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September 23, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-23

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40

4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 23, 2003

OP/ED

Ulije

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

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

LouIE MEIZLISH
Editor in Chief
AUBREY HENRETTY
ZAC PESKOWITZ
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.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
t IfJIcan get
through this, I can get
through anything."
- WKBD-TV50SOO sports commentator and
former Detroit Tigers pitcher Jack Morris,
on covering the Tigers during a year when
they tied the American League loss record,
as reported by The Detroit News.

STEVE COTNER AND JOEL HOARD OPERATION PUSSYCAT

Hey Colin, remember this one?
"Free people will set the course of history!"
/ti

/

h
yM
3
MYY
f
_-

Oh man, I'm so drunk...
I just need to get some sleep.

4

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': 1L
4 ~

^m

Do you smell sulfur?
They say that's the first
sign of brain damage.
A%,

4
I

People who use words they don't know are (not) ironic fascists
AUBREY HENRETTY NEUROTICA

"A man may take to
drink because he feels him-
self to be a failure, and then
fail all the more completely
.,u> because he drinks. It is
rather the same thing that is
happening to the English
language. It becomes ugly
and inaccurate because our
thoughts are foolish, but the
slovenliness of our language
makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts."
- George Orwell, "Politics and the English
Language," 1946
Q uick: Define fascism. Quick!
Too late. Next: Irony. Go.
You have no idea, do you? Be
honest. I promise I won't get angry. I won't
think you're stupid. It's okay if you don't
know. There are lots of words I don't know.
All I ask is, if you see or hear the word
"irony" and don't immediately think, "Ah,
yes, irony: a method of expression in which
the actual meaning of the words used is the
opposite of their usual meaning" or "Oh,
irony, of course: a combination of circum-
stances or a result that is the opposite of
what might be expected or considered
appropriate," please don't use the word
yourself. Please. Never.
I'm serious. Don't say it. Close your mouth
and open a dictionary. It'll take 20 seconds,
tops. Then you'll know. Then you can say it.
Irony is just the beginning. Fascism is
another issue altogether. If you actually know
what it means, good for you. If you're like most

college students, you suspect it means some-
thing like "stupid," but you're not really sure.
And yet you say it. All the time. Why? Are you
really paying so little attention to what you're
thinking that you'll say "fascist" when you
mean "capitalist" or "Democrat" or even "ass-
hole"? Don't you value your own opinion
enough to express it clearly to others? Why are
you glaring at me like that?
I know my aggressive and enthusiastic lin-
guistic inquisitions often offend and/or annoy
people. And indeed, somewhere in the deep
recesses of my superego, a little voice squeaks
disapproval every time I "ruin" a perfectly good
conversation by pointing out a verbal snafu (my
own or anyone else's) mid-sentence. But I
don't hound people just for kicks. I'm not one
of those militant grammarians who have mas-
sive heart attacks every time someone dares
end a sentence with a preposition. In fact, as
long as the meaning of the sentence is clear, I
think a preposition is a fine word to end it with.
I get brash and tactless when people use
words they don't know because every aspect of
our society - our legal system, our govern-
ment, our foreign policy, our tax code, every-
thing - is based on linguistic subtlety, and if
average people are too lazy to tackle the really
obvious stuff (e.g. looking up "fascist" before
they decide once and for all that the conserva-
tive kid in their poli sci class is one), there's lit-
tle hope that they'll notice when they're being
verbally duped by the people in control - the
people who know what the words mean.
Case in point: Several months ago, the very
minute the U.S. military invaded Iraq for the
express purpose of overthrowing that nation's

government, CNN had a "War on Iraq" mon-
tage ready to go, complete with matching bot-
tom-corner-of-screen graphics. A couple of
days later, the montage and the graphics all
said, "War in Iraq." If the bulk of the viewing
population still hasn't bothered to distinguish
irony from misfortune (Hello, Alanis Morris-
sette), how many people are going to get angry
about one little preposition swap? Scarier still,
how many will even notice the difference?
(HINT: There is a big difference. A really big
one. Think about it.)
Being picky about language is not just a
goofy English-major hang up. Or it
shouldn't be. Words mean things, and
knowing what they mean has many practical
applications that are neither academic nor
political. You'll never be able to argue your
way out of that speeding ticket, for instance,
if you don't know the exact wording and
implications of the law you're fighting. On
trial for murder? Guilty? Then believe me,
you'll want to hire a lawyer who not only
chooses her own words carefully, but also
pays close attention to those of the judge,
the prosecutor and the witnesses.
Every misused word, every slovenly
expression could be a matter of life and
death. Chances are, while you're grumbling
about the "fascist" who answered her cell
phone during lecture, there's a real fascist
pushing unconstitutional legislation through
Congress. You might say that was ironic.
And if you did, you'd be wrong.
Henretty can be reached
at ahenrett@umich.edu.

