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January 08, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-08

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 8, 2004


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opinion. michigandaily.com

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.

Kucinich is holding
up a pie chart, which
is not truly effective
on radio."
- Radio journalist Neal Conan, discussing
Democratic presidential candidate Rep.
Dennis Kucinich's (D-Ohio) use of a pie
chart during a Democratic presidential
debate on Tuesday, broadcast on
National Public Radio, as reported
by The Associated Press.






Take two of these; we'll kill you in the morning


Capital punishment
has always made
me uneasy. The
idea of the state basing a
law on the antiquated
eye-for-an-eye maxim
and sponsoring the death
of a defenseless person,
no matter what his
crime, strikes me as
unnecessary and barbaric. The added possi-
bility that the state may execute an inno-
cent person makes the death penalty's
existence in 21 st-century America all the
more detestable. What are you supposed to
say if you discover that you've put an inno-
cent man to death? "Oops?"
But perhaps the most sensitive issue sur-
rounding the death penalty is the execution
of mentally ill criminals. While the U.S.
Supreme Court has allowed the death
penalty to continue unabated in the 37
states where it is still in practice, it did
make one key decision regarding the men-
tally ill in 1986 in Ford v. Wainwright. The
court ruled that the execution of the mental-
ly ill was prohibited by the Eighth Amend-
ment's cruel and unusual punishment
clause, and it maintained that states could
not execute a person incapable of under-
standing why he was being executed.
Good decision. And it should have
ended there. But it didn't. There were still
plenty of bloodthirsty and vengeful law-
makers and district attorneys with mentally
ill criminals on their hands who were, in
their eyes, in need of executing. So what

were they to do? Lucky for them, the
Supreme Court ruled in Washington v.
Harper in 1990 that dangerous inmates
could be forced to take antipsychotic med-
ications. Where the average person might
have seen an opportunity to help someone
overcome mental illness and be rehabilitat-
ed, the aforementioned lawmakers and dis-
trict attorneys saw an opportunity to
execute more inmates. If they could force a
mentally ill convict to take medication for
his condition and bring him to a "normal"
or "stable" state where he was capable of
understanding why he was being executed,
then they could kill him, right?
It sounds a bit far-fetched, like a bad
"Simpsons" joke, perhaps. The American
legal system wouldn't allow for something
as ridiculous as this, would it? Our law-
makers and district attorneys wouldn't
really rehabilitate a mentally ill person just
to kill him, would they? Unfortunately,
they would. Even more unfortunately, they
already have.
An Arkansas man, Charles Singleton, was
convicted of murdering Mary Lou York dur-
ing a robbery in 1979, when he was 19 years
old, and he was sentenced to death. In 1997,
Singleton claimed to be hearing voices in his
head and was diagnosed with paranoid schiz-
ophrenia. After being forced onto medication
for the condition, Singleton's symptoms sub-
sided. Now that he had stabilized, he could
effectively understand why he was being
executed, and therefore, the execution could
take place as planned.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard

his case and ruled that Singleton's only
interest was in avoiding his sentence. The
state's interest was in having a safe and
sane inmate, and the fact that making Sin-
gleton safe and sane would make him suit-
able for execution was irrelevant. The
court declared, in essence, that it would be
better for Singleton to be forced to take the
medication and then be executed than it
would be for him to take no medication
and deal with psychosis. Call execution an
unfortunate side effect of the medication.
Singleton's case caught the attention of
anti-death penalty lobbyists throughout the
world. Amnesty International and the
European Union (there's nothing quite like
raising the ire of an entire continent) both
petitioned Gov. Mike Huckabee for a stay
of execution. Out of options and appeals,
Singleton was thrown on the mercy of the
governor. But no stay would come, and
Singleton was put to death by lethal injec-
tion on Tuesday night. 0
The absurdity of Charles Singleton's
case shakes my faith in the American legal
system. For the system to say, in essence,
"Hey, Charles, we want you to get better,
but then we'll have to kill you" flies in the
face of reason. But then again, maybe it
takes a case as absurd as this to force
Americans to reconsider the death penalty
and question their government. In a nation
that so often cries foul over human rights
violations abroad, it's the least we can do.

