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March 27, 2009 - Image 4

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4 -Friday, March 27, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

74L e MIC4,6,gan +


Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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.
A deadly option
The use of Tasers in police situations must be rethought
t's true that firearms are the weapon typically associated with
the term "deadly force." But the recent death of a teenage boy
in Bay City at the hands of police officers wasn't caused by
a gun - it was caused by an officer's Taser. Though Tasers come
with the assumption that they don't cause permanent harm, the
incident should serve as a reminder that Tasers are anything but
harmless. Tasering can have serious, even life-threatening effects.
Police agencies should recognize this danger and put an end to pol-
icies that encourage the use of this unpredictable weapon.

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The science of science

Last Sunday, a 15-year-old in Bay City
was killed when a police officer Tasered
him. According to the police statement, the
officer responsible and one other were try-
ing to break up a fight between the boy and
another man. The boy resisted and the offi-
cer Tasered him, intending to immobilize
the teenager. Instead, the Taser killed him.
The boy was pronounced dead at a hospital
a short time later.
Admittedly, not all the facts about what
exactly happened are available yet, and if
the State Police investigation discovers
that the officer acted inappropriately, he
should be held accountable. But it seems
like the officers responded to the situation
in an appropriate manner.
And that's the problem - even when
used in the correct circumstances, Tasers
are inherently flawed. Tasers are clearly
much more dangerous than people consid-
er them to be. It's a faulty tool - one that
policy agencies across the country should
seriously reconsider.
According to Taser International, more
than 5,000 police agencies use Tasers,
despite evidence that shows they can be
unsafe. The death toll related to Taser-

ing between 2001 and 2007 now exceeds
220, according to Amnesty International.
Despite the fact that Tasers are unreliable
technology, law enforcement policies do
not reflect this reality, making police offi-
cers more likely to use them.
The biggest problem with Tasers is that
they're simply too easy to use. It's true
that discharging a firearm is easy, too -
all police have to do is aim and squeeze
the trigger. But police officers are aware
of all the consequences that result from
shooting someone. Because Tasers are
considered to be the responsible, "safe"
option, police use them with less caution.
And though there are times when police
officers must defend themselves and oth-
ers, they need to be aware that firing a
Taser can result in the same complica-
tions as firing a gun.
While plenty of attention has been paid
to the incidents in which police Tasered
people for no good reason, it's important to
remember that sometimes, even responsi-
ble uses of Tasers can go awry. Until police
protocol reflects this reality, the number of
unintentional Taser deaths will continue
to increase.

Science dominates the world
today. The fact that technol-
ogy is almost always viewed as
either evil incar-
nate or humanity's
savior is proof of
that. But there is
a fatal flaw with
leaningon science's
gift to us, technol-
ogy - most laymen
don't understand
what good scienceB
is. Science cannot BEN
prove anything CALECA
without a doubt,
and it is through
rigorous review of scientific research
and through skepticism of new dis-
coveries, that we better explain how
our world is governed.
An amusing recent example of not
understanding science comes from
the Large Hadron Collider located in
Switzerland. This 26-kilometer cir-
cumference ring contains a particle
accelerator capable of (hopefully)
finding the theorized but not as of yet
detected Higgs Boson, a subatomic
particle that in theory gives matter
mass. This, of course, bored the pub-
lic. After all, it's not exactly the kind
of thing that's very tangible to some-
one not interested in the subject. The
public was excited about the sugges-
tion by scientists that the particle
accelerator could form black holes of
an infinitesimal size.
The panic that followed was an
embarrassing show of ignorance.
Instead of asking what threat these
black holes posed, they assumed it
must be the stereotypical giant vor-
tex of death you might find in a bad
sci-fi movie. According to a world-
news.com.au article, a girl in India
watching her local station warn of
this possible global catastrophe
drank insecticide rather than risk
being around for the world to end

(Teen commits suicide after 'end of
world' reports, 11/11/2008). Scien-
tists from the European Organiza-
tion for Nuclear Research (CERN),
the particle physics laboratory
that runs the accelerator, tried to
explain the nature of what was real-
ly at stake.
So what of those horrific black
holes? They are so small, they would
not even be able to suck in a few mol-
ecules of air before evaporating into
nothing. Even more comically, the
science that says it could happen at
the LHC also supports the idea that
similar black holes can and probably
already do form and then disappear
randomly in our atmosphere. What
the scientists couldn't do to assuage
tinfoil-hatted naysayers was assure
that there was zero risk of the LHC
destroying the Earth.
This is where people'need to bet-
ter understand science and scien-
tific theory. A theory in science is an
explanation, with facts supportingits.
validity through observation. Theo-
ries aren't set in stone, nor can they
ever be, because scientific develop-
ments are fundamentally self-criti-
cal and skeptical. Scientists in good
conscience can never say a giant vor-
tex of death cannot possibly form,
because there is a slight chance that
it can