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February 05, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-02-05

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4A -Monday, February 5, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


7e 1J*idiian &U j
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
413 E. Huron St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
The changing face of progress
A 117th year of debate, dialogue and editorial freedom
Much has changed since The Michigan Daily rolled out
its inaugural edition on Sept. 29, 1890. Argus to the
events that define our campus, country and world,
the Daily has seen more than half of our nation's history, includ-
ing 21 U.S. presidents, two world wars and the dawn of a digi-
tal age that has reframed the presence of every single one of us
within societal discourse. Its role on campus, however, remains
unchanged: The Daily is the voice of you the students, a staunch
proponent of your issues and ever the humble guardian of free
and open debate on this campus.


We'll have to
raise taxes."
- Democratic presidential candidate
JOHN EDWARDS, speaking Sunday on
NBC's "Meet the Press" about how he
would finance his'plan for expanded
health care for Americans.




Counterculture lite

But the Daily's (specifically, this page's)
duty to University students is twofold: We
must and will reflect debates already tak-
ing place on campus, but we must also drive
the debate on fledgling issues that influence
students and their world. Thus our role is
to facilitate a two-way exchange, provid-
ing a platform for students to speak out,
and informing them about pressing topics
they can't learn about from other sources.
That purpose can only be served through
student engagement, including both feed-
back on our opinions and personal involve-
ment and input into what is, after all, your
This page's heritage of progressivism runs
deep, and, as is the nature of such a beast,
the issues we advocate change as frequent-
ly as our editors. From global warming to
gay rights to immigration, the progressive
causes of our time are already upon us, and
we vow diligence and veracity in our every
supposition and conclusion about these and
other salient debates.
It has long been our policy to focus fore-
most on this campus and touch upon region-
al, national and international issues only,
secondarily. This unwritten rule has often
drawn frustration from campus groups who
see it as an excuse to avoid controversial
issues. While that policy must remain, it is
imperative for us to consider the growing
relevance outside issues have on us students.
A war in faraway Iraq will soon call several
who may chanceto read these words, nation-
al policies on education and the economy
will define the world we graduate into and

the ever-looming specter of global warming
has become perhaps the first ever universal
human crisis.
As an unprecedented information race
melds issues from all levels, we realize that
national and international events quickly
permeate our campus, sometimes fiercely
dominating dialogue. It can never do for us
to avoid such issues merely for assumption
of their distance; we must speak what is on
students' minds. But we also ask that you
allow us to do the second, equally important
part of our duty. We write constantly of the
Ann Arbor Greenbelt, rail lines in southeast
Michigan and higher education funding, not
to avoid other issues but to impel discussions
we feel are imprudently ignored.
We will never compromise our ideology,
but facing an evermore polarized country
and campus, it will be the highest principle
of this page in my time to respect and give
space to all relevant sides of an issue. The
staff of our editorial board, as well as our
contributing columnists and cartoonists,
are ideologically diverse and we constantly
seek to recruit those who may add additional
nuance to our perceptions. Should you ever
feel we are failing in this promise, you are
welcome tojoin our staff and effect change,
or simply write us a letter. I promise to read
every single one of them.
Imran Syed
Editorial Page Editor

emember the Hasbro game
Lite-Brite? It was in that
tattered box buried in your
grandparents' basement. On the
cover were the little boy and girl who
were just so elated to be playing with
plastic pegs. The box had that musty
veneer from decades of use. The
girl was blond and pony-tailed. The
boy, keeping with the hair-friendly
fashion of the 1970s, had full-bod-
ied bangs that
around his
young head.
Well that boy
grew up, kept
his haircut and
is now using
your uncle's
favorite child-
hood toy to ter-
rorize the city SAM
of Boston.
His name is BUTLER
Sean Stevens,
and he and
his friend, Peter Berdovsky, were
arrested Wednesday for placing
magnetic electronic light boards
around Boston. The blinking light
boards depicted a character from
the TV cartoon "Aqua Teen Hunger
Force" flipping the bird. When the
city officials discovered the plac-
ards earlier that day, they mistook
them for explosive devices and shut
down the entire cityto search for
the light boards.
Of course, the joke is that the
light boards had been there for more
than two weeks. They had also been
placed in 10 other major cities around
the country, including New York,
Los Angeles and Chicago. Seattle
officials said they had first noticed
the lights weeks ago and simply
removed them as they were found.
Only in Boston did these innocuous
blinking cartoon characters create
such a panic.
The best part of the story comes
when Stevens and Berdovsky, after
making bail on Thursday, walked
outside the courtroom and deliv-
ered a mini press conference to the

