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March 07, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-07

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 7, 2000

bE ffictigrni &zi{g

Political correctness and the "other" discrimination

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

MIKE SPAHN
Editor in Chief
EMILY ACHENBAUM
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the
Daily's editorial board. Al other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily
reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

O kay, I'll be honest with you. This was
not the column I intended to write this
week. I was late getting back from Mardi
Gras and, instead of writing the Mother Of
All Spring Break columns, I had to delve
into my archives to meet my deadline. How-
ever, this column is relatively appropriate,
as my experiences
down south over break
reinforced my belief
in everything I had
previously written.
We as Americansr
have come quite a
long way in the battler
against prejudice and
discrimination. We:
condemn people for
making off-color
remarks (no pun Braten
intended) and protest
the Confederate flag SanZ
flying over a state cap-
ital. Shows like "All
in the Family" that Ha
were mainstream
prime time fare would be unheard of today,
We hold rallies and marches fighting for a
truly egalitarian society and a host of other
things that are relatively new and enlighten-
ing.
We all know racism is bad. Why?
Because it is wrong to discriminate against
someone based solely on their appearance
or background. But all around, even at this
bastion of political correctness known as
"The University," I still see rampant dis-
crimination being practiced. People make
jokes about it, you can hear it at parties, you

can even read it in the Daily.
This type of discrimination is a form of
classism that we are supposedly decades
removed from, yet it rears its ugly head
every so often, usually around the time of
the Ohio State or Michigan State football
game. It is, quite simply, discrimination
against the poor. Is it okay to make fun of
poor people in America today? Sure it is, as
long as they're white.
We have all witnessed white-trash bash-
ing in action. We call them hicks or hillbil-
lies: We make jokes about trailer-parks and
out-houses. We assume someone is less
than intelligent because they have a South-
ern accent. I can't tell you how many times
I've heard something to the effect of,
"Faster than a Buckeye can spit Copen-
hagen," or "There's going to be a lot of
angry trailer parks in Columbus tonight if
John Cooper loses another to the Wolver-
ines."
Think about this for a second and imag-
ine the outcry that erupts when our basket-
ball team plays Detroit-Mercy and some
journalist quips, "Faster than a Titan can put
down his crack pipe," or "There's going to
be some upset people in the Projects tonight
if Detroit loses to Michigan again." Seems
like a double standard, doesn't it?
I want to tell you about one of my
friends here at the University. He grew up in
South Georgia, about two hours from John
Rocker's hometown of Macon. He listens to
country music. He wears tight Wrangler
jeans, Justin cowboy boots and even owns
two cowboy hats. He rode bulls for his high
school rodeo team (yes, they have those
down there) and chews Copenhagen like it's

going out of style. He even has a Southern
accent that slips out when he's drunk.
My friend also scored 1390 on his SAT
and holds a 3.7 GPA here in college. He
speaks fluent Arabic and can get by in about
four other languages. He is a self-pro-
claimed "redneck" who wants to retire on a
cattle ranch, yet happens to be damn intelli-
gent. I once asked him if he realized how
people think of him for dressing the way he
does. "Of course," he responded. "But do
you have any idea how silly I think other
people look wearing baggy cargo pants, a
multi-chromatic Tommy Hilfiger outfit or
that ridiculous Abercrombie stuff?" Point -,
taken.
The bottom line is that we should stop to
think that maybe some of these people (call
them hicks, rednecks, cowboys, hillbillies,
or whatever) do what they do because they --
enjoy doing it. Maybe the guy fixing your
car or driving a tractor is doing that, not
because he wasn't smart enough to do any
thing else in life, but because that was what
he wanted to do. Maybe he's just as smart as
you or L
I'm not saying we should be nice to the
Spartans or hated Buckeyes. Taunt them
because we have better academics. Taunt
them because we have better athletics.
Taunt them because we have more class.
But if you are going to drop some stereo-
typing white trash comment just because m
someone hails from the Bible Belt or grew
up on a farm, think about it for a second.
and take a good, long look in the mirror.-,
You might not like what you see.
- Branden Sanz can be reached via
e-mail at hamrhead@umich.edui.

