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November 01, 2002 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-01

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.4

4A - The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 1, 2002

OP/ED

oJt loelktbiguu hanitu

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
letters@michigandaily.com

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

JON SCHWARTZ
Editor in Chief
JOHANNA HANINK
Editorial Page Editor

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.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
" The situation is
black here."
- Luciano Gliacurto, a resident San
Giuliano Di Puglia Italy, where an
earthquake yesterday killed at least
seven and left many children trapped,
as quoted by the Associated Press.

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SAM BUTLER TvE SOAPBOX

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- - --- -~ - --

*LIVE

Video killed the radio star
DAVID HORN HORNOGRANPHY

n the early days of
the sniper panic,
my roommate
expressed his fear that
the sniper would turn
out to be a "Grand
Theft Auto" fanatic.
He thought that if he or
she was, then parents
and the media and leg-
islators would come down hard on the video
game industry the same way that Hollywood
was given a lot of trouble, post-Columbine. I
had never gotten into "Grand Theft Auto,"
which is a game that allows players the deca-
dent pleasures of sex, drugs and, well, grand
theft auto. The game, at its most basic, is
about stealing (really cool) cars and getting
into trouble with the 5-Os. I thought that his
fear was legitimate, and may well have
become a realization.
But John Muhammad and Lee Malvo were
apprehended a few days later, and I have not
heard any criticism directed toward "Grand
Theft Auto." This is particularly surprising
because the latest installment of "Grand Theft
Auto," "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" was
coincidently released this week. But "GTA:
VC" has thus far been uninhibited by respon-
sibility. The gun control issue has indeed
resurfaced in the national discourse; it is in
direct response to the snipers.

If I were Joe Lieberman, or another law-
maker who is intent on overextending the
government's ability to censor, I would make
"GTA: VC" the scapegoat. Is it deserved?
Maybe. The game is fantastic, and since my
roommate brought it into my house Tuesday
night it has been all consuming. I'll admit that
when I got in my own car last night my initial
instinct was to peel out, crash into the Subur-
ban parked across the street and steal the Sub-
urban (all to the tune of "99 Lufballoons," or
"Bille Jean," which are two of the numerous
featured '80s pop favorites on "GTA: VC"). I
didn't, because I'm smart enough to avoid
unnecessary collisions, old enough to respect
other people's property, poor enough to not be
able to afford legal fees or body work and
sober enough to realize all that. So is "GTA:
VC" a bad influence? Maybe.
But Lieberman, et al. can criticize the
video game industry and the film industry all
they want; the bottom line is that the culture
of violence in this country stems from the cul-
ture of guns. If they want a scapegoat they've
got one; "GTA: VC" and its forefathers have a
tough defense to make for themselves against
accusations of "perceived realities" and "set-
ting bad examples." But their time would be
much better spent teaming up with more sen-
sible lawmakers who are willing to take a
tough stance against the N.R.A. and the gun
industry, which is the real source of the prob-

lem.
Ballistic fingerprinting, which requires
gun manufacturers to encode bullets and
shells for future identification, is something
that a lot of people became aware of during
the sniper panic. A lot of people also became
aware that the N.R.A. and the rest of anti-gun
control lobby are opposed to it (obviously!).
Why in the world would law enforcement
officials ever need to be able to trace a gun or
ammunition back to an owner? What an intru-
sion of privacy and a trampling of the Second
Amendment!)
The so-called "gun show loophole," which
allows the sale of firearms at gun shows with-
out the cumbersome rigmarole of background
checks (as necessitated by the Brady bill), is
also something that the anti-gun control lobby
is vehemently opposed to.
Tens of thousands of Americans die every
year from gunshot wounds, and the powers
that be are interested neither in methods of
firearm identification, or in extending the sen-
sible requirements of the Brady bill beyond
gun shops to gun shows. "GTA: VC" may or
may not make me want to steal cars, shoot
coke and fire a Heckler and Koch G36 Com-
pact at little old ladies, but if it does let's make
it so I can't.

I

David Horn can be reached at
hornd@umich.edu.

4

VIEWPOINT
Aggressive democracy and the boiled frog

BY ADI NEUMAN

Liberals should support the coming war
on Iraq. Ever since Vietnam, left-wing
groups have been wary of our government's
ability to aggressively implement democratic
rule in developing countries, but this concern
has long since become obsolete. The war in
Afghanistan has shown us that, with massive
cleanup efforts, democratic revolutionary
movements in even the most backward coun-
tries can succeed. Our war on terrorism, how-
ever, is far from over and we will only win it
if our government commits itself to a more
aggressively democratic foreign policy.
To understand our war on terror, we must
first understand what terrorism is and is not.
Terrorism is just one form of political extrem-
ism, extremists being those people who are
willing to make others suffer in order that
their message is heard. A terrdrist, then, is an
extremist whose publicity is achieved through
senseless violence against innocents, often in
the form of a suicide attack.
Terrorism, however, has its limitations.
Terrorism cannot be used to achieve political
gains without a subsequent public relations
effort that forces governments to face whatev-
er grievances are held by the terrorist group in
question. In the United States, far-left groups
supply cable news shows terror apologists to
justify and rationalize attacks by far-right
Islamic extremist groups in the Middle East.
This unholy alliance makes it difficult for
political moderates to get their voices heard,
but it also makes it easy to raise questions
about the pro-terror stances of large, political-
ly oriented special interest groups.

