4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 27, 1999
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Capitalizing on the magic and mystique of the 'F'word
420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan
Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors
D o you remember the first time you heard
someone swear? If you are at all sane.
probably not. but bear with mc.
Did your ears explode? Did they burn at
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 Dailv.
the sound of your first
you stare,. eyes wide,
mouth agape, at the
speaker of the profan-
ity? Fifteen to 20 years
later, do you continue
to flashback to that
when your virgin ears
were christened with
the brute force of
Of course not.
Chances are that
moment hasn't walked
across your con-
science since. And
further, we've all
probably made use of
such terms a million
times in the interim.
So why, then, do we
four-letter word? Did
'U' should eliminate fall rush
ts a Itd o
put such a burden on
say, "he must be saying some really bad
stuff." Then they run out to the store to buy
the CD, only to find Tipper Gore has placed
a 'Parental Advisory- Explicit Lyrics" stick-
er on it. They can't buy it, so they find one of
their older friends and duplicate it. The net
result: The kids hear the unedited song any-
way, they've committed a federal offense, and
they all think it's really, really cool. What a
great message to send!
I don't want to raise a First Amendment
argument. I don't find this censorship an
unconscionable use of governmental or pri-
vate authority. I'm not concerned about the
marketplace of ideas or other such rhetoric
covered extensively in Comm 101.
The problem is that these regulations and
policies don't accomplish much. All sorts of
ruckus is made about the need to protect chil-
dren from the horrors of rap music and cable
television, but kids are almost never at a loss
for potential bad influences. If they don't hear
it on TV kids can listen to their parents swear,
or the neighbors, or their friends, etc., etc.
The unintended effects play on the kids' sub-
conscious and teach them that it's OK to
swear unabashedly. After all, if it's really that
bad, someone will beep you out or tell you to
shut up, right?
The trend as of late seems to be leading
from trying to avoid such language to utiliz-
ing it extensively just to capitalize on the
shock value. Knowing that they have stickers
and can prevent the spread of profane mater-
ial, record companies can look like they are
working to protect kids by "self-censoring."
Similarly, the Federal Communications
Commission can pretend it's cleaning up the
airwaves by requiring stations to blip every-
thing out. The truth is, both tactics only result
in more profanity.
Take, for example, FOX's new show
"Action." Beeping out every other word
makes Jay Mohr look like a real ass and a
dynamic character, even though the writing
barely rises above tedious. It worked for
Andrew Dice Clay. so why not now? Instead
of working on content, the Jerry Springer-
esque writing focuses more on context, to the
detriment of all viewers. We don't get better
plots, we get more colorful word usage. I'm
not suggesting that musicians and TV studios
should stop the swearing altogether (much
the opposite, actually). Sometimes, however,
as in the case of "Action." the industry uses
the little beeps to their advantage - turning up
the volume but not making the sound any bet-
Further, the lesson that regulators are try-
ing to teach younger media consumers is lost
altogether. Rather than teaching kids to
choose their words carefully and swear in
moderation and when the situation calls for it,
things are dealt with in absolutes. Swearing is
never permitted, but it happens all the time.
On the one hand, the media outlets allow their
product to be censored. On the other, they are
using that censorship as a means to boost
And people wonder why kids sometimes
feel like they're getting mixed signals.
I'm not saying that we should teach all
children to swear at age six. Instead, they
should learn an appreciation for the value of
words, and the media - like it or not - can
play an important part in that. We all swear,
after all, and there's no point in sheltering
kids forever. By preventing programs from
capitalizing on the notoriety of the forbidden,
some of what anti-entertainment-media pun-
dits fear might dissipate, and maybe TV
would be more sound and less fury.
- Jack Schillaci can be reached via
e-mail atjschilla aumich.edu.
Do not swear; however
as this ofends his delicate ears.
Two weeks into the Fall semester, students
are finally purchasing backorder books
and memorizing new class schedules. As
usual, University veterans slowly get back into
the swing of things as first-year students orient
themselves to college life. Amidst this post-
summer confusion, students rush fraternities
and sororities. Rush, the process in which
potential Greek members visit the sorority and
fraternity houses on campus, began last week.
This enticing social scene appeals especially to
first-year students looking for companionship.
But students need to recognize that participa-
tion in a Greek house is a serious commitment.
The University should prohibit first-semester
rush so new students can explore all campus
options before following the crowd of rushees.
Rushing provides a great way to meet
friends, but pledging a house requires much
dedication. The majority of University sorority
and fraternity houses require that all members
live in the respective house for at least one
year. Most members are happy with the cama-
raderie and activities that pledging brings, but
the first month at school is an incredibly early
time to decide where to live the following year.
On the many other college campuses across
the country that prohibit fall rush for first-year
students, people often find that waiting a
'semester only reinforces the decision to join
the Greek community.
Prolonging rush not only provides a more
relaxing start of college, it actually broadens
one's social circle. Festifall occurs in the first
week of school, which gives students a taste of
what the University has to offer outside of
classes. Since many first-year students are shy
to approach the tables or miss the event alto-
gether, signs for various clubs and events are
posted in and around every building on cam-
pus. The heavy scheduling of rush in the Fall
months conflicts with the mass meetings for
these college organizations, preventing stu-
dents from even learning about desirable activ-
ities. Since men's rush is informal, it is much
less time consuming.
