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April 16, 1999 - Image 4

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 16, 1999

(e Lictigan 1 uiIg

As we move on, the important lessons evolve with us

i

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

HEATHER KAMINS
Editor in Chief
JEFFREY KOSSEFF
DAVID WALLACE
Editorial Page Editors

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.

A safer 'Mile'

Participants should take precautions

W e almost missed him. "Senator!
Sen-a-tor!"
He didn't look much like the old pictures
- his hair was shorter, his suit conservative
- and we just got a glimpse of him in the
crowded United
Center in Chicago.
His staffers ushered
him past us and
through the hallway.
"Senator! We're
from The Michigan
Daily!"
Ah, the magic
words.,
He turned around.
The nose, the eyes.
Yep, it was him.
He just had to give Laurie
The Michigan Daily, Mayk
his old friend, fiveS
minutes, he told his O
aides (who had been Says S0
dodging our inter-
view requests all week and didn't look too
pleased).
We grinned. Jackpot.
The interview with California state Sen.
Tom Hayden at the 1996 Democratic
National Convention was part of my
favorite story for The Michigan Daily: a
feature on the politicians and activists who
returned to the city and the party after a
fiery and bloody 1968 convention.
Tom Hayden was one of the ring leaders
of throngs of protesters, and one of the infa-
mous Chicago Seven, arrested for their part
in the week's events. He was a journalist and
an activist (back when you could be both) on
this campus, and he helped Ann Arbor earn
its liberal reputation as a hotbed for social
activism. Berkeley, Greenwich Village, Ann
Arbor ... this was the place to be.

My brief encounter with Hayden at the
convention in Chicago (more than subse-
quent ones in Ann Arbor) revealed some
truths about change and continuity that I
will draw upon in the coming weeks before
graduation.
I have often mused about Tom Hayden's
role on this campus 30 years ago, and about
those who are now walking in his shoes (both
in the Student Publications Building as Daily
editor in chief and outside on the Diag with
picket signs). I do this not because I particu-
larly idolize the man, the particulars of his
causes or his tactics in accomplishing his
goals. Rather, I recognize him because of the
powerful influence he had on this campus and
because he had the courage to grow up and
the skill to keep fighting.
Hayden returned to Chicago as an estab-
lished politician. He had his own floor pass, a
title and a staff. He was part of "the system."
But Tom Hayden was no sell-out. There
were problems, he told us, in the
Democratic Party and in the current White
House administration. But there would be
time later to deal with those. Then he quot-
ed Thoreau and told us we had to vote if we
wanted anyone to listen to our complaints.
Hayden now chairs the California state
Senate's committees on Higher Education
and Natural Resources and Wildlife. He has
written seven books on political philosophy
and history. He has made a difference.
And so I think of him when I think of the
change in the air in Ann Arbor these days.
Many of us are about to relinquish use of
the term "student" before our names. With
these new abbreviated titles - journalist
instead of student journalist, activist instead
of student activist, athlete instead of student
athlete - come new responsibility, new
clothes and new expectations. We graduate
from papers of 40,000 circulation to those

of 500,000, from sit-ins and protests to ref-.
erendums and school board meetings, from
Crisler Arena to the Palace.
Like Hayden, we take our Michigan expe-
rience with us. The causes we claimed here,
the skills we honed, the people we met ... all
are a part of who we are now. Hearing Hayden
in 1996, with his wrinkles and his tie and his
politician's handshake, talk about mobilizing
young voters, protecting the environment and
investing federal money in education reas-
sured me that some things - the important
things -- don't change. They simply evolve.
And so the change in crisp spring Ann
Arbor air doesn't seem menacing to me.
In a few months, I will leave the state
where I grew up - but I will return to the
city where I was born to pursue the same
profession my parents practiced there.
In just a few weeks, I will graduate from
an institution that I learned to love for its
richness in diversity and energy and poten-
tial. But sitting next to me at commence-
ment will be my oldest and dearest friend
who knew me as a child and who will some-
day know my children as what she really is
- family.
Tomorrow, my parents pack up our
belongings and move to a house more suit-
able for their changing family. But there will
be baseballs in my brother's room, newspa-
per clippings in mine and two cats sprawled
out on someone's bed -just like home.
Today, my musings, observations and*
byline appear in The Michigan Daily for the"
last time. But I left a few things in the attic
and the legacy of 420 Maynard, and the
Daily will be a part of every word I write
and every editorial decision I make for the
rest of my life.
-- This is Laurie Mayk' final columnfo
The Michigan Daily. She can be reached
over e-mail at ljmayk@umich.edu.
GRINDING THE NIB