Ann Arbor needs more middle schools

4 nn Arbor public school officials
have recently been discussing
ways to reduce the problem of over-
crowding in the city's high schools.
Last week, the school board narrowed
the list of solutions down to four: A
$50 million, 1,500-student high
school, a large magnet school that
would attract students from across the
district; one or two ninth-grade-only
schools or a two-tier middle school
system that would place sixth- and sev-
enth-graders and eighth and ninth-
graders in separate schools. This last
option is probably the best plan as far
as students are concerned.
Building another large high school
would not necessarily provide a helpful
learning environment for students. A
school of this size would still have
large classes, giving students less of a
chance to interact with teachers and
fellow students. And a magnet school
would have the same problem, as well
as being potentially damaging to pub-
lic schools in other districts. Many
public schools are in serious need of
funding and resources, and encourag-
ing parents in the area to send their
children to a large school in Ann
Arbor would only make the situation
worse.
Restructuring the middle school

system would prove more helpful to
most students. It would allow for
smaller classes, since there are cur-
rently fewer students in that age group.
And it would let students interact pri-
marily with people their own age -
many ninth-graders are not yet ready
for high school.
Middle school is a very difficult
period in life for most people, and hav-
ing smaller groups would allow for
more attention for each student. In
addition, a two-tiered system would
mean that students in their early teens
would not have to interact with people
considerably older than themselves. A
14-year-old freshman and a 17-year-
old senior really have very little in
common - and an 11-year-old sixth
grader would have just as little in com-
mon with a freshman.
With this in mind, it is clear that
building two new middle schools
would be the best solution for easing
the overcrowding in the high schools.
Not only would it reduce class size in
both high schools and middle schools
and avoid the problems caused by a
magnet school, but it would allow stu-
dents in their tumultuous early teens to
attend smaller schools with people
their own age - certainly a better
learning environment for all students.

CHIP CULLEN

GRINDING THE NIB

-

No gun law can
prevent tragedy

Troth or D.A.
Drug resistance program needs overhaul

Across the country, a program
called Drug Abuse Resistance
Education, or D.A.R.E., unites police
officers and 5th and 6th grade students
in an attempt to prevent kids from
experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
While popular with the cops and par-
ents, numerous studies have questioned
the value of the program. A drug pre-
vention program is necessary for
youths, but it is time for D.A.R.E.'s
operators to make necessary changes to
bolster the program's effectiveness.
The first area to change may be to
whom the program is taught. Attempt-
ing to reach children before they tune
out adults is an acceptable goal, but to
limit the program to these young stu-
dents may not be the best way to
instruct. Perhaps they should consider
adding a similar program around 8th or
9th grade, when many students have
experienced their first contact with
illicit drugs such as marijuana.
A second item to consider is the
message itself. D.A.R.E. targets peer
pressure, and teaches kids to "just say
no." But some people try drugs for
other reasons: Curiosity and rebellious-
ness, for example.
Moreover, D.A.R.E. has maintained
a zero-tolerance approach - all drugs
are bad. This eliminates all questions
from the elementary school students,
frightens them even, but when students
try drugs and realize that drugs won't
automatically kill you or make you an
addict, they question the truth of
D.A.R.E.'s messages.
Prior to a late February report con-
cerning D.A.R.E.'s effectiveness - or

