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February 17, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-17

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 17, 2006


c7hb rtot 14*a ialv

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor


I think ... there
will be a need to
close the Guanta-
namo (camp) ...
and hopefully to
do it as soon as is
-United Nations Sercretary-General Kofi Annan,
speaking about the conclusion of a report from
a U.N.-appointed independent panel about
the U.S.prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as
reported yesterday by the Associated Press.


Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All
other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.

Having the right doesn't make it right

W e Ameri-
cans value
free speech
above any other right.
Overriding the tyran-
nical inclinations of
governments before it,
our American republic
recognized this right
at its founding, with-
out which our democ-
racy couldn't exist. But does it have to be so
for everyone else? Is our perception of what is
right and just the only correct one?
To begin with, we must take note here of
the entire scope of the cartoon controversy.
The cartoon published by Denmark's Jyl-
lands-Posten and then republished by sever-
al other papers is certainly offensive - not
even the strongest proponents of free speech
will deny that. Yet it is no more deplorable
than the response generated by radicals in the
Muslim community, which in many cases has
been a far larger embarrassment to the peace-
ful notions of Islam. Muslims feel offended
by the cartoon because it depicts their prophet
and faith as a violent one, yet they only fur-
ther this perception if they react violently.
The ugliest of responses to the cartoon have
come from some radical Islam's own exercise
of free speech. In a tit-for-tat move, an Ira-
nian newspaper announced a contest seeking
cartoons mocking the Holocaust, calling it a
test of the West's love for free speech. If Mus-
lim cries to respect their precious religious
symbols are to be taken seriously, they must
condemn such actions by the most radical
among them. Mocking Judaism, Christianity
or any other faith is no more acceptable than
mocking Islam; claiming to value religion

while insulting all forms but your own has an
inherent air of hypocrisy that works to nullify
the Muslim cause.
As has been pointed out several times
throughout this controversy, Muslims have
no right to expect other cultures to live up to
their notions of right and wrong. Yet does this
rule not also apply to Western cultures? The
inexcusable, violent reactions of a misguided
minority aside, why do we expect the Mus-
lim world to value our beloved free speech
when we laugh at their notion of prohibiting
all depictions of the prophet?
James Pinkerton of Newsday seemed to
have an uncharacteristically astute under-
standing of the situation. He said: "It's time
for all of us to recognize that different cul-
tures have different values ... To draw such
a distinction between West and East is not to
endorse cultural relativism; it's simply to take
note of cultural reality."
But Pinkerton's perception of reality leads
him to conclude the Muslim world is inher-
ently the enemy of the West and must be held
at bay at any cost. A contradiction arises again
when he goes on to say speech that incites
violence is not to be tolerated. Isn't this the
very argument for avoiding the publication of
the inflammatory cartoons in question?
Just because you have the right to say
something doesn't mean you should. Behind
the cartoon controversy lies a lack of under-
standing between cultures that, regardless of
Pinkerton's delusions, can no longer afford
to remain secluded. The editor who origi-
nally published the cartoon has confessed a
lack of understanding of the values of Islam.
In Norway, the second paper to publish the
cartoon has apologized, its editor admitting,
as the Detroit Free Press reported, "he failed

to foresee the pain and anger the drawings
would cause."
Don't get me wrong - the Danish paper does
have the right to portray the prophet Muham-
mad with a bomb on his head, but then the
cartoon of Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hit-
ler is also perfectly within the bounds of free
speech. Yet both are disgusting and counter-
productive depictions that serve no purpose
and have no reason to be printed. Clarence
Page of the Chicago Tribune said: "Offense
should always have a point ... the Muham-
mad cartoons seem to do nothing more than
provoke Muslims, including the vast majority
of law-abiding Muslims." Even free speech's
greatest champions must admit that there are
some things that should not be said, even if
they can be.
In the clamor over the concept of free
speech, we must remember that it is an
abstract construct which serves a purpose
- to prevent the breakdown of society and
the spread of tyranny. While refusing to print
something because it may be offensive is the
first step down the ill-trod path to censorship,
publishing depictions whose only purpose is
to offend and inflame is but a different path
to the same societal deterioration that free
speech seeks to avoid.
A better understanding of our own notion
of free speech will reveal that while it is our
favorite right, it is also the most misunder-
stood one. Without free speech, democracy is
dead, but unless exercised properly, democra-
cy will die at its hands. Alas, like every right,
this is one that comes with responsibilities. In
our world, that can only mean its failure.

Syed can be reached
at galad@umich.edu.

Our dirty big secrets

No aid for you
Federal funds should go to most deserving

student wakes atop a moun-
tain of beer cans and brushes
cocaine powder out of his
beard. What a crazy Tuesday night
that was! A cloud of marijuana
smoke follows him to the mailbox.
With syringe-tracked fingers he fum-
bles to open an envelope containing
his taxpayer-subsidized financial aid
check. Of course, most drug users
are at least somewhat responsible
and don't live their lives constantly
high. It is also unlikely that a signifi-
cant portion of federal financial aid
money goes toward student-run meth
labs or drug cartels. Regardless, it
is reasonable to expect that students
receiving federal financial aid make
the most of their education. Using
illegal drugs contradicts this simple
The Higher Education Act, which was
recently amended to be more lenient,
bars students from receiving federal
financial aid if they are convicted of
possessing illegal drugs. This does not
include infractions made before col-
lege, and aid is only pulled indefinitely
after the third offense. While this may
adversely affect drug users who hon-
estly want to better themselves and are
in need of higher education, the truth
is that most heavy drug users are poor
students. Little sympathy should be
afforded to those who squander the

