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March 03, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-03

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 3, 2003



opinion. michigandaily.com

SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
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.

We continue to
adamantly deny that
Barry was provided,
furnished or supplied any
of those substances at any
time by Greg Anderson."
- Barry Bonds's attorney, Michael Rains,
responding to new allegations that personal
trainer Gary Anderson supplied him and
other professional athletes with steroids, as
reported yesterday by The Associated Press.


The tyranny of the majority

John Stuart Mill called
it the "tyranny of the
majority." Alexis de
Tocqueville called it the
"omnipotence of the major-
ity." Both were referring to
the great black mark of
democracy - the tendency
for the masses, if granted
the right of self-governance,
to inflict gross injustice on those in the minority.
This is the limitation on the effectiveness of
majority rule and by extension, the limitation on
the promise and potential of democratic govern-
ment. It is for precisely this reason that those
who gave birth to American democracy created
a republic, and did not grant common citizens a
direct say in policy. In the words of Alexander
Hamilton, "We are now forming a republican
form of government. Real Liberty is not found
in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate
governments. If we incline too much to democ-
racy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or
some other form of dictatorship."
Over time, however, we have seen direct
democracy creep back into the picture, brought
on by the arbitrary and occasionally tyrannical
mechanisms of the republican system. The cor-
ruption and scandal that many equate with big-
party politics has left Americans longing for the
true promise of democracy.
Too often, progressive movements through-
out the 20th century have clung to direct democ-
racy as the embodiment of this ideal - a means
by which average citizens could go around the
party apparatus and secure policy changes by
means of majority rule, the backbone of the
democratic principle.
While this utopia is indeed intellectually

attractive, the preferences of the entire electorate
can prove an awfully treacherous compass by
which to steer a nation. In most common mani-
festations of direct democracy, this isn't a huge
concern. For example, the passing of school
bonds or the changing of a local ordinance are
issues that are great fodder for public referenda
- easy to understand, and relatively inconse-
quential if botched.
However, in the case of the Michigan Civil
Rights Initiative (the proposal that if passed
would end racial preferences at all Michigan
public universities), we aren't dealing with mere
municipal housekeeping - we're talking about
an immensely complicated and consequential
issue, one that affects thousands if not millions
of minorities and whose roots go as far back as
the start of the slave trade on the continent.
While I can accept that there are those few
citizens who are qualified to handle an issue of
this magnitude, all nine of them happen to be
U.S. Supreme Court justices. As for the rest of
us, I suspect that those flag-waving, profiling,
cross-burning, "want to stick my combat boot in
the collective ass of Muslims worldwide" Amer-
icans have multiplied to an extent as to make a
referendum on the issue nothing more than a
modern-day lynch mob. I'm talking about the
Americans who purport to love democracy, but
have never read the Bill of Rights. Those who
love their military, but the closest they've come
to service is a camouflage jumpsuit and a duck
blind. The Americans who sing of purple moun-
tains' majesty, but would profile, harass and oth-
erwise discriminate against a man based solely
on the color of his skin.
And I don't want these Americans ruling on
an issue of racial equality.
Ironically, last June, I was hoping that the

Supreme Court would strike down racial prefer-
ences - on principle, I find that drawing dis-
tinctions based solely on race to be morally
suspect. However, that doesn't mean that the cit-
izens of Michigan should take it upon them-
selves to circumvent the ruling of the court. Ask
yourself: If Brown v. Board of Education had
been put to a vote, would blacks and whites still
be living in a "separate but equal" America?
Besides, even if it were possible to assume
that the vast majority of Michiganders fully
understand the complex moral arguments under-
lying the debate, it is doubtful that a rational
white majority would put the interests of a dis-
enfranchised minority ahead of its own self
interest. Indeed, the preliminary polls conducted
in the state have indicated that a majority of
Michigan voters support the initiative - in an
EPIC/MRA poll conducted in December, 63
percent of those polled indicated that they would
vote to ban the use of racial preferences at uni-
versities and other public institutions. Do those
63 percent know what is best for this university,
minorities in general or the state as a whole? If
Ward Connerly's petition gathers enough signa-
tures to get on the ballot, they had better.
As Mill wrote in On Liberty, "Society can
and does execute its own mandates; and if it
issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any
mandates at all in things with which it ought not
to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more for-
midable than many kinds of political oppres-
sion." Indeed, if in this case we are to let the
public opinion trump the highest court in the
land, we subject the state's minorities to this very
breed of tyranny.
Adams can be reached
at dnadams@umich.edu.