swarming reporters. Advised not to
discuss the case, Stevens and Ber-
dovsky instead commented only on
the evolution of hairstyles from the
1970s. They toyed with the media
and chided reporters for not taking
them seriously. Berdovsky, a man
with a striking faqade of soft East-
ern-European features framed by
mammoth dark brown dreadlocks,
parried reporters' questions with
quips like "That's not a hair ques-
tion, I'm sorry."
Hilarious. Their repugnance for
authority is a revving account that
brings the satisfaction that comes
whenever someone is able to stick
it to the man. But wait - these guys
were in fact working for him.
Stevens and Berdovsky were
employed by the alternative market-
ing firm Interference Inc. that the
Turner Broadcasting System con-
tracted to generate a buzz over one
of its most popular shows on the
Cartoon Network. Needless to say,
it worked, and whatever settlement
Turner has to pay will be worth the
free publicity.
It's all too easy to chalk the distur-
bance up to the burgeoning paranoia
that is choking our country's ability
to have a good time. This was my lib-
eral knee-jerk reaction, too. The Lite-
a political debate concerning proper
response to terrorist threats while
also stirring a deep-seated rebellion,
against adult responsibility.
Before Stevens and Berdovsky
were released, supporters rallied
outside the courthouse carrying
signs and tongue-in-cheek fliers
saying "1-31-07 Never Forget." The
Internet subculture has latched
onto the dreadlocked Berdovsky
because he describes himself as a
"performance artist." His MySpace.
com page has been inundated with
well-wishers, and the blogosphere
has been rife with public outcry
defending him as a victim of both
corporate greed and an overreac-
tive government.
This is not a case of an artist being
denied creative expression. Ber-

dovsky is not being persecuted for
expressing political dissent. He is not
the Nelson Mandela of a new techno-
hippygeneration. Hewasgettingpaid
to advertise a TV show using a light-
ed depiction of a character giving the
middle finger. Funny to be sure, but
notworthy of hero worship.
Interference Inc. knows its tar-
get demographic, and that is why
Turner contracted it. It special-
izes in unconventional advertising
techniques that attract young twen-
tysomethings. In the past, it has
paraded actors down the street in
historic garb for shows on The Dis-
covery Channel, branded "Le Tigre"
over city streets and buildings in
"take away graffiti" and publicized a
new cellphone by sending attractive
young people to bars and clubs to
work the phone into conversations
with strangers.
Stickin' it to
the man? Not
so much.
The language Interference Inc.
uses to describe such endeavors
smacks of revolutionary rhetoric.
They describe themselves as launch-
ing "guerilla marketing" campaigns
and spreading "grassroots" aware-
ness. It all sounds so exciting and
interesting to blase college kids with
too much disposable income. But we
are being fooled; something uncon-
ventional is not necessarily anti-
establishment. Like 1960s activists
parodying advertisements to pro-
test capitalism, the business world
is responding in kind by appropri-
ating youth subculture to sell us
stuff. Wearing long, unkempt hair
was a rebellion against mainstream
mores back then - I'm just not sure
watching an absurd cartoon is really
today's equivalent.
Sam Butler can be reached
at butlers@umich.edu.


Cartoon's portrayal of
YAF members offensive

The flaw of I
the will of the I:
giances aside,c
for an end to a
country. The fl

TO THE DAILY: that it assumes
I found the cartoonFriday attacking individ- istic responsibi
ualYoung Americans for Freedom members to to shape Iraq a
be very offensive. I am not affiliated with YAF, of Americans v
but I know enough to recognize images of spe- "broken" count
cific individuals when I see them. The cartoon, break it, you bu
which did not include any names, undeniably assumes the mo
portrayed three specific members as horrible Because of th
people. The portrayal of them was extremely ogy is a tired ex
offensive and immature. failed miserably
To imply that one is a white trash smoker kar's argument
who will be a bad mother is ridiculous. Her how many time
affiliation with YAF does not deserve this boogeyman of S
kind of personal attack. Likewise, the image of
another member as a cross-dresser is absurd Peter Shapiro
(and offensive to the LGBT community). LSA senior
If that picture was translated into a 1,000
word article, my guess is that most of those
words would be so politically incorrect and Human j
blatantly offensive that the outcry would go ,
way beyond a girl writing a letter to the editor. invadedfi
I think you owe these people an apology.

his argument is that it ignores
raqi people who, sectarian alle-
overwhelmingly voice a desire
an American presence in their
aw in Prabhakar's argument is
that America has a paternal-
ility and a hegemonic ability
nd its people to suit the vision
who decide what is and isn't a
ry. The flaw of applying "you
y it" to global politics is that it
ral imperative to "buy it."
ese flaws, the PotteryBarn anal-
xcuse for a colonialism that has
in the eyes of history. Prabha-
is an old urinal, and no matter
s he or the president invoke a
ept. 11., neither can make it art.
ood residue has
sh bowl keyboards

Skepticism, faith ad Sept.11

Kate Cunningham
Pottery Barn analogy does
not apply to iraq conflict
The French painter Marcel Duchamp once
showcased an old urinal that because of his
credentials was met with critical acclaim as a
fine work of art. Rajiv Prabhakar's column (In
defense of the surge, 02/01/2007) showcases
the Pottery Barn analogy for the Iraq occupa-
tion - you break it, you buy it. Prabhakar gives
no real affirmative reason to stay in Iraq, but
rather lists a parade of horribles (complete, of
course, with a Bin Laden reference) about what
will happen if we leave.

