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February 05, 1997 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-02-05

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4- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 5, 1997

clt £itigau &dlg

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

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

It's dull lovers, and not condoms,
that make for dull sex.'
-- Sex expert Jay Friedman in a safe sex presentation
Monday, as part of National AIDS Awareness Week

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
Freedom found
Court preserves Baker's right to speech

t~ ArPE 715 RsERIELE4A55-

OFr 57-AR WAR..5


Jake Baker's highly public legal tribula-
tions began in 1995, with a pornograph-
ic story he wrote and posted on an Internet
newsgroup. Two years after the sordid saga
began, it may finally be over. Last week, a
three-member panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals reaffirmed a lower court
ruling to dismiss all charges against Baker.
The court was correct to dismiss Baker's
case - the decision to protect First
Aniendment rights was too long in the mak-
-In early 1995, Baker -- then a
Uhiversity sophomore --posted a story to
thg alt.sex.stories newsgroup. The story
ddscribed the kidnapping, torture, rape and
murder of a character bearing the name of
another University student. Simultaneously,
ov'er e-mail, Baker outlined plans to act out
his violent sexual fantasies. After a
University alumnus discovered the story
and reported it to University officials, for-
mer University President James Duderstadt
used the little-known Bylaw 2.01 to sus-
pond Baker. Due to the extremely graphic
nature of the story and the e-mail
exchanges, Baker was arrested and charged
with transmitting threats across state and
international borders. He subsequently
spent a month in jail after a judge decided
B ker was "too dangerous for society," and
constituted a threat to the woman named in
his story.
in June 1995, U.S. District Court Judge
Ayern Cohn dismissed the charges against
Biker. Last week's ruling denies a federal
appeal to reinstate the charges - prosecu-
tors must not pursue further appeals of the
case. Beyond the obvious waste of taxpayer
dollars, the details of Baker's case argue
against further prosecution. The original

ruling dismissing the charges against Baker
did so on the grounds that he never sent
alleged threats directly to a potential victim.
Rather, he posted his violent fantasies on a
portion of the Internet reserved for such fic-
tion, and his e-mail to an unidentified man.
Cohn reviewed e-mail correspondences
between Baker and a Virginia man, in which
Baker assured that his stories were purely
fantasies and that he had no intention of
carrying them out. As such, the accumulat-
ed evidence did not meet legal standards for
transmission of a threat.
However, beyond the semantics that
decided Baker's case, there are further rea-
sons for abandoning it. At first, the trial
seemed as if it might become the first great
battleground over First Amendment rights
to free speech on the Internet. The Internet's
role in the case attracted a great deal of
national attention to Baker's alleged crimes.
While the First Amendment never explicitly
entered the case, the outcome is a victory
for free speech and the Internet.
When the judge ruled that Baker's writ-
ings did not constitute a threat, he inherent-
ly ascribed the status of protected speech to
Baker's fantasies - and, by extrapolation,
to the contents of the Internet.
The strength of the global network lies in
its ability to spread knowledge and data
quickly worldwide. To limit its scope by
shackling the types of information avail-
able, or otherwise censoring its contents,
would immeasurably weaken the Internet
- one of the greatest tools for information
dissemination. Intrinsic to the proposition is
the need for society to accept all aspects of
the Internet - even those as upsetting as
created by the Jake Bakers of the computer

1 l-1
f -

Power to change
Athletes can be role models against violence

E ight University athletes are using their
high-profile images to send a message
to the University community: The rough,
aggressive behavior they often demonstrate
on the playing field has no place in rela-
tionships. The athletes recently joined the
2-year-old University President's Task
Force on Violence Against Women. Last
week, the task force unveiled posters fea-
turing the athlete's faces as part of their new
publicity campaign. The task force's newest
members can help the cause in many ways
,- besides helping clean up athletes' unfair-
ly poor image where violence is concerned,
the University athletes are speaking up
about an issue that must command stu-
dents' attention.
The community needs to hear the task
force's message. Recently, athletes have
received much media attention for alleged-
ly committing a large percentage of campus
sexual assaults. Several studies suggest that
male athletes are more likely to commit acts
of sexual violence. Researchers at
Northwestern University and the University
of Massachusetts found that at a sample of
10 Division I schools, male athletes were
responsible for 35 percent of reported
domestic violence incidents and 19 percent
of reported sexual assaults on campus,
although male athletes made up only 3 per-
cent of the student bodies.
Involving University athletes in the task
force's campaign may alleviate the negative
stereotypes athletes often face. Athletes
cannot and should not be scapegoats for
incidents of sexual assault on campus -
the task force's eight new members will set
n nnitive evamnle for nther athletes- as