Feds under the bed


What is the scari-
est part about
Bush's support
for a constitutional
amendment that would
ban gay marriage? Is it
that it would outlaw a
benign practice that even
moderate conservatives
are slowly but surely
beginning to embrace? Is it that his outward
support is a sign of his deep roots in the
fanatical, fundamentalist Christian base?
Actually, the worst part is that the passage of
this amendment would further erode the
argument that the privacy of the individual
citizen is a constitutional right.
Privacy isn't a constitutional right? That's
impossible; this is America for Pete's sake. It is
an age-old debate in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Conservatives in the court argue that because
the constitution does not say outright that priva-
cy is a right, Americans are not entitled to it.
Liberals have interpreted that because the first,
third, fourth, fifth and arguably the second
amendments are designed to protect the rights of
the individual, and because the ninth amend-
ment states, "the enumeration in the Constitu-
tion, of certain rights, shall not be construed to
deny or disparage others retained by the people,'
then the Constitution implies a right of privacy.
To be perfectly blunt, Americans are entitled
to a right of privacy from the government, not
only due to the aforementioned rationale, but
because privacy is a part of America's founding
ideology. Thomas Jefferson famously stated,
"Law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so
when it violates the right of an individual,"
knowing that giving permission to the state

apparatus to poke its head in at its own will into
the lives of private citizens was contradictory to
the concept of libertarian democracy.
In short, privacy rights are not only embed-
ded within the listed rights of the Constitution,
but the concept of protecting the individual
citizen was the stated goal of the first genera-
tion of American patriots.
Bush's proposed amendment, if passed,
will give the anti-American, anti-privacy bloc
in the judiciary (most notoriously the outspo-
ken homophobe Justice Scalia and the alleged
sex-offender Justice Thomas) constitutional
precedent that disallows privacy, because
issues of gay marriages are historically rooted
in the belief that privacy is, in fact, a constitu-
tional right. If there is an anti-gay marriage
amendment, there will be added language to
the Constitution that anti-privacy activist
judges can exploit to tear away at other numer-
ous rights Americans enjoy.
For example, Bush would have one more
constitutional hammer to pound away at Roe v.
Wade, as it was upheld by the court under the
assumption that privacy was, indeed, a consti-
tutional right, and that under such a right, a
woman has a right over her own body. The
intrusive aspects of the U.S. Patriot Act could
be vindicated by the courts, thus making an
Orwellian government more acceptable to the
contours of the constitutional framework.
The American Civil Liberties Union
announced in a statement last week "that the
measure as written is fundamentally at odds
with basic principles of federalism and state
authority, which has made the amendment a
wedge issue even among conservatives." For-
mer U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), one of the
most extreme anti-gay rights members of the

conservative legislative faction, has publicly
voiced his opposition to the federal govern-
ment defining marriage and said that those
decisions should be left to the people of each
state. After all, don't conservatives believe in
limiting the federal government's power over
the states and the individual? Obviously, this
Republican president wants to betray this
seemingly libertarian-minded political tradi-
tion. Fortune magazine noted last month that
since "(Bush) took office, the record budget
surpluses built up during the Clinton admin-
istration have turned to record red ink, and
government spending has expanded at its
fastest clip in 40 years." Along with being the
biggest spending president, his build-up of
homeland security and now his vision to put
the federal government in our bedrooms
means that he has created the so-called "big
government" that conservatives say they
stand against.
It does not matter if you vote Democrat,
Republican, Green, or other. Unless you read
1984 and thought Big Brother was cool or you
choose to spit on the graves of Tom Paine and
Thomas Jefferson, this concept of losing pri-
vacy rights should make any freedom-loving
American shudder with fear.
So even if you feel on the fence about the
idea of gay marriage, even if you feel that civil
unions are a legitimate compromise for same-
sex couples, keep in mind Bush's proposed anti-
gay rights amendment is constitutional ammuni-
tion for those who want to take away the liberty
our forefathers fought for and your protection as
a private citizen.


Paul can be reached
at aspaul@umich.edu.


Caption inappropriately
makes light of crucifixion
Perusing Monday's paper before my
inevitable battle with the crossword in my
morning lecture, I decided to check out the
review of "The Passion of Christ" (Celluloid
Jesus, 3/1/04). What I found was unexpected.
Staring me in the face below a picture of
i bloodiedn Tes truggling to carrv hs cross

macy the ensuing article by Zach Mabee
may have garnered. Sorry, you just can't
describe the movie as "an unmatched cre-
ative mode for the depiction of suffering
and struggle" when you just equated Jesus'
infamous struggle to bear the instrument of
his own death through the streets with a
scene from "Animal House."
I had the memorable experience of watch-
ing "The Passion of Christ" last night and
was taken aback by the brutal reality of
Jesus's torture, which dominated the film. As
T 1.ft T n-..ccA ,nlp iho old not leave

ignorant and hypocritical.


LSA junior

State wolverine sighting
a welcome sign
It is wonderful that we have a confirmed
sighting of a the wolverine in our beautiful state.
Finally we can take that asterisk away from our



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I~ PV~LLA~U Y'!4~44.'~ I

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