant
woman and her doctor have the legal right
to make a decision about abortion - and
only through the first trimester of pregnan-
After the Roe decision, pro-life forces
began to spring up, vehemently attacking
the right to choose. Some sanctioned tactics
of pro-life groups include political lobbying
and picketing abortion clinics and embody
the mainstream movement's well-inten-
tioned beliefs. Also, pro-lifers' efforts to
limit Roe's strength have been frighteningly
effective. Whether it is the ban on
Medicaid-funded paid abortions or various
states' informed consent laws, many women
are denied their right to choose by govern-
ment infringement.
The Court made the correct decision in
1973, one that it should continue to uphold
in the future. The government should have
no say in what a woman does with her body
- this is a fundamental tenet of American
freedom. A woman's body is her own, and
as the Court said, she can do with it what
she chooses.
Moreover, abortions would undoubtedly
continue if the Court were ever to declare
them illegal - but they would become dan-
gerous and more secretive. By keeping the
procedure legal, women will have safe and
healthy options.
The anniversary of Roe is an important
date in the struggle for women's reproduc-
tive freedom. Women have come a long way
to make abortions safe. Yet ignorant politi-
^qn~cnnnti a _- o raytsnrnt..:c rtrh t

The politics
of Ebonics
I'm writing in response to
your feature on the Ebonics
debate ("Ebonics: Study skill
or slavery setback?" 1/7/97),
precipitated by an Oakland,
Calif., school board decision
to allow Ebonics to be used
in the classroom as a tool for
teaching standard English, as
well as other subjects. Quite
a few people that I've heard
have tried to convince me of
their voluminous knowledge
of the psychological process-
es involved in learning. Of
course, most people have no
idea what they're talking
about and generally have
made their minds up on the
issue before they've even lis-
tened to a linguist, a psychol-
ogist or anyone else for that
So I'm going to stay away
from deciding whether or not
Ebonics is a good pedagogi-
cal device. What I would like
to emphasize is the political
nature of the debate at hand.
A local school board
made the Ebonics decision.
Oakland's elected representa-
tives decided how they want
to teach their schools. Just
like any other school board
might decide on matters of
education, the board made its
decision with the consent of
its constituents.
Suddenly, the educational
community in the state of
California (and nationwide)
felt the need - and the right
- to impose its idea of prop-
er education onto a local
community, which made a
legitimate decision about the
method in which their chil-
dren will be educated.
Some in California -
including several teachers'
associations - are going so
far as to assert that the
Oakland decision indicates
the need to eliminate local
school boards and establish
uniform standards statewide
and nationwide. What sort of
ideology does this portray?
It's both liberals and conserv-
atives who are raising the cry
to impose uniform standards
across the board. I hope that
all parties in the debate would
like to see the same opportu-
nities offered to all. However,
what I see occurring is just
plain jingoism wrapped up in
the rationale of good inten-
tions. In "conservatives" (and
I truly am sorry for resorting
to such inadequate labels), I
see the trend of unthinkingly
trying to codify what
"American" is. I hear:
"If you're American you
should speak the language."
Also: "I have standards,
and I won't hire anyone who

people in disadvantaged com-
munities are more likely to
have fewer educational
opportunities than those in
wealthy ones. I happen to
agree on that point.
However, I must disagree
strongly with their methods
of overcoming this problem.
Part of the value of an
education comes with a
touchstone to both the culture
in which one is raised and the
community in which one
develops his or her selfhood.
Often, in attempts to ensure
equal opportunity to every-
one, an almost Marxist
attempt to socialize the edu-
cational system comes about.
In ignoring the need for indi-
vidual communities to be
able to steer the direction of
their children's education, the
more left-leaning portion of
the disputants forget about a
community's - and even
more so a parent's - right to
determine the course of their
children's education.
I would say that as the
California state and national
authorities become increas-
ingly involved in educational
matters, they attempt to
invalidate the legitimate
authority of the Oakland
school board in determining
the course of education for
their children. It also says to
me that state and national
authorities are radically
detached from the real life
problems of people within
their own communities.
To me, it seems that local-
ly elected officials such as
school boards have the most
connection to the community
around them. Let's leave off
Oakland - and every other
town or municipality that
tries to exercise its right to
I applaud your efforts to
present a balanced picture of
the recent debate over
Ebonics or African American
Vernacular English in the
classroom ("Ebonics: Study
skill or slavery setback?"
1/17/97). Powell did a good
job of presenting a huge
amount of information in
very little space.
For the sake of accuracy,
however, I would like to clari-
fy two points on which my
statements were incompletely
reproduced. First, I would
never presume to speak for
King. I did say and I do
believe that he would have
informed himself thoroughly
on the Oakland situation
before he made a public state-

