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October 05, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-05

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 5, 2005

OPINION

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JASON Z. PESICK
Editor in Chief

SUHAEL MOMIN
SAM SINGER
Editorial Page Editors

ALISON GO
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
You're trying
to get me in
trouble with my
father."
- President Bush, upon being asked whether
his father's appointment of U.S. Supreme Court
associate justice David Souter was a mistake,
as reported yesterday by nytimes.com.

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'They deserve to be out'
JEFF CRAVENS IAYHAW\VK B i . IE

T oday around
noon you will
see me on the
Diag as a blindfolded
police officer, flank-
ing two women in
chains, next to Gov.
Jennifer Granholm
wearing earmuffs.
We are students in
Carol Jacobsen's art
and women's studies activism class drawing
attention to the Michigan Battered Women's
Clemency Project rally at the state Capitol
this Friday.
The Clemency Project has filed petitions
for clemency from Granholm on behalf of
20 women serving life sentences in Mich-
igan's prisons. Eighteen have been waiting
for a response from the governor for two
years - the other two for one year. Most
of these battered women, many of whom
have already served over 20 years in prison,
should not have been convicted for acting
in self defense or for crimes their abusers
committed.
Jacobsen, coordinator/director of the
Clemency Project, began video-document-
ing incarcerated prostitutes in Detroit in
1986 and women in state prisons in 1989.
She has advocated for women prisoners ever
since. She told me, "I was hooked because
I went in and saw myself. I couldn't believe
who was in prison for murder. Most of the
women in there are women who acted in self
defense." At the age of 17, Jacobsen mar-
ried into an abusive relationship and had to
take drastic measures, including breaking
the law, in order to escape.
The public and the law don't understand
self defense in the context of battered
women, Jacobsen said. The common per-
ception of self defense is of two men duking

it out at a bar. There's no adjustment in the
law for the different sizes and strengths of
battered women, who often need a weapon
to defend themselves. Some people blame
battered women for not leaving, but when
threatened by imminent danger, they have
the right under the law (in theory but not
practice) to protect themselves. Neverthe-
less, many women do leave and leave and
leave, but without sufficient social support,
and often to protect families threatened by
the abuser, they return.
Having recognized a kinship with bat-
tered women in prison, Jacobsen began
using video to document their stories. This
medium allows her subjects "to speak, to
be represented, a way to bring them outside
the prison walls and bring them face to face
with an audience who could see them close
up, experience their emotions and hear their
stories - and their social critiques of the
systems that failed them."
These videos, used by advocates of
women and human rights around the world,
are heart stopping. One of the two I saw in
her class, "Segregation Unit," is perhaps
the most disturbing video I have ever seen.
The footage, acquired from the Michi-
gan Department of Corrections through
the Freedom of Information Act, depicts a
woman being chained naked to a bed in a
four-point restraint and gassed randomly in
a segregation unit at Scott Women's Prison.
The woman describes - all of Jacobsen's
videos are narrated by the subjects them-
selves - being left to urinate on herself,
being denied women's hygiene products,
going crazy under the 24-hour white lights
and being raped by a guard. She successful-
ly sued the Department of Corrections upon
her release, but women (and men) are still
being tortured in segregation units across
Michigan - and nobody knows. Or, like

Granholm and the state legislators to whom
Jacobsen sent her videos, people know but
don't care enough to act.
The goal of the rally, primarily, is to get
Granholm to care. Some of the speakers and
artistic projects at the rally will challenge
the governor directly - such as a variation
of the Diag demonstration - while others
will appeal to the humanity of the incarcer-
ated women' and the injustices surrounding
their cases. Jacobsen didn't sugar-coat her
indictment of Granholm: "People are sick
of her cowardice, pretending to take a stand
on issues and then doing nothing ... She's
afraid to do the right thing."
Toward the end of our interview, Jacob-
sen asked me why I cared. Unlike her, I've
never been the victim of domestic abuse -
nor have I ever been imprisoned. But when
I learned last year that the United States has
the highest incarceration rate in the world,
I was shocked by my ignorance and knew I
had to learn more. Last winter, I facilitated
a theater workshop at a boys' correctional
facility, and last week I just started creative
writing workshops at a boys' and at a girls'
facility in Detroit. I agree with Jacobsen
that it's important to experience the emo-
tions and stories of those we encage in this
society and hear their social critiques of the
systems that failed them.
When a woman suffers years of abuse as
a prisoner of her own home, then through
justifiable self defense or a wrongful con-
viction, suffers abuse as a prisoner of the
state, we have indeed failed her. When I
asked Jacobson what her goal for Friday's
rally was, she let out a deep sigh and spoke
tenderly: "I just want them out. They
deserve to be out."