with an unveiling and distribution to cam-
pus organization leaders. The posters aim to
inform the public that women are not the
only victims of domestic violence - abuse
in relationships can target men, family
members, or friends.
They also convey the message that dat-
ing violence against women is just as com-
mon as spousal abuse - it is estimated that
25 percent of college-aged women have
been involved in a violent relationship. As a
large campus with a significant student
population, the community should take
notice that the effects of dating violence are
concentrated at the University.
While posters are a good start, visuals as
a method of social change lack muscle. The
posters are a 2-dimensional display; alone,
they will not be effective. The athletes
involved with the campaign said that
appearing on posters will not end their
demonstration against violence in relation-
ships - the posters merely continue
attempts to bring these issues to light. It is
the very beginning of what the task force
should be trying to do.
The task force knows that smiling ath-
letes and posters alone will not solve the
problem of violence in relationships. While
domestic and dating violence are issues that
no one can solve on their own, the group
can take strides to make a more significant
effect on the community.
A good next step would be action - the
newly-fortified task force should organize
programs that engage students and are dis-
cussion-oriented. Their efforts must pro-
mote open exchange and let students chal-
leno-e stereotvnical ideas Once neonle start

violate First
I am writing to voice the
University American Civil
Liberties Union's opposition
to the use of invocations at
campus ceremonies.
It is our belief that the
invocation runs afoul to the
Constitutional requirement of
separation of church and
state. We ask that the
University adhere to its con-
stitutional obligation as enu-
merated through the First
Amendment and eliminate
the invocation in future cere-
If it is the University's
wish to include a "nonde-
nominational" ritual at com-
mencement, we expect that
the University will do so in a
manner which complies with
the First Amendment of our
Constitution. In order to meet
constitutional requirements,
any invocation should be
something that appropriately
solemnizes the occasion but
that does not invoke a deity,
does not have a religious pur-
pose, and does not make
those of a minority faith or
those of no religious faith or
belief feel uncomfortable or
This issue has been a con-
cern to the University ACLU
since it was brought to our
attention after the use of
invocations at the December
1995 and the May 1996 com-
mencement ceremonies. At
both of these campuswide rit-
uals, the administration chose
clergymen who neglected to
uphold their nondenomina-
tional obligations. Ultimately,
the use of prayer as part of
the invocation - even if
non-sectarian - is not con-
The U.S. Supreme Court
has repeatedly held that the
First Amendment has erected
an impregnable wall between
church and state. In Everson
v. Board of Education,
Justice Black wrote for the
Court that the First
"Amendment requires the
state to be neutral in its rela-
tions with groups of religious
believers and non-believers."
Invocations, such as the ones
in December '95 and May
'96, are clear violations of
this ruling. The University is
not neutral in its relations
with those who profess non-
Judeo-Christian beliefs and
those who do not adhere to
any form of religious faith.
As a state university, the
slightest breach of the wall
between separation of church
and state cannot be tolerated.
The University has quite
clearly established itself as a
national and international
institution of excellence. To
accnmnlih its vision of aca-

take its own standards seri-
ously. The University must
respect the religious free-
doms of its students and fac-
ulty and uphold its long his-
tory of excellence.
public school
Now I'm really steamed.
First, Gov. John Engler fig-
ures out this great idea that
he can improve the condition
of Detroit schools by con-
quering them. Yes, that is
what he's doing.
Recently, David Sirkin
wrote a letter to the editor
("American education sys-
tems are not the best,"
2/4/97) defending Engler's
actions, saying that central-
ization of the educational
system would increase the
quality of those Michigan
schools presently far below
educational standards.
What? This is insane!
Does Engler think that some-
how, the state government is
going to do a better job edu-
cating people than local
school boards and.superin-
tendents? Oh, wait a minute
... now I see! Sure! Makes
perfect sense! Why don't we
continue to berate the schools
of Detroit and other school
boards around the state for
the poor job of educating3
children that they do and at
the same time undermine the
social, economic and envi-
ronmentalsecurity of the citi-
zens of those communities!
It's no wonder Engler
throughout his years in office
has cut educational spending
statewide! Obviously, those
schools didn't merit the fund-
ing of the state because they
were doing such a bad job!
Now, it's great that he's
suddenly decided to throw
money at the educational sys-
tem after he decided to take it
over. Long live the state! The
state has done such a good
job with public education
lately, thanks to Engler's glo-
rious budget cuts! Our
schools haven't gotten any
better, but now (thanks to
him) we at least have our
economic priorities straight!
I'm enraged. When we
take control of a child's edu-
cation away from their par-
ents and the community
around them, we destroy a
part of a child's education.
Engler cannot provide the
needed help, especially when
he's done his best to allow
the communities that he
intenc to+natt ain ;-int

