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March 24, 1997 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-03-24

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 24, 1997

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

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

'There are many people who feel that Act Up hurt
itself by so many of us going to work inside ...
on the other hand, when you are given the chance
to be heard a little better, it's hard to turn down.'
- Larry Krame, founder ofAIDS activist group Act Up

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 DailA
Spending for seats
Candidates should impose voluntary caps


15N tI FF ┬░HAWE


Free pizza, ice cream coupons and hun-
dreds of signs and flyers all over cam-
pus characterized Michigan Student
Assembly elections last week - costing
candidates hundreds of hours and thousands
of dollars. On Tuesday, MSA will vote on
an amendment to its compiled code that
would recall elected representatives who
spent more than $500 during elections. The
need for some sort of control on campaign
spending is obvious, but MSA should not
inpose mandatory spending caps on candi-
dates. Instead, MSA parties and candidates
should voluntarily submit to spending lim-
its to prevent student government from
becoming a bastion for economically privi-
leged students.
MSA should not mandate candidates'
private finances - doing so would jeopar-
dize candidates' right to campaign decision-
making. In addition, new candidates do not
en joy the same name recognition as incum-
bents - often, they spend more to establish
their name. A mandatory spending cap
would be particularly damaging for them. It
is not the assembly's place to impose finan-
cial reform for candidates - candidates
must initiate it themselves.
Implementing a spending cap would be
difficult. MSA would have no effective way
to determine which campaigns exceeded
the limit. While it might be able to monitor
party and candidate expenditures, it would
have no mechanism to monitor external
assistance. For example, candidates could
channel funds to friends for the purpose of
campaign spending.
The cost of an MSA campaign can be
prohibitive, threatening to restrict seats on
the assembly to students with padded

checkbooks. Such a high price tag could
prevent able and qualified students from
running for MSA and hurt the student
body's representation. Budget-conscious
students should be able to run for office
without draining their bank accounts or run-
ning up credit card bills. MSA candidates
should agree to a voluntary spending cap to
prevent student government from pricing
itself beyond most students' means.
Financial efficiency plays an important
role in MSA's operation. Ann Marie Ellison,
chair of the Student Rights Commission,
suggested that high-spending candidates do
not translate to effective representatives. If a
candidate spends thousands of dollars to get
elected to the assembly, the same overspend-
ing mentality may plague their budgetary
decisions -- but student fees, rather than
private funds, will be at stake. At the begin-
ning of each academic year, the assembly
prepares an annual budget that earmarks
money for student-group allocations. The
Budget Priorities Committee doles out these
funds to serve the greatest portion of the
University community - a painstaking
process that overspending representatives
could upset. MSA candidates should show
that they are capable of responsibly handling
students' fees by limiting the amount they
spend on their own campaigns.
MSA elections can be a serious financial
drain on participants. Tuition and other
financial priorities could prevent qualified
students from running - weakening the
student government system. While MSA
should not mandate spending caps, individ-
ual candidates should voluntarily prevent
themselves from overspending and creating
an uneven playing field.


C efining decency
Court must overturn unconstitutional CDA

Last week, the United States Supreme
Court heard oral arguments concern-
ing the Communications Decency Act. The
CDA, which passed Congress early last
year, represented the first major challenge
to free speech on the Internet. Created to
shield children from material deemed
"obscene" or patently offensive, the law's
vague language immediately attracted criti-
cism from the American Civil Liberties
Union and various other free-speech advo-
cates including millions of computer
users worldwide. Last June, the anti-CDA
faction triumphed, as a federal court in
Philadelphia struck down the law as uncon-
The law was intended to selectively fil-
ter harmful material available to minors on
the Internet. Due to the global network's
wide-open nature - where anyone with the
right equipment can view any file available
for public consumption - anything acces-
sible to adults is largely accessible to chil-
dren. As a result, in banning indecent mate-
rial available to children, the CDA indirect-
ly took away adults' abilities to view these
files - a direct violation of First
Amendment rights.
Furthermore, the law prescribed severe
criminal penalties for anyone found provid-
ing "patently offensive" material to the
Internet. Lawmakers' failure to adequately
describe the terms of "indecency" exposed
a large portion of the Internet community to
possible criminal charges. Under the strict
letter of the law, many meritorious items -
from famous artwork to classic literature -
fall under the CDA's definition of

