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March 12, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-12

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4

4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 12, 2004

OPINION

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

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

JORDAN SCHRADER
Editor in Chief
JASON Z. PESICK
Editorial Page Editor

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
We have succeeded
in infiltrating the
heart of crusader
Europe and struck one
of the bases of the
crusader alliance."

a-

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.

~imu

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SAM BUTLER THE SOAPBOX

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-An excerpt from an e-mail received by
a London-based Arabic newspaper,
al-Quds al-Arabi, regarding the train
bombings in Spain, as reported yesterday
by washingtonpost.com.

O'Reilly not so ludicrous
SOWMYA KRISHNAMURTHY AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM

Well Bill O'Reilly
is at it again. Fox
News's patron
saint of morality and host of
"The O'Reilly Factor" is
continuing his tirade against
rap music and the rapper
Ludacris, who recently
inked an endorsement deal
with beer giant Anheuser-
Busch. According to O'Reilly, Ludacris's brand
of "gangsta rap" (a highly dated term, by the
way) contains violent and misogynistic lyrics
that debase young people; Anheuser-Busch
should follow Pepsi's lead and sack the rapper as
their pitch man.
As an aficionado of rap and ardent O'Reilly
condemner, it pains me to agree with his argu-
ment. The lyrical and visual content of Luda and
most mainstream rap is disgraceful. It's
entrenched in a "money, hoes, clothes" mentali-
ty; the bigger the name brands, the more numer-
ous the bullet holes, the fewer the clothes on the
girls - these are the benchmarks of success in
rap. Content has little effect upon most people
legally able to purchase explicit records, because
they have already matured and formulated their
own values, but the same does not hold for
developing and especially misguided youth.
Children idolize rappers and emulate their lingo,
style and attitude. This can be especially detri-
mental if there is a lack of adult guidance to dif-
ferentiate rap fiction from reality and if rap
behavior is acceptable in society. I was appalled
at this year's K-grams Kids-Fair when a fifth
grader approached me with the word "PIMP"
proudly written in magic marker on his cheek. I
asked him if he knew the word's meaning, to
which he replied, "It means I get all the girls."
All this occurred while a sexually suggestive

Lil' Kim and 50 Cent track played in the back-
ground. Perhaps there was no connection
between the two, the little boy could just as easi-
ly have heard the term on the playground or tele-
vision, yet the fact that he prided himself on the
same negative behavior being reinforced by the
song is a little disconcerting.
Creatively and morally, rap needs
changes. Sadly, heavyweights within hip
hop who have the power to address the
issue, like Russell Simmons, are quick to
sidestep the problem by labeling O'Reilly as
"racist" and attributing harsh lyrics to the
harsh realities of urban life. And who can
blame them? Exploiting social maladies like
crack, gangs and educational disparities
have made many individuals in hip-hop
tremendously wealthy. Sure, mainstream rap
presents a very narrow definition of minori-
ties, glorifying crime and prison life and
perpetuating the stereotypical image of the
angry, hyper-sexualized black male, but who
wants to burst the billion-dollar bubble?
O'Reilly's harangue is not without fault
though; its singling out of Ludacris over
other equally guilty stars appears to be
more of a personal vendetta than anything,
but this quickness to defend the rapper is an
essential problem in our society. Whether
they are right or wrong, certain celebrities
are always given the assumption of correct-
ness, a perpetual "get out of jail" card.
Even when undoubtedly guilty, we give
them slaps on the wrists and numerous
chances to redeem themselves (a luxury not
afforded to the common folk).
Bad celebrity behavior is not just con-
doned, but encouraged. Due to the disgusting-
ly growing tabloid industry and our general
propensity to live vicariously through the lives

of our favorite stars, celebrities are rewarded
for breaking the rules. Hollywood, for
instance, is exceedingly forgiving, with count-
less celebrities using their bad-boy/girl images
as benefits. Actors like Mark Wahlberg and
Hugh Grant have both made unsavory life
decisions - Wahlberg was arrested for beat-
ing two Vietnamese men and making racist
comments towards schoolchildren, and Grant
was caught soliciting a prostitute - and still
landed A-list movie roles. Actress Halle Berry
was involved in a misdemeanor hit-and-run
incident and then won an Academy Award.
Criminal behavior can stigmatize and institu-
tionalize the common person, but the famous
utilize rap sheets as resume bullet points,
adding edge and depth to their careers.
This distorted view holds true for profes-
sional athletes and musicians too. Even with
several legal run-ins, basketball player Allen
Iverson has a lifetime shoe contract with
Reebok, likely due to the "streetwise edge"
his image brings to the company. Singer R.
Kelly, despite facing 14 counts of child
pornography, was even nominated for a
NAACP Image Award this year. I wonder
what kind of image the NAACP was trying to
propagate with that accolade.
Stars need to be knocked off their
pedestals and given a healthy dose of reality.
We all make mistakes, and celebrity snafus
are no exception, but one cannot be granted
free range because of the intangible label of
fame. If legal and moral standards are set by
society, then everyone, regardless of whether
a Ludacris or a nobody, should be held
accountable for their words and actions.
Krishnamurthy can be reached at
sowymak@uinich edu

