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April 12, 2006 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-04-12

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4A- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 12, 2006


ie £itf~rn ali

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor



Health benefits are
simply not a benefit
of marriage."
- ACLU attorney Deborah LaBelle, who is
representing same-sex couples seeking health
benefits before the Michigan Court of Appeals,
as reported yesterday by The Associated Press.
E-mAi, GAL4@ummCHJu



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.

That which makes us great is under attack

As the editor
in chief and
before that the
editorial page editor of
this paper, my job was
to help hold the people
who work for the Uni-
versity accountable.
Despite these efforts
to sharpen the Daily's
teeth, I developed a
great deal of admiration for this university,
its mission and the people who lead it. At the
same time, I developed similar admiration for
I wish I had more company.
While I was learning to appreciate great
newspapers and great universities, opportun-
ists made political attacks against both types
of institutions.
The state's largest paper, the Detroit Free
Press, ran - above coverage of the governor's
State of the State Address - a sensationalis-
tic story in January about "waste" at 11 state
universities. (The University of Michigan-Ann
Arbor was not one of them.)
The Detroit News wrote an article headlined
"Professors paid not to teach," which informed
readers that - horror of horrors - profes-
sors do research. That story and another one
about university construction projects were
both accompanied by ads for Dick DeVos (a
Republican running for governor) ads on the
paper's website.
To mock universities asking for more state
funding, state Rep. Leon Drolet (R-Clinton
Twp.) held a food drive for "starving" uni-
versity presidents and faculty. He suggested
donating pork.
These political attacks have weakened uni-

versities in the eye of the public. On the News's
website, one reader posted a comment saying
the state Legislature "should begin an inde-
pendent investigation into our universities to
expose the fraud and waste going on there."
At a time when our state needs the Univer-
sity most, elected officials have been cutting
tens of millions of dollars from its budget to
pay for lower and lower tax rates.
Newspapers face similar attacks. Like uni-
versities, they face serious funding challenges
that dampen their quality. The large corpora-
tions that own papers have begun starving them
in search of higher and higher profit margins.
On the political front, they are under attack
as well. The good newspapers have been
deemed liberal rags. The president says they
jeopardize national security when they write
something that could make his poll numbers
go down.
In "100 People Who Are Screwing Up
America," Bernard Goldberg puts the New
York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger at
number 2.
With a daily circulation of a little more than
1 million in a country of 300 million people
(albeit fewer households), Sulzberger's Times
is more a niche publication than the nation's
What a commentary on our society
that it's possible to make a politi-
cal career for yourself by attack-
ing a great university, and it's possible to
make a living attacking the media.
It says even more when University alums
mobilize to have an ugly halo around Mich-
igan Stadium removed but remain silent as
the state cuts tens of millions of dollars from
the University's academic budget.

How long can a country that does not value
higher education or good newspapers remain
an effective democracy? How long can it lead
the rest of the world?
Even many students at this supposedly
dynamic and socially aware university don't
think the issues of the day affect them. If uni-
versity students can't look outside of them-
selves, then I wonder if there is anyone to
whom we can trust our shared future.
We do a dismal job teaching citizenship in
this country. Do business, engineering - even
LSA - students ever learn about the impor-
tance of the First Amendment? Are they ever
seriously encouraged to vote or to pick up a
newspaper? Does any professor or administra-
tor ever dare instill his students with a sense of
In the last few years, I've written and thought
a little about the role of the University in teach-
ing its students citizenship and ethics the way
the same institution used to mold the next gen-
eration of civic-minded leaders.
At first, I wrote that the University's grand moral
mission to educate the masses, to include people
of all walks of life in its student body and to dis-
seminate knowledge for the public good trumped
old-fashioned civics and morality lessons.
But maybe this modern form of social
responsibility is not enough. Not enough for
the University's own sake, and not enough for
the future stewards of a great nation.
CORRECTION: In a column that ran Feb.
12, 2004,1 referred to Electrolux as a Michigan
company. In fact, it is headquartered in Sweden.
I regret the error and the delay in correcting it.
Pesick can be reached at