lack thereof, Rolling Stone magazine
and other publications have questioned
D.A.R.E.'s efficiency in "keeping kids
off drugs." Surveys from the University
of Michigan, Western Michigan Uni-
versity and numerous others have not
produced a single shred of evidence
that children who "graduate" from the
D.A.R.E. program treat drugs any dif-
ferently than children who do not
receive the program. In fact, although
D.A.R.E. is used in many Detroit area
schools, Detroit's drug use well
exceeds the national average, according
to a Detroit News report. It appears
that all of the money, chiefly spent on a
D.A.R.E. T-shirt, ruler and notebook
for each kid, plus officer training, may
be going to waste.
Like sexual education programs
instantly deemed "pro-sex" by oppo-
nents, alternative drug education pro-
grams have been called "pro-drug," and
demonized. This is not the best way to
determine a solution to educating chil-
dren about drugs. Other programs may
in fact work well in conjunction with
D.A.R.E., or in place of it. Only time,
and more research, will conclusively
tell us if this is true.
Time may be running out for
D.A.R.E. to clean up its act. Cities such
as Seattle, Omaha and Milwaukee have
already dropped the program from their
elementary schools, as have Michigan
cities Clarkston and Harper Woods.
But when the executive director of
D.A.R.E. America, Glenn Levant,
ignores all criticism, chances are bleak
that D.A.R.E. will do anything to
change its fundamental structure.

TO THE DAILY:
in reference to the Daily's March 6th edi-
torial "Increase the peace": All of the concern
over recent shootings seems to ignore anoth-
er, real danger among the Daily's editorial
staff: Injuries from jerking knees and tripping
while toeing the party line. I have some ques-
tions for you: If trigger locks had been either
sold with the gun, or were required by law to
be on the gun, what makes you think that the
gun would have been secured? By a convict-
ed felon in a crack house? Wouldn't that
require enforcement of those laws to have
had any effect? You admit that it is "possi-
ble" that it would not have helped; I am cer-
tain that it would not have.
While it may be true that new gun laws
can only help, there is a point of diminishing
returns. If the current 20,000 gun laws aren't
doing the trick as is, maybe we should
enforce the ones we have instead of passing
even more, creating in effect each time vast
new groups of criminal classes out of law-
abidingcitizens while ignoring the criminals
we have already created. Excepting door-to-
door confiscation of guns, no gun law would
have prevented the tragedy in Mt. Morris
Township. What about holding a gun owner
responsible for crimes committed with their
gun? The gun in question was stolen. How
about imposing civil liabilities on the child's
parents? Dad's in jail, mom lives with some-
one else. No deterrent effect here. It's already
illegal for a minor to own a handgun. It's ille-
gal to bring guns on school property.
Guns, in and of themselves, are not the
problem. A society full of guns, yet lacking
criminals, is preferable to a society full of
criminals, yet lacking guns. Given a choice,
where would the editorial staff of the Daily
like to spend a week? Smith and Wesson's
factory or a prison? Enforcement of current
laws would be enough. Guns used to be so
much easier to get (mail order prior to 1968),
yet there were fewer shootings. What
changed? Handgun technology? No. It's not
the guns that have changed.
More feel-good, knee-jerk legislation will
not help. What does help are programs such
as the NRA-supported Project Exile, which
actively prosecutes criminals with guns, using
current laws. Mandatory prosecution for
using a gun in a crime. End of story. No plea

PLI S1 T 1101
HI? BROTH~k SAYS S KOW.S A
~~ GUY UNO MD A MORTELWEST FLIGHT
tZN 7' GO SMOOTHLY ON"CE'.
}MTI')4
j 1'0 LIK TO9~+M4

bargains, no bail, no excuses.
Lastly, a point regarding your recommend-
ed re-evaluation of the Second Amendment.
The police are not responsible for your safety.
Generally, you cannot sue them for not being
there when you need them. So, imagine that a
violent criminal has decided to rape you, he's
quite a bit larger than you, and armed with a
knife. You are alone, and want to protect your-
self. Since it is now only you who are respon-
sible for your own safety, I hope that you are
content knowing that you, a law-abiding citi-
zen, may now defend yourself with that easi-
ly-concealed deer rifle in your pocket, thanks
to the revised Second Amendment. You are
no longer trusted with a handgun.
ANTHONY BEAUMON
LAW STUDENT
Thinness does equal

