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October 16, 1998 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-10-16

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 16, 1998

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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

'If you're a person in the snowmobile business,
you may find it's bad. If you're In the golf
course business, it may be good.'
- SNRE Prof David Allan, remarking on whether or not global
warming will have a negative impact on the state of Michigan

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.
Out and about
'U' celebrates National Coming Out Week


N's' .'o'r APF

his week, the University community
has been celebrating National Coming
Out Week. Since Oct. 8, various speakers,
dinners and discussion groups have taken
place to inform the University community
of the struggle for equality and tolerance
that gay and lesbian students have endured.
This crucial week-long event deserves com-
mendation for building awarengss and toler-
ance at the University.
Quite simply, students at the University
have diverse sexual orientations that should
be expressed. There are many differences
among University students and, sadly, this
diversity sometimes generates intolerance
stemming from fear and misinformation.
Frederic Dennis, director of the Office of
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender
Affairs here at the University feels that the
administration works very hard to provide a
safe and welcoming place for gay, lesbian and
bisexual students, as they "will not tolerate
violent acts against its students or anyone."
The tragic and shocking death of openly
gay University of Wyoming student
Matthew Shepard this week - which
occurred because of the injuries he sus-
tained after being pistol-whipped and left
tied to a fence - sent a cruel reminder to
the nation. Hatred toward the LGBT com-
munity exists, and there is not enough hate-
crime legislation to harshly convict those
who commit such ignorant acts. Public vio-
lence, such as Shepard's beating, has not
taken place recently in Ann Arbor, but a
}silent, underground hatred toward the
' LGBT community still occasionally rears
its ugly head. Students get harassed, called
names, and have things written on their
doors. This should call all students, regard-
less of sexual orientation, to action to pre-
Legislators must outlaw
T he shocking death of Matthew
Shepard, a college student who was
kidnapped, severely beaten and left to die
tied to a fence, has rekindled the national
debate over whether or not hate-crime laws
should include specific protection for dif-
ferences in sexual orientation. The 21-year-
old student was hospitalized with massive

serve everyone's rights. By not reporting or
acknowledging the occurrence of such inci-
dents, students allow such perpetrators to
get exactly what they want - to discourage
and scare the LGBT community from being
an accepted part of the public as a whole.
This week's events, attended by students
of many different backgrounds and orienta-
tions, are anything but timid. Today, Ann
Arbor Mayor Pro Tempore Chris Kolb, an
openly gay politician who currently serves
on the city council and is running for mayor,
will address a crowd at the week-ending
rally. Community members will also be
invited to walk through a make-shift closet,
symbolizing the act of "coming out of the
closet." It is a positive end to a week that was
tinged with the reality of Shepard's death.
The First Amendment protects many
forms of speech in this nation, regardless of
the speech's intolerance. Students should
exercise their right to speak in the face of
intolerance, to celebrate what others try to
denigrate and to correct others' misinfor-
The Constitution also ensures equal
rights to all citizens. Events like National
Coming Out Week make progress toward a
society where gays, lesbians and bisexuals
can be free from fear of stigmatization and
enjoy the rights all citizens are guaranteed
without exception.
Kudos to everyone involved in the
National Coming Out Week. There is still a
long way to go, and a lot of barriers need to
be taken down. Awareness-raising events
like these demonstrate to the public that the
vast majority of the University community
believes that someday, anyone will be able
to love without being discriminated
all forms of hate crime
legislation on the local, state and federal
level must not discriminate against a partic-
ular segment of our society.
In the wake of Shepard's death, it is
almost incomprehensible that the Wyoming
legislature has repeatedly voted down hate-
crime bills because lawmakers argue that
existing laws make it unnecessary. The
existing laws are not doing a good enough
job - even one death based on intolerance
cannot be accepted. Penalties for hate-based
crimes are necessary if the Wyoming State
Legislature and the other state legislatures
that lack similar laws are serious about
addressing the issue. The few critics of
these laws, including religious extremists,
argue that discrimination protection for
people of different sexual orientation is a
policy of preferential treatment or a form of
inequality. People may differ about sexual
orientation, but no person deserves to be the
subject of abuse because of his or her per-
sonal preference. Leaders from the various
levels and branches of government must
realize that without strong penalties to pro-
tect potential victims of senseless hate acts,
our society can never truly claim to be one
of equality and tolerance.
In the wake of this recent tragedy, all
people must come together to realize the

importance of respecting each other's dif-
ferences and the destructive power of hate.
The message must be sent to legislators that
specific hate-crime laws protecting all
members of society are of the utmost
importance. Those - legislators and other-
wise - who would deny or downplay the
magnitude of hate directed toward homo-
sexuals should look at Rev. Fred Phelps and
his Westboro Baptist congregation picket-
ing outside the funeral service this after-
noon because Matthew Shenard was gav.