For more than a decade, University stu-
dents have celebrated the last day of
classes in a short run of about a mile from
the corner of South Forest Avenue and
South University Avenue to the Cube. But
unlike the runners students see on campus
every day, the participants of this event run
naked.
In the winter of 1986, members of the
men's crew team ran naked through the
streets of Ann Arbor. Through the years, the
simple celebration has escalated into a
nationally and internationally recognized
tradition known as the Naked Mile. Now, 14
years later, the Naked Mile attracts about
800 runners and 10,000 spectators to the
University each year. Administrators are
concerned that this tradition could develop
into something tragic, as evidenced by
University President Lee Bollinger's dis-
couragement of all seniors from running in
the annual event.
There are definite safety concerns in
running. The Naked Mile brings people
from all over the world to Ann Arbor. Last
year, individuals videotaped the event next
to media from Germany. Student partici-
pants face the possibility that pictures of
their naked bodies might be featured in
videos or on the Internet without their con-
sent or knowledge. Also, runners face the
possibility of being groped by onlookers.
Some harassment is inevitable with an
event of this size, though measures will be
in place to minimize problems. Student
volunteers plan to build from last year's
effort to make a safer Naked Mile.
Volunteers will canvas the event, again
providing T-shirts and assistance to partic-

ipants. The volunteers will also carry
walkie-talkies to report problems runners
may encounter.
It would be unfortunate for an unruly
crowd to ruin what should be a harmless
University tradition. The throng of
observers should behave in a respectful
manner toward runners and provide a wide
path.
In past years, DPS and AAPD officers
have done a good job maintaining runners'
safety. While participating students are
technically breaking indecent exposure
laws, officers have not sought to break up
the run. That pragmatic attitude should con-
tinue to prevail this year - what amounts to
a quick streak through Ann Arbor to cele-
brate the end of classes should not result in
legal troubles.
But as much as student volunteers,
onlookers and law enforcement can do to
protect participants, the runners them-
selves are largely responsible for taking
steps to ensure their safety.
The runners should bring clothes for the
end of the race and be alert to their sur-
roundings while they run. With a little
thought on the part of runners and the coop-
eration of others involved, safety can be
upheld and the tradition should continue.
Bollinger's concern for students par-
ticipating in the Naked Mile on the whole
is admirable. Most students, however,
already have made their decisions as to
whether they are planning to run. The
Naked Mile has established itself as a part
of the University; the responsibility now
is to create a relatively safe environment
for those choosing to participate.