Don't mess with the Constitution
LOUIE MEIZLISH As MEIZLISH SEES IT

ne of the most
disingenuous argu-
ments put forth by
those supporting (state and
4 ffederal) constitutional
amendments banning gay
marriage is that out-of-
control "activist judges"
and local officials are try-
ing to redefine marriage.
In essence, they are saying that, through anar-
chy, these zealots will get what they want
unless responsible folks like President Bush
do something NOW.
On Feb. 24, as we all know, Bush pro-
claimed his support for an amendment to
the U.S. Constitution that would define
marriage as between one man and one
woman. In his own words:
Some activist judges and local officials have
made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage.
In Massachusetts, four judges on the highest
court have indicated they will order the issuance
of marriage licenses to applicants of the same
gender in May of this year. In San Francisco,
city officials have issued thousands of marriage
licenses to people of the same gender, contrary to
the California family code. That code, which
clearly defines marriage as the union of a man
and a woman, was approved overwhelmingly by
the voters of California. A county in New Mex-
ico has also issued marriage licenses to applicants
of the same gender. And unless action is taken,
we can expect more arbitrary court decisions,
more litigation, more defiance of the law by local
officials, all of which adds to uncertainty.
There are numerous holes in the presi-
dent's argument.

1) As Bush made his speech, the Califor-
nia governor and attorney general were suing
the City of San Francisco to stop licensing
gay marriages and presumably to nullify any
marriage certificates already granted to gay
couples. Just yesterday, the California
Supreme Court ordered Mayor Gavin New-
som to stop issuing the licenses, though, to
be fair, the court has not yet ruled on the
legality of his actions.
2) If they disagree with the Supreme
Judicial Court's ruling, Massachusetts leg-
islators, and its voters, can amend the state
constitution and thus reverse the court rul-
ing. It looks as if they will.
3) The New Mexico incident was over
almost as soon as it began. After receiving
an opinion from the state attorney general
that same-sex marriages would be "invalid
under the state law," the Sandoval County
clerk withdrew her offer to issue marriage
licenses to same-sex couples and had an
aide inform the recently wed couples that
their marriages were invalid.
Also of note: After a modest demonstra-
tion in Detroit urging the Wayne County
clerk to issue gay marriage licenses, Michi-
gan Attorney General Mike Cox wrote to
county clerks that issuing the licenses would
be against Michigan law. Any clerks who do
so will face injunctions and/or lawsuits, he
said. You know how many have tried? None.
Nevertheless, some conservatives still
argue that the federal amendment is neces-
sary. All evidence to the contrary, they say the
Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 might not
be enough to prevent states from having to
recognize same-sex marriages licensed by
other states - which is what they fear, that all
50 states will have to recognize one state's gay

marriages. Still, the fact remains that in its
eight years of existence, the federal DOMA
has not been struck down and states are under
no obligation to recognize other states' mar-
riages. In fact, the issue has never come up.
The president has said in the past that
states should decide for themselves whether
or not to recognize same-sex marriages or
civil unions. Congress should heed his
advice from earlier and not interfere. A fed-
eral amendment is not necessary. The sys-
tem is working. Let states legislate their
own morals.
ox's ruling, which is the law unless
overturned by a court, is a good thing.
Issuance of gay-marriage licenses by
any clerk would no doubt provoke a lawsuit,
which would eventually work its way up to
the state Court of Appeals or Supreme Court,
which has final say. The Supreme Court, with
a 5-2 Republican majority, would almost cer-
tainly hold the Michigan DOMA constitu-
tional, thus establishing Michigan judicial
precedent as opposing gay marriage. That
would be a bad thing.
Supporters of gay marriage - or even
civil unions - would be well advised to hold
back until one of the conservative state jus-
tices steps down from the court. Another
Democrat on the court would slim the GOP
majority to one. And one of the Republicans,
Elizabeth Weaver, has demonstrated a Sandra
Day O'Connor-like streak, especially since
her fellow justices didn't support her for
another term as chief justice three years ago.
Hold your breath.
Meizlish can be reached
at meizlish@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

4

Horowitz ad extreme, a
disservice to pro-Israeli
students at University
TO THE DAILY:
In his letter, (Anti-Arab discrimination is
unfair propaganda, 03/11/04) Adi Peshkess
wrote that he was "appalled" to see the
advertisement concerning the Middle East in

to defend itself isn't even comparable to reli-
gious fundamentalist homophobia.
But let's get to the point. The main issue
is that the publishers of the article had no
place getting involved in our campus poli-
tics. Pro-Israel students and faculty members
have the responsibility of countering anti-
Israel propaganda on campus by presenting a
unified voice in support of Israel and demo-
cratic institutions, a responsibility shared by
neither David Horowitz nor Ronald Stackler.

mining student attempts at Israel advocacy
and giving the pro-Israel, as well as conser-
vative groups on campus, a bad name. How
some middle-aged guy who is unaffiliated
with the University has any business writing
responses to the Daily's editorialists or
telling us pro-Israel students how to do our
job is beyond me. MATTHEW WOLFE
LSA freshman

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