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February 21, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-21

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, February 21, 2006

OPINION

able ltkbtgun"&zlgu

DoNN M. FRESARD
Editor in Chief

EMILY BEAM
CHRISTOPHER ZBROZEK
Editorial Page Editors

ASHLEY DINGES
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
44' If a believer
demands that I,
as a nonbeliever,
observe his taboos in
the public domain, he is
not asking for my respect,
but for my submission.
And that is incompatible
with a secular
democracy."
- Jyllands-Posten culture editor Flemming Rose, in
an essay published Sunday in The Washington Post.

COLIN DALY "I 3 M C'1:i W vD i.
fE ~ pt ~ V $N

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.

Not as free as we think
SUHAEL MOMIN N SURREDER

40

hose inflamed
masses chanting
in the streets of
Islamabad, Riyadh and
Baghdad are angry -
really angry. But why?
It's just a cartoon! I know
- it's because they're
backward. You see, they
don't get the most fun-
damental, unequivocal,
un-underminable right there is in an advanced
society: freedom of speech. If only those rampag-
ing hordes put down their flaming Israeli flags and
tasted a good dose of Enlightenment. I mean, we
already have ... right?
Not really.
Freedom of speech, if you listen to talking TV
heads, is supposedly the bedrock of our free and
open society. Because we're willing to think criti-
cally and voice all opinions in the public sphere,
we ensure that the marketplace of ideas functions.
By openly and honestly debating every issue out in
the proverbial town square, we ensure the triumph
of democracy, the downfall of terrorism and the
everlasting survival of humanity.
It's easy to see why freedom of speech has
become a rallying cry in this clash of cultures.
A convenient, easy-to-understand point of dis-
tinction, freedom of speech symbolizes the gap
between our society and their society - our
civilized world and their Middle Ages. That's why
you see so many commentators, liberal and con-
servative, from here to Jerusalem, touting freedom
of speech as a fundamental difference between
Western society and Islamic society.
The problem with this elegant dichotomy is
that, for all practical purposes, Western society

doesn't actually place freedom of speech upon an
altar. We think we do - that is, we believe that
we believe in freedom of speech - but when push
comes to shove, freedom of speech is not an end-
all, be-all value.
Western governments impose speech restric-
tions and criticize the free press routinely. You
can't deny the Holocaust in some European
countries. Almost every year, Congress consid-
ers a Constitutional amendment to criminalize
flag burning.President Bush and Vice President
Cheney routinely lash out at the media for publish-
ing confidential information; the administration
pressured The New York Times to cancel its story
on the domestic surveillance program for more
than a year.
Nongovernmental interest groups continually
pressure media outlets to restrict content. The Uni-
versity's Student Relations Advisory Committee
wrote a letter to the Daily's editors suggesting that
the Fourteenth Amendment might override the
First (An open letter to the Daily, 02/03/2006). The
campus chapter of the NAACP almost boycotted
this paper because it thought we should not have
published certain cartoons. The American Family
Association has threatened to boycott Ford Motor
Company if it doesn't cancel advertisements tar-
geted at the gay community. Conservative action
groups forced ABC to cancel its Memorial Day
broadcast of "Saving Private Ryan."
Even among American citizens, respect for
freedom of speech is far from universal. An
early 2005 survey of 112,003 American high
school students found that 36 percent of stu-
dents believe newspapers should seek "govern-
ment approval" of stories; the same poll found
32 percent thought the press had "too much
freedom."