Misspelling of
'Gandhi' was
While I appreciate the
extensive coverage given to
the second annual Gandhi
Day of Service held on Oct.
10, I am very disappointed in
the Daily for carelessly mis-
spelling Gandhi's name
throughout the entire article
("Ghandi's (sic) message"'
10/12/98). While most read-
ers may view this as a simple
oversight, this inexcusable
error automatically casts a
shadow over the entire article
for those of us that admire
and study Gandhi's life and
message, and it serves to
detract from the importance
of Gandhi Day.
Furthermore, this reflects
very poorly upon the Daily
and the University in general.
I hope that the Daily will
spend a little more time in
the future to ensure that its
coverage is fully accurate in
all respects.
Shaman Drum
strives for
Thanks to the Daily for
the fair and balanced cover-
age given our store in the
Weekend, Etc. issue
("Shaman Drum ... Is it Still
Different" 10/1/98).
As one of Ann Arbor's
independent bookstores, we
rely on our newsletter and
word-of-mouth advertising to
continue thriving as Ann
Arbor's source for scholarly
works and textbook ordering.
The process of textbook
ordering is a complicated
one, so I would like to take
this opportunity to clarify a
couple ofpoints stemming
from the articles.
First, the issue of waiting
in line. Since the textbook
sales area is not large and we
would like to give students
selecting books maximum
convenience, we limit the
number of students in the
store at any one time. To
compensatewe have extend-
ed our hours of operations
during the book rush. From 9
a.m. to 10 p.m., we have
trained staff on hand to expe-
dite visits to our store. As a
result of our extended hours,
the lines generally move
quickly. It should also be
noted that the lines do not
begin until the first day of
classes. Those who want to
check on the availability of
their books before the first
day of classes will be able to
walk right in. We understand

availability of those books.
In fact, we prefer to order
used textbooks,'since they
are more profitable for us as
well as cheaper for students.
Again, we take the cost of
textbooks very seriously, and
if any custome has any ques-
tions regarding the pricing or
availability of used or new
books, we would be happy to
talk with them.
Our search for the perfect
text ordering system is an on-
going process. We encourage
more feedback from all of
our customers. Only then can
we be confident in our mis-
sion to provide the most
helpful and informative
scholarly resources to the
University community.
should use
public transit
I was rather disappointed
by the Daily's Oct. 9 editorial
"Parking pennies" on the
"extortion" waged by the city
on students through its park-
ing rate increases.
Little thought seems to
have been given to the possi-
bility that the city's parking
rate hike was a signal to
drive less. Not only does Ann
Arbor boast one of the
cheapest, most extensive pub-
lic transit systems for a city
of its size, but the University
provides free parking and fre-
quent transit at a multitude of
commuter lots.
Perhaps if more students
took advantage of these
options, even once or twice a
week, we would see fewer
"students who are forced to
search frantically for parking
to get to class on time"
Cartoon was
insensitive to
When I saw Kaamran
Hafeez's cartoon on Oct. 12
depicting a black tarbaby as
terrorism, I assumed that
these images reflected
Hafeez's lack of sensitivity to
what they mean to African
Americans, or at least what
they mean within a context
outside his own conscious-
I did not, however, con-
clude that his portrayal of
tarbaby connoted his having
a racist anti-black conscious-

more diligent about not por-
traying black people, or any
others, in ways so similar to
those used by cartoonists
whose intent was indeed
RHA movie
channel has
gl itches
As a first-year student
stuck in the dorm, weekday
nights can be quite boring. I
have the option of doing
homework, but sometimes
homework gets old and I
want to kick back and watch
a movie on the University's
RHA movie channel (channel
72 in the dorms). On Oct. 12,
for the third consecutive
time, I had been attempting
to watch a movie, when sud-
denly it stopped playing.
Granted, occasional
mishaps are understood, but
last Wednesday, during a
showing of "Mercury Rising"
the movie ceased playing
during the exciting climax.
Since I have not seen the
movie before, I am now
forced to rent the movie to
see the conclusion. A suppos-
edly free channel is now cost-
ing me $3 and change. To
make matters worse, another
mishap occurred. For my sec-
ond consecutive attempted
viewing of "Titanic," the
movie quit playing halfway
through. The conclusion now
still remains a mystery - as
one of the few who have not
seen the movie before, I real-
ly am interested to see if the
boat really sinks!
I don't know why the
RHA channel keeps doing
this, but they really need to
fix this problem immediately.
If it is a broken VCR, they
can easily purchase a new
one from Ulrich's Electronics
or Meijer. I, as well as the
rest of my hall, am infuriated
by this continued practice of
the RHA channel. I for one
do not believe in half-rate
productions, and I would
rather not see a RHA movie
channel at all than to see the
lack of dependability in the
current system. It is time for
the RHA to upgrade its
equipment, and I hope this
letter pushes them in the
right direction.
Campus bell
tower plays
Led Zeppelin

