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April 03, 1998 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-04-03

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 3, 1998

cle aich4rigun 3atlg

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

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

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.
Joint legislation
Legal maijuana would alleviate many of its risks

'We need to provide guidance to the rest of the
country on what it takes to defend affirmative action.'
- LSA first-year student Shaba Andrich, commenting
on Wednesday's second National Day ofAction
Coua 77- se 7 -Ae ' 7

Ignore the hate
and ignorance

omorrow, thousands of people will gath-
er on the Diag to rally for the legalization
of marijuana at Ann Arbor's 27th annual Hash
Bash. The event, which has been a tradition in
Ann Arbor since 1972, is for some an excuse
to smoke a joint, but it is also a protest of the
criminalization of marijuana. Because the
dangers associated with this drug pale in com-
parison to many other legal substances, mar-
juana should be legalized in the United States.
There are no compelling reasons not to
legalize marijuana when other substances
such as cigarettes and alcohol, are legal.
Marijuana has not been proven to be physi-
cally addictive, unlike nicotine, alcohol and
even caffeine, nor has it been proven to have
any long-term harmful effects. There has
never been a recorded case of a fatal mari-
juana overdose. In fact, the effects of mari-
juana are often comparable to those of alco-
hol; but not as harmful as excessive, long-
term alcohol consumption. Claims that
nmarijuana is a "gateway drug" - one that
irioduces users to harder drugs such as
heroin, cocaine and LSD - are not well-
f'unded and often are based on easily mis-
interpreted statistics.
" Marijuana has also been found to have
nralicinal values. It has been used as an
atinauseant for cancer and AIDS patients
a d to relieve intraocular pressure in glau-
coma patients, as well as to treat people suf-
fting from multiple sclerosis, epilepsy,
penplegia and quadriplegia. But despite the
fac-that it helps alleviate these patients'
stffring, most states outlaw even medical
use. It is extremely unfair to punish the sick
for therapeutic use of a drug that should not
be illegal in the first place.
Legalization of marijuana would free a
great deal of space in the nation's already-
overcrowded prisons. In 1996, 642,000 people


were arrested for marijuana-related offenses,
the largest number ever made in one year.
Another arrest occurs every 49 seconds. In
fact, 85 percent of these arrests are for mere
possession. Yet many marijuana offenders
receive stiffer sentences than those arrested
for violent crimes. This is a waste of taxpay-
ers' dollars and shows a misdirection of prior-
ities on the part of the criminal justice system.
Otherwise law-abiding citizens who choose to
use marijuana should not be punished so
severely for a relatively minor offense, partic-
ularly when violent crimes plague the nation.
In addition, legalizing marijuana would
alleviate some of the risks involved with its
unregulated use. It would greatly decrease the
likelihood that people will accidentally use
marijuana tainted with more harmful sub-
stances, and it would also make marijuana less
accessible to young children or teenagers. It is
sometimes easier for adolescents to get mari-
juana than it is for them to buy beer, because
buying alcohol requires someone over 21
years of age, while marijuana, which is illegal
and therefore unregulated, has no such barri-
ers to teenage use. Legalization may also take
away much of the thrill of using an illegal sub-
stance - an element that no doubt draws
many adolescents.to the drug.
Marijuana use is a matter of personal
choice; since it is no more harmful than alco-
hol or cigarettes, the government should not
interfere if adults choose to use it. Although it
should be kept out of the hands of young peo-
ple, this is also true of legal drugs. Legalizing
marijuana would eliminate many of the prob-
lems associated with its use, such as its appeal
and accessibility to minors and its unfairly
severe legal penalties. As long as marijuana
remains illegal, these problems will persist -
ending the prohibition of marijuana is the only