It may be romantic to pretend freedom of
speech is the cornerstone of Western civilization.
It puts us in a tremendous position of power - we
can condemn those roving Muslim masses as the
product of a closed and intellectually backward
society. It makes us feel good about ourselves; it
allows us to wax poetic about the fundamental dif-
ferences between them and us.
But that's a bunch of nonsense - Western soci-
ety has no moral pulpit from which to preach. We
don't actually value freedom of speech as much
as we pretend to; we condemn the Muslim rioters
for not understanding our values when we don't
understand them either.
Of course, there is a lot to condemn. Violent,
deadly riots are never excusable, never justifi-
able. Peaceful leaders have broken empires and
overturned decades of institutionalized repression
without firing a shot. Insofar as Western leaders
are condemning the violence that has captured,
they're fully justified.
But it's pure hypocrisy to lecture the Muslim
world on the integral role of free speech in our
society. If an American newspaper published an
equally inflammatory cartoon defaming Chris-
tianity, there'd be an outpouring of rage. Maybe
not violent rage, but rage - conservative groups
worked themselves into a tizzy last year because
SpongeBob SquarePants might be gay.
Just imagine if The Washington Post ran a car-
toon of Moses killing a Muslim child, or if The
New York Times ran one of Jesus bombing an
abortion clinic.
How large would the "it's freedom of the press"
crowd be?

Momin can be reached
at smomin@umich.edu

VIEWPOINT
Student Conservative Party: The right choice

THE BOONDOCKS

BY RYAN FANTUZZI
I am writing to announce the creation of the
Student Conservative Party at the University,
as well as my candidacy for Michigan Student
Assembly president.
I am running for MSA president because
University students deserve real choice in the
next election. As a conservative, I felt disen-
franchised in previous years. I was voting for
the lesser of two evils. In my case, I voted for
whatever party was running against the Defend
Affirmative Action Party, which I believe exem-
plifies everything wrong with a political party:
It is overreaching, misguided and radical. I was
never satisfied with voting along those lines.
I believe that voter apathy has been high in
recent years because there were no differences
between candidates. As long as I have been at
the University, MSA has been a one-party sys-
tem. It is time for change.
The Student Conservative Party is the party
of choice. We believe our Creator endowed
us with the gift of free will. We believe that,
instead of creating a "crowded" election, our
party's entry onto the political scene has only

expanded student choice.
Our first priority is to givestudents a choice
in funding. We will cut discretionary spending
in half and give the savings to student groups.
Every student who participates, even occasion-
ally, in any group will benefit from this real-
location of funds. Our reallocation will not be
political in nature; it will simply reflect our
belief that MSA's primary role is not to help
itself, but to help on-campus groups thrive.
Even though we promise to cut discretion-
ary spending, we do not plan to cut discretion
in spending. The Student Conservative Party
will be accountable for every dollar - unlike
the incumbent party, which lost $20,000 last
semester in one night. We will also help student
groups manage their finances responsibly.
We believe that every individual matters. We
believe that every person has the right to decide
what kind of cola they drink. We will lobby
successfully to bring back the contract with the
Coca-Cola Company. Students have the per-
sonal right to boycott companies, but a line is
crossed when every student is forced to follow
the-opinions of a few. It is up to the individual
to make a choice on whether or not to boycott

Coke.
Moreover, when MSA speaks on political
issues, MSA does not speak for everyone. MSA
is not a political body.. It does not control the
actions of foreign governments. Thus, it should
not pretend it stands for the whole student body
on contentious political issues.
Each of us has the ability to make our own
decisions. We are responsible enough to decide
where our money is spent, which cola we wish
to drink and what party we wish to vote for.
Apathy is easy. We, as students, usually don't
get much of a choice. But this can change - it
has changed. The Student Conservative Party
values your choice. Our future will be deter-
mined in next month's election. Your choice is
between the party that stands for nothing, the
party that stands for the wrong thing and the
party that stands for the right thing.
If you want a party that is going to help you
make your own decisions, then vote for the Stu-
dent Conservative Party.

0

easX t ha vIw f :JL r.