Hoard can be reached


Rahim nai/e, America more
safe because of Bush
Hussain Rahim is exactly the naive kid
he tries not to be (Go back to your country,
01/07/04). Rahim is nothing near the
world traveler he thinks he is. His world is
fresh with academic ideals and ripe with
concern for people whose strife he has
only seen on TV. But in the mean time he
and his family are safe at home, perhaps
not free of fear, but definitely more safe
from terrorism than they were pre-Sept.
11. While there are no guarantees about
what will happen tomorrow and if and
when terrorists will strike again, I definite-
ly feel somewhat safe knowing that at
least something is being done. So, while
Rahim sits around bitching and moaning
about the oppressive Bush regime, I have a
hunch that he would be twice as angry if
the government did nothing. It is some-
what unwarranted to criticize the "rainbow
vision of the Homeland Security Advisory
System," as it has been effective at thwart-
ing another Sept. 11 catastrophe.
Piskor's column without
merit, Dean's education
plans lacking substance
The Daily staff should be commended
for its ongoing coverage of the ways in
which the state's fiscal crisis and the
resulting budget cuts directly affect stu-
dents' lives. However, after reading the
front page story about budget cuts, it was
ironic to see Jess Piskor's column, The
media award Dr. Dean an honorary Ph.D.
(01/06/04). In the column Piskor rehashes
old election news and notes that much of
Dean's support comes from young voters.
One would hope that since so much of
Dean's support comes from people under
30, Dean would have a solid strategy for
dealing with the rising costs of higher edu-
cation. Upon reading Dean's "College
Commitment," however, I found it to be a
cruel joke played on his supporters. Dean
offers nothing to address rising costs of

offers just a hollow promise of loan
money. The rest of his solutions are along
the same lines.
The most unbelievable Dean promise is
called "10 years and you're done." Here
Dean assures graduates, "Those who make
payments on a standard 10-year schedule
will pay off their loans in full." Of course
graduates can still stretch out their loans to
20 or 25 years, but then they would not be
paid off in 10 years. Yes, it sounds crazy
and yes, you read that correctly: If you
have a 10-year repayment schedule and
you make allayour payments, you'llabe
done paying after ten years. I'm quite cer-
tain this is nothing new and again does
nothing to address rising tuition costs.
In contrast to Dean's hollow promises,
John Kerry's "plan to make college afford-
able for all Americans" will give states
$50 billion to fund higher education.
Additionally, Kerry's plan provides tax
credits for the first $4,000 in tuition paid.
In other words, it provides tax credits
while students are struggling to pay for
school, rather than the minimal tax credits
Dean offers on loan payments. This is
meaningful as the immediacy of Kerry's
plan may encourage more people to attend
There is a stark difference in the pro-
posals of these two candidates. Kerry may
be part of the establishment that Piskor
disdains, but his plan offers real solutions.
Dean's "College Commitment" is worse
than just a bunch of hollow
promises,because Dean is trying to fool
his strongest supporters. Piskor appears to
have taken the bait. Let's hope the rest of
the Daily has the courage to do a little
more research and report honestly about
how the candidates' higher education pro-
posals will affect Michigan students.
Students for Kerry
Daily loses credibility after
'Return of the King' review
After "The Return of the King" review
(Bow to the King, 01/06/04), you have officially
lost any credibility both as a source for intelli-
gent, non-biased, accurate reviews, but also any
idea of "editorial freedom."

skipping classes (Website woes result in
first-day scheduling gaffes, missed classes,
01/07/04). The Registrar's Office website,
www.umich.edu/-regoff, contains the com-
plete time schedule of classes which
includes class times and locations. As a
last resort, students could have braved
interaction with another person and con-
tacted their academic departments by
phone or in person.
Students too dependent on
Wolverine Access
While the delays of Wolverine Access
yesterday were indeed annoying and pre-
vented many people from adding or drop-
ping classes, it was hardly a national
disaster (Website woes result in first-day
scheduling gaffes, missed classes, 01/07/04).
After all, it was working again by the
evening, which is darn good response
time. I think the real concern from your
article has more to do with students'
reliance on this one website. After all, it is
possible to go to the Registrar's Office to
add or drop courses, though I wouldn't be
surprised to find out that many students
may not even know where that is.
Also, do students not know about
www.umich.edu/-regoff/timesched? It has
the full listing of all classes for all the
schools, and usually for the next term as
well, and that site was working fine yes-
terday. Not to mention printed schedules
of classes that are available. There's no
sense missing class just because the web-
site is down.



The Michigan Daily welcomes letters
from all of its readers. Letters from Universi-
ty students, faculty, staff and administrators
will be given priority over others. Letters
should include the writer's name, college and
school year or other University affiliation.
The Daily will not print any letter contain-
ing statements that cannot be verified.
Letters should be kept to approximately


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