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November 16, 1998 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-11-16

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 16, 1998
fe Ā£iditgun ?~ZUIQ QTBL QE LO4Bl iLE

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

LAURIE MAYK
Editor in Chief
JACK SCHILLACI
Editorial Page Editor

Litigation can't achieve all the goals
that you want to achieve.

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
FROM THE DAILY
Misinformation
Ignorance of Code plagues the 'U'

T he Code of Student Conduct - the
University's internal disciplinary sys-
tem - is currently under review. The
Office of Student Affairs at the University
is conducting an internal review - looking
at the efficiency of the Code's processes.
Faculty from Dartmouth, Northwestern and
the University of Virginia are working on an
external review of the Code - focusing on
the general effects the Code has on the stu-
dent body and whether or not it is beneficial
for the campus. The Michigan Student
Assembly is conducting open forums to
gather student input on the Code. But there
is a problem: Students either don't know or
care enough about the Code and the review
process to get involved.
Much of the problem is that many stu-
dents don't know enough about the Code or
the review process. The University and
MSA need to hold more forums, panels and
discussion sessions to educate students and
to collect student opinions. These discus-
sions should be widely publicized and their
importance emphasized. This past week,
MSA held a forum on the Code and a mere
30 to 40 students attended. For a policy that
can seriously affect the lives of every stu-
dent, turnout should be higher than this.
Lack of student knowledge of the Code
can be attributed primarily to the
University. After all, if students aren't
actively protesting the Code, the review
process will go much quicker. In 1995,
when the Code was originally formulated,
forums were held during the summer
months when the majority of students had
left campus. Similarly, this year, the sugges-
tions of the University's two review
processes are being presented to the
University Board of Regents during winter
break. It seems that the trend has been to

push the Code through the approval process
at times when little student intervention and
input is possible.
Furthermore, out of three bodies that are
reviewing the Code, two - the Office of
Student Affairs and the national review panel
comprised of faculty from other colleges -
have gathered limited student input. This is a
problem because students will be punished
under the Code, yet do not have much say in
its revision. Ultimately, through MSA
forums, students do have the opportunity to
become involved in the review process. And
this process can be enhanced through simple
emphasis on the University's part and inter-
est on the student's part.
First, the University should place
emphasis on the importance of these
forums by holding more of them and pro-
moting the ones that they do hold. Students
must know that attendance at these forums
is important because the Code could have
great effect on their lives at the University.
The University also must make an effort
to inform students about the Code. Almost
no effort is made now besides giving copy
of the document to every first-year student
during the summer prior to enrollment. For
a disciplinary system than can result in pun-
ishments as severe as expulsion, the
University must educate students more than
they are currently.
Students should also assume some
responsibility for their lack of input in the
revision of the Code as well by educating
themselves and taking a stand on the Code.
MSA deserves credit for playing a role in
educating students about the Code in lieu of
the University's insufficient efforts. Forums
will be held in the future, and it is up to the
students to determine that it is worth their
time to attend.

- Prof Peter Jacobson, on the efects that lawsuits
against the tobacco industry are having on tobacco use
CHIP CULLEN GRINDING THE NIB
EV6N 1"H0U0
LET TERS TO THE EDITOR

Daily headline
perpetuated
ignorance
TO THE DAILY:
I attended this past
Wednesday's panel on the
Arab/Israeli conflict. But
according to the Daily's arti-
cle "Jews and Muslims dis-
cuss Mideast (11/12/98) 1
wasn't even there. I was
involved in the discussion,
but I'm not Jewish nor
Muslim - I'm Christian
(and I'm Arab). Yes, that is
possible! I understand that
the mistake was not inten-
tional and that it was the
result of ignorance.
Nonetheless, it was very
costly in that it portrayed
the conflict as a conflict
between two religions,
whereas in reality, it is not
at all a religious conflict.
Furthermore, it reiterated
the misconception that
"Arab" and "Muslim" are
synonymous, perpetuating
the same ignorance that
caused the mistake in the
first place.

