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October 30, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-10-30

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41

4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 30, 2001

OP/ED

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420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

GEOFFREY GAGNON
Editor in Chief
MICHAEL GRASS
NICHOLAS WOOMER
Editorial Page Editors

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
(( New York City's
historic refusal to shut
up is one of the national
treasures that some
newly minted sunshine
patriots wish to bulldoze
under the rubble of
Lower Manhattan."
- From AI Giordano's article "Never
shut up, New York," a ppearing in
the Oct. 25 issue of The Nation.

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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.

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41

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I

Reforming student activism: A modest proposal
AUBREY HENRETTY NEUROTICA

A

tudent activism on
this campus is
overblown. Sure,
Fkthere's a lot of sign-wav-
ing, rhetoric-chanting
and fist-shaking, but
these minor aberrations
fade into the background
faster than you can say
x "hell no." Face it, all you
burgeoning cause-hawkers: Your pretty
signs, your bullhorns and your shouting
aren't cutting it anymore. Your methods are
passe. And if you want my support, you'll
have to be a little more creative.
One fresh idea for campus activists to
consider is setting themselves (not to be
confused with anyone or anything else) on
fire. Now this is a good way to get my atten-
tion. Fire is almost always cool, especially
when it's nearby and safely contained. And
just think what it could do for the cause!
("Hey! Did you hear about that Students
Against Syphilis guy who set himself on
fire?") I guarantee the student body would
appreciate this kind of valor ("Dude! Check
out the blisters on that guy!"). Finally, no
one would get hurt except the noble activist
himself.
You say you want a revolution? Prove it.
While setting fire to yourself is an excel-
lent way to cast your cause into the spot-
light, it only works once. After that, you've
got to get off your extra-crispy ass and take
some real action lest some other, more pas-
sionate masochist steal your thunder. Fol-
low-through is key to overcoming Joe
Public's gnat-like attention span and it's a
difficult concept for many campus activists

to grasp.
Take, for example, the small faction of
militant conservatives pushing for the aboli-
tion of the Women's Studies department.
They talk big, asking tough questions like
"What about Men's Studies?" and making
bold, poignant statements like, "Feminism
worked, bee-yatch," but I have yet to see
them take action. What're you waiting for,
boys? I suggest you go out and purchase
subscriptions to "Good Housekeeping" and
"Family Circle'' magazines for everyone in
the Women's Studies department. Have
them airlifted to Lane Hall and ceremoni-
ously dropped each month when the moon is
full. Hire Laura Bush to hand-deliver each
one. Let's see a bit of that colle'ge essay
originality that got you into the University
in the first place.
Not to pick on the right-wingers; the
campus left is just as guilty of using out-
moded activist techniques. They told us
independents lots of scary things during last
November's election debacle - most of
them containing the phrase "a vote for
Nader is a vote Bush" - rather than giving
us five good reasons to vote for Al.
Hash Bash was a step in the right direc-
tion (thousands of people smoking down in
broad daylight to spite the law is just the
kind of innovation I'm looking for), but
even "high noon" is becoming old hat. What
can be done to make this event more cut-
ting-edge? How about calling in a major
snack company to sponsor it? ("Hash Bash,
brought to you by Hostess!") I realize that
some bleeding-heart, anti-American, radical
commie liberals may object to "selling out"
to such a large organization, but I would

challenge any of them to refuse the free
cream-filled chocolate cupcakes that would
inevitably accompany such an agreement.
Remember: It's for the greater good.
I hear the Greek' system has been sending
its boys to seminars aimed at combating the
sexual harassment and date rape rampant in
fraternities. This sort of "action," while
slightly better than nothing, is hardly an
effective way to eradicate the problem. If
the Greek higher-ups were really concerned
about it, they would simply issue police-
grade stun guns (or, say, pinking shears) to
all the fine, upstanding young women who
frequent their free-beer-and-booty-dancing
weekend gatherings. Problem solved.
And then there are the Jesus people. (No,
I am not referring to the campus Christian
community. Please do not attempt to hold a
prayer vigil outside my room or stone me to
death on sight. Thank you.) The Jesus peo-
ple are the amiable bunch that stands out in
the Diag with signs so large, the' complete-
ly obscure the front of the Grad library.
They hand out informative pamphlets about
your (and my!) personal descent in to the
fiery pit of Hell. Call me a purveyor of blas-
phemy, but I think these devout doctrinaires
should follow their leader's lead, lose the
signs and spend more time hanging out with
the tax collectors and prostitutes. Besides
being a great P.R. move, it'd be a lot more
fun than hollering "salvation" at jaded col-
lege students day in and day out.
Hey, it might even teach them a little
something about the art of persuasion.