'Evita' is an
example of
Hollywood at
its worst
First off, I would like to
sincerely apologize to
Jennifer Petlinski for not
believing her column on
"Evita"("Forget Argentina:
cry for the Golden Globes,"
I paid the ticket price for
having to squirm in my seat
while Madonna belted out
"Don't Cry For Me
Argentina" two painful times,
Antonio Banderas shameless-
ly posed with his best suave
looks for the camera and
Jonathan Pryce took off his
sportscoat a record number
of times in order to wave.
This movie wasn't just bad, it
was horrid.
Any film that tries to glo-
rify a woman who sleeps her
way to the top to reach her
one goal of being the nation-
al Barbie doll of Argentina,
so people can look up to her
and hope to one day be like
Eva Peron, is trying to build
a movie on a really bad foun-
I think the real kicker of it
all is that the film tries to get
us to look at Evita in a good
light and weep when she
dies. This is the same film
that shows her courting the
people of Argentina with
promises of democracy and
prosperity so her husband
can be elected and so she can
wear nice clothes and jewel-
So, are we supposed to
worship her memory when
she dies? I am sorry, but that
kind of tribute should be
reserved for great historical
figures like Martin Luther
King Jr. and Susan B.
Anthony - people that had
the courage to stand up to
injustice, not people who run
away and hide behind their
elegant lifestyles.
I also cannot believe that
Andrew Lloyd Webber had
the incredible lack of taste to
reduce the struggle of the
impoverished Argentinian
people - in which many
people died - to glam rock.
I was aghast when the images
of police officers in riot gear,
beating and killing protesters,
were on the screen and some
'80s metal guitarist was wail-
ing away on the speakers.
Rocking good time, I must
Second, I just wanted to
address Patrick Elkins' letter
to the editor about
"Evita"("'Evita' gives new
life to musical films,"
He stated that "Evita" is

Liberal arts carg
boast more than
job placement
C ollege students have to put up
with a lot of crap. Crap from your
parents, crap from your professors
crap from your GSIs, crap from tight
sphinctered RAs and crap from just
about everyone else who's got son*
crap they'd like to get rid of.
This is fine. I
accept the fact that
undergrads occu-
py the protozoa,
Burger King-
trainee rung of the
campus social lad-
der. A certain
amount of frater-
nity-esque, haz-
ing/spirit breaking
is necessary for
success in adultRAM ES
life. What I will MILLER
not tolerate any- MLLER ON
more is crap from TAP
my fellow stu-
dents about my chosen concentration
and vocational options after I graduate
with said degree.
When did engineers and other t
types get such a high-handed attitu
toward us over here on the other side
of the culture warp? How did we
book-readers let the score get so lop-
sided? Let me give you a quote and tell
me if it sounds familiar:
"You're majoring in (choose one:
philosophy, history, English, Art,
Music)? What are you going to do with
that? Hey, get used to saying, 'You
want fries with that, sir?' Ha! Get it?
Fries! You know, because the only j*
you can get with that is in a fast food
restaurant. I downloaded a bunch of
liberal arts jokes from this really coot
web page. Oops, gotta go. Dg9 is oht"
The reigning school of thought on
this one is that the more intellectual
and abstract the discipline, the less
application it has to the "real world"
and thus the less importance it has. I
don't think I can possibly oversae t
idiocy of this idea. Things that a
abstract and hard to define are less
important than things that are more
concrete? Right, like love, greed, lust,
religion, God, the Devil, ethics, moral-
ity and the facets of the human condi-
tion. That stuff is much less important
than say, fractals. Right?
I agree that engineering and the other
physical sciences are all important and
noble disciplines (except for the
napalm, cruise-missile, ceramic-han
gun, Agent-Orange, lead-paint an
Teflon-bullet areas of said disciplines
- but then again, knowledge without
conscience is another column). The
science-related studies are necessaryto
sustain life. But, to paraphrase Robin
Williams' John Keating, the things
studied by the liberal arts are the things
that we stay alive for. Why do people
do the things they do? Ask a philoso-.
phy, history or literature maj*
They've done a little work in this area.
But what chaps my behind worst of
all is the notion that the liberal arts is
somehow automatically easier than the
sciences. As if we comprise the training
wheel section of the University and the
scientists are bravely toiling in the
fields and doing the Lord's work, sup-
porting us, while we beatnik bums sit in
basement rooms in East Quad, smoking
hash by the kilogram and reading pa
sages of "On the Road" to each other.
That is such a load of narcissisti,

horsemanure, it boggles the mind. I'm
not arrogant enough to believe that -1
could just waltz into Chem 111 and ad
it with a frontal lobe tied behind'my
back, but if I studied I'm sure I could
pass with a bit of dignity. But thecgaup
exhibited by some of the Bursley comn-
puter jockeys is unbelievable.
"Yeah, right. Like English class
are real hard. I read 'A Catcher in th
Rye' in high school, so I know about
that kind of stuff. Now memorizing
formulas and writing computer pro-
grams, that's tricky stuff. It takes a real
academic to learn things any nimrod
can look up in a book. Why, just today,
I wrote a program that automatically
scans the newsgroups for nude pic-
tures of Gillian Anderson from the 'X
Files.' I love that show. Oooh hey, I g9
e-mail from my 'Quake' group!"
All this boils down to, is, "my major,
has a bigger dick than your major."'
The sciences are cool because they do
manly things and liberal arts are
uncool and girly because they deal'
with why life is so complicated.
I'm tired of being treated like the lit=
tle kid you give the fake steering wheel
to on long car rides. He doesn't actual-
ly do anything important but you 1
him think he runs the show. Cute b
And the final odious issue: money.
The last resort of a truly flaccid argu-
ment is "Well, when an engineering or'
business student graduates he'll be
making $40.000 or $50.000." Good

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