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November 05, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-05

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4A - Monday, November 5, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

a

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu
KARL STAMPFL IMRAN SYED JEFFREY BLOOMER
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
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 Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers' representative and takes a critical look at
coverage and content in every section of the paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He can be reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
Recalling miustakes
Legislators not solving budget woes, deserve consequences
We thought the state budget was finalized. We thought
Lansing learned from its mistakes after its bickering led
the state to the brink of a shutdown. We were wrong.
Last week, members of the Republican-led state Senate voted to sus-
pend the implementation of the 6 percent service tax, one of the key
provisions in the 2008 fiscal year's budget agreement. By unneces-
sarily blocking the only viable solution to the state's massive budget
deficit, state Republicans have proven that they are still not ready to
set politics aside for the welfare of the state. They deserve to face the
consequences of such failures of leadership.

They are showing zero tolerance for protest."
- Athar Minallahi, a former Pakistani government minister, accusing President Pervez Musharraf and his
regime of quelling protest during a state of emergency, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
Disorderly conduct

4

C alifornia tasers its college
boys for refusing to show
their student IDs. Florida tas-
ers its college boys
for being rude to
politicians. But
they've got nothing
on Georgia, where
prepubescent girls
are tasered for
swearing.
Last Wednesday,
an off-duty police EMMARIE
officer out in a
Georgia neighbor- HUETTEMAN
hood on Halloween
overheard a 14-year-old girl using foul
language while talking to her friends.
Noting that there were younger chil-
dren trick-or-treating nearby, the
officer asked that the girl watch her
language, at which point she started
cursing athim. He threatened to charge
her with disorderly conduct if she con-
tinued, and she began to walk away.
According to a Nov. 3 report in The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the
Gwinnett County officer then ordered
her to stop and "touched her arm." She
responded bytrying to punch him, and
he recruited the help of another offi-
cer to restrain her. But she continued
to resist even after being handcuffed;
and the off-duty officer decided to
threaten her with a Taser to calm her
down. When she kept punching the
back of his patrol car, he tasered her.
Apparently, washing out a foul
mouth with soap justisn't punishment
enough anymore.
It has been just a month and a half
since the nation argued about whether
it was appropriate for campus police at
the University of Florida to taser a stu-
dent for being obnoxious, and now this
officer has offered us yet another case
study. When did using a Taser against

a 14-year-old girl with a bad attitude
become acceptable?
Illana Spellman, the spokeswoman
for the Gwinnett County Police Depart-
ment, said that the officer felt that
be had been "forced" to taser the girl
because she was "extremely combative."
Because neither The Atlanta Journal-
Constitution nor the police department
reported how large this snotty 14-year-
old was, I can't help but picture my 14-
year-old sister. Sure, she's taller than
me, but I'm fairly certain that I could
hold my own in a fight with her. And yet
here is a grown man who contends that
even with the help of another officer and
a pair of handcuffs, he felt threatened by
a 14-year-old girl.
Iuse the term "threatened" because
I support the use of Tasers for one pur-
pose: to prevent harm to law enforce-
ment officials. If a police officer feels
that he or she is in legitimate danger
from an individual who is violently
resisting arrest, then I fully support
that officer's right to protection. How-
ever, that rationale has been abused so
many times that Ialmost can't defend it
anymore. If you can't protect yourself
from an unarmed, handcuffed child
without a Taser, then you shouldn't
be a police officer. After all, what will
such a cop need to handle someone his
own size? A SWAT team?
It's really a shame that there aren't
laws against being a pain in the ass,
but a police officer's job is the enforce-
ment of real laws. The most justifiable
response in this situation was the offi-
cer's first instinct: to ask the girl to be
mindful of those around her. However,
his choice to use excessive force when
she was already restrained destroyed
his chances of reasonably defending
his actions.
It all boils down to the fact that he
didn't want some punk to get away