Communist, then they have
a strong philosophical tradi-
tion behind them of Marx
and others like him. It is of
further ignorance to say that
"conservative/suburban stu-
dents could care less about
our world today. They come
to college not to learn, bot
to major in businesssand get
drunk." In four years at the
University, I have learned
the danger of putting the
word "most" in front of gen-
eralizations about people.
It's called a stereotype and
it's wrong.
If Behnan is to criticize
the right for not speaking
out, then he cannot criticize
the left for doing just that. If
speaking out is not some-
thing that he values, then he
has no right to criticize the
right for not do it.
MATTHEW HOLTZMAN
LSA SENIOR
Chappell 's
letter about
adoption was

Equal proteton
iState should extend law to homosexuals

I

CHRISTINA GUIRGUIS angry
LSA IIINIOR

I JJM JI5vI

A s part of a growing national trend, the
Michigan House voted to extend the
reach of the state's ethnic intimidation law
to crimes against homosexuals, despite
opposition claims that it would suppress
free speech. The ethnic intimidation law,
originally adopted in 1988, already protects
individuals against violence or threats
based on race, religion, ethnicity and gen-
der. The version of the measure passed by
the House applies misdemeanor penalties
for hate crimes, as well as a $5,000 fine and
i two-year felony penalty to crimes moti-
vated by hate of homosexuals. The bill now
heads to the state Senate, where opposition
is strong.
"Free speech" concerns aside, such leg-
islation is long overdue and ought to be sup-
ported by anyone with a streak of decency.
The wording of the bill defines criminals
guilty of "felonious intimidation" as anyone
who maliciously "causes physical contact
with another person" or "damages, destroys
or defaces any real or personal property of
another person" "because of that person's
race, color, religion, gender, sexual orienta-
tion or national origin."
The attempts by elected officials to con-
ceal their bigotry by opposing the legislation
on free speech grounds are shameful and
should not be forgotten by their constituents.
Rep. Michelle McManus (R-Lake Leelanau)
characterized the bill as a "thought crimes
act." But the law says nothing to the content
of one's thoughts - it simply makes danger-
ous or damaging action based on bigoted
thoughts illegal. Apparently, these lawmak-
ers believe that when it is against homosexu-
als, violence and vandalism constitute free
speech.
While the effort in Michigan to extend

anti-hate crime laws to acts against homo-
sexuals is laudable, a national law that pun-
ishes crimes motivated by an individual's
sexual orientation is necessary. The United
States should not allow violence motivated
by hatred to go unpunished in some places
but not in others.
Conservatives who oppose homosexuality
on moral grounds should be able to reconcile
anti-hate crime statutes with their ideology. It
ought to be possible to personally oppose a
lifestyle and simultaneously condemn vio-
lence. The same people who oppose this mea-
sure would not dare oppose a similar measure
that protects a racial minority. When homo-
sexuals seek the same protection, though, they
are seeking "special rights."
It ought to be taken as a given by now that
no one deserves to be assaulted or have their
property destroyed, regardless of who they are
or what they believe. It may seem hackneyed
and condescending to remind people that all
types of violence ought to be condemned in a
civilized society. Unfortunately, the 57-38
vote on the amendment to the ethnic intimida-
tion law proves that at least 38 lawmakers in
Lansing still need to be educated.
Clearly, the movement in Michigan to
extend the protection of anti-hate crime laws
to homosexuals is a step in the right direction.
Rather than give in to pressure from a politi-
cal camp obviously motivated by bigotry,
state senators and Gov. John Engler ought to
consult their consciences when the measure
comes before them. Legislators on Capitol
Hill should follow Michigan's lead and draft
a national anti-hate crime statute that gives
homosexuals the same protection that is
extended to other minority groups. Violence
is not warranted under any circumstances,
and society's laws should reflect that.

