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March 19, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-03-19

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4A - Monday, March 19, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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.
Morality in the military
'Don't ask, don't tell' antiquated and discriminatory
n a surprising departure from military norms that discour-
age officers from expressing controversial personal views,
Gen. Peter Pace candidly remarked last week that he believes
homosexuality is both immoral and comparable to adultery. While
Pace has every right to express his opinion, his statements high-
light the negative perception of homosexuality that continues to
resonate in the both the military and in American society. Continu-
ing policies that isolate and demonize homosexuality is discrimi-
natory and undermines the spirit of our country's laws protecting
freedom and equality.
As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also assumes that straight people cannot
and one of the key architects of the mili- accept homosexuality. The truth is that gay
tary's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, Pace's people are already in the military, serving
comments could not be any more revealing. side-by-side with heterosexual soldiers
Since its inception in 1993, the policy has without incident. Allowing a policy that
"compromised" between those who believe forces homosexuals to hide their identity
homosexuals should be allowed to serve only codifies the prejudice against them
openly and those, like Pace, who believe and perpetuates the biases in our society.
that homosexuality is immoral and that gay Instead of protecting the U.S. military
people should be barred from service. from fragmentation, "don't ask, don't tell"
This discriminatory policy is justified by works to weaken the armed forces. At a
the argument that allowing gay people to time when the military is lowering its
serve openly could weaken troop cohesion, recruitment standards to include violent
deplete recruitment, lower morale and, as criminals, it is also turning away highly-
Pace would say, "condone immoral acts" qualified people who happen to be gay.
comparable to "sleeping with somebody Since 1994, more than 10,000 soldiers have
else's wife." been discharged because of the "don't ask,
What the policy really compromises, don't tell" policy. Of these discharged
though, is the 14th Amendment. The justi- soldiers, roughly 50 have been fluent in
fications beingused to discriminate against Arabic, a skill so highly demanded in the
homosexuals echo the logic that kept military that some translators make as
women and blacks out of the military in the much as $150,000 a year.
past. If history has shown our country only According to a Servicemembers Legal
one thing, it's that these ideas ofsuperiority Defense Network estimate, the policy con-
are ill-founded. In the same way that blacks tinues to threaten the enlistment of more
and women were able to integrate into the than 65,000 soldiers and discourages thou-
military without undermining its strength, sands more from ever enlisting. Lawmak-
there is no reason to believe that gay people ers should be more concerned about the
are any less capable. negative effects of the current policy than
But there are still people who believe pandering to society's biases.
that allowing homosexuals to serve openly Simply put, what the military's "don't
is somehow diffeent because it makes het- ask, don't tell policy" advocates is discrimi-
erosexual soldiers feel uncomfortable and nation. It's ironic that the leader of an insti-
that consequently undermines morale. Not tution waging an immoral war in Iraq is
only does this argument rest on the miscon- trying to protect the moral purity of that
ception that homosexuals are deviations institution. It's sad just how far from moral
who sexually prey on straight men, but it his ideas are.

We have a tradition of winning Big Ten and national
championships.and we haven't been close to doing either:'
- Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin after firing Michigan men's basketball coach Tommy Amaker on Saturday.

Too much information

There is something about vis-
iting sexcriminals.com that
feels so right - yet so wrong.
Perhaps it'sbecause asyou search the
profiles of sexual predators in your
neighborhood for your own security
and awareness, you are simultane-
ously creeping into the lives of con-
victed criminals who have served
their debts to soci-
ety. Or maybe it's
because when you
find out that the
man who serves
your coffee is as
weird as he seems,
you know you can
never treat him as
nicely as you had THERESA
before uncovering KENNELLY
his past.
But whatever feelings the website
evokes, its"Ineedtoknow" mentality
has become unanimously acceptable
inAmerica.Andthanks to expanding
sex offender registration programs
and Megan's Laws, America's need
to poke and pry into peoples' lives is
becoming much easier to fulfill.
While a lot of the reasoning for
such programs is logical - Megan's
Laws are named for a 7-year-old girl
who was raped and murdered in
1994 by a convicted sex offender who
lived across the street from her - at
a certain point, legislative initiatives
cross the line from being necessary
to being just unfair and cruel.
In Ohio, state lawmakers are work-
ing to pass a bill requiring convicted
sex criminals to have special bright
green license plates on their vehicles.
A similar bill was rejected in 2005,
because the chosen plate color, pink,
had too many other identities associ-
ated with it and because it required
people convicted of even minor stat-
utory offenses to have the plates. The
new bill (marginally) limits the scope
of the requirement and, if passed,
would make Ohio the first state to