Life after graduation
t was with bit- College graduation is a kind of freedom of others. In both cases, the editors voiced
tersweet feelings I have never experienced before. For the concern that what I wanted to say would
that I told the men last two years, I have been learning about violate the paper's conflict of interest poli-
in my prison creative- serious flaws in our education system, our cy. Strict enforcement of such a policy at a
writing workshop last justice system and other social and eco- college newspaper, however, interferes with
week that I would be nomic structures. Now, as I begin finding a columnists who want to inspire action.
leaving in a month so career, I have the ability to start attacking Don't get me wrong - I have enjoyed my
that I could go home some of these problems. I am tired of mak- column for the last year and a half - but
to get ready to teach ing tiny contributions in groups like Dance I think it's important to put these articles
English in New York Marathon and Alternative Spring Break. into perspective. With a Daily column, you
City next year. These organizations do good work and have may open minds and encourage dialogue on
I was sad because this workshop has inspired me, but they are insufficient. campus, but you are probably not going to
been an incredible experience in all the I feel the same way about these columns. change the world.
participants' lives. I have never felt more I've liked having my soapbox every other The real work comes after graduation
appreciated than when I drove once a week week, and I think journalism plays an in what we choose to do with the rest of
to Coldwater, Mich. with my partner Matt important role in raising social awareness, our lives. And so, if you really believe in
for the workshop. Every week when we but that's only the beginning. a cause, don't just dedicate your weekends
arrived, the guys waited for us with their Myles Horton, the activist in the labor or one night a week to a relevant "commu-
weekly writing assignments. We stayed and civil rights movements, said that trying nity service" opportunity; instead, choose a
until we absolutely had to leave, and then to argue someone into changing their posi- career that embraces that cause and spend
the guys sincerely thanked us for coming. tion usually just strengthens their position. your life working toward it.
As we walked through the yard, a few of "What you need to do is get them into a But if you haven't found a cause, an aca-
the guys continued talking to us about their situation where they'll have to act on ideas, demic field or an activity that you're pas-
writing. not argue about them," he said. sionate about, don't worry. Ralph Waldo
One of them has been working diligently That's where these columns fail. Last Emerson said, "The voyage of the best ship
on a collection of personal essays by pris- fall, when I tried to inform readers at the is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks." After
oners who made irrevocable decisions and end of a column about how to get to a Bat- receiving a world-class education at this
are now paying the price - for some, life tered Women's Clemency Project rally, the university, you can be confident that you
sentences. When I leave to begin a new Daily's editors deleted that section. This have- some of the strongest ships around.
life, they will remain behind razor wire semester, when I tried to recommend that All you can do now is head out in some
and locked doors. Spending time with these readers take English classes focusing on the direction, and if you keep adjusting your
men has shown me how lucky I am to be workshops I have written so much about, sails, you will reach amazing and unfore-
free. I go into the real world knowing how the editors told me I couldn't advocate for a seen destinations.
precious it is and knowing, as Nelson Man- specific teacher I'd had - nevermind that
dela wrote in his autobiography, "with free- this teacher and his classes have changed my Cravens an be reached at
dom come responsibilities." life and could potentially change the lives jjcrave@umich.edu.
Send all letters to the editor to
LETTER TO THE EDITOR tothedailygmichigandaily.com.

My cartoon manifesto

I am often a cynical, arrogant and mis-
anthropic bastard. That, in my opinion, is
part of what makes me a good cartoonist.
When the cartoonist emeritus of the Daily's
opinion page, Sam Butler, told me "keep it
simple, stupid," I couldn't help but resent
it. How could people be so stupid as to mis-
interpret or not understand my more com-
plex cartoons? And even when I did "dumb
it down," they were still misinterpreted, so
what was the point anyway?
But this attitude has crumbled into joy
over the last semester. Sure, I have been
smeared all over the Opinion page. I have
been accused of being a racist. And now
that one cartoon (Fetid Chumbucket,
12/08/2005), among all the others I've
drawn, has become known - along with
Michelle Bien's most famous work (The
Bean Archives, 11/28/2005), as "certain
cartoons," almost a curse. Yes, at times

these developments only made me despise
the "stupid masses" all the more. But ulti-
mately, there is only joy. I have accom-
plished my goal. I have helped to provoke a
meaningful debate on this campus. And for
that, I am happy.
My goal as a cartoonist has never until
now been concrete. Sometimes I sought
merely to ape current events. Sometimes
I have tried to carefully portray my opin-
ions. But it wasn't until now that I real-
ized that I have always sought to be your
devil's advocate. I strive to poke the status
quo, inflame it, offend it, provoke it into
action. And now I have done that. In doing
so, my decaying faith in humanity has, in
large part, been restored: People actually
do care.
So thank you all very much; now, let's
see if I can do it again.
Honkala is a LSA junior and
a Daily cartoonist.

Distinct lack of a Buddha
mars the Buddha Machine
In an unfortunate misplacement of my
better judgment, I recently decided to trust
the claims made by Michigan Daily col-
umnist and self-proclaimed "audiophile"

Upon opening the small box with a
screwdriver, however, I was disappointed
to find that this machine is utterly Bud-
dha-less. A quick Google search brought
up an interview with one of the Buddha
Machine's creators, Christiaan . Virant,
who made this relatively imbecilic reply to
a question about whether there really is a
Buddha inside the machine: "That would be

Letters Policy
All readers are encouraged to submit letters
to the Daily. Letters should include the writer's
name, college and class standing or other Uni-
versity affiliation.

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Andrew Bielak, Kevin Bunkley, Gabrielle D'Angelo,
Whitney Dibo, Milly Dick, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg, Mark Kuehn,


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