'U' campus
does have a
'political
atmosphere'
To THE DAILY:
I'm writing to criticize
Scott Behnan's letter
('Lockyer was 'right on,"'
11/12/98) First, Behnan
claimed that these "zealots
convince people that U of M
truly has a political atmos-
phere. I beg to differ." The
truth is that the University
does have a political atmos-
phere. But that atmosphere
is mostly represented by the
liberals. Nonetheless, simply
because people attempt to
draw attention to issues not
covered in the mainstream
media does not define them
as zealots. Subjects such as
human rights are hardly
miniscule issues. Sleeping
out on the Diag to raise
awareness of homelessness
does not constitute irrational
political thought either.
College is a time to learn
to think in new ways and
explore new ideals. This is
part of the maturation
process, one in which
Behnan has chosen not to
partake. Professors do not
"fuel these leftist/zealot
groups." They educate stu-
dents and teach them to
think critically, to see
through the hegemony
imposed on them by society.
I commend them for this.
Furthermore, these
"Communist" groups do not
engage in "whining about
tyranny in the United
States." They protest it and

TO THE DAILY:
Cameron Chappell 's
response to the Daily editor-
ial "Plagued by the Past"
(11/6/98) was very angry
indeed ("Confidential adop-
tion laws hurt adoptees,"
11/11/98)!1I can also speak
from experience as an
adoptee. It scares me to
think my records could
become public. I don't have
a burning need to meet my
birth parents, nor do I feel
their absence leaves a void
in my life. I am curious, as
all adoptees are, about med-
ical records and other sib-
lings, but I am a strong and
confident woman with a
wonderful family to support
me.
I don't want to compli-
cate my birth mother's life. I
also don't want her compli-
cating mine. Opening adop-
tion records may not give
me that choice. I do agree
with an intermediary option
if both parties want to meet.
Cameron, your letter
lashed out at birth mothers
("they might actually have
to take responsibility for
their actions, god forbid"),
and adoptive parents ("the
only socially accepted rem-
nants of slave trading in the
United States"). I don't pre-
tend to know anything about
your life, but you are obvi-
ously harboring a lot of
anger. I hope that someday
you will find peace.
KIM SOBIESKI
UNIVERSITY STAFF
Changing
drinking ~age
will not solve
nmrhlrmc

ness" the Daily has made it
clear in the last week that
they feel the drinking age of
21 is unnecessary and illogi-
cal.
Does the Daily really
think that 18-year-old "col-
lege students ... should have
the right to drink" and
"should legally be allowed
to consume alcohol'?" As a
logical follow-up to the trag-
ic alcohol-related deaths of
teen-aged students in the
United States, has the Daily
chosen to run an article
pushing the reduction of the
legal drinking age?
What makes the Daily
think lowering the drinking
age will "solve many of the
problems of underage drink-
ing?" Does it actually feel
that facilitating post-adoles-
cent experimentation with
mind-altering substances is
the answer to people dying?
Would lowering the drinking
age spontaneously subvert
decades of hard-wired cul-
tural alcohol fixation in
teens? Is the answer: "Make
it legal, then it won't be cool
and 'forbidden' anymore?"
The Daily seems to answer
these questions with a
resounding "of course!" It
would take more than drop-
ping the age for there to be
a complete implosion of our
country's alcohol fixation.
The idea of playfully
altering one's mind with
chemicals in the spirit of
having a good time is very
appealing to young people.
If those who would see the
drinking age changed to 18
could convince the legisla-
tors of this state and country
(and me) that the impetus
for this change comes
directly from all those 20-
and-unders missing out on
the flavor, then right next to
the Pepsi fountain in
Bursley we would eventually
have Natural Light. But was
poor Bradley McCue -
whose body didn't take
kindly to the 24 shots he fed
it thinking about ... taste?
I understand that people
are looking for solutions to
this problem in our country.
I think we need to focus on
educationi and awareness,
but we must also strive to be
rational in our decision-
making.
PAUL BHASIN
SCHOOL OF MUSIC
Weekend
should have
run story on
Poetry Project
To THE DAILY:
The Nov. 5 Weekend, Etc.
was supposed to run an article
on the State Street Poetry
Project and our show that
weekend. Though we under-
stand there are space limita-
tions in Weekend, we find the
omission of our article puz-
zling. Perhaps articles about