officially brand its sex criminals.
Supported by Republicans and
Democrats alike, this proposal comes
on the heels of a bill passed in 2004
that requires convicted drunk driv-
ers to display yellow license plates
with red letters. The color-coded
branding of criminals Ohio is experi-
menting with has, of course, received
criticism. The American Civil Lib-
erties Union has called it political
grandstanding, and the plates have
become known by some as Nathanial
Hawthorne license plates, an allusion
to the novel "The Scarlet Letter."
haven't kept several other states from
adopting similar laws and consider-
ing more legislation.
There are certain arguments that
make the license plate experiment
and sexcriminals.com seem not com-
pletely irrational and malicious. Sex
offenders and predators have one of
the highest recidivism rates among
criminals. Parents should be able to
know which neighbors' backyards
to tell their children to stay out of.
Teenage girls should know what car
to avoid parking next to if they are
in the grocery store parking lot late
at night.
These points add up to very ratio-
nal and necessary legislation. But
there's still something about such
laws that makes me think it's less
about keeping people safe and more
about havingthe unlimited ability to
single out sex offenders.
When a car with a bright green
license plate is driving on the high-
way, who isn't going to slow down to
stare attheguybehindthewheel? It's
the same reason why so many people
tune into the popular TV show "To
catch a Predator." People just need
to know what the sicko soliciting
minors online looks like and watch
him answer the door naked, only to
be busted by an NBC camera crew.
It's typical human inquiry.

But the problem with this grow-
ing desire for information and giving
everyone unfettered access to crimi-
nal histories is that it's encroaching
on the lives of freed criminals, who
have already served their punish-
ments. Being branded for life and
having everyone make snap judg-
ments on them destroys these peo-
ple's lives beyond the point of reason.
And in terms of the special license
plates, criminal histories are being
shoved in the face of others, whether
they careto know or not.
The never-ending
reparations a sex
criminal faces.
A Florida bill for special plates
for convicted drunk drivers permits
police officersto pullover anyvehicle
with that plate, even without prob-
able cause. This further shows how
unreasonable the branding of freed
criminals can become.
Continuing to increase everyone's
reach into other people's lives isn't
just malicious and a complete breech
of privacy, it's an obstruction of
free people's right to life after they
have served their debts to society. It
gives Americans the excuse to treat
freed criminals like objects instead
of human beings. Sexual offender
registries and other awareness
programs are necessary and useful
- to a point. But when it gets to the
level where freed criminals can't
park their cars in their own drive-
ways without them getting keyed,
it enters the realm of being cruel,
unusual and unnecessary.
Theresa Kennelly is an associate
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at thenelly@umich.edu.



A solemn thank you to the
University community
on behalf of our beloved son, Lee Wiggles-
worth, who was a student at the University
and passed away unexpectedly on Feb.19, we
would like to publicly thank the University
and the community of Ann Arbor for their
support and assistance during this tragic
time. We are humbled by the love and con-
cern displayed to us and will never forget all
the acts of kindness.
Lee loved the University of Michigan and
so do we. Lee and the Wolverines will live in
our hearts forever.
The Wigglesworth family
Jackson, Miss.
From LSA-SG: You, too,
can improve campus safety
LSA Student Government recently reaf-
firmed its mission to improve campus safety.
The Student Life Committee hasdelegated sev-
eral members with the stated goal of making
Ann Arbor streets safe after business hours.
Last week, The Michigan Daily had a
front-page story about a University stu-
dent who was held at knifepoint and raped
while walking home from the IM building.
Although the University prides itself on a
low crime rate and the article only mentions,
one incident, crime is a prevalent issue.
The article further motivated LSA-SG to
sures. Although the walk home is 10 minutes
on average, students often find themselves
walking alone on poorly-lit streets after long
nights studying at the library, hanging out
with friends or working out at the recreation
facilities. Students have enough to worry
about without having to constantly question

their personal safety.
LSA-SG is workingon new ideas to improve
student safety in Ann Arbor, but we also feel
that it is important to advertise the current
services that are offered. The University,
paired with the Ann Arbor Transportation
Authority and Yellow Cab, provides two taxi-
like services for students at minimal or no
charge. Night Ride provides students with a
shared-ride taxi service on weekdays from 11
p.m. to 6 a.m. and weekends from 7 p.m. to 7
a.m. for the low cost of $3. There is also Ride
Home, a free taxi service available from 2
a.m. to 7 a.m. that picks up at the undergrad
library, Maternal and Child Health Center,
and the Duderstadt Center.
In addition to the taxi-like services,
S.A.F.E. WALK is a free nighttime walking
service in which a DPS-trained student will
walk you home within a 20-minute walk.
All of these services are safer alternatives to
walking home alone at night.
LSA-SG also recently paired with Make
Ann ArborBright, a movement to install more
streetlights in the residential area southeast
of State and Hill streets. MAAB is petition-
ing for federal fundingto decrease the finan-
cial burden the installation of streetlights
could have on residents. MAAB's philosophy
is that you cannot put a price on safety. It is
our hope that with support from LSA-SG,
MAAB will be successful in brightening Ann
Arbor's streets.
Within the next year, LSA-SG wants to
work with DPS to increase patrolling in
on- and off-campus areas. Patrolling deters
criminal acts. By increasing awareness of
Night Ride, Ride Home and S.A.F.E. WALK,
we eagerly anticipate a decline in the num-
ber of students walking home alone at night.
LSA-SG urges readers to help turn a simple
action into a campus-wide solution.
Jessica Barr, Gregory Spindell
and Tyrone Schiff
Barr is an LSA sophomore and chair of the Student Life
Committee in LSA-SG. Spindell is an LSA sophomore
and an associate representative in LSA-SG. Schiff is the
president and co-founder ofMake Ann Arbor Bright.



