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January 30, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-01-30

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 30, 2002


T4be llirbiguut 1f~tilg

daily. letters@umich.edu

SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

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.

Ijust think
that when she
put it on town
letterhead, that
she crossed the
- Inglis, Fla. resident Polly Bowser, on
Mayor Carolyn Risher's pronouncement
that Satan would never again be a
part of the city, as quoted by CNN.


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Why I'm not going to tonight's vigil
didn't go to the Sept. 11 not, and that's a total disgrace. Apparently, the criminal penalties when a crime is motivated
candlelight vigil on the idea that if you don't attend some hokey cere- by racial, ethnic, religious, etc. hatred.
Diag and I'm not going mony in honor of the victims of , you The brutal 1982 murder of Vincent Chin, a
to tonight's candlelight vigil just don't care as much as the people who did Chinese American beaten to death by two
"honoring the memories of go has gained enough strength to make people white men who were subsequently sentenced to
all victims of hate crimes." feel unsafe. 3 years probation and, fined $3,780, was pre-
As with the Sept. 11 No doubt the organizers of tonight's vigil sented as evidence for why we need legislation
vigil, my absence tonight (which includes the Arab American Anti-Dis- mandating stiffer penalties for individuals who
will not be due to some crimination Committee) will argue that the pur- commit hate crimes.
unfortunate scheduling con- pose of vigils is nothing more than to provide Naturally, this story shocked everyone at
flict. I'm not going tonight for the simple rea- members of the University community with an the vigil, but is this why we need hate crimes
son that I just don't want to go. So wha'd'ya opportunity to reflect, and express their person- legislation that takes away judges' discretion
think about that? al grief and solidarity with the victims of when they impose sentences? In this particular
If I may speculate, my guess is that it's tragedy. Anyone who reads more into vigil case, it sounds like the real problem wasn't that
something along the lines of "wow, this guy's a attendance is simply missing the point. judges have discretion pronouncing sentences,
real jackass!" This is precisely why I oppose This reply is disingenuous at best. Vigils are but that Charles Kaufmann, the judge who han-
vigils in general. fundamentally public. Think about the props died Chin's case, was a racist. Shouldn't we
For whatever reason, attending vigils in the and actions that typically appear at vigils - work, then, to get rid of racist judges instead of
wake of tragedy has assumed undue moral sig- candles (often lit off of each other), songs, hand putting all judges in tighter straight jackets
nificance. Implicit in vigil attendance is the holding (often in a circle), flags, signs, when it comes to handing down sentences?
idea that attendees must really care about the impromptu speeches, verse (often poorly writ- This possibility was never discussed.
object the vigil (i.e. whoever has been victim- ten) ... Perhaps even more importantly, the speak-
ized) - otherwise they would not have both- These are all ways of making a statement; ers at last year's vigil never discussed why
ered to come to said vigil in the first place. they have ab.solutely nothing to do with a per- crimes motivated by hatred of the victim's
There's nothing inherently wrong with this idea sonal coming-to-terms-with X experience. Ask race, sexual orientation, etc. are so much more
in itself, the problem here is that people have yourself, when was the last time you heard of reprehensible than other reprehensible crimes.
started-to assume that attending a vigil means someone having a vigil in the middle of the Suppose Chin's attackers beat him to death not
that you must have more empathy for whoever woods, where no one else can see it? Yeah, I because of his race but simply because they
has died (or otherwise been wronged) than non- thought so. wanted to know what it felt like to beat the life
attendees. Though my primary reason for not going to out of another man - would this motive not
Others have noted this assumption as well. tonight's vigil has to do with not wanting to be just as morally repugnant as killing some-
The other day I was discussing tonight's hate associate myself with any type of ritual that one because of his or her race? It's hard to see
crimes vigil with a Muslim colleague who told people attach dangerously too much moral why not.
me that Muslim and Arab students felt like they weight to, I also have specific complaints about Clearly the Chin case was, to borrow a
had to have a large presence at the Sept. 11 how the hate crimes vigil was handled last cliche, a gross miscarriage of justice and
vigil. Not only was there an obvious sense of year. clearly proactive steps need to be taken to
collective horror at what had happened among Being a little more naive last year, I thought address hate crimes. Tonight's vigil, howev-
Muslim and Arab students, but there was also it would be a good idea to express my outrage er, hardly constitutes such a step.
widespread fear that hate crimes against Mus- over hate* criies' (which, I might add, persists '
lim and Arab students would increase if there despite my dislike for vigils), by attending the Nick Woomer can be reached via
was not a sufficient Muslim/Arab presence at hate crimes vigil. One of the main issues dis- e-mail at nwoomer@umich.edu. You
the candlelight vigil. cussed was the need for hate crimes legislation, may want to e-mail him since he
Were these students just paranoid? I think specifically legislation that requires tougher probablyjust lost afewrfriends.