with talking back to him, so he trans-
formed from an off-duty cop act-
ing as a concerned citizen to a police
officer with a Taser and a superiority
complex. He made that transition the
moment he refused to just let her walk
away when all she had done was curse
in public.
With the increasing media atten-
tion to the frequency of incidents like
these, we can't ignore this problem any
longer. Using force on an individual
who poses no legitimate risk is police
brutality whether the officer uses a
club that causes a visible bruise or a
Halloween isn't
scary enough till
you get tasered.
Taser that causes an invisible shock
to the central nervous system. We can
no longer let the flawed argument that
Tasers are safe to protect officers who
use excessive force, especially against
those who pose little threat - like a
14-year-old girl, who by the officer's
own report couldn't even land an
accurate punch against him before
being cuffed.
The girl was charged with disor-
derly conduct and the obstruction of
a law enforcement officer while the
officer got away without even having
a complaint filed against him.
If this girl wants a really scary cos-
tume for next Halloween, maybe she
should dress up asa cop with a Taser.
Emmarie Huetteman is an
associate editorial page editor. She
can be at huetteme@umich.edu.

4
I

After months of squabbling leading up to
the Oct.1 deadline, a compromise seemed
impossible and a shutdown inevitable.
Thankfully, that crisis was averted when
the legislature reached a late-night budget
agreement that included the service tax to
raise money for a state deeply in the red. The
agreement wasn't perfect, but it did get the
job done.
Since Oct. 1, pieces of the budget have
gradually been passed in productive but long
overdue motions. Some of the provisions
directly affecting the University are woe-
fully insufficient. For example, the 1 percent
increase in higher education funding is not
nearly enough. Also, the provision to fund
Michigan's research universities separately
from other public universities is encourag-
ing, but the measure's delay until next year's
budget raises the question of how serious
legislators are about actually implementing
it. Putting off that provision until next year
leaves it vulnerable to reversal in the uncer-
tainty of the next state budget.
Worst of all, the state Senate is threatening
the entire basis of the budget agreement by
voting to delay the Dec. 1 start of the 6 per-
cent service, tax. The Senate obviously has
designs on ultimately repealing the service
tax - which Republicans have railed against
for months - and simply wants more time to
manipulate public opinion.
The vote to delay the service tax is the

most reprehensible in a series of irrespon-
sible actions regarding the budget in the
legislature. Even when the service tax was
passed, backroom deals gave exemptions to
businesses represented by strong lobbies,
like lawyers and accountants. The state is
in desperate need of revenue to sufficiently
fund its services and programs, and it is only
right that all goods and services in should be
taxed equally.
The fact that some businesses were nefar-
iously exempted is bad enough, but if Repub-
licans get their way and the entire service
tax is overturned, an enormous revenue
shortfall would be created, leaving the state
back at square one. The rampant partisan-
ship that brought about the budget standoff
and now this unnecessary hurdle is unac-
ceptable under any sensible notion of the
common good.
It seems that even the close call that the
state had on Oct. 1 has not taught all legisla-
tors a lesson. There are strong lobbies in the
state that are pushing to recall any legislator
that voted in favor of the service tax, and it
seems at least some in the state Senate are
bowing to that pressure. Perhaps it's time
that they felt some pressure from the side of
common sense too. Any legislator who votes
to repeal the service tax, the one workable
solution to Michigan's deficit, must be held
accountable. A recall is a fine way to deal
with such irresponsible behavior.

I

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

KYLE SUTTON EA
Obama's fresh approach

The University of Michigan is one of the
top universities in the country. Our student
body is composed of the brightest minds from
around the country
and the world. We are
the leaders of tomor-V
row with the power to
change and shape our o
nation through our Z
civic duty to vote. Next
year there is a piv-
otal election that will m
influence the direc-
tion of our nation and-
determine the kind of OBAMA
world we future lead-
ers will inherit. It is imperative that we elect
a leader who shares the values and possesses
the character to unite our country and build
the foundation upon which we will confront
future challenges. Barack Obama is the best
person to take the reins of our polarized
country and usher in vital change.
Unlike many other candidates, Obama has
refused to take any money from lobbyists or
political action committees. Instead, he has
received more than 500,000 donations from
a record 350,000 people. Many of these dona-
tions came in small amounts from young peo-
ple interested in change.
In the past, politicians have either alien-
ated or dismissed young voters, believing
that young people are disillusioned or apa-
thetic about politics. Obama has turned this
notion on its head by engaging and relying on
young people to be a force in his campaign.
Young people are attracted to him because of
his integrity and his commitment to change.
Young people aren't disillusioned with poli-
tics; they are disillusioned with Washington.
Obama has both the leadership and character
to fix Washington and rejuvenate students'
involvement in shaping our nation.
One of the most important actions needed
to repair our government is to once again
instill a respect for the Constitution within
our federal institutions. Over the last seven
years, the Constitution has been battered,
manipulated and ignored. As a former Con-
stitutional law professor, Obama knows bet-
ter than most the value of this significant
document. His mastery of the Constitution
will assuage the fears many students cur-
rently have about possible infringements on
their civil liberties. His knowledge and judg-
ment will surely provide the defense that the
Constitution so sorely needs after such a
period of abuse.

