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December 08, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-12-08

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 8, 2000

..............-

(tje £ibigrn &ilg

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

.*->*. .0

MIKE SPAHN
Editor in Chief
EMILY ACHENBAUM
Editorial Page Editor

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

Filters are wrong way to protect kids

Looking for a hero
I saw the movie "Unbreakable" over the
Thanksgiving break, and besides enjoy-
ing it immensely, I found that it really
revealed the lack of any sort of mythologi-
cal or folk hero in contemporary American
culture. Written and directed by M. Night
Shyamalan, the cre-
ative mind behind
"The Sixth Sense,"
"Unbreakable" is
essentially the begin-
nings of a comicz
book staring Bruce
Willis as the seem-
ingly indestructible
David Dunn. Starring
opposite him is
Samuel L. Jackson as
the intriguing Elijah David
Prince - a wheel-H
chair-bound comic Horn
book connoisseur -
who first presents
Dunn with the possibility that he may be a
superhero.
What does all this amount to? A comic
book lover's dream. Shyamalan suggests
that comic books were, once upon a time,
American society's way of passing down
its stories; the stories and themes that tran-
scend time and space - love and revenge
and power, great journeys and great tri-
umphs. For a nation without any fundamen-
tally sound folklore, the first pulp comics a
century ago began to shape out an Ameri-
can perspective on those timeless stories
that are retold in every civilization.
But time has cheapened and belittled

comics. America was left once more with-
out its hero. Prince leads Dunn - an other-
wise normal person - towards his
self-discovery of becoming that hero. The
movie succeeds not only because of this
romantic evolution, but also because it acts
itself out as the very comic book it itself
inspires. In an age of disbelief, "Unbreak-
able" challenges its protagonist, and every-
one, to accept the possibility of
extraordinary goodness and strength, and
strive towards it.
Films have been made in recent years
based on comics. "Batman," "Spawn" and
"X-Men" come to mind. Unfortunately,
these movies did nothing more than resur-
rect a dead comic from a different era with
tired protagonists. "Unbreakable" tries to
reestablish the creativity, relevance, beauty
and purpose that once defined classic
comics. More importantly, it led me to
question the absence of heroes - comic or
otherwise - in contemporarysociety.
My first instinct is to go to traditional
American folk heroes. The Davy Crockets,
John Henrys, Johnny Appleseeds and Paul
Bunyans come to mind. But these figures
of Americana - whether real-life legend or
myth - were not true heroes because they
were unique to their time and place. There
is no relevance for a folk hero like Johnny
Appleseed, who helped to develop a young,
expanding America. A contemporary hero
would serve a very different sort of pur-
pose.
The second thought I have as to where
to go for folk stories is World War II. Our
nation has not had its great battles. We

have no Chanson d'Roland or The Illi*
Our own revolution for independence is
under glorified, I think. Schoolchildren
ought to be able to tell stories of Nathan
Hale and Patrick Henry and General
George Washington with the same zest that
they recite Eminem lyrics.
The founders of ancient cities of ancient
civilizations were spawned of the Gods.
The founders of our nation were slave own-
ing, weed-smoking, hypocritical druno
For our generation, my generation, our hav-
ing been two generations removed from the
romantic glory of World War II allows for
its glory to persist in our third-hand memo-
ries.
What too of other 20th Century quasi-
mythological heroes? Charles Lindburg and
Babe Ruth? General Douglas Macarthur
and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King?
Are these the men we turn to in order to
establish the morally inspiring tales of our
society.
I don't honestly know the answer to th
question. Our society is so diverse and so
eclectic in its tastes that perhaps there are
no unifying themes. Perhaps we are too
young for such fables to pass through the
generations. But there is something inspir-
ing and uplifting in reading the myths of
another culture. There is a place, necessary
I think - in any society for the lore and
mythology. I don't think that place is taka
presently, but I am curious to see what u
mately emerges.
- Until then, David Horn can be
reached via e-mail at
horndgumich.edu.