Hate crime laws,
liberals' devalue life
In the Jan. 29 issue of the Daily, mention
was made in a front page article ("Film view-
ing kicks off first Hate Crimes Week") relat-
ing to Hate Crimes Week, a new part of the
University's extended celebration of the Mar-
tin Luther King holiday. I am sure that every-
one involved feels great that he or she is
participating in such a noble cause. After all,
what is the problem with punishing those
who perpetrate crimes based on racial or eth-'
nic hatred? Nothing, unless you consider that
hate crime legislation is unjust and unconsti-
Essentially, hate crimes legislation pun-
ishes someone who kills based on racial
hatred more severely than someone who kills
because he thinks its fun. But isn't the act of
killing in itself the ultimate act of hate?
It doesn't matter why someone decides to
kill ... unless you ask the bleeding-heart lib-
erals, who through their unwavering support
for such legislation basically assert that it is
worse when a bigoted person kills a black
man because he is racist than if the same per-
son kills a white man for his wallet. This
utterly devalues the life of someone who is
killed for non-racially motivated reasons. It
says that the black man's life is worth more
because the murderer is a bigot. What non-
Not to mention that hate crime legislation
mandates extra punishment for racist murder-
ers based on their thoughts and beliefs, a
clear first amendment violation. I can just see
the jury now, deciding in a racial murder trial
that second degree murder mandates 35 years
in jail, but the murderer's racist convictions
(no pun intended) mandate another 10. Hey,
why not? There's nothing wrong with pun-
ishing thought. In fact, if we just imprisoned
all people with bigoted thoughts for 10 years,
we would never have to deal with a hate
crime in the first place.
LSA junior

Proposals to restructure
regents, would benefit 'U'

Based on my experience of having served
11 years on the board, I believe recent pro-
posals to restructure the University Board of
Regents have real merit.
Organizing the board into committees
makes perfect sense, which is possibly why
the idea has been discussed on and 6ff for
some years. The University regents are the
only significant university board I know of
that operates entirely as a committee of the
whole (i.e. without any standing commit-
The operations of the University are very
large, complicated and widespread. It's sim-
ply impossible for any one Regent to develop
adequately detailed understanding of every-
thing that's going on without the specializa-
tion a committee structure provides. At a
minimum, having an audit committee to
review the annual audit and oversee the ade-
quacy of financial management and control is
an essential component of any modern gover-
nance structure, whether for a corporation or
a large university.
Electing officers (a chair and vice chair,
for example) has always been somewhat
more problematic in my mind, if only
because doing so could lead to political com-
petition among individual regents that might
hurt board collegiality and lead to bad deci-
sions. On the other hand, it's clear more than
one University president has been challenged
over the years by working with a leaderless
and sometimes anarchic board structure.

Dealing with the problems, questions and
"hot buttons" of eight individual.regents
takes a tremendous amount of presidential
and executive officer time. Worse, an
unstructured board could invite abuses in
which the views and/or biases of one or two
individual regents might have an undue and
inappropriate impact on University policy
and operations. If the regents are concerned
about the adverse effects of political competi-
tion arising from having electing officers,
periodically rotating individual occupants
offers a possible solution. On balance, elect-
ing officers seems a worthwhile experiment
at this point.
While they're at it, the regents might
want to consider their meeting schedule. At
present, they meet essentially every month
(excepting August). Given the amount of
staff time and energy that goes into preparing
for a Regents meeting and anticipating that
committees might take additional staff prepa-
ration, the board might consider whether
reducing the frequency of meetings to every
two months or so would still provide the Uni-
versity with adequate policy-making and
I hope the regents, in consultation with
Interim President B. Joseph White, will con-
sider affirmatively how reorganizing their
structure and operations could improve the
governance system of the entire University.
The letter writer served as a
University regent from 1987 to 1998.

shows that Syed is not "thinking outside the
Syed described Pervez Musharraf as a
"gentleman" who had been "marginalizing
the Taliban and Islamic militants in his own
country and approaching peace with India
before Sept.11." Wrong. General Musharraf
has supported Islamic militants who terror-
ized India before and after Sept. i1 (his Jan.
12 call for Pakistani terrorists to stoo their

thermore, we should not forget that Mushar-
raf pulled Pakistan'out of an agreement with
the United States for a joint mission to cap-
ture Osama bin Laden. These are just a few
examples of Musharraf's complicity in
world terror. Syed goes on to write, "Men in
uniform don't exclusively indicate the end
of egalitarianism. Generals aren't necessari-
ly demons of democracy."


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