down. Upon appeal by the Clinton
Administration, the case now lies in the
Supreme Court's hands. The Justices must
uphold the earlier ruling and end the CDA's
overreaching threat to the Internet.
While the CDA had a noble purpose -
protecting children from material they may
not developmentally be ready to handle -
its authors clearly overstepped their man-
date. Besides the violation of first amend-
ment rights, the CDA empowered the
United States government to act as a censor
for a global network that thrives on its free-
dom. The law also failed to account for the
various levels of protection that already
Foremost among these factors is
parental responsibility. Just as parents mon-
itor television programs and literature for
obscene content, they should also oversee
their children's cyberspace travels. Ideally,
this should involve active parental partici-
pation, exploring the Internet along with
However, while that option is not always
feasible, various 'parental control access'
programs exist for the sole purpose of
blocking access to sites containing indecent
material. Using these programs - with
names like SurfWatch and Net Nanny -
allows parents to keep their children away
from indecent material, even when they
cannot provide direct supervision.
Given these layers of protection, plus
numerous anti-pornography laws already in
existence, the CDA is an unnecessary and
dangerous piece of legislation. The
Supreme Court should overturn the CDA
on the grounds that it violates citizens'

MSA dollars
replace issues
In response to MSA cam-
paign spending: I havehpaid
for my first two years here
through grunt labor and must
say that I am truly disgusted
that so much money is
thrown away on colored
paper and pizza slices. I have
never campaigned, but
wouldn't even as little as $50
buy enough flyers?
Strangely, despite the can-
didates' enormous spending-
there remains the ubiquitous
rhetoric about reducing MSA
waste. It is difficult for me to
believe that these people who
drop $500 campaigning and
staple multiple copies of the
same flier on every bulletin
board know very much about
Second, to argue against
spending limits is not idealis-
tic. In governmental elec-
tions, it'sebeen shown that the
candidate who spends more
usually wins and I doubt it is
different here. Yes, a limit
may slightly harm democra-
cy, but realize that the lack of
a limit is of much greater
detriment. Without a cap the
dollar dominates the issues.
And though a new party may
have more difficulty than an
established party, winning is
by normeans impossible
(understand that less than 1 0
percent of the students voted
for the "invincible" establish-
ment). Furthermore, when
extravagant candidates bom
bard the students with names,
the election becomes a recog-
nition circus. Come on cyn-
ics, we are college students,
appeal to our intellect and
trust us to respond.
Lastly, as a bleeding
heart, I must respond to
David Taub's letter ("Mumia
guilty and should be execut-
ed." 3/21/97), for it contains
dangerous misconceptions
about capital punishment.
To begin with, since
1976, when capital punish-
ment returned, the murder
rate has remained constant
while executions have
increased. Additionally, a
whopping 1 percent of police
chiefs believe it is the best
deterrent to violence. As far
as the statistics show, sanc-
tioned killing has not
deterred a single murder.
And murderers are human
beings like you, Taub, not
monsters. Yes, they need
much professional help and
perhaps may never be cured
or released. but that does not
mean they deserve death or
ought never think or commu-
nicate again. There is mch
more data on the World Wide
Web about capital punish-
ment and Mumia's case too;
perhaps it would be enlight-
ening to all.

aware of the existence of
pornography, that is no rea-
son to give the subject uch
an in-depth review. There are
so many other topics that
could be highlighted, but
instead you have chosen to
sink to the lowestcommon
denominator and act like a
piece of tabloid journalism.
Shame on you, Daily, shame
on you.
Protests give
Playboy more
Every year it is the same
thing. People protest Playboy
coming to the campus
because it is demeaning to
women. Why are these peo-
ple protesting Playboy? There
would be no Playboy if there
were no models out there
posing for Playboy.
Shouldn't these protesters be
out there trying to educate
these women not to put them-
selves in the magazines'
The more they protest, the
more attention it brings to
Playboy and makes more
people want to look and par-
ticipate. It is not getting
across the message they are
fighting for. The women are
exploiting themselves. No
one is putting a gun to their
heads telling them to do this.
They are doing this on their
own free will and if the pro-
testers want them to stop then
educate them, not protest the
magazine. As you see, the
spokeswoman said that they
are getting great publicity
from the protesters. So think
about it.
P roponents
wrong about
death penalty
I would like to respond to
David Taub's letter to the edi-
tor (Mumia guilty and
should be executed"
321/97). It seems Taub may
be unsure and a bit confused
about the effectiveness of the
death penalty. He first says
that "There will be times
when innocent people will be
wrongly executed" but later
states that "If you don't mur-
der anyone you don't have to
worry about being executed"
Taub's clear three-step
argument toward promoting
the death penalty seemed to
be based on the assumption
that the death penalty serves