Discriminatory practice
HIV patients should be protected by law

W hen basketball star Magic Johnson
announced that he had contracted
the HIV virus, the nation displayed an
incredible amount of sympathy and support
for its stricken hero. Years later, the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
still does not protect the one million HIV-
positive Americans who endure discrimina-
tion and social stigmatization all too often.
Despite Congress's unwillingness to defend
this group of Americans, a U.S. Supreme
Court ruling in Abbott v. Bragdon could
finally end the blatant discrimination that
has persisted for years.
Sidney Abbot, whose lawyers argued her
case before the Supreme Court earlier this
week, claims that after disclosing her HIV sta-
tus to her dentist, Dr. Randon Bragdon, he
refused to treat her. Abbott believes that the
HIV virus can be protected under the act that
defines a disability as a "physical or mental
impairment that substantially limits one or
more major life activities." On the other hand,
Bragdon says that Abbott exhibited no symp-
toms, precluding her from being declared
"disabled" under the 1990 statute.
This case has significant ramifications
because it is the first time that the court will
rule on AIDS discrimination and the defini-
tion of disability. There are indications that the
court may rule in favor of Abbot, upholding
the lower court's decision. Granting HIV-pos-
itive Americans protection under the act could
prove to be one of the, necessary steps to
empower people who have only faced igno-
rance, fear and bias since the AIDS epidemic
began in the early 1980s. Both the Clinton
administration and the American Medical

Bragdon's refusal to render his profes-
sional services to Abbott cannot be viewed
as an isolated incident. In the same manner
that millions of Americans fear HIV carri-
ers, Bragdon allowed fear to overpower his
medical judgment. According to the
Centers for Disease Control, there has never
been a reported case in which a patient
infected a dentist. If Bragdon was so fearful
that Abbott would infect him, he should
have taken extra precaution within his own
office to protect himself rather than acting
in a discriminatory manner. As a dentist, he
was probably cognizant of the minute
chances of contracting the HIV virus while
filling a cavity. .He had the knowledge and
resources to treat Abbott, but instead, he
chose to deny her access to health care.
Abbott is arguing that her decision not to
reproduce, stemming from her fear of passing
the HIV virus on to her child, is a limitation of
a "major life activity". Whether or not repro-
duction is considered as such by the court, the
justices should acknowledge that HIV status
constitutes a significant impairment to life
and can result in serious discrimination. Even
if the court rules against Abbot, Congress has
the ability to grant HIV carriers disability sta-
tus and should do so.
Even though the National Basketball
Association initially rejected Magic
Johnson's return to the game, in 1996, he
was allowed to play his final season. The
league welcomed him, his teammates wel-
comed him, and the fans welcomed him. In
the same vein, the court, Congress and the
nation must not deny Sidney Abbot access
to health care - if America can reinstate a

stooped to
'party politics'
I am truly dismayed by
Michigan Student Assembly
President Mike Nagrant's
viewpoint, "Daily practices
'yellow journalism"' (3/27/98).
I have spent four years on this
campus as a hard-working
leader trying to further the
lives and visions of students
and student groups. In those
four years, on more than one
occasion, whether in class, at
home, or even while working
in student groups, I have heard
people bash Nagrant as a
"resume-packing, goofy-look-
ing nobody." Having voted for
Nagrant in the winter term of
1997, I took those negative
comments personally. I stood
up for Nagrant every time and
told those people to give him a
break: "He and Olga really
care for this campus and are
truly going to change it for the
better" Yet now, with heavy
heart I know that those days
of defending Nagrant are over.
I have finally joined forces
with his critics and am very
sad to say that he has proven
himself inadequate.
For whatever reason,
Nagrant has stooped to party
politics. In the pursuit of sup-
porting his party's future,
Nagrant has misplaced the
facts and undermined the
integrity of our student govern-
ment. Instead of asking MSA
to investigate the charges, the
esteemed MSA president
decided to open his mouth.
Why? Perhaps because it was
his own party and probably
friends that are under fire.
Believing to have power, he
thought his voice would
change student opinion.
Furthermore, if one reads
this letter - if one can get
past the incriminating head-
line - they will realize that
Nagrant has undermined his
whole argument. Nagrant
says, "The Daily provides
more sources upholding the
reality of the situation, which
is that MSA President-elect
Trent Thompson did nothing
wrong. Three sources, includ-
ing Thompson himself, attest
that nothing wrong had been
done." Mike, buddy, this isn't
yellow journalism; this is an
unbiased, straight-forward
telling of the facts. What a
newspaper is supposed to do.
They interviewed both sides
and made no allegations that
one was right and the other
was wrong.
Nagrant's letter reeks of
naked ambition that would
make Woodward and
Bernstein blush. Since we're
speaking of this allustrious
duo, let's address another
comment that Nagrant
makes. He says, "The Daily
has but one source to sub-