Te real reason
for American
gun violence
O ften when we fail at our assigned
tasks, it's our natural inclination to
find an innocent party to shoulder the
blame. That way we can hide all our
slip-ups and walk away blameless in the
eyes of others. Everyone's done it at
least once. After all, it's a really tempt-
ing way to deal
withfailure.
Just ask the
men and
women we
elect to run our
cities.N
Chicago mayor
Richard M.
Daley led his
city Thursday
in filing suit HUNTER
a g a i n s t ,\ l~l~
firearms manu-
facturers for nn S1'l,1
the financial toll that gun violence has
taken on the area, Chicago officially
chose a scapegoat for its ills.
But the windy city is not alone, New
Orleans did the same thing a couple
weeks ago. Plus, Dennis Archer and the
mayors of other big, important cities
mayedo likewise, following decisions
made during an annual mayoral confer-
ence.
The basis of their complaint is this:
Much of the cost cities incur because
of gun violence - in the forms of
police overtime, court costs and med-
ical fees - exists because manufac-
turers make, advertise and sell guns
that are dangerous to the public and
thatsappeal to criminals. Backers of
these suits liken the legal action to the
product liability suits against tobacco
companies. As a completely rational
human being, I would tend to believe
these supporters of the handgun litiga-
tion if they were not, shall we say,
dead wrong.
Now, for those of you who don't
watch "COPS" regularly, let me fill
you in: Handguns have been tearing
apart American streets for quite some
time. In fact, handguns are the *
weapon of choice in well over three
thousand criminal prosecutions every
year.
Remember all the New York parents
sending their tiny, helpless progeny to
school clad in bullet-proof vests?
Remember allhthe teens mowed down
for wearing the wrong colors in the
wrong part of town? It's even gotten to
the point that many bourgeois suburban-
ites are scared to drive their Grand
Cherokees from their picket-fenced
yuppie towns into the hearts of urban
cities.
But despite the prevalence of guns in
violent crimes, steps have been taken
over the last decade or so to improve the
situation: Many municipalities have
severely tightened licensing protocols
and have limited handgun sales. The
Brady Law, for instance, imposes a five-
day "cooling down" period for handgun
purchases, while many state laws make !
it more difficult than ever to obtain
firearms licenses.
If you pay close attention to all of
these regulations, however, you'll notice
one characteristic common to all of
them: None of them in any way regulate
the manufacture of handguns. This is
because guns, unlike cigarettes, are not
inherently dangerous. They only
become dangerous when they fall in the
hands of the wrong people - usually
these are the same people who shoot
other people.

A gun itself has never killed a person,
but gun-wielding murderers have actu-
ally been known to kill quite a few peo-
pie. This small segment of the popula-
tion gives rise to our firearms control
problems. Many other people use guns
for purposes that do not contribute to
gun violence - perfectly respectable
purposes like hunting, where you pur- m
sue a helpless unarmed bunny rabbit
through the woods and pop a cap in his
ass for fun.
So, all this tells the reasonable person
that gun manufacturers are not responsi-
ble for the gun violence ripping at
America's cities. No gun maker has ever
jacked a kid for his Air Jordans or held
up a liquor store.
The mayors contemplating legal
action against gun producers would do
better to acknowledge the failure of gun
control laws and crime prevention pro-
grams and then work on revising exist-
ing legislation.
Our civil courts are not the correct
forum for remedying legislative and law
enforcement problems. Expending ener-
gy on the lawsuit will not mitigate the
problem of handgun crimes nor will it
hold accountable the people who are
actually responsible for the rampant
crimes: the criminals.
The idea of blaming gun manufactur-
ers for the illegal use of a legal product
lacks a rational basis. By the same logic.
cities should sue Toyota and Chrysler to
pay for hit-and-run accidents in this
country. Or how about suing Dutch Boy
each time some 14-year-old kid dies

r,

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I

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