The Constitution was written for our young
nation, but now our country is becoming
increasingly divided into red, blue and bat-'
tleground states. Politicians may berate the
other party to score points with voters, but
in the real world people must work together
to make decisions. Obama follows this prin-
ciple, as evidenced by an exemplary record of
bipartisan cooperation at both the state and
national level.
When it was said that it couldn't be done,
he worked with both parties in the Illinois
state Senate to pass important racial profiling,
ethics and
death pent- This viewpoint is the
alty legisla-
tion. More sixth in a series by
recently, he leaders of campus
has worked gti
with conser- groups supporting
vative stal- various presidential
wart Sen. candidates.
Tom Coburn
(R-Okla.) on the issues of lobbying reform and
fiscal responsibility. As president, his ability
to unite and work in a bipartisan fashion will
embody the real-world leadership and sound
judgment that we, as Michigan students, will
employ in the future.
Obama showed the good judgment and
sensibility to oppose the war in Iraq from
the beginning, even when it was unpopular
to do so. Like most Americans, Obama thinks
the current surge has not yielded the prom-
ised diplomatic progress, and that we must
responsibly leave Iraq. Obama proposes a
phased withdrawal that would begin imme-
diately and be completed by the end of next
year. He also calls for a new constitutional
convention to be convened in Iraq with the
support of the United Nations. As students
who consistently see the flag at half-mast
on the Diag, we all understand the need for
a plan that will end this war and bring our
troops home.
This is our generation's century, and the
last seven years have been a poor start. As
the future leaders of this country, we must
begin fulfilling our duty now by electing
Obama, a leader who will instill our values in
our government and ensure that we inherit a
better America. He represents the integrity,
change and shared principles necessary to
achieve this task.
Kyle Sutton is an LSA junior and the
communications directorfor University
chapter of Students for Obama,

Without action, drug
prices could rise
TO THE DAILY:
I am writing to raise awareness on
the issue of nominal drug pricing. As
a concerned student and a Planned
Parenthood volunteer, I think it is
important that people understand
nominal drug pricing and how it
affects them. Because 98 percent of
women will use contraceptives in
their lifetime, according to a survey
by the National Center for Health
Statistics, access to contraceptives is
an important issue.
In 2005, Congress attempted to
close a loophole in the Medicaid
drug rebate law to reduce the defi-
cit. It also inadvertently eliminated
access to discounted drugs for health
care providers like Planned Parent-
hood and university health centers.
The concern was thatpanufacturers
were selling nominally priced drugs
beyond the intended scope of a pre-
vious law. The purpose of the 2005
revision was to ensure that manufac-
turers can only sell drugs at nominal
prices to charitable entities. Unfortu-
nately, Congress forgot to include an
exception for programs like Planned
Parenthood and university health
centers so low-income patients and
students may not have access to con-
traceptives and other drugs that they
may need. Currently, drug manu-
facturers are allowed, but are not
required, to offer deeply discounted
drugs to these groups.
Luckily, there is a way to fixthis. In
the short term, the University health
system has stockpiled medications
like birth control and won't have to
pass higher prices on to the students
for about a year. In the long term,
both parties have agreed on legisla-
tive language to be tacked on to a bill
to provide a technical fix to this over-
sight. However, it is critical that this
provision be added to the next pass-
able bill. Manystudents have failed to
get behind this issue, simply because
they did not know about it. It is time
for students to get involved - before
the stockpiled medications run out at
the pharmacy and their drug prices
increase fivefold.
Katherine Murkowski
LSA junior
Smoking ban would
trample on freedoms
TO THE DAILY:
The photo on last Tuesday's front
page showing a group of students
from the American Medical Student
Association forming a human no-
smoking sign to advocate a smok-
ing ban in restaurants and bars has.
struck fear into my soul. It repre-
sents a dangerous trend I've noticed
in society: people demanding that
freedoms be taken away.
Everyone knows smoking is
unhealthy. Countless studies show
thatfor people not exposed to smoke,
lung diseases drop dramatically.