between crime prevention
and the death penalty.
I wonder what would lead
Taub to believe that the pun-
ishment of convicted crimi-
nals has such a great effect
on the rest of the population,
when every effort is made to
remove prisoners from the
rest of the population.
Prisons are often situated in
isolated or remote locations.
Efforts are made to separate
prisoners from family, friends
and community members.
Prisoners and criminals are
portrayed in the news and
films as people who should
be feared, forgotten and done
away with and certainly not
to be learned from.
I agree with Taub and
hope we would promote a
society based on thinking,
learning and communication,
rather than murder. However,
1 do not see the death penalty
as a deterrent; nor do I see a
basis for his argument.
Playboy is an
'art form
I am disgusted with the
number of women I've met
who despise Playboy. How
many of them have even
looked through one? Read
any articles? Compared
Playboy to other magazines
such as Penthouse or
Hustler'? Playboy is much
more tasteful; the others are
focused on body parts only,
and sometimes show no
faces. These are the types of
magazines that truly objectify
women. Playboy can even be
looked at as an art form,
though I agree many people
do not do so - it includes
tasteful photographs of the
female body, no different
than a nude art book sitting
on someone's coffee table. It
is also filled with informative
articles on safe sex, sex in
general and some are even
non-sex oriented! Interviews,
literary work (some of
Stephen King's short stories
were published for the first
time in Playboy). I don't view
it as blunt pornography.
Also, I've always been
under the impression that my
body is my own and I will do
with it what I please - be
that posing for a magazine
fully clothed or completely
nude, or playing football on a
sunny afternoon. It is my
Soehad I taken an inter-
view for Playboy, posed and
been chosen to be in their
"Women of the Big Ten"
issue, I would say to all the
protesters out there, "Hey If
you don't want to see it, don't

Hypocrisy and
the recruiting
game rule
college athletics
W hen one of my friends applied
to another Big Ten school as a
recruited football player, his applica-
tion form had "athlete" stamped on it
in red ink.
Right from the
beginning, the
distinction had
been made.
During the last
two weeks, we ..~
have learned thatg
"athlete" carries
a different mind-
set in addition to
a different set of
application MEGAN
guidelines. SCHIMPF
Following the RF(SC jl
admission by
men's basketball coach Steve Fisher of
two minor NCAA violations, a num-
ber of allegations have emerged about
cash gifts to players, expensive sport
utility vehicles driven by athletes and
activities at a party several players and(
a recruit attended last February.
Many of these accusations have
come from deep within the shadows of
Detroit-area basketball and perhaps
not all of them are true. In the least,
each one should be regarded with a
healthy sense of disbelief, but still
with a desire to find the truth.
Because once you get past the legal
and NCAA ramifications of what
could happen as a result, truth is what
is being ignored.
Cash and automobile gifts are not
illegal to anyone but the NCAA. But
witnesses who say marijuana and alco-
hol were present at a party where
underage athletes and a recruit were
partying with strippers raise legal
issues as well.
Condemn them if you will, but in the
end, this party was not strikingly dif-
ferent than those attended by colleg
students across the country.
Condemn someone instead for not
telling the truth.
No one would even have known
were it not for a car crash that hap-
pened early the next morning, pointing
loudly to the realization that athletes
lead a different existence than the
majority of University students.
Part of this is encouraged-
unknowingly, perhaps - by the stu-
dents and boosters who are now decry
ing the violations and the lifestyle ath-
letes lead. Fans demand winning
teams, especially of programs with a
tradition like Michigan. The way to
have winning teams is to have top-
rated players. The way to have top-
rated players is to recruit them away
from the tens of other programs who
dangle sample jerseys, winning tradi-
tions, recruiting trips, coaching visits
and fancy facilities before high scho
players' eyes, all the while whispering
sweet nothings in their ears. This hap-
pens across the country. And this is
only what NCAA rules permit.
To simultaneously criticize a team
for not winning and for the presence of
over-eager boosters and questionable
activities is slightly hypocritical. This
is not to condone the secrets of recruit-
ing in Division I athletics. This is
merely to say it happens, and it hap
pens to different degrees deep withi
some very proud programs.
And this is not to condone the
behavior of athletes. This is to con-

done what they are not doing, which is
following the rules and telling the
truth. It is these simple things - ones
learned in kindergarten - that are
being forgotten.
College basketball and football
today are worth billions of dollars,
which the players see very little. But i
is still not inappropriate to say playing
Division I athletics comes with an
unsigned, but understood, contract -
you play basketball, we'll provide the
opportunity and the facilities.
Except no one read the fine print -
where the rules hide.
The allegations now coming to light
about the basketball team cast a dis-
turbing glow because each one seems
to be the opposite of what the playe4
are saying. The most recent, an
account of the party the night of the
accident, directly contradicts most of
the University's internal report of the
incident. Again, do not take anything
in this story at face value - consider
the stakes for everyone depending on
what they say happened that night.
The idea that the players lied to the
University is what we should be mo
concerned about. Because then th
players are not only setting their own
NCAA rules, they are setting their.
own moral rules about respect for
authority and honesty. They have
exploited the opportunities given them
_anitin h_ mnafie hp cnnd v


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