I

I

Aubrey Henreitv can be reached
via e-mail at ahenrett@umich.edu

Berkeley's wild weeks of protests, censors and thieves
GEOFFREY GAGNON G-ot x-

M

n a campus brim-
ming with social
activism and a
i history of open minded-
ness, signs have emerged
this month that the sanctity
of free speech at the Uni-
versity of California at
Berkeley may be endan-
gered.
Civil liberty advocates and free speech
proponents nationwide have watched with
interest and caution the debates that have
swirled in the past month surrounding the
appropriateness of speech in the wake of Sep-
tember's national disaster
In a pair of contentious cases that strike at
the very nerve of the free exercise of speech,
student editors at The Daily Californian - the
campus newspaper at Berkeley - are taking
defiant stances in the face of controversy and
criticism. The debate jumped from the pages of
The Daily Californian on Sept. 18 when the
paper ran the syndicated column of Darrin Bell
who had depicted the terrorist pilots of the air-
planes downed in last month's tragedy standing
in flames symbolic of hell.
The cartoon immediately touched off a
firestorm of controversy that found its way to
the university's student assembly, where a
measure that threatened The Daily Californian
with an outrageous $8,000-per-month increase

in rent for the offices the independent newspa-
per rents from the assembly was proposed.
Though the threat of financially penalizing the
independent newspaper was later removed
before the motion moved to a vote, the fact that
the Associated Students of the University of
California - Berkeley, the school's official stu-
dent senate, would consider stifling the free
speech of the campus daily should raise eye-
brows on campuses nationwide.
Rarely does a student-run campus forum
need to fear being silenced by its peers in stu-
dent government who usually operate with
similar motivations of student service. But by
threatening to manipulate rental agreements
in an obviously coercive attempt to extract an
apology from the paper, the student senate
considered a frightening form of censorship
to say theleast.
Now, I should say quiet clearly that I
make no claims in defense of any cartoon that
incenses, insults or in any way contributes to
fear or anxiety on campuses - especially in
light of last month's tragedy. The cartoon
may have been run in poor taste and the edi-
tors' response to the complaints it generated
may have been insensitive; nevertheless, to
see an elected body of campus leaders threat-
en to silence a newspaper in such a way
should make us all stop and take note of the
potential abuse of power. In the end, ASUC
passed a rather symbolic resolution that still

called for a dramatic show of apology on the
part of the newspaper. The student senate
voted with an 11-7 vote to demand a front-
page apology from the newspaper and urged
its staff to seek sensitivity training.
The paper's editor in chief has said that
the controversy has done nothing to change
the editors' decision to refuse an apology for
the cartoon.
But things refused to quiet down for The
Daily Cal as last week free speech oppo-
nents stole hundreds of newspapers after
bandit censors took issue with an advertise-
ment placed by the Ayn Rand Institute. Five
years ago as Californians weighed in on
Proposition 209, The Daily Californian saw
some 22,000 papers stolen in response to an
editorial. And even last year after conserva-
tive media-monger David Horowitz placed
an ad in the paper, The Daily Californian
found itself in the middle of a wild debate
and another case of stolen newspapers. The
rogue criminals last Wednesday declared
that they "will not allow business as usual
to continue."
Sadly, even in a time of heightened aware-
ness of freedoms, the type of censorship that
is becoming commonplace in Berkeley is
beginning to look like business as usual.
Geoffrev Gagnon can be reached via
e-mailatggagnon@umich.edu.

-1

I

V LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Americans fail to
appreciate their
unique freedoms
TO THE DAILY:
Monday's edition of The Michigan Daily
made me seriously question the native born
American's appreciation for his own nation. I
agree that one of America's greatest virtues is
freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
That is exactly one of the reasons that enables
us to have a functioning democracy. Likewise,
the lack of this freedom is one of the reasons
many of the Middle Eastern regimes have failed
at democratization.
However, all this anti-U.S. rhetoric seems
sickening to the point where I start believing

with all the American imperfections and mis-
takes of foreign policy, you would not want to
live anywhere else in the world.
The fact is that it is easy to be critical when
all you ever experienced is life in America. But
those of us who were lucky (or unlucky)
enough to see more of the world, know how
fortunate we are to be here. If you are so sym-
pathetic toward Afghan or Palestinian extrem-
ists, why not move closer to your "brothers in
arms"? Oh, you don't want to? I wonder why.
JULIA SHERSHAVIN
LSA sophomore
'Leftists' must realize
benefits of capitalism

will allow economic growth rates, as seen in
formerly destitute countries like South Korea,
Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand. On the other
hand, leftists like Goldstein should notice that
socialist or non-capitalist countries like North
Korea and Cuba have low growth rates, and
only have poverty, repression, and stagnation to
show for it. Take a snapshot of a typical South
Korean shopping at a diverse mall (capitalist)
and a typical North Korean (socialist) digging
in the mud, and ask yourself which person lives
in freedom.
This leads us to our current foreign policy
crisis: Has anyone wondered why Asian coun-
tries were able to modernize and Arab countries
are replete with revolutionary fervor? The
answer is, some Arab countries like Egypt
attempted to modernize in the 1960s, however
their form of modernization manifested itself in
crackpot socialist economic policies. Further-

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