CHIP CULLEN

Talk on trial
Outside incident does not implicate show

n a taping of the Jenny Jones show that
never aired, Jonathan Schmitz
appeared on the show after being told that
someone with a secret crush on him would
reveal it. Believing that the crush was
from a woman, he agreed to do the show.
But when the crush turned out to be that
of Scott Amedure, Schmitz said that he
felt incredibly humiliated. Three days
later, Schmitz, who already possessed a
troubled psychological history, killed
Amedure. Schmitz was accused of murder
and the Jenny Jones show was brought up
in a $50 million lawsuit by Amedure's
family. If the plaintiffs win, the ruling
would be a devastating blow to the media,
causing them to be overly protective in
their actions, fearing multi-million dollar
lawsuits.
The "Jenny Jones Trial" as it has been
called, has been a spectacle from the onset.
Amedure's family contends that the show
mislead Schmitz on purpose, resulting in
Schmitz's public embarrassment and caus-
ing him to commit murder. Schmitz himself
was convicted of the murder, but his trial
was overturned on a technicality. Lawyers
for Jones's show maintain that the two men
were romantically involved following the
taping, and that the death was the result of
some sort of relationship quarrel.
Jenny Jones's show should not be con-
sidered in the same group as respectable
television news media, but this trial could
have serious significance for both. It is
unacceptable to hold a television program
responsible for the behavior of those who
appear on it after they leave the studio.
This case raises many questions about
how much responsibility a television pro-

producers had no way of predicting such
an extreme and violent incident.
Appearing on a talk show alone does not
cause one to be homicidal; there are many
factors involved. For example, Schmitz
has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder
and depression. But in the show's defense,
that is not a valid reason to prevent him
from appearing on television.
Amedure's murder was an incredibly
rare occurrence. But this incident has an
added complication. By asserting that the
show humiliated Schmitz, those suing the
show imply that homosexuality is a mark
of shame. Despite the lack of tolerance
some members of society demonstrate, the
court should not recognize homosexuality
as a scarlet letter.
If the court rules that Jones and her pro-
ducers were responsible for Amedure's
death, it will create a judicially sanctioned
form of censorship. Amedure family attor-
ney Geoffrey Fieger claims that when the
producers convinced Schmitz to appear on
the show, it was similar to shouting "Fire"
in a crowded theater. This is illogical,
because the producers did not intend to
cause any harm by inviting a guest on their
talk show - a routine event. The ethics
used by the producers are questionable,
but they did not do anything illegal.
The question facing jurors in this trial is
whether or not being on the Jenny Jones
show caused Schmitz to lose control and
murder Amedure. Fieger is trying to prove
that had Schmitz never been on television,
Amedure would still be alive. A talk show
cannot be the sole factor in someone's
decision to take the life of another person.
The media isn't responsible for Amedure's

People should
tentatively trust
their leaders
To THE DAILY:
I am writing in response to several
recent letters that criticized U.S. foreign
policy toward Iraq and Kosovo. While what
I'm about to say might shock a student body
with a such a strong tradition of activism,
hear me out.
There's an old adage: "Politics stops at
the water's edge." Although this saying is
primarily meant to remind us of the impor-
tance of national cohesion when it comes to
dealing with crises abroad, there's another
reason why the political process is (or
should be) unique when it comes to foreign
affairs. The relevant policymakers - such
as the National Security Council, the Joint
Chiefs, and certain congressional commit-
tees - by virtue of having classified intel-
ligence, simply have access to much more
information than the general public.
Right or wrong, this is the way it is: I
think it's safe to say that we know about 25
percent of what's going on in Iraq and
Kosovo. Therefore, it's very important to
trust and to defer to our leaders when it
comes to foreign affairs; in other words,
give them the benefit of the doubt.
I realize that this might seem dangerous
given our experiences with Vietnam. That's
why it's important to question the long-term
outcomes of foreign policy. But, in the
short-term, we should at least acknowledge
that we have very little information and
therefore give a policy a chance to play out
before criticizing. Actually, some argue that
the failure of the American public to trust its
leadership was a big reason why Vietnam
was a disaster.
Not trusting our leaders forces them, in an
effort to placate public opinion, to do asinine
things like telegraph our strategy. For exam-
ple, announcing publically that NATO will
never send in ground troops gave the Serbian
leadership some pretty valuable information.
Of course, giving up our democratic
duty to question our leaders, giving them
the benefit of the doubt and entrusting them
with the lives of our sons and daughters
assumes that we have a leadership that can
be trusted, that is beyond reproach and with
impeccable integrity. But that's a different
discussion. Who said that the Monica
Lewinsky affair wasn't important?
GREG HILLSON
LSA SENIOR
Affirmative action
helps prevent
discrimination
To THE DAILy:
As the Rev. Jesse Jackson stated in his
speech on April 9, "People can achieve when
the goals are clearly defined, the rules are
open and fair and the playing field is level"
According to Jason Bourne's letter ("An open
letter to the Rev. Jesse Jackson," 4/13/99), this