T he Ann Arbor School District is
coming close to ending its yearlong
search for an Internet filter as a response
to concerns that students have had
access to pornographic Websites. How-
ever, such a filter is not only a manifes-
tation of censorship, but also an
impractical method by which to solve
the problem, as it is perceived by parents
and teachers.
Either of the filters that have been
suggested, "WebSense" or "Bess," would
be unnecessarily invasive. These filters
block access to a wide range of topics,
including those categories covering adult
entertainment, hate groups and condon-
ing illegal activities. However, it is a
concern of many students that such a fil-
ter would also prevent access to Web-
sites being used educationally, such as
ones whose content includes homosexu-
ality, breast cancer or drug information.
Although teachers will be able to
Health care and r
T he Michigan State House of Repre-
sentatives passed legislation that is a
small step towards chiseling away
women's right to choose. The bill targeted
employee health benefits by making
abortion coverage an optional part of an
employer-provided health care plan. Rep-
resentative Lauren Hager (R-Port Huron)
who sponsored the bill, said that the leg-
islation is meant to protect employers
from providing health care coverage for a
procedure that they "morally oppose."
Under the new legislation, abortion
coverage would not be an assumed part
of health care coverage. Instead, employ-
ers would have to manually agree to aug-
ment the health care of their employees
with abortion coverage. An amendment
proposed by Representative Lynn Mar-
tinez (D-Lansing) that would have
replaced abortion coverage with contra-
ceptive coverage was voted down.
This bill, and the arguments support-
ing it, are a travesty an insult to the sensi-
bilities of Michigan citizens. The
government has no place deciding the
morality of its citizens, and this bill is a
clear case of moral legislation. First

i

override the filter when a particular
Website is blocked, this means that there
will still be a need for teacher supervi-
sion with the filters in place. Such super-
vision would be better directed at
ensuring that students are not using their
Internet access privileges to access inap-
propriate Websites.
Both filters are also far too expensive,
at $27,000-30,000 per year, to be consid-
ered reasonable. This amount is close to
or more than the average teacher's salary
in about ten states, and is far too high a
price to pay for a vehicle of censorship.
When parents sign permission forms
granting their children the ability to use
the Internet at school, they should under-
stand the risks associated with it. With
the proper supervision and a filter-free
Internet connection, students have the
opportunity to be educated without cen-
sorship, and when mistakes happen to be
taught how to handle them responsibly.
morals don't mix
trimester abortions cost approximately
$300 - cheaper than most invasive med-
ical techniques - so this is obviously not
a cost issue. Instead, the state House has
decided that it has the right to impose
moral beliefs onto the freedoms of others.
By making abortion coverage option-
al, the state is tacitly attempting to erode
the rights of Michigan women. Under this
legislation, those employers who are
morally opposed to abortion coverage
can, and will, voice their opinion by not
extending abortion coverage. Unfortu-
nately, those employers who are not
opposed to abortions may very well
decide against providing coverage simply
because of the cost issue. Deciding
against abortion coverage may not be a
personal moral choice, but will instead be
a pragmatic economic choice.
Abortion is a medical procedure. The
government should have no business
deciding that any medical procedure is
"right" or "wrong." By passing this legis-
lation, the House has effectively decided
that it can have the final word on the
imposition of religious morality onto sec-
ular lives.

'Some people may look at It as
'Hooray, another day off.'

#I

- Susan Schafer, spokeswoman for Gov. John Engler on a proposal
to make Election Day a national holiday.