Pressures of pledging strap students for
time before they recognize the wealth of diver-
sity available. Beyond the intramural sports,
multicultural clubs and community service
options, Winter rush would allow better inter-
action with all students at the University. First-
year students would get a better idea of the dif-
ferent houses by meeting more members prior
to committing. This is especially true because
a "silence period" accompanies the sorority
rush. Between the sorority mass meeting,
which occurred last week, and the last day of
rush, all sorority members are prohibited from
talking to any rushee. The Panhellenic
Association bars Greek participants from con-
versing with the prospective members so all
students make independent decisions. This
silence period isolates new students adding to
Eliminating first-semester rush encour-
ages first-year students to take a step back
and gain a versatile experience at college. As
of now, many sororities do not even offer
Winter rush because the large amount of fall
rushees fill the quota allotted for each house.
Taking away the fall rush option would make
winter rush more effective and trigger a
deeper interest in the houses at a necessary
time. Greek Week occurs in the spring when
the houses compete in fun events mainly
geared towards raising money for communi-
ties in need. Members still excited by initia-
tion will be more dedicated to service events
like Greek Week. The expanding opportuni-
ties students will encounter as a result of
postponing rush will look great on job appli-
cations and help with people relations in
this sort of language? In the name of protect-
ing polite society from itself, television chan-
nels and the record industry beep out, mute or
otherwise block that which might offend our
ears. In the process. however, they manage to
counteract their intended effect by bolstering
the mystique of swearing. This issue may
seem like something of a non-sequitur. The
thing is, the mix of Victorian morality and
political correctness often influences the
entertainment media for the worse.
TV makes swearing cool by making it for-
bidden - something that everybody does all
the time but must nonetheless be obscured.
Kids watching an Eminem video on MTV, for
instance, will see his lips moving a lot but
occasionally won't hear a thing. "Wow," they
THOMAS KULJURGIS TENTATIV ELY SPEAKING
fraught with error
TO THE DAILY:
IARINQ ARMS IS
*1 Au0 AM
,L N & M DI D' FoR C
Academia: not forsale
Princeton should retain controversial scholar
Last week, Steve Forbes, GOP presidential
hopeful, Princeton trustee and alumnus,
business executive and billionaire, presented a
dangerous ultimatum to fellow Princeton
board members with his petition for the resig-
nation of the recently hired controversial bio-
ethicist, Peter Singer. Forbes promises to with-
hold any future contributions to Princeton until
his request is accommodated. In doing this,
Forbes has flexed his plutocratic muscles
where he should not - in an academic setting.
Singer, whose views on euthanasia have
sparked heated protests on the Princeton cam-
pus by right to life and disabled rights groups,
is teaching a class on the ethics of death and
dying. Students in the class have said that
Singer has promoted discussion in his class
rather than using it as a vehicle for promoting
But the content of Singer's lectures would-
n't be nearly as important to Princeton if
Forbes himself was not calling for Singer's
resignation - and at private universities in
particular, money talks. Princeton is hoping
that philanthropy runs in the family. Forbes'
father, also a Princeton alumnus, gave mil-
lions to the university.
But if Princeton bows to Forbes' wishes,
they will send a dangerous message: academ-
ic subject matter is up for sale.
Academia is one of few environments in
American society where issues and ideas,
regardless of how controversial or inflamma-
tory, can be discussed fully and openly. Forbes
- or anyone else - should never be able to
denial of their academic freedom.
Well-rounded controversy is essential to
growth, and in this case, Singer is not limiting
the class to his own views. Far from it, he is
trying to understand what other academics
and even his students are thinking. Students
will be required to give presentations in class.
He even encourages them to find material
outside the required reading list.
But what is Forbes' motivation? It is
rumored that he may be using this to broaden
his campaign platform to include some moral
stands after a lack-luster "flat tax" run for the
presidential bid in '96. His campaign manag-
er even said Forbes would not limit his protest
to university trustee meetings, but would take
it to the campaign trail if necessary.
The power of money in America is as old
in the republic itself. Every election year,
plutocrats seem to gobble up more and
more objective opinions, buying votes, buy-
ing ads. Can they buy academic freedom?
Princeton must not fear Forbes' financial
leverage and should ignore any and all
threats made by him and other wealthy
alumni. It is the job of the university admin-
istration to protect the integrity of their aca-
demic environment. And if Princeton caves,
where does it draw the line? Such actions
would set a frightening precedent for all
other universities. Outside politics cannot
dictate university policy.
Universities should withstand power plays
eclipsing academic freedom. Administrators
must sustain an environment of scholarly
It always amazes me when anti-gunners
piece together some fact and fiction to arrive
at a tasty morsel of misinformation. The first
distracting piece of info in the Daily's editori-
al ("Right to bear arms?" 9 22,99) is that "no
gun control law brought before ... federal
courts ever has been overturned on Second
Amendment grounds" Please take a look at
US. vs. Emerson.