q
~1

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

'Double standards'favoring
minorities unfair to majority
To THE DAILY:
I would like to commend Johanna
Hanink for shedding some light on the
plight of the majority in a "diverse" student
body ('Members-only' diversity, 09/22/03).
The fact that minorities have the carte
blanche to exclude whomever they choose
is not new to me. I was, however, shocked
to hear this practice got down to\the gutter-
level of blatantly excluding whites from a
meeting. I can't believe such racism could
be condoned at a supposedly diverse uni-
versity.
Truth be told, tweaking your admissions
numbers to get a good ratio of minorities
might look good on paper, but in reality I
believe it does nothing. In my years at the
University, the underlying message I
repeatedly received was, "You are not
allowed to have racial pride, because you
are white. You are not allowed to have sex-
ual pride, because you are male. You are
not allowed to have pride in your sexual
orientation because you are straight. Now,
love what we do and leave us alone."
If the people running an all-white meet-
ing similar to the meeting Hanink derides in
her column, said "no colored people
allowed" and the residence hall actually
allowed it, I guarantee you every single per-
son involved in putting on that meeting
would no longer be affiliated with this uni-
versity.
I'm sick of the double standards.
ADAM WILSON
Alum
Racial and ethnic diversity do
not exist on 'U' campus
TO THE DAILY:
I was impressed by Johanna Hanink's
piece on the diversity issue at the University.
I quite vividly recall my first visit to campus
after my son (class of '94) enrolled. We
strolled thru his dorm and came to a large,
nicely decorated room labeled "African-
American Lounge." I asked my son if any-
one else was welcome there. He told me that
the lounge was only for African Americans,
thus the sign. When I asked where the "Euro-
pean-American Lounge" was, he told me that

diverse groups on campus?

JIM TROUT
Reader

Despite loss,fans must show
supporlfor Michigan footbal
TO THE DAILY:
I stand as one of the many people dis-
appointed with this weekend's football
game. I can't hide the frustration I felt
when I saw our boys in blue lose. They
looked uncomfortable, to say the least.
However, I'll be the first to say never give
up. Our team may have lost one game, but
it's only that; one game. I am disgusted by
what I've seen after that. Students are los-
ing faith in the team to the point of selling
their remaining tickets because "it doesn't
matter anymore." It's only one game. This
is the time that our football team needs us
more than ever before. They don't need the
typical "bandwagon" fans giving up hope
and making them feel deserted. All the
maize and blue faithful need to unite and
stand up in support for our guys, showing
them that one game doesn't ruin a season
- that it's only one of 12, and there's still
plenty more to go. The first three quarters
of the Oregon game are behind us. The
final quarter is a stepping stone. They
played like champions that quarter, bring-
ing the score back from a tremendous
deficit. Now they need our continued sup-
port to extend that champion attitude all
the way to New Year's Day and beyond.
So this weekend, don't let the Big House
be empty. Don't let the stadium be even
quieter than usual. Let your anger and dis-
appointment fuel the fire inside you for the
remainder of this season. Wear your colors
with pride and sing it loud and proud!
Hail to the Victors!
MARY PINTER
LSA junior
Reader apologizes for not
supporting the team
TO THE DAILY:
I would just like to apologize to the Univer-
sity community. I was not behind the Wolver-
ines 100 percent last weekend, and that's why
they lost to Oregon. If I had once screamed,
"Go Blue!" it would have made a difference.

twelve years providing crucial media support
for higher education, I was appalled by your
article headed New technology tries to spice up
outdated lectures (09/22/03). This preposter-
ous headline was accompanied by a photo-
graph of a dozing student sprawled in an
auditorium seat, unable to stay awake over a
crossword puzzle. The inference seems to be
that highly trained lecturers are somehow at
fault for failing to hold the attention of so
many bright young things. But boredom
occurs in the brain of the beholder. Boredom
is the result of a decision, made by certain
students, to disengage and resist the efforts
being made to help them educate themselves.
The fact that this is the most over-stimulated
generation in history makes this a prickly
problem. It would be best resolved by the stu-
dents themselves, who need to exercise more
than a nominal amount of self-discipline.
There is nothing boring about the subjects
being lectured upon. This is not a boring
world. Wake up.
I never had the money to go to college,
nor did I choose to borrow enormous sums of
money in order to be able to afford tuition
and expenses. But if I were enrolled at this
prestigious university, I sure as hell wouldn't
wait for somebody to make lectures more like
video games before I'd pay attention. Don't
you realize how privileged you are? The atti-
tudes expressed in this article are insulting to
those of us who have been forced by econom-
ic necessity to educate ourselves, using self-
motivation to learn what we can outside of
the established curriculum. You, my dears,
are using up a lot of resources. You've got it
made, and your desire for further shortcuts is
pathetic. As most professors will tell you, try-
ing to pull your education off of the Internet
is an unstable and often erroneous path. If
you are lucky enough to have a living,
breathing teacher who wants to talk to you in
person about a topic they have spent years
researching, then show them the courtesy due
anyone who works hard to help you grow up
intelligently. Authentic interaction involves
something more than sluggish action - or
gross inaction - on the part of the students.
Technology is provided to help you learn, not
to keep you from falling asleep. Stop looking
for interactive joysticks. Sit up and take good
notes. The lectures aren't outdated. What's
outmoded is your lack of self-discipline; it is
a very costly embarrassment, and frankly the
world no longer has time for it.
THEODORE GRENIER
LSA staff

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