Unneeded contusion
on euthanasia terms
TO THE DAILY:
Whatever one's position on the complex
issues addressed in the editorial "Patients'
right to die," (12/7/00) it is absolutely critical
that definitions be used consistently and clear-
ly - something that the editorial inadvertently
mixes up. Euthanasia and physician-assisted
suicide are completely different things. As
defined by the Oregon Death with Dignity Act
(http://www.ohd.hr.stae.or.us/chs/pas/ar-
intro.htm), euthanasia, the act of a physician
directly ending a patient's life, is explicitly
prohibited. In contrast, the Oregon act permits,
under certain controls, physician-assisted sui-
cide, the act of a physician providing medica-
tions the patient himself/herself uses to end
their life. The difference is fundamental and
critical no matter where on the spectrum of
beliefs you stand.
By calling for the reconsideration of
euthanasia and then discussing the Oregon
physician-assisted suicide experience, it is
unclear exactly what the authors of the editori-
al are advocating for. An issue this critical and
fundamental demands clarity and consistency.
The entire issue of end-of-life care is
extremely important but intensely complex.
The impacts of for-profit health care decisions,
differing demographics, availability of pallia-
tive and hospice care, legal environments and
so on require thoughtful and deliberate discus-
sion to preventeunintended consequences that
might leave the poor and vulnerable at risk.
The Oregon Death with Dignity Act is but a
part of one of the most comprehensive and
systematically designed public health plans in
America - and as such, caution needs to be
used in drawing broad conclusions from their
example without considering the differing
legal, financial and demographic differences
between Oregon and Michigan for example.
The authors have the right to argue for discus-
sion and reconsideration - but to portray the
lack of legality as merely the blithe and arbi-
trary imposition of dogmatic moral standards
is an unwarranted generalization and a disser-
vice to this complex and difficult issue - and
the physicians, patients and families whose
lives are intertwined with this issue.
JEFFREY Huo
MEDICAL SCHOOL AND RACKHAM
Exotic dancing is
wrong way to fund
an education
TO THE DAILY:
I am writing in response to the Daily's edi-
torial against the law that changes the legal age
of stripping from 18 to 21 ("Not the state's
place" 12/4/00). While I agreeage-based laws
are very arbitrary, I do not agree with the
Daily's argument. The Daily points out many
women with dreams of an education dance to
finance those dreams.
Education is expensive but exotic dancing
is not the solution. The solution is to either
make education more affordable, close the
wage gap so dancing is but one of many
nnttinn r fL ,-incasefnia grl nn,,tinnc,,A

of dancing is clearly earning a lot of money.
The money can be used to finance education or
feed a young child. While both uses of the
money are honorable, what is the price? Addic-
tion, constant groping, physical violence and
rape are a steep price to pay for education. Not
every woman gets raped in a club, not every
dancer becomes addicted to a substance, how-
ever the potential is very high and should be
considered an occupational hazard. Our elected
officials have seen the evidence the Daily
chose to ignore and while outlawing strip clubs
is difficult, changing the minimum age for
dancers is an option.
There is something wrong in the state of
Michigan. According to research conducted by
the Center for the Education of Women, female
college graduates can expect to make nearly
the same income as a male high school gradu-
ate. Is it any wonder the women interviewed
chose stripping? The Daily should not focus on
stripping as a solution but stripping as evidence
of enormous gender inequality in Michigan.
Before you defend stripping, ask yourself how
you would feel if your mother told you she
had to strip to feed you or strip to make it
through school. Ask yourself if you would be
so quick to defend stripping if your sister was
the one being groped by old men who thought
she was there for the taking. In the past year
alone in Detroit, a dancer's neck was broken by
a man she tried to shove off of her, a woman
was raped while giving a couch dance and gun
fire erupted in the parking lot of a strip club. I
certainly wouldn't want my daughter feeling
like this was a good way to make it through
school or the only way to feed her child:
Would you?
AIMEE BINGHAM
LSA SENIOR
Gore should not
concede election
TO THE DAILY:
Joshua Boswick's letter to the editor "Gore
should concede election" (12/7/00), a rehash of
the Republican National Committee's talking
points that should bq familiar to anyone who
watchestoo much CNN or MSNBC, was full
of cognitive dissonance, wishful thinking and
logical inconsistencies. I must agree with him
on only one point: We as a nation have much to
be concerned about.
We should be concerned that approximate-
ly one third of votes cast by African-Americans
in Florida were thrown out in a concerted effort
by the Republican party to intimidate and dis-
enfranchise voters who they knew, even after
the GOP tried so hard to woo them at their
Broadway musical of a convention, would reli-
ably vote Democrat (over 90 percent in Flori-