I write this not in defense
or in fear of scandal but truly
in the idealistic sense because I
fear that a credible and hard-
working student government
must fight an uphill battle to
regain the hearts and minds of
the University. Furthermore,
Nagrant deserves to be
removed from MSA because
of this letter, but since he has
but a week left, it's not worth
it. Nagrant's blatant support of
his friends instead of this cam-
pus has stained MSA's reputa-
tion even more than Fiona
Rose's Franklin Planner did.
Daily's review
of 'Bent'
I was pleased to note that
the Daily had lent its atten-
tion to the commendable film
"Bent" ("Brilliant 'Bent'
offers skewed view of
Holocaust," 3/31/98).
After viewing the film
with intrigue in New York
City over winter break, I
remarked at how opportune a
venue the University commu-
nity would be for such an
innovative and edifying film.
I would like, however, to
alert Daily Arts Writer Laura
Flyer and the Daily's reader-
ship to what I believe to be an
egregiously inadequate inter-
pretation of the film. When the
visual effects and exterior of
the plot of a film are deeply
moving in and of themselves,
finer points of the storyline
may be overlooked, and
sociopolitical symbolisms can
admittedly appear overbearing.
I am of the opinion that this
film endeavors to demonstrate
not only the triumph of "an
intense, loving relationship"
amidst torturous circumstances
and the recognition of the "sta-
tus of inferiority" of "homo-
sexuals" prescribed by "the ris-
ing Nazi party' but also to
employ the Holocaust as a
metaphor for apathy and denial
in gay male communities.
Clive Owen's character,
Max, elects to wear the yel-
low Star of David forced
upon European Jews, believ-
ing that such a decision will
better his status within the
warped microcosm of a Nazi
concentration camp. Flyer
implies in her review that he
wears the star because he is
Jewish. It is evident in the
film, however, that Max's
sexual orientation is the rea-
son for his deportation. With
this point understood, my
interpretation becomes a
viable and meaningful one.
Max's denial of the reality
behind his deportation acute-
ly represents the failure of

significance of "Bent"'s
potent symbolism, and point
to a considerable shortcom-
ing in Flyer's review.
Race relations
at 'U' are not
All this talk about race
and preference issues and
race-preference issues really
gets me thinking. And while
in thought, I consider how I
am affected personally by all
this. Now I have a viewpoint
that 1 would like to share. I
think race relations are splen-
did here at the University. In
fact, I have heard so many
times that we Asians are not
victims of racism, that I now
firmly believe that.
When I think hard about it,
I bet that time someone yelled
"gook" at me in the West Quad
courtyard was just my imagi-
nation. I'm sure that the time I
thought a couple was chasing
me around for 10 minutes in
their car on Packard, pulling
their eyelids back and laughing
was all a big misunderstand-
ing. Oh yes, and that security
guard at Detroit Metro Airport
who searched my bags for a
karate star probably just
thought I was some ninja he
knew. These instances, and all
the others that once made me
so angry, I now can put behind
me as figments of my imagi-
nation. In fact, now I truly
understand why midterms
should never be interrupted by
the imperatives of the National
Day of Action or why La
LuCha should not even whis-
per, let alone protest, during
President Bollinger's very
important speeches. See?
Everything is fine. I love the
Ku Klux Klan
does not
deserve any
Undoubtedly, there will
be many letters to the Daily
about this subject. All I
would like to say is that from
what I've seen, the Ku Klux
Klan preaches fear and igno-
rance. By not allowing them
to rally, everyone is simply
giving into that fear and per-
petuating the ignorance, thus
making any non-rally more
effective than a rally. Should

