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April 02, 2004 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-02

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4 -The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 2, 2004


U 0 ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
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.

Bush and the
Republicans have
taken March Madness
and April foolishness
to new levels."
- Michael Meehan, a senior campaign
advisor to Sen. John Kerry, commenting
on a Republican National Committee
legal challenge that charges the Kerry
campaign with collaborating with interest
groups, as reported yesterday by CNN.

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Be careful

I've been thinking a lot
about rape lately. It's
undoubtedly one of
the lowest things that a
man can do to a woman.
I had this project
recently in an abnormal
psychology class about
pornography and its cor-
relation to rape, and I've
had numerous discussions around campus
about recent events. Upon further reflection, I
realized I knew more raped women than I
should and that's clearly because there are
more raped women than anyone realizes.
Although rape is not always the most ubiqui-
tous or urgent matter on the national agenda,
periodically we are reminded of its presence,
and I thought I'd act on this moment.
If you live in Ann Arbor, then you've
seen the story that has been the local focal
point for the past week. The situation isn't
good, to put it real simple. It would be easy
to take the anti-Greek stance the Daily is
often accused of and lash out like the nerdy
kid who didn't get picked during Pledge
Week. But it's pointless.
Equally futile is the trite defense in
which I say, "Oh, some of my best friends
are Greek people" because that's not the
case either. I don't know any of them, and
as a senior in April, I don't think I am
making many new friends before I leave.
And on the national scale, there is the Kobe

Bryant, case which has been discussed in proba-
bly more permutations than anyone wanted to.
Millions of de facto trials have been held by
water coolers, coffee shops and whatever else
people have discussions around. People attest to
Kobe's character as if they're his lifelong school-
yard pal or to the events as if they were hiding in
the room. In reality, no ones knows shit about
Kobe or the girl or what happened at SAE.
Regardless of the outcomes, the only
result that can be safely drawn is that
someone regrets being there that night.
Rape cases are nasty, and often things sur-
pass Rashomon levels of obscurity.
Sadly, women lie about rape, which in
turn makes it more difficult than it already
is for true victims to find justice. Two
months ago, a group of St. John's students
were accused of raping a prostitute. It was
later found that she threatened to file
charges if she wasn't paid, and a player
taped her saying this on his cellphone.
In all of this, what I was trying to figure
out was how these types of situations could
be avoided in the actual world we inhabit.
The dissolution of the line between reality
and ideality lies at fault for most of these
occurrences. In magical gumdrop land, a
woman can go wherever she wants, wearing
what she wants, whenever she wants and
drink whatever she wants and wake up the
next day with nothing but a hangover and
wander home. But the very use of something
like GHB and roofies shows what kind of

people inhabit the world.
Pragmatism and cynicism make a strong
team. There are plenty of things that should be
within my right to do, but awareness of my sur-
roundings and the intentions of others should
prevail. If something even falls within the prox-
imity of my control, I think it would be respon-
sible to step up. If I decide I want to use my
laptop at around 4 a.m. on the 2 train coming
home into Brooklyn, and I catch a sack of quar-
ters over the head, yes, I am a victim but there
were wiser ways to approach the situation.
From what I now read, I understand that the
focus is changing. But it's not about curbing
underage drinking. While I'm sure there are
plenty of great reasons as to why you must be
21 to get hammered, it won't help anyone at all.
I guess it's about assessing a situation
and saying maybe I don't want to pass out
here and maybe I don't want to go to your
hotel room. It's not about blaming the vic-
tim; it's about preventing the very occur-
rence of victimization.
Rape is ridiculously underreported and
under-prosecuted. It remains one of the
most stigmatizing and debilitating crimes.
The best understanding to leave with is
that people are shady, and because you can
only control yourself, the best way to
account for your own safety is if you're not
there at all.
Rahim can be reached at

The scorpion, the frog and Africa's AIDS epidemic

like parables. They are
°.: usually simple and
s interesting enough to
appeal to all audiences and
flexible enough to be inter-
preted by anyone looking
to learn a lesson. Here's an
oldie but a goodie:
There was a scorpion
that wanted to cross a river.
He asked the frog to carry him on his back. The
frog was wary: "You'll sting me," he said. The
scorpion replied, "Why in the world would I do
that? If I sting you, I won't get to the other side!"
The frog was persuaded. In the middle of the
river, however, the scorpion stung him. "What
have you done!" exclaimed the frog. "Now we'll
both drown." "Couldn't help it," said the scorpi-
on. "It's my nature."
As adaptable as this story is, it has at least
one universally applicable message - some
creatures just are what they are. Take human
beings, for instance. For all we know, that scor-
pion could be what prompted old Darwin to
come up with his "survival of the fittest" con-
cept. I definitely believe that we have a tenden-
cy to act in our own best interests. Contrary to
popular belief, I also know that this inclination
was not borne simply out of "Western" con-
cepts like individuality and capitalism. If that
were true, we wouldn't see so many "non-
Western," so-called community-centered soci-
eties being run according to the whims of a few
dictators. Of course, just because selfishness is
a universally held attribute does not mean we
can excuse ourselves from fighting such an
impulse. So where I'm headed with.this, final-
ly, is to Africa, and to AIDS.
On Sunday The New York Times reported
that a lack of funds is drowning the World
Health Organization's "3 by 5 Initiative" - a
plan to treat three million people infected with
AIDS by 2005. Last November, a WHO report
stated that only 2 percent of the 4.4 million
Africans in need of treatment were receiving it,