To protect themselves from this vulnera-
bility, terror apologists have created a national
politically correct barrier. This barrier makes
it impossible to publicly question anyone
affiliated with a Muslim or Arab group in the
United States regarding their support of terror-
ism or terrorist groups. No one is immune
from this PC barrier; Harvard President
Lawrence Summers and Alan Dershowitz
both faced intense smear campaigns when
they raised their concerns over the emerging
pro-terror divestment movement. Other recent
victims include Bill Maher and Alan Keyes,
who lost their television shows due to overly
aggressive PC smear campaigns. The media
war on terrorism is nearly as gritty as the mili-
tary war on terrorism.
The situation we find ourselves in now is
akin to the famous "boiled frog" experiment.
In this experiment, a live frog is placed into a
pan of water on a burner. The heat from the
burner is slowly raised, and because a frog
can only detect large temperature changes, the
frog remains in the pan until boiled. While
groups all over the vyorld work around the
clock to make terrorism a legitimate tool for
achieving political goals, our government
wastes its time trying to convince an exhaust-
ed public to either worry about or not worry
about terrorism, depending on the latest opin-
ion polls. If this trend continues, the United
States will soon become the boiled frog.
To avoid this unfortunate end, the United
States must more aggressively promote
democracy around the world. Former admin-
istrations hoped that simply by implementing
free trade deals and opening up markets,
democracy and capitalism would follow.

Clearly this is not the case. The military and
economic war on terrorism must be accompa-
nied by a diplomatic war whose aim is to cre-
ate more democracies in and around the
Middle East.
Skeptics will ask, what right does the Unit-
ed States have to dictate what kind of govern-
ment is implemented in sovereign nations?
There are two answers to this question. The
first is simply that citizens in backward coun-
tries whose understanding of world politics is
based on government propaganda do not
understand democracy enough to support it.
This answer is unfortunately inadequate. It is
likely that even with prolonged exposure to
free media, freedom of assembly, and even
the separation of church and state, there will
not be enough support for democracy to
induce revolutionary change.
The true answer is that the United States,
as the world's lone superpower, has the
moral obligation to relieve suffering around
the world. Slavery in the Sudan, religious
intolerance in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and
disease and starvation all over the world can
and would be alleviated through aggressive
diplomatic campaigns over time to spread
democracy. Only with this attitude can we,
the United States of America, avoid becom-
ing the boiled frog. Furthermore, liberals
should understand that the war on Iraq,
despite that it is being led by a conservative
administration, has the potential to become a
stepping stone for the real alleviation of suf-
fering of all peoples.

I
I

41

Neuman is an LSA senior.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

4

Wednesday's affirmative
action rally demonstrated
all that is wrong with BAMN
TO THE DAILY:
The affirmative action rally on Wednes-
day, Oct. 30, showed everything that is
wrong with the Coalition to Defend Affir-
mative Action By Any Means Necessary. I
myself am a staunch supporter of affirma-
tive action and find that they have misrep-
resented its true spirit. I think quite possibly
the most dangerous thing that BAMN has
done is that it has created an atmosphere on
campus that thinks of affirmative action as
a black/white issue that only applies to our
admissions process. Not only does this mar-
ginalize every other underrepresented

Affirmative Action policies. Secondly,
there are many other groups outside of an
underrepresented race that get "extra-
points", if you will, in our admissions poli-
cy, but again thanks to the black/white line
that BAMN has helped to create, these are
almost never mentioned.
You get the same amount for having a
lower socio-economic class and you get
some for living in an underrepresented
county in Michigan. The thing that most
fail to realize is legacy and provost discre-
tion are subtle yet incredible privileges for
those who can receive it. Typically the peo-
ple who receive these points are not under-
represented minorities and are usually
white men. They are people who have tradi-
tionally had the opportunity to go to col-
lege.
My biggest problem with the rally held
on Wednesday came from when I walked

Defeat student political
apathy: Vote no on Prop. 4
TO THE DAILY:
Now is the time for students to vote!
Students make up the most apathetic sector
of the voting population. Many experts agree
that this is due in large part to a feeling among
students that government doesn't affect us.
This year (on Nov. 5) government will dras-
tically affect students. This year's ballot
includes a proposal called Proposal 4.
If Proposal 4 passes, the Citizens Research
Council reports that universities will need to
increase tuition by at least 20 percent. Addition-
ally, approval of Proposal 4 will result in the
loss of the Michigan Merit Award Program,
which in turn means a loss of more than $100
million in student aid Prnpoal 4 will also caee

4

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