point out that no one in
Oakland or anywhere else
has ever suggested that
African American youths
cannot learn more than one
variety of English. Of course
they can. What has been
under discussion is only the
best and most efficient way
to teach in classrooms where
the vast majority of students
are native speakers of a spe-
cific variety of English, sig-
nificantly different than the
one they are being taught to
read and write.
Parents must
play a role
In a recent article
"Ebonics: Study skill or slav-
ery setback?" (1/17/97) lin-
guistics Prof. Rosina Lippi-
Green notes, "(Ebonics) is a
functioning, productional
form of English. The misfor-
tune is that people refuse to
listen. People need to be
more open minded'
Unfortunately, Americans
are not open minded about
the use of non-standard
English. In a letter to the
Daily ("Selective quoting
mocks sources," 1/14/97), the
executive editor of Michigan
Today attacked the Daily for
quoting verbatim a man's
Ebonics-like speech, "I know
she done called me three or
four times." He cited the
standard journalistic practice
of correcting grammatical
errors in quotes, and he said
journalists adopted the prac-
tice because people were
using verbatim quotes to
ridicule blacks and others.
Discrimination against
speakers of non-standard
English should come as no
surprise. Ebonics speech
sounds very different from
standard English speech.
Ebonics is also an easy target
for people who wish to insult
the speaker's education.
Why? Speakers of Ebonics
have failed to learn the tra&
tional language in school.
If Ebonics speakers face
certain discrimination, then I
think we are missing an
important opportunity to
teach them standard English.
Needed is a call for a grass
roots movement, led by the
parents of kids who speak
Ebonics. Parents should insist
that their kids speak tradi-
tional English in their home.
I have heard of no such urg-
ings by politicians.
More importantly, I think
we are way off base when

Peace lpmceCS'S is
beyond paper
T he tangible effects of last week's
agreement between Israel and the
Palestinean Authority on Hebron are
profound. Israel's occupation of
Hebron is over and it will underta
three more withdrawals from the W
Bank by mid-1998. The symbolic
impact of the agreement is even more
stunning. A con-
servative Likud
accepted the land- $
for-peace formula
with the
Palestineans. By
turning his back
on a key element
of his electoral
constituency -
and this agree- SAMUEL.
ment is unques- GOODSTEIN
tionably a betrayal hB j
of the far right - Benjamin
Netanyahu has, on paper at least, cre'
ated a great opportunity. By bringing
his coalition - minus extremists --
ainto the land-for-peace universe, he.
has created a "vital center" that 4
give him political cover for further
progress toward peace.
This opportunity for progress, like
the agreement that created it, is on
paper. Of course, previous agreements
between Israel and the Palestineans
have been penned, only to be ignored
in reality. (Paper, as we know, is some-
thing that can be torn, shredded or -
most important - ignored quite easi
ly.) When a political relationship is
fragile as the one between Netanya
and Yassir Arafat, personality, percep
tion and politics become vastly more.
important tinan written agreements.
There is a reason that this agreement
was signed in the middle of the night
with little fanfare, and that is the same
reason why the process has been.
bogged down for months. The princi-
pals do not trust each other or the
process. (This is not to say that Yitz
Rabin or Shimon Peres ever person,
ly trusted Arafat, but they trusted the
political/peacemaking process.)
If each Israeli withdrawal from the
West Bank, not to mention final status
negotiations, proceeds with the level
of acrimony and bitterness that accom-
panied the Hebron agreement, the
peace process might be fatally wound-
ed; if relations between the Israeli gov-.
emnemnt and moderate Arab states do
not improve, Israel faces the prospe
of a prolonged cold war. The best way
for each side to ensure that the existing
agreements are appropriately enforced
and built upon, is to make overtures to
the other side that are not required ihi
the agreements. Building trust means
moving beyond the signed document
and taking action that is not required
by any formal agreement - moving:
beyond the paper, so to speak.
Let me digress for a paragraph.
1924, a British parliamentarian by the?
name of Andrew Moulton wrote an
essay in the Atlantic where he outlined
"three great domains of human action.7-
The first is dictated by "positive law":
(laws established and enforced by the
state), the second by "the domain of
free choice"(where the law has no role-
and the third by "the obedience of a
man to that which he cannot be forced
to obey but where he is the enforcer
the law upon himself." Moulton co
cluded that "the real greatness of a
nation is measured by the extent of ...
obedience to the unenforceable.

Why, you ask, does this have anything
to do with peace in the Middle East?
Nearly every day, both Netanyahu and
Arafat are given reasons to lose faith i-
the other's good will. Whether it isa
Palestinean leader commenting that hi
side will not rest until they ha
Jerusalem or an Israeli soldier going on
a random shooting spree, whether it is a.
viciousterrorist attack or the expanding:
of settlements, there is no shortage of,
excuses for one side to give up. If the
process is going to continue, both sides
must recognize the importance of the:
unenforceable - and take steps to bet--
ter relations and improve trust through.
non-required political action.
For Arafat and his Arab allies
means: l) using whaever action nec
sary to disarm Hamas and other terror.
ists, 2) substituting words calling fo
Israel's destruction with words calling
for friendly relations with all neighbor
in official Palestinean documents, 3)
arranging state visits by Arab leaders to
Israel and vice versa, 4) resisting the
urge to manipulate world opinionr
against Israel, and finally 5) ending all
calls for a Palestinean-control
Jerusalem and all references to a h
war. For Israel, obedience to the unen-
forceable means 1) forging a real eco
nomic partnership with Palestineans, 2w
a real effort to improve relations with
moderate Arab states, 3) quickly allow-;


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