Sitting in the fish bowl Sunday, I was aggra-
vated at the poor state of the computer key-
boards. Half of their keys are stuck in or just
flat out don't work, and the rest of them are
covered in what looks like a brown film of
human/food residue. A girl is sitting behind
me surfed the web while shoveling chips and
dip into her mouth. Does she even have a clue
as to how many other hands have groped that
keyboard before? Am I the only one that gets
frustrated when I can't get two sentences into
my midterm paper before having to switch
computers because of the crumb-loaded key-
boards? I wish someone would make more of
an effort to preserve these poor machines, or
at least inform the fishbowl snackers of their
destructive eating habits..
Jordan Zielke
Art and Design sophomore

Twentieth-century philosopher Paul Ricoeur once
declared that "the contrary of suspicion, I will say
bluntly, is faith." I am an ardent skeptic who wishes he
had faith, and because of this I envy my housemate. He
sees the casus belli of the self-same national events that
I view with suspicion as explainable by the most com-
monly held assumption. He has faith, particularly faith
in our nation.
I was never more aware of the difference between
skepticism and faith than when I begged this house-
mate to come with me to the Scholars for 9/11 Truth
(an organization of students, faculty members and
professionals who are suspicious of the government's
explanation of the Sept. 11 attacks) event last week. For
the past couple of years, the skeptic sitting on my left
shoulder could not come to terms with the fact that the
CIA's former ally - Osama bin Laden - could orches-
trate the World Trade Center attacks. Skeptics point
out that there are numerous engineering contradic-
tions in the government's explanation of the collapse
of the towers. For any considered analysis of what hap-
pened, we must acknowledge these contradictions.
Like many Americans, I felt compelled to ignore the
contradictions in the official Sept. 11 story because the
government said that fire damage was the cause of the
towers' collapse. It had been proven. In spite of every-
thing, I felt that I should have faith in our national
intelligence to come to the correct conclusions on such
monumental national matters. After all, the CIA had a
videotaped confession of their Soviet-conquering hero
bin Laden declaring his complicity in the attack. How-
ever, it seems to not matter anymore how or why the
towers fell. I am constantly reminded that Sept. 11 is in
the past - Iran and Iraq are the present. I can be skep-
tical of that present.
I compartmentalized my uneasy skepticism until
hearing one of the speakers at Scholars for 9/11 Truth,
Lt. Colonel Robert Bowman. Bowman was the former
director of advanced space programs development in
the Ford and Carter administrations and holds a doc-
torate from Cal Tech in aeronautics and nuclear engi-
neering. Bowman insisted that instead of investigating
the physical impossibilities of the hypothesized col-
lapse, it would be to our nation's interest to turn our
investigation instead to America's inability to carry out

a proper investigation. As much as we all want to have
faith in our nation's ability to uncover truth, we should
confront our inability to solve the problems stemming
from the attack.
And the problems abound. Why are engineers
around the world silenced for their alternate explana-
tion of a demolition? Why could the National Institute
for Science and Technology only recreate the collapse
of the towers under simulated conditions that it admit-
ted were unrealistic? Can you just have faith?
America should have faith in the fact that the tower
collapse and the entire attack scenario can be easily
explained by the jet fuel fires - after all, most of us
aren't engineers. However, we must be critical of the
fact that those qualified to understand the mechanics
of the tower collapse have been silenced and fired. In
addition, our president never testified under oath dur-
ing the 9/11 Commission investigation.
The president could not swear on a book he places
so much faith in to testify in before the 9/11 Commis-
sion. I had to have faith that these executive short-
comings would point to a more politically palliative
solution for justice than skeptics hope to carry out.
The realist understands that in 2007 we cannot find a
satisfactory way to explain how the towers would have
collapsed due to fire because all the physical evidence
was destroyed. We can hope that an investigation of a
cover-up can bring about justice by proxy.
The entire situation forces us to analyze how we
interpret evidence we encounter in our everyday life.
Do we bury our instinctual skepticism because of fear
of belittlement?
As a skeptic, I struggle to believe that God created
the Earth in six days because a book that people vest
their faith in tells me so - it contradicts my corporeal
interpretation of the physical world. Similarly, I cannot
without doubt believe that we know everything about
Sept. 11, because it contradicts what is physically possi-
ble according to our accepted method of investigation.
As Nietzsche once said, "A hundred such men edu-
cated against the modern fashion ... one could now
silence forever the whole noisy pseudo-education of
our time."
Mike Eber is an LSA junior.


TeE TtMPtETURt 15, I'D/


Editorial Board Members: Emily Beam, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda Burns, Sam Butler, Ben Caleca,
Brian Flaherty, Jared Goldberg, Emmarie Huetteman, Toby Mitchell, Rajiv Prabhakar,
David Russell, Gavin Stern, John Stiglich, Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Wagner, Christopher Zbrozek


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