4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 30, 2001
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necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
(( An airplane's
easier to steal than a
car, a small plane. I
mean I could build a
bomb and drop it on
you from the air."
- Clayton Waagner, as quotes in this week's
Village Voice on one way to attack an abortion
clinic. Attorney General John Ashcroft has put
Waagner on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list for
sending anthrax hoaxes to abortion clinics.
IT L006 RICE AND HAS LOTS
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What kind of sphincter are you?
STEVEN KYRITZ YES, THAT IS SARCASM
n the pursuit of a good
column, I often ask my
friends and acquain-
tances for help in choosing
a topic. For whatever rea-
son, the most common sug-
gestion is to write about
how much people suck.
Finally, I decided to honor
their request, and the easi-
est way seemed to be to point out the types of
people to whom they referred. The problem is,
I've made a concerted effort to keep this space
profanity free. Therefore, in lieu of its more
profane anatomical cousin, I will use the term
"sphincter" to describe unpleasant people.
The first category that bears discussion is
the dumb sphincters. By dumb, I'm not refer-
ring to true intelligence, but rather the inability
to grasp the basic concepts of day-to-day life.
These are the people who are so generally
dumb that their mere presence serves as an irri-
tant. The best way to identify one of them is
through your reaction. If you shake your head
and rub your eyes every time a particular per-
son says or does something, there is a good
chance that he or she is a dumb sphincter. A
prime example is that person who, even though
the semester is nearly over, still gets phone
calls during class on a regular basis.
At the same time, someone who perpetrates
that specific act could also fit into the classifica-
tion of cell-phone sphincters. These are individ-
uals whose cell-phone use has exceeded the
limits of reason, pushing them from the ridicu-
lous to the sublime. In particular, this category
applies to people who talk on the phone while
in a bathroom stall. I cannot conceive what is
so fantastically important that it would take
precedence over the business at hand. And
that's not even my biggest concern. If some-
thing is so important that you must interrupt
your bodily functions for it, do you really want
to hear about it while your pants are around
your ankles? Astonishing.
As exemplified by the cell-phone category,
sometimes sphincters can be defined by their
technology and/or possessions. This brings us
to another favorite, automotive sphincters, a
classification that can further be broken down
into "bad drivers" and "obnoxious drivers."
Bad drivers are a real pain due largely to their
unpredictability. Turns from the wrong lane are
a large part of their repertoire, as are unneces-
sarily sudden stops. They are easily recogniz-
able by their inability to comprehend the
concept of "gridlock" and its causes. Some may
say that bad drivers don't count as sphincters
because it's not their fault. I say, if they were
genuinely concerned for the rest of us, they
would recognize their faults behind the wheel
and seek alternate modes of transportation.
No such argument can even be attempted
for obnoxious drivers, many of whom are actu-
ally good drivers. The problem is that due to
their perceived superiority, many good drivers
opt to drive like, well, raging sphincters. These
are the people who refuse to acknowledge that
pedestrians do in fact have the right of way.
Signs for easy identification include screeching
tires, a blaring horn and an extended middle
finger. A New Jersey license plate is also a
good indication that the driver will be this sort
of automotive sphincter.
Another characteristic shared by many
obnoxious drivers is a certain arrogance. This
may be a sign that they are also arrogant
sphincters. These are a particularly insidious
group of sphincters. Not only do they think
they're better than the rest of us, but they are
determined to make that view apparent through
their spoken and physical manner. You'll know
arrogant sphincters by the way they walk with
their noses turned up, allowing them to avoid
eye contact with us common people while at
the same time looking down on us. More so
than the other categories, arrogant sphincters
tend to stick to their own kind, often congregat-
ing in similarly attired packs. In this situation,
what appears to be a total lack of original
thought is in fact a visual and verbal representa-
tion of the group's perceived superiority.
Other than the general irritation factor, there
is another problem with arrogant sphincters.
Often, they will have some characteristic in
common, which allows prejudicial sphincters to
reach unfair generalizations about larger
groups. An on-campus example of prejudicial
sphincters in action is when fraternities and the
Greek system as a whole are lambasted for the
actions of one individual. The thought process
of a typical prejudicial sphincter can be charac-
terized as "well, if one of them (blanks), then
all of them must (blank), so they all must suck."
Fortunately, there are some people out there
working to keep all of the other sphincters in
line. I'm referring, of course, to
sarcastic/obnoxious sphincters. As their name
would suggest, these people tend to be
extremely sarcastic and obnoxious, usually at
the expense of some other poor sphincter.