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minority presence. As it is now, only about 8
percent of the student body is black, between
4 and 5 percent ofthe population is latino, and
less than 1 percent is Native American.,
Obviously, minorities do not gain a significant
upper hand in the competition with white stu-
dents for the "same spots."
In terms of stating that the playing field
is slanted "against non-minority appli-
cants," Bourne failed to mention that the
playing field has historically been slanted
away from minorities, in everything from
the workplace to the classroom. In my opin-
ion, attacks on affirmative action are racial-
ly motivated. These attacks are rooted in
sentiments that stemn from a belief that
minority studentsare somehow stealing
spots from majority students.
However, the arguments against affir-
mative action fail to mention statements
such as "How is it fair that students of
alumni receive boosts in their admission
status?" or "Why is it that people who suc-
ceeded on racially biased tests such as the
SAT are sitting in my spot?" I ask the fol-
lowing question: Whose spot are you sitting
in? As an African American/Caribbean
woman I take offense at the fact that people
may perceive me as an occupant of a seat
meant for somebody else "more qualified,"
etc. Obviously, if the playing field is to be
completely leveled, such policies of admis-
sion that favor white students should also be
eradicated.
So I say this - before a person attacks
policies of affirmative action, one must edu-
cate themselves on the historical nature of dis-
crimination on this campus and how it plays a
role in current University admissions. "Racial
harmony" rests not in the ending of affirma-
tive action - and the subsequent drop in
already disparagingly low numbers of minor-
ity students at this school. Instead, racial har-
mony only occurs when those in privileged
positions stop trying to further monopolize
opportunities for higher education.
SABRINA CHARLES
LSA SOPHOMORE
Courtesy at
the movies is in
short supply

"funny" Chris Tucker is, you should have the
right to speak. Be my guest. If you can't yell
insults at the movie, you're just throwing away
money. But a movie like "Saving Private
Ryan?" Some jackass alternates audible war
lessons for his girlfriend with another audio
game - shout out your own Rambo-like one-
liner as men are graphically blown into pieces
(this is, or course dwarfed by my mother's
experience of sitting next to a baby during the
very same film, but isn't the stupidity in that
one obvious?).
Politely tell them to be quiet? I always
do, and I carry a success rate of just over 40
percent.
I plead with you all -- please don't talk.
Don't even whisper. I can hear you, and so can.
everyone else. If someone tells someone to be
quiet and the person ignores it, join them in
the public humiliation of the offender and
make a scene. And please don't laugh hysteri-
cally in movies like "A Simple Plan" because
a shotgun blast throws someone against a
wall. It's not supposed to be funny, and it
probably isn't if you're the only one laughing
while the rest of the people in the theater hold
their mouths open in horror.
People will say, "don't go when it's
busy." I don't. I go in the afternoon and
carefully select my seat away from
teenagers and old ladies, but I'm always
thwarted by someone. And it's probably
you. I'm trying to watch a movie.
LANCE ROBERTS
LSA SENIOR
Activism does not *
have to exclude fun
To THE DAILY:
This is my response to the letter to the
editor, "Feminist fair did not represent the
true cause" (4/12/99). I was just curious if
the author of the letter, Scott Behnan, even
attended the Feminist fair.
If he did, he did not pay very much
attention. Between the dunk tank, balloons,
and bean bags were many student and com-
munity groups promoting female empower-
ment, as was the goal of the organizers of
the fair. Planned Parenthood, SAPAC and
the Undergraduate Women's Studies
Association were among the groups repre-

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