generosity of others at a time when
financial aid is in such high demand,
as the Daily recently suggested (Your
financial aid on drugs, 02/16/2006).
Current implementation of the act is
flawed, however, because it does not
make the distinction between mari-
juana and other illegal drugs. While
this argument will not delve into the
legalization debate, marijuana and
cocaine simply cannot be compared.
The only possible (and hypothetical)
type of exception might be a student
caught growing 40 kilos of marijuana
in his dorm room and selling it to a
12-year-old. He probably should lose
his aid, since that does constitute a
felony. Also, cultivating that much
marijuana is very time-consuming
and leaves little time for study.
In a perfect world, anyone would be
able to afford a college education. But
realistically, many prospective yet
underprivileged students are unable to
pay for college, and many of them will
not receive the federal aid they need.
It is a disservice to the taxpayer and
the greater good to fund the "educa-
tion" of a heavy drug user when there
are far more dedicated and legitimate
candidates who will never receive the
same opportunity.
Gavin Stern is an LSA sophomore and a
member of the Daily's editorial board,

Have you ever
heard of Marer
Arar? In
2002, Arar, a resident
of Canada who holds
citizenship there and in
Syria, took a vacation
to Tunisia. His return
trip included a stop in
New York City, but he
ran into some trouble
there. According to the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation's website, "U.S. officials detained
Arar, claiming he has links to al-Qaida, and
deported him to Syria, even though he was
carrying a Canadian passport."
Arar wouldn't return to Canada for a year.
In the meantime, he claimed, he was tortured
while in Syrian custody. A public commis-
sion set up to investigate his claims asserted
their veracity, and culminated with the pub-
lishing of the Toope Report (named after the
fact-finder, Stephen Toope) in October 2005,
which can be read at www.ararcommission.
It's not light reading. Here's how Arar
described some of his treatment: "They used
the cable on the second and third day, and after
that mostly beat me with their hands, hitting
me on the stomach and on the back of my neck,
and slapping me in the face. When they hit me
with the cables, my skin turned blue for two or
three weeks, but there was no bleeding."
Arar was never formally charged with any-
thing. The process by which he was deport-

ed to a country that tortures is known as
"extraordinary rendition" and was started in
the mid-1990s under the Clinton administra-
tion. Its use has exploded since Sept. 11; sus-
pected terrorists are now regularly kidnapped
from one country, flown to another and tor-
tured there.
This is our government. It would be nice to
say that things have gotten better, that the horrors
described in the Toope Report were the result of
immediate post-Sept. 11 zealousness, but that's
not the case. We now know that the Central
Intelligence Agency has set up secret prisons in
Eastern Europe for the purpose of detaining and
interrogating al-Qaida suspects.
But scarier than what we do know is
what we don't know. Who decides who gets
detained? What happens to detainees? Is there
any logic to the process? We also know that
at least some of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib
and Guantanamo Bay were innocent bystand-
ers swept up in raids - then left to rot or be
tortured - without any due process.
The typical response from a Bush admin-
istration apologist is some amalgamation of
"post-9/l1 world," "take the fight to them"
and "terrorists." This can no longer suffice
as an explanation for so much secrecy. There
has yet to be a convincing argument made as
to the connection between winning the war
on terror and secretly detaining and torturing
people. The fierceness with which the admin-
istration clings to the "right" to torture people
is puzzling.
Again, though, what's most scary is that we

don't know what's being done in our name.
The American people never granted the Bush
administration the power to detain people
without due process and torture them. None-
theless, it's happening, but nobody knows
where, when or how often. It's so common-
place for critics of this president to take cheap
shots at him - Bush is a fascist, Bush is rac-
ist, etc. But what really matters - what really
is an affront to a democratic system and, more
importantly, is a moral outrage - is lurking
below the surface, out of sight from tradition-
al means of critique or investigation.
"No one knows": They're just three words,
but when you take a step back and think about
it, it's terrifying. We have no idea what's being
done to those who come under the eye of our
government, nor the power to stop it. We, the
people, are supposed to be the ultimate arbi-
ters of what should or should not be done in
our name. Where's our voice?
Some answers are definitely in order here.
Imagine if American citizens began ran-
domly disappearing from the streets of our
cities, reemerging months or years later with
stories of torture. There would, to say the
least, be an outcry. Until we begin to demand
a basic level of explanation from our govern-
ment, our role in cases such as Arar's can
only be seen as one of complicity. As citizens,
it's our responsibility to demand better from
those in charge.



Singal can be reached
at jsingal@umich.edu


Send all letters to the editor to
tothedaily@michigandaily. com.

Charges of 'nepotism'
against Fox baseless
I would like to respond to MSA votes down $4
student fee to fund yearbook (02/15/2006). First,
let's be clear that the proposal was to allow the
student body to vote on whether or not it wanted
to be charged a $2 fee per semester so that every-
one would get a yearbook. MSA was not voting
to impose a $2 fee - only to put the question on

tion and not 300 others. I am against preferential
treatment." This makes no sense. Paul sets up a
false choice by claiming that supporting one orga-
nization means discriminating against others.
It is the responsibility of MSA representatives
to represent their constituents and advocate for
students. Supporting proposals by student groups
is not discriminating against other groups - it is
MSA's job.
Fox stands up for students. She is a tireless pro-
moter of student financial aid; you'll see her at the
University Board of Regents' meeting today argu-

Birth control pill has a
medical use; Viagra doesn't
I just wanted to applaud your editorial Pro-
Life and Pro-Choice (02/15/2006). Being a
female with a medical condition that can only
be managed using birth control, I spend about
$50 every three weeks. It is not covered by my
insurance company, even though I have had
my doctors write numerous letters testifying

"In Dissent" opinions do not reflect the views of the Daily's editorial board. They
are solely the views of the author.

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