da, in fact.)
We should be concerned that Republican
county officials in Seminole County allowed
Republican Party operatives unfettered access
and the ability to change and supplement inf
mation on absentee ballot requests that, with
their intervention, would not have been count-
ed. But are we surprised? After all, this is the
party of Watergate.
We should be concerned that the Republi-
can leadership is trying to create a false sense
of urgency surrounding the selection of our
next president, This includes organizing
attempts to intimidate ballot counters in south
Florida and prodding the Republican-con-
trolled Florida legislature into appointing
Republican electors to the Electoral Colle@
regardless of the election contest status.
We should be deeply concerned that
George W. Bush and his henchmen have
attempted to circumvent the truth of the out-
come of our presidential election with legal
maneuvering designed to prevent votes from
being accurately counted and then have delib-
erately lied to the people by saying things like
"these votes have been counted, recounted,
recounted again." It's simply not true. Ne
has there been in Florida a complete and act
rate count of all the ballots legally cast. There
has been partial count after partial count and
every time that Dubya's marginal lead decreas-
es in size, the Republicans only fight the
inevitable truth harder and harder.
If we have any type of "constitutional cri-
sis" on our hands, as the Republicans suggest,
it is because the man who has proclaimed him-
self president-elect, Bush, can only be victori-
ous through illegitimate means. He is a genuine
American Slobodan Milosovic. While the b
den of proof has unfortunately fallen on G
because of a admittedly mistaken prediction by
the television networks at 3 a.m. on November
8th, the real burden will be on Bush, if he is
ultimately elected president, to convince us that
he values American ideals like truth and justice
while he has willingly undermined them by
cheating the American voters and stealing the
keys to the White House.
The Vice-President should keep up the
good fight. The pursuit of truth is most hone
able and even after all that the nation has been
through in the last month, we are still behind
you 100 percent.
MICHAEL SIMON
LSA SOPHOMORE
BE AN
OPINION PAGE COLUMNIST!
E-MAIL NICK AT
nwoomer@umich.edu
AND.MIKE AT
mgrass@umich.edu
FOR THE DETAILS.

Dig o aoud
OfiTgin information should e kown

Revolutions and uprisings do not
come cheaply. Over the years rebels
have found various means to finance
their activities. Recently African mili-
tants have used the sale of "conflict dia-
monds" to finance their atrocities and
military campaigns.
Ohio Congressional Representative
Tony Hall is attempting to change this.
Working with Amnesty International,
Physicians for Human Rights and
other organizations, Hall is attempting
to raise awareness among consumers
to know the country of origin for any
diamonds they purchase. Hall is also
pushing legislation that would allow
only diamonds which can be traced to
legitimate sources into the country.
The World Diamond Council
approved measures to track diamonds
from the mines to the consumers this
summer, but these initiatives have not
yet prevented the estimated $240 mil-
lion worth of "conflict diamonds"
from entering the world diamond
trade.
Tiffany & Co., the target of a recent

business with known suppliers of con-
flict diamonds. While these measures
are necessary, steps to allow customers
to make informed choices must also be
taken. Suppliers and retailers should be
required to prove the origin of any dia-
monds prior to any sale.
The country should applaud Rep.
Hall for his efforts and the worthy legis-
lation which might hinder the funding of
the rape, mutilation and murder of civil-
ians that many rebel groups are respon-
sible for in war torn African nations.
Further, every individual consumer has
a responsibility to know where their pur-
chases are coming from.
The money gained in unethical sales
of diamonds easily finances massacres.
A boycott of diamonds is not the
answer; democracies such as South
Africa and Australia are heavily
involved in this industry. Only those dia-
monds tainted with the blood of inno-
cents should be refused and boycotted.
Before buying a diamond during the
holidays, take the extra effort to discern
its origin and not support crimes against

MATTHEW WIMSETT A LOOK BACK

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