Divest from complicity

In America, we are often told of a
place called Israel, where our west-
ern-like ally is steeped in a cycle of
violence, a micro-war on terror that
no one can stop. Framed this way,
the discussion avoids mention of the
power dynamic at work between a
colonial state and a shrinking nation
called Palestine.Thisis anoccupation,
not merely a war fought between two
equal sides. And though geographi-
cally distant, Americans are closely
tied to the violence. The Israeli gov-
ernment would not be able to execute
its decades-long campaign of oppres-
sion without American support.
Some months ago, the Daily's then
editorial page editor Christopher
Zbrozek complained that the discus-
sion of this issue had begun to bother
him: "As anAmericanwithout ahorse
in this race, I at least have the luxu-
ry, if I choose ... to ignore the whole
mess as I go about my life" (The worst
debate on campus, 11/28/07). Smug
indifference ignores the impact that
we have on a situation we all wish
would be resolved.
America gives about $3 billion in
combined military and economic
aid to Israel ever year, more than
it gives to any other nation in the
world. So what's the problem with
this support? Israel uses this money
to purchase American weapons and
impose an overt colonial project.
For decades, Israel has purchased
fighter jets, attack helicopters and
high-tech weapons from American
companies. It now constitutes the
largest air force in the Middle East;
and uses it not just for self-defense.
The Israeli Defense Force uses this
military superiority to expand control
over Palestinian land and livelihood.
Our elected officials sign the checks,
even though Israeli occupation defies
International Court of Justice rulings
and international law.
Dollars keep flowing, even though
the occupation is condemned by
the United Nations as well as many

major American and Israpli human
rights organizations. America's blind
support even violates its own laws,
which prohibit aid "... to any country
which engages in aconsistent pattern
of gross violations of internationally
recognized human rights."
America's attempttomediate peace
is corrupted by this long history of
subsidization. The latest "Road Map"
proposal is equally meaningless as
long as our government enables the
occupying army. Peace is attainable
only if it ensures justice and security
for both communities.
In 1993, Israel promised to freeze
its settlements as part of the peace
agreement forged at Oslo. But 14
years later, Israel's settler popula-
tion has only increased, and Pal-
estinians are surrounded by the
Israeli military regime that isolates
their communities. The IDF justi-
fies every offensive in the name of
security. The military has sealed the
borders of Gaza, enforcing econom-
ic strangulation to punish Palestin-
ians for voting the "wrong" party
into power.
All Palestinians are treated as
suspects, and anyone could be the
target of fly-by assassinations in
civilian areas or home demolitions
that punish entire families for the
alleged crimes of individuals.
Palestinians are confined by a
matrix of military surveillance,
walled in by a separation barrier,
curfews, checkpoints and a network
of Israeli-only roads connecting set-
tlements to each other while bypass-
ing and further isolating Palestinian
communities. The occupied are ter-
rorized by raids, arrests, indefinite
prison sentences and well-docu-
mented methods of torture used in
Israeli prisons.
The first Palestinian suicide
bomber attacked in 1994 - almost
30 years after the occupation began.
Even so, Palestinian protests dur-
ing the first intifada in 1987 were

answered with gunfire and terror.
Words cannot fully illustrate the
desperation created by occupation,
realities which our taxes help pay
for. The money we need to revital-
ize America's ghettoes and overhaul
our dysfunctional prison complex
is underwriting the creation of
ghettoes in Palestine and the main-
tenance of a veritable prison for Pal-
estinians living within the confines
of Israeli apartheid.
" r
American colleges hold invest-
ments in companies - like Lock-
heed Martin, Caterpillar, Boeing
and General Electric - that produce
and sell the tools of occupation. In
solidarity with students at the Uni-
versity of Michigan at Dearborn and
Wayne State, Howard and Stanford
universities, we must demand that
administrators at our university
investigate and sever our complicit
ties with militarism.
The University Board of Regents
and University President Mary Sue
Coleman owe the campus com-
munity an explanation as to these
troubling investment policies. U.S.
military support must cease in order
to create conditions for a just peace.
As students, we can do our part by
demanding divestment from Ameri-
can companies who fuel and profit
from Israeli state terrorism.
Paul Abowd lsoan LSA senior.


po pla?

Editorial Board Members: Emily Beam, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda Burns, Sam Butler, Ben Caleca,
Brian Flaherty, Mara Gay, 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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