begin with! When you get out of this school,
you will be way above average in annual
income as well. Why stop there? The point is,
no one wants to be average, this applies to
everything, from how you look, to how you
think, to how successful you are. What does
this all mean? It means that one shouldn't
"strive" to be "just average" (e.g. 5'4" and a
size 12 if you're a woman).
There's also the notion that thin women
are "unhealthy." That is a big load of crock, if
nothing else. Would it be obscene if I made
the conjecture that fat people are like drug-
gies, in that they are addicted to food? I don't
think so. Noe also mentions there are too few
normally proportioned women in the spot-
light. So what's your point? The average male
in this country is (also) fat. It takes more than
being "just average" (and in this case, via
physical attributes) to get ahead in life (usual-
ly), or, in this case, to be in the spotlight. Oh,
and I must disagree, Lil' Kim is large (though
I agree that Kate Moss is obscenely thin).
I must admit, it must be damn tough
being a woman, simply because physical
beauty is so prized (at least in this society).
On the other hand, women (in general) have
majors issues associated with them. Of
course diving into that realm is way beyond
the scope of this letter. Someone once said
the (real) truth is often ugly (ie "it's the ugly
truth"). Those who can't swallow that harsh
pill will be left behind.

,

personal

success

TO THE DAILY:
Camille Noe's Feb. 18th column "Why I
love Lil' Kim," was way off the mark. She
talks about the "weight standard" and along
with it, the "middle ground." But isn't the
whole point of life to succeed as much as you
can? A person's goal ought to be better than
average. Noe cites average physical propor-
tions of women. If you attend the University,
then you're already way above average to

.}

,.
'

MICHAEL YUNG-HSIN Hu
LSA JUNIOR

Stereotypes, ignorance and Friday night at the Nectarine

I spent my Spring Break in the San Fran-
cisco with one of my best friends from
undergrad. While riding the bus with my
boyfriend, we started talking to a man in
front of us. We talked
about the city and the
weather, and then he f
made a refreshing com-
ment. He mentioned
that his ex-boyfriend in
Toronto had told him
that the weather had
been nice there. I
smiled because he felt
comfortable telling
some complete
strangers on a city bus Michelle
that he was gay.
Being from the Bolek
Upper Peninsula, not J
exactly the most liberal
spot in the country, I I<ift
never knew a gay per-

about other cultures and sexual orienta-
tions and that I would wind up embarrass-
ing the hell out of myself. I'm sure that
happened, but at least people were nice to
me. I was willing to learn and listen and
not to judge. I must have driven a couple
of my gay male friends crazy when they
came out to me and I asked a million ques-
tions, like "Have you ever been attracted to
women?" and "Did you know you were
gay when you were a kid?" I'm sure I
looked really stupid, but I am very grateful
for their willingness to answer my ques-
tions and be patient. As one of my friends
likes to say, "There's a difference between
being ignorant but willing to learn and
being ignorant, judgmental and unwilling
to challenge your views." I was ignorant
but willing to learn.
When Matthew Shepard was murdered it
was an example of just how difficult and
dangerous it is to be openly gay in this coun-
try. I don't pretend to really understand what

Don't assume that everyone you meet is het-
erosexual. If you think being gay is "wrong,"
really look at why. Do you feel this way
because of your family? Your church? Your
friends? Your own stereotypes? College is
the time for you to start thinking for yourself,
to start challenging views that were before
unquestioned. If you feel you are ignorant
about sexual orientation issues, then make an
effort to learn more and correct the myths
you may think are true. Some of these
include:
1) Lesbians became lesbians because
there were raped or abused.
2) Lesbians hate all men and they secret-
ly want to become men.
3) Gay men abuse or prey on young
men.
4) Gay people actively recruit "straight"
people to be become gay.
5) Being LGBT is all about sex and how
much can you get, how often, and with as
many people as possible.

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