The second error is thatithe editorial
claims that modern interpretations supercede
original intent in the creation of a law. So, if
the modern meaning of freedom ever
changes, I guess we're all in for trouble.
Third, the statement "it (the National
Guard) is not fundamentally different from
the state militias of the colonial era" is in error
because of the facts that the Daily itself put
out - the weapons and training are provided
by the government. Also, the militia, as it was
understood in the 18th Century, referred to a
reactionary force of civilians to an oppressive
government, much like the militias of the
Revolutionary War. At no time was the militia
involved in the dities that are commonplace
in today's National Guard.
Also, the statement "it is still composed of
civilians who the government trusts to bear
arms" is just plain ridiculous! I'm sure that the
powers in England authorized the colonists to
bear arms. The opposite is in fact true, where
disarming the American colonists was the first.
order of business leading to imposing higher
Next, "The potential of self defense does
not grant individuals the right to own guns,"
but in the opinion of the Daily, the potential of
death of an innocent does grant the state to
restrict access to guns. Where is the logic?
More than 2 million crimes are prevented by
the brandishing or use of a firearm every year!
The Daily's statement about paranoia is
also an error. Paranoia is a good thing. Just
think of the difference in outcome in China if
the demonstrators had been armed. Every
country that has undergone "revolutionary"
changes towards more oppressive regimes has
made it their first step to take guns away from
civilians. Remember Adolph Hitler?
Finally, the Daily seems to think that guns
cause so many deaths and takes a massive toll
on our economy. More people die from drink-
ing related incidents than from all gun deaths
combined over years. The financial toll on this
country from drinking is almost incalculable.
With over 1.5 million DUlsma year, with mil-
lions of crimes being committed with the
offender being under the influence, and the
tragedy of chronic alcohol abuse, alcohol
dwarfs the cost of guns to this country. Like
the hypocrites they are, the Daily warmly
embraces alcohol, while rejecting guns.
SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY
arms is nonsensical
You're telling me that you wouldn't want to
protect them by any means necessary?
If I was robbing a house or assaulting a
person, I'd be a hell of a lot more scared of
someone and more apt to leave with someone
pointing a gun at me rather than someone try-
ing to fend me off with kicks and punches.
Furthermore, the editorial talks about
hunting and sport shooting. I completely
agree with the Daily up until the point where
the editorial says hunters and shooters should
have their guns taken away from them, and for
some their livelihood, for the sake of other
people. Whether the people just don't agree
with what these hunters and shooters do or
whether they are worried for their own well-
being this shouldn't matter. Hunting and sport
shooting do not kill people, plain and simple.
Why take away a nation's tradition for some-
thing so ignorant?
Frankly, I don't have much else to say.
However, two points to sum up. One, go ahead
and try to ban guns, but I guarantee they still
fall into the wrong people's hands and devas-
tating events still occur. Finally just realize
one thing: guns don't kill people, people kill
TO THE DAILY:
I read with interest the editorial entitled
("Wait for what?" 9/20/99). I am writing to
express my support for the new state law
requiring a 24-hour waiting period before an
abortion can be performed.
A waiting period is also required before
the purchase of a firearm. A woman's decision
to have an abortion is no less grave and should
be given all due consideration, including con-
sultation with - at minimum - her doctor
and the father of the child, if at all possible.
Remember that once the procedure is fin-
ished, it is irreversible and the decision to pro-
ceed must not be made in haste.
Regarding state-issued pamphlets to be
provided by the clinic, how does knowing the
details of the procedure and the stage of devel-
made in haste or on impulse. A 24-hour wait-
ing period before so weighty a decision as that
to have an abortion is to be applauded.
Nuclear power is
bad for environment
TO THE DAILY:
The Environmental Issues Commission
believes it necessary to clarify both ourselves
and our stance regarding nuclear energy in
light of recent letters to the Daily. We under-
stand how people can be misguided to believe
that nuclear energy can be perceived as a
viable power source and alternative to fossil
fuels and hydroelectric dams. It is true that
power fueled by the latter sources is extreme-
ly destructive environmentally.
Deforestation, soil erosion, loss of wildlife
habitat, air pollution, acid rain, air pollution,
fractured communities and increased risk to
the public's health have all been the results of
such sources. The environmental community
does not contest these facts. Yet, it also real-
izes there are alternatives that go above and
beyond all three aforementioned power
The Commission and environmental com-
munity as whole are committed to achieving
sustainable communities both here and
abroad. Proven alternatives do exist.
Unfortunately not enough weight or research
is given to their effective implementation.
These choices include renewable energy
sources such as photovoltaic cells (solar
power) and wind power. These power sources
certainly are the least destructive environmen-
tally. They create no hazardous wastes and
there are no crises to find "safe" storage sites
once they have been used. Furthermore, such
sources have even been proven to be more
cost effective than our current methods with
nuclear energy being the most expensive@
power source (see wvwccnrorg).
Unfortunately, industries and governments
thrive on promoting such sources which are
hazards that jeopardize all life both now and
into the future.
In response to those who question our
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