Fantuzzi is an LSA sophomore and
MSA presidential candidate for
the Student Conservative Party.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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

Mainstream media misses
the full story behind Haiti
TO THE DAILY:
The Associated Press is promoting twisted
truths. It refers to Haiti's first democratically elect-
ed president as "the slum priest (who) fled Haiti
as the United Sates withdrew support for its gov-
ernment" (Haiti chooses new leader, 02/17/2006).
Other sources say U.S. diplomats told Aristide if
he didn't leave Haiti, paramilitaries would kill him
or many Haitians until he left. Aristide was flown
to the Central African Republic and was basically
imprisoned in a hotel on Feb. 29,2004 after a coup
d'etat led by the paramilitary Revolutionary Front
for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti finan-
cially supported by U.S. intelligence agencies.
Meanwhile, the United States publicly withdrew
Artistide's U.S. security. The mainstream media
rntime to rennrt ta Aiside ef v nar.;

ments" to abolish people's control and public own-
ership by allowing U.S. multinational corporations
to privatize. The U.S. government wouldn't want
to limit corporations' profits; who would fund their
candidates' campaigns in elections? Although I'm
oversimplifying, it is no coincidence that Aristide
was against privatization.
Jesse Singal's column Our dirty big secrets
(02/17/2006) read: "we don't know. what's being
done in our name" regarding the American gov-
ernment. Equally terrifying, and not coinciden-
tal, is the hegemonic position the media has in
the American information hierarchy, while citi-
zens remain at the blind bottom. Alternative and
independent media sources such as Democracy
NOW!, Z-Magazine, Mother Jones, indymedia.
org and Ann Arbor's own Black Box Radio and
Critical Moment are exceedingly undervalued as
tools of self-empowerment. We can no longer rely
on mainstream corporate news sources; the only
way to reclaim control and find any truth about our

with Jesus himself; it is the Catholic belief that Mary
was born without original sin and thus could bear
the baby Jesus. The idea of Mary birthing a child as
a virgin is called, oddly enough, a virgin birth.
He also mentions that "God can immaculately
conceive any child he wants to, whenever he
wants." Yet, Mary had a clear choice in the matter.
God wouldn't just go in; she had to accept his offer.
If you're going to use religious references, at least
make them accurate.
Bravo to Rachel King (Abstinence the only sure
way to prevent pregnancy, 02/16/2006), who real-
izes the simplest and most obvious way to avoid
pregnancy and STDs - not having sex!
Peter Keros
Engineering freshman
Nuclear energy is 'safe,
carbon-free energy source'

the amount of radiation released (which was veri-
fied by multiple independent organizations) was
only enough to statistically cause one extra case of
cancer. That's pretty innocuous compared to the
dozens of people who die in coal mines each year.
It should also be noted that, like most indus-
tries, the nuclear industry has learned from its past
mistakes. Compared to reactors currently operat-
ing, new designs have a much smaller probability
of having an accident, improving upon an already
stellar safety record.
Nuclear power is the only carbon free-energy
source that is both economical and can provide
the nation with a large portion of its energy needs.
Until renewable energy advocates can devise a
way to store large amounts of energy for night-
time use, solar power cAn never satisfy the energy
needs of this country. Therefore, environmentalists
should stop erroneously attacking nuclear power
as "unsafe" and should give this safe, carbon-free
energy source another look.

have any ties to Michigamua. Although individual
University students and alumni are members, it is
not a registered student organization, is not eligible
for funding or fundraising through the University
and does not have any dedicated space on campus.
A few facts related to Michigamua and its relation
ship to Michigan can be found on the Student Mat-
ters website at www.studentmatters.umich.edu.
Student organizations that are recognized by the
University must adhere to our rules and require-
ments, including transparency regarding mission,
membership, and membership criteria and selection.
The University does not have any power to regulate
how students choose to affiliate with organizations
that are outside of our boundaries and processes.
The use of Native American culture, rituals and
artifacts by Michigamua in the past was wrong,
and I understand why that history continues to
cause hurt in the Native community. However, the
lawsuit filed against the University is destructive
and does not serve to advance our understanding

a

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