Shepard shows 0
us how little we
know each other
I wonder what Matthew Shepard's
k killers saw when they looked into his
Did they see a boy? A man?
I wonder what happened when the#
eyes met. When
they looked at him
with hatred and dis-
gust, what did they ,
see looking back at
An enemy - a
threat to their mas-
culinity and way of
Matthew was not
and is not an evil LAUR
force threatening MAYK
the moral founda- S m '
tion of society. He
was a 2 1-year-old
political science major at the University
of Wyoming. He had friends and family.
He was gay.
Over and over, I have read the reports
of Matthew's brutal beating. The image
of his limp body tied to a fence a*
abandoned by his attackers is more than
disturbing; it's revolting.
I can picture them leading him out of
a night spot in Wyoming with malintent.
I can hear their verbal insults and imag-
ine the force with which they knocked
him to the ground and beat him. I can
even picture them strapping him to the
fence in a sort of crucifixion for a sym-
bol of something they despised.
But what I cannot picture, no matter
how hard I try, is a moment when the*
eyes met.
That someone could look past a per-
son's face and into their eyes and then
continue to cause such pain and suffer-
ing is difficult to fathom.
The majority of attacks on the LGBT
community lack this contact. It's easy to
criticize, or even demonize, a group or
individual whom you have never met.
The Christian Coalition does it. The Ku
Klux Klan does it. We do it.
Even here in Ann Arbor on one of the
most liberal, diverse and tolerant col-
lege campuses around today, we make
jokes, we make assumptions, and we
toss about derogatory names and stereo-
types. We try not to look each other in
the eyes while we're doing these things,
and we rarely ask any questions.
Yes, questions.
Sexual orientation as a facterather
than an option is still a resisted a
misunderstood phenomenon to man
people today. But rather than say, "I
just don't understand. Why?" (a ques-
tion that can be answered with simple
genetics), we murmur something
about what's "natural," and we move
Only once have I seen two people of
different sexual orientations face each
other and have an honest dialogue abou
their contrasting lifestyles. The feV
moments I sat with these two friends,
meeting for the first time, were some of
the longest and most awkward I have
ever experienced. My instinct, not sur-
prisingly, was to squirm and change the
But more than a year later, when I
don't remember exactly what words or
even ideas were exchanged between
the two of them, I remember thinking
how remarkable it was that they sat
across from each other and reveal*
that they simply did not understand.
Matthew's death has brought gay and

straight students, parents, government
officials and Hollywood types together
to try to understand if not why this spe-
cific act took place, then why our com-
munities are still filled with such intol-
erance and misunderstanding. The
University's vigil Wednesday night was
only one of probably hundreds hono
ing a stranger who endured familia
At a rally this week, actress and gay
activist Ellen Degeneres stated: "This is
a war. We need your help."
Well, it's not exactly a war in lay-
men's terms, but certain factions are
certainly preparing for a battle - moral
or otherwise.
Rev. Fred Phelps announced this past
week that he and members of the
Topeka, Kans., Westboro Bapti
Church planned to picket Matthe
Shepard's funeral today.
"We're going to inject some sanity
into the insane orgy of their homosexu-
al lives," the Rocky Mountain Collegian
quoted Phelps as saying.
This apparently is not an isolated bat-
tle for Phelps. He told the Collegian that
he and his congregation members pick-
et about 40 funerals of homosexuals per
Phelps insensitive protesting, and the
fact that he does so as a religious leader,
has the same effect on the community as
do the violent acts of Matthew's attack-
ers. Phelps treats gays and lesbians as
the objects of righteous hatred - a
place to deposit his feelings of anger

head injuries, but he never regained con-
sciousness and was pronounced dead this
past Monday. The horror of such an event
draws attention to the lack of protection
under the law to help prevent such future
atrocities. This incident underscores the
critical need for anti-discrimination laws
that protect people of different sexual orien-
Michigan is one of 39 states that has a law
designed to address ethnic intimidation, but
only 21 of those states include sexual orienta-
tion, in their actual wording. Michigan's law,
passed in 1989, was enacted in response to the
acquittal of two white men identified in the
1982 beating death of a Chinese American
man. The law punishes a person guilty of eth-
nic intimidation if the state can show there
was intent to terrorize or harass an individual
because of race, color, religion, gender or
national origin, but does not include sexual
orientation - a glaring flaw that becomes
more pronounced with each tragic death.
Michigan state Rep. Lynne Martinez (D-
Lansing) is leading the charge to add sexu-
al orientation to ,the Michigan hate-crime
statute. Martinez joins Detroit police
authorities who state that acts of violence
against gays, lesbians and bisexuals are the
most common forms of hate crimes. Sexual
orientation must be added to the language
in these hate-crime statutes so that all peo-
ple in society are protected from the sense-
less acts of intolerant neonle Hate-crime

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