as opposed to the 84 percent of the 250,000
affected people living in the Americas. Almost
six months later, the picture looks even bleaker
- WHO told the Times that only 5 percent of
people in the world's poorest countries are get-
ting the drug treatment they need.
The delay is due in part to U.S. pharmaceuti-
cal companies that are - no surprise here -
lobbying the government to act in their own best
interests. And these companies seem to have
clout. President Bush has pledged $15 billion to
the AIDS effort on our behalf, but that money
comes with a serious caveat - it's not allowed
to be spent on generic drugs.
Now, my Business School classes and capi-
talistic conscience tell me that it's not fair to
expect pharmaceutical companies - which
spend millions annually in research and devel-
opment - to just give up the patents to their
discoveries or to sell their drugs at low prices.
But good old economics also dictates that there
are profits to be made even if a product is sold
cheaply - as long as one makes sure to sells
lots and lots of that product. And with 6 million
takers, there's certainly a lot of money to be
made by going the low-cost route.
But that's not good enough for many com-
panies. In February, for example, pharmaceu-
tical giant Abbott Laboratories was sued after
raising the price of its drug Norvir by 400
percent, from about $50 to $250 a month.
Critics say the price hike was designed to get
cost-conscious buyers to buy another one of
Abbott's drugs, Kaletra, which already con-
tains a small amount of Norvir and would
thus make for a potent combination. Raising
prices to make other, competing drug combi-
nations unaffordable is certainly hitting a
new low. And all in the name of profits.
Yet, returning to our symbolic scorpion and
the nature of man, I still argue that it's not just
money that should be directing our strategy in
fighting this global emergency. What happens to
human beings that are stricken with AIDS is so
horrifying and so very real - but we don't hear

about it. Yeah, it's mostly happening way over
there, to those people. But remember that those
people are ours too. If a human face was painted
on AIDS as human faces are painted on breast
cancer or other tragic illnesses, maybe we'd feel
more inclined to fight that driving impulse to
always act in our own best interests.
I know that antiviral drugs are not going
to solve the world's AIDS crisis, and that at
best, the pills will only slow it down. But
those drugs count for something, especially
for the millions of infected people who will
get to live even for just a few more years.
And we've got to do something. Some of our
lawmakers took an encouraging step forward
last week when they urged the Bush adminis-
tration to accept the generic drugs already
approved by WHO and endorsed by the
World Bank. It's a small step, but hopefully
it'll stir things up and prompt a much-needed
debate in our legislature.
If things do change, it's going to cost our
government. It's going to cost our pharmaceuti-
cal companies. And due to the trickle-down
effect, it's probably going to cost us. If only we
could beat that symbolic scorpion by forgetting
about ourselves for a moment. If only we could
think, like United Nations envoy Stephen Lewis
does, about those suffering souls in such sore
need of our help.
If the WHO program fails, Lewis told the
Times, "There are no excuses left, no rationali-
zations to hide behind, no murky slanders to jus-
tify indifference - there will only be the mass
graves of the betrayed." Let us refuse to let our
response to that betrayal be "couldn't help it; it's
my nature."
Khatri's senior thesis is due on Monday, so
she can't take your comments this weekend.
Please direct all polemics to her publicist Yusuf at

Khatri can be reached at


Daily is anti-Greek;
regard stories as gossip
Phil Muirhead's comments (03/31/04) on
what he feels would be the right solution
regarding the Greek system's problem with haz-
ing and social policies are completely irrele-
vant, not to mention naive. It is arrogant for
someone outside of the Greek system to

ries. My problem is with people who feel the
need to made public comments based on "sto-
ries," which should be easily recognized as gos-
LSA senior
'Transform' the planet;
ensure sustainability

States, has a responsibility to ensure that the
Earth will be around for future generations of all
living beings to enjoy.
This might seem to be an overwhelming
task. It might seem as if you can't make a differ-
ence. But there are actually some very simple
things you can do to reduce your ecological
impact. For example, Transformers gave out 80
compact fluorescent light bulbs to students on
the Diag yesterday. These light bulbs will reduce
more than 80 tons of carbon dioxide and two

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