Yet we still encounter second-hand
smoke in many restaurants. This is
obviously a problem, and I share con-
cerns with AMSA. However, we have
to choose the right solution.
On one side, we have the lazy
and thoughtless smoking ban, an
Orwellian law that unnecessarily
tramples on the freedom of millions.
On the other side, we have a mul-
titude of options that do the same
thing butpreserve freedom of choice.
How about regulations to make non-
smoking sections truly smoke-free
using powerful ventilation systems?
Surely, this isn't beyond human
capacity. How about petitioning res-
taurants to become smoke free, while
leaving the option to have a smoker's
bar where anyone can smoke?
When I challenge advocates of the
blanket smoking ban, they explain
that people are stupid and that it's
society's responsibility to protect
them. This is not a good thought. It
is extremely elitist and quite possi-
bly evil. Taking power over people's
lives through government in the
name of the common good has had
devastating results several times in
the previous century, as surely any-
one can recall. We have a system that
is specifically designed to prevent
this. Let's not allow it, to be broken.
Let's fight for our freedom and for
health at the same time with compat-
ible means. It just takes a little extra
effort and thought.
Nick Touran
Engineeringgraduate student
Sound study just a
pro-skybox ploy
TO THE DAILY:
When I read a headline last week
about the sound studies at Michi-
gan Stadium (A louder Big House,
11/01/2007), I was not surprised
to notice that the skybox support-
ers had stooped to a new low. They
want to find any way to bolster their
arguments in any way possible. And
what better way than to measure the
sound levels in the stadium when it is
half empty and nothing is happening
on the field?
of course the stadium was not
loud when the audio test was taken.
No one knew about the test and half
the stadium was absent because it
was taken in the middleof halftime
after the band had played and when
everyone was getting food or using
the restroom. On top of that, no one
knew what the sound recorder was.
Was it measuring sound? Was it tak-
ing a 360-degree photo?
I refuse to believe that three peo-
ple waving their arms up and down
could possibly get 60,000 fans to
cheer as loudly as a key play near the
student section's endzone or after
the Wolverines score a touchdown. I
don't doubt the science of the experi-
ment, but if results are to be repre-
sentative, then let's do it the right
way: Put those guys out on the field
during the game.
The University has gotten along
fine for decades with the Big House

as non-extravagant as it is. Thou-
sands of alumni and fans have sat
through hundreds of games through
the cold, rain and intense heat, just
like everyone else at the game. It's
part of being a Michigan football
fan. So if you want to watch the game
through a glass screen in a comfort-
able environment, don't even bother
with the trek to Ann Arbor. Watch
the game at home.
Eric Portenga
LSA senior
The word racism'
inappropriately used
TO THE DAILY:
I am writing in response to the
article about racist hazing in the
Greek system (Racist hazing among
Greeks?, 10/30/2007). Setting aside
the issuethat the male in the soimbre-
ro said he was pledging a fraternity,
I am having trouble understanding
how these actions are so racist.
Was this insensitive? Yes. Offen-
sive? I can see it. But use of the word
racist implies something that I just
didn't see in this story. There is quite
a difference between poking fun at
people from another country and
hatred of these people because they
look different.
If people are trying to implement
change in the Greek system, it bene-
fits them to use a word like racism to
get their story in the newspaper. But
if the word is used in instances like
this one, it weakens the case of peo,
ple in the future who actually have
legitimate claims of racism.
Halloween was Wednesday. This
should be seen by students as a great
opportunity to educate people about
the racist nature of their costumes.
By the standard set in the case of the
guy in the sombrero, every Irish per-
son dressed as a club-going Italian,
white person going out as Gandhi
and black person dressed as a Jew-
ish woman should be informed that
their costume choice makes them a
racist.
Chris Vessels
LSA senior
ALEXANDER HONKALA
7/s #igc a ca
SF
'J '

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