Cravens can be reached at
jjcrave@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Not all Asian Americans
fortunate enough to avoid
racism, hate incidents
To THE DAILY:
As an Asian American, I am disheartened
by the letters to the editor from Cindy Chu
(Racial debate leaves out other side of the story,
10/03/2005) and Haosi Wu (Asian Americans
need more productive activism, 09/29/2005)
concerning racism against Asians. While they
are entitled to their viewpoints, I find their
justification for minimizing the amount of
racism faced by Asians flawed. Both of them
take their own personal experiences and use
them to generalize the experiences of millions
of Asian Americans living in this country.
According to both Chu and Wu, because nei-
ther of them have experienced racist acts such
as the urination incident, then racism against
Asians must not be a big problem - or in
Chu's words, "taken with a grain of salt."
It may come as a surprise to both of
them that there are millions of other Asian
Americans and minorities who have expe-
rienced life differently. In 1982, Vincent
Chin, a Chinese American, was .beaten to
death by two white autoworkers in Detroit,
who mistook him for Japanese. According
to both Chu and Wu, because neither of
them ever personally experienced that inci-
dent, then it should be "taken. with a grain
of salt."
Both of them also use double-standards.
Apparently, because Asian Americans are
involved with Asian extracurricular groups
or have Asian friends, they are "self-segre-
gating." That is ironic, because when I see
the sororities and fraternities on campus,
I see almost all white faces. When I look
at the rosters of the hockey and volleyball
teams, I see predominately white faces. Are
those groups self-segregating also by their
definition? I do not think so. Chu ends her
letter by urging us to look "past the shell to
what's inside all of us." Apparently, she for-
got that what is inside of her should not be

over the comments of a local morning talk
show (Asian students protest radio show content,
10/4/2005). Here is a bit of advice to anyone
who sees something on television or hears
something on the radio that offends him: Turn
it off, or change the channel. It bothers me that
every time a racial group takes the slightest
offense to something, its members demand a
public apology and want someone to be brand-
ed as a racist for the rest of their life.
After the alleged urination incident that began
this campus uproar, people have tried to label
the alleged urinators as racist, insensitive bigots.
While I do not support what the alleged urinators
did, I refuse to look at it for more than what it was:
a couple of drunk college students acting like idi-
ots and doing something that they will undoubt-
edly regret someday.
It would be nice if we could shed all labels
and stereotypes we have, and join together in
a cause really worth fighting for: getting rid of
the bum who tries to fight me every afternoon
when I walk to class.
Christopher Vessels
LSA junior
Liberal rhetoric vindicates
conservative conung out'
To THE DAILY:
What is it with these continuing responses
to Conservative Coming Out Day? You have
lodged several complaints about that harm-
less event, including several gems from your
editorial board (What closet?, 09/26/2005) and
its members (Conservatives are not victims,
10/04/2005).
How open can our campus political atmo-
sphere be if conservatives can't hold a peace-
ful event on the Diag? Should any event that
offends your bleeding hearts be pushed into
the closet?
You claimed that coming out as a conser-
vative doesn't set oneself up for a lifetime
of misperceptions, but then editorial board
member Jared Goldberg proceeded to accuse
conservativesof supporting,e"taxebreakssfor

LGBT issues on this campus, this was a
clever observation about the political climate
on campus, not an attempt to belittle LGBT
struggles across the nation.
I think it's interesting to go back to what LSA
junior Kim Peters said in your original front page
article (Conservative students come out on Diag,
09/22/2005) about the event: "It would be great if
we could all come out freely without being targets
of aggression from liberals." .
Was Peters wrong about what happens
when conservatives stand up for themselves
and their beliefs on this campus? I think the
editorials, viewpoints, columns and letters
following the event show just how right she
was. Shame on conservatives, you say? I
don't think so.
Jon Boguth
LSA senior
The letter writer is chair of Young Americans
for Freedom on campus.
Columnist misses key facts,*
regurgitates talking points
To THE DAILY:
Apparently Sam Singer didn't read the
news on Monday before his column (Why
DeLay will get off, 10/04/2005) was printed.
On Monday, former House Majority Leader
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was indicted
by a new grand jury, this time for money
laundering - not just conspiracy to do so.
I do not claim to be an expert on Texas law,
as Singer appears to be based on the tone
of his column, and believe it best to wait
- and check the facts - before jumping
to conclusions.
I also might add that it's a shame to see
the Daily's editorial page used for shame-
less political spin no better than that of the
mass media. Please be more creative (and
up to date) next time.
Adam White
LSA senior

*I

I

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Reggie Brown, Amanda Burns,
John Davis, Whitney Dibo, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg,
Eric Jackson, Ashwin Jagannathan, Theresa Kennelly, Will Kerridge,
Raiiv Prabhakar. Matt Rose, David Russell, Dan Skowronski, Brian Slade,

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