What makes this group special is that they rec-
ognize (and often revel in) the fact that they are
indeed sphincters. Depending on the circum-
stances, this can make sarcastic/obnoxious
sphincters either the most or least tolerable
form of sphincter to be around.
There, in a nutshell, is a classification of the
various kinds of sphincters on this campus. It is,
however, far from a complete list. Who did I
miss? What did I get wrong? Since so many
people requested this topic, I'm sure lots of you
have feedback, and I welcome it. If you do
choose to respond to me, please, I only ask one
favor of you: whatever you do, don't be an ass-
Steven Kyritz can be reached via
e-mail at email@example.com.
Y LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Is a U.S. life more valuable?
TO THE DAILY:
Do the lives of U.S. citizens outweigh the
lives of others? This is the message that you
send your readers with the article "American
killed in action" (11/29/01).
While the deaths of thousands of Taliban
and anti-Taliban Arabs have been described
as "heavy fighting," "more airstrikes" and a
"crushed" prison uprising outside Mazar-e-
Sharif, the death of one American is dis-
played in a front page article including
numerous details about his family, occupa-
tion, cause of death, and even the trajectory
of his now lifeless body "en route to the
I grieve for Johnny Michael Spann just
as I grieve for the thousands of nameless
Afghanistans, Pakistanis and Chechens
dying in air strikes, forced warfare, and
refugee camps. But when you highlight the
death of one American in vivid detail on the
top of your front page you implicitly tell
your readers that his life is more important
than the lives of Arabs. This includes the
500 prisoners "apparently killed during
intense U.S. airstrikes" in the continuation of
this same article on page 7A.
Where is the detail of these people's
lives and families? Why weren't they on
your front page? The genuine concern for
global understanding and humanitarian
causes expressed in your editorials is
poorly reflected in the Daily's coverage
of the war in Afganistan. I ask that in the
TO THE DAILY:
Barry Fuller's viewpoint on 11/29 ("It's too
bad Syed was attacked, but if he hates U.S., then
leave") is fundamentally flawed because he asks
readers to treat citizens and noncitizens differ-
ently in terms of their First Amendment right to
expression. Not even the conservative U.S.
Supreme Court sanctions such an application of
the Bill of Rights.
To imply that Syed's grievances should be
A Northern Alliance soldier kicks the
head of a dead Taliban soldier in
Mazar-i-Sharif earlier this week.
weeks to come the Daily gathers details
on these 500 dead prisoners and put them
on top of the front page. I ask that the
Daily do the same for Arabs killed fight-
ing for and against the Taliban, and for
those dying in refugee camps. Please
show your readers that all lives are
important, Americans and Arabs includ-
be so oblivious to the four billion inhabitants
outside of the first world (that make its clothes,
buy its widgets and consume its Happy Meals).
While Syed is caustic, I applaud him for his
candor in voicing his frustration and very legiti-
mate objections to life as usual in America.
Americans not all
TO THE DAILY:
I really want to thank Waj Syed for his arti-
Instead of lambasting this, I would applaud the
fact that local media is becoming interested in
questions of racial profiling.
About the cop who didn't know the nation-
ality term for Pakistan, I would suggest that it is
impossible to be perfectly informed. Little test:
What's the proper term for the nationality of a
randomly chosen nation, say Lesotho?
About the student who talked with Syed, I
think that we should look at the fact that this guy
cared enough to ask how he was doing. When
saying that Iran is far from Pakistan, he could
have meant that ideologically; secular military
junta-theocracy or religiously, Sunni-Shia or
many other examples too numerous to name.
I can hear people saying, "but that's not
what he meant, he wouldn't be thinking of stuff
like that." Those who say this have already
come to the conclusion that Americans don't
know about the world, and their arguments are
premised on this. It is dishonest to evaluate
something based on the way one thinks it is, and
not how it really is.
Finally, I want to reiterate that what this
obviously disturbed man did was wrong,
but it is wrong to take from his ignorance
and hatred a questioning of all Americans.
It is wrong to discredit an entire group, be it
Americans or Muslims, for the unwarranted
actions of a small minority.
By the way, the answer is Mosotho (pl.
Butler's cartoon not
offensive to this
TO THE DAILY:
I feel that I must express some corrections
to one of yesterday's Letters to the Editor.
On Nov. 29 2001, Joe Mueller's letter "But-
ler's cartoon offensive, taken from Monty
Python" states several things that I disagree
with, but I will only focus on one. He stated
that the cartoon "...was also insulting to the
beliefs and theology of the Catholic church, that
is to say all those who consider themselves
Well thank you for speaking on my behalf
Mr. Mueller, but you got it wrong. I am a
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