of the Klan, but
only for one day
L ast week, the Butter, Ind, chapter of
the Ku Klux Klan filed an official
request to hold a rally at the Ann Arbor
City Hall on May 9. The request will b4
approved, the city will provide police
protection, barri-
cades and crowd
control, and if his-
tory is any lesson,
all' hell will break
Anyone who
spent the summer
of 1996 in Ann
Arbor can testify to
the impact that the
last Klan rally had PAUL
on this city. If you SERILLA
attended the rally, 1;1,1
you know that the W' 1A '.
Klan is particularly
skilled at provoking its opposition into
erratic and often violent behavior - it
is simply impossible for sane people in
a crowd to stand silently and absorb the
evil that drips from the lips behind the
hoods. I was not on Main Street the day
of the rally, but in the subsequent hours,
days and weeks, I joined my colleagues
at this newspaper to try and make sense
of the chaos. How did ignorant words
from inarticulate slope-skulled idiots
drive a crowd over the brink that had
simply gathered in protest? How did
things get so out of control that the
police were forced to used tear gas and
riot gear to regain civility?
To this day, I still do not have a clea4
answer. I will never forget the dramatic
photos of a young African American
woman draped over the body of a mari
wearing on his shirt the confederate flag
in order to fend off the mob that had
been beating him. But even her heroic
gesture will be in vain if we let this hap-
pen again.
It is easy to write off the Klan as
anachronistic clowns in the Jerry
Springer Circus whothave lostthe powe
base and support that once allowed
them to terrorize this nation. But
according to the Southern Poverty Law
Center's Klanwatch organization, there
are still more than 200 racist and Ne
Nazi groups operating in the United
States and 800 militia groups, many Of
which have ties to white supremacy
organizations. Since 1995, Klanwatch
has documented 163 Neo Nazi Websites
in this country alone - organized hat4
is alive and well in the United States. It
is only logical that we need to fight this
disgusting display.
But accordingto Klanwatch, "fight-
ing" the Klan and other hate groups
might be playing directly into their
hands. The Ann Arbor rally was not
unique; similar outbreaks of violence at
Klan events have occurred in increased
numbers during this decade, including
almost identical incidents in Denverd
Co,.and Auburn, N.Y., -where a Jewish
man rescued a female Neo Nazi from
being beaten to death by a crowdi.
Obviously, the Klan knows that riots get
publicity and put them on TV. They've
changed their tactics to undermine the
opposition that shows up to silence
Klanwatch has published guidelines for
"battling" Klan rallies and for cutting off
disasters like Ann Arbor '96. The firs
point is simply good legal sense: Don't t
to stop them from holding a public event.
We have freedom of speech and assembly
in this country, and that even applies to
cousins who marry and extras from
"Deliverance ' Members of the National
Women's Rights Organizing Coalition
(NWROC), the Coalition to Defend

Affirmative Action By Any Means
Necessary (BAMN) or any other acronym
that might want to get involved: Thi.
means don't waste time trying to stop te
city from granting a permit to the Klan or
trying to stop additional police from being
on patrol during hate on parade '98. The
Klan always wins on the same First
Amendment grounds that allow any group
to hold public events; trying to block their
events only results in additional publicity
that inflates Klan egos and gives false
importance to their appearances.
The second point makes the most
sense, but unfortunately, could be th4
hardest to impart upon people whose
blood boils at the thought that the sheet
brigade might be allowed to stroll
around downtown: Stay away from
white-supremacist events. Obviously,
events with nobody there but 10 guys in
pointy hats have limited appeal to the
media - it is up to this community to
stand together and deny these hate mon-
gers what they most desire - attention.
This does not mean we should ignorE
the hatred the Klan and their supporters
are spewing, but alternative forms- of
protest should be considered. Counter-
rallies that draw the Klan's crowds-to
the other side of town have proven very
pff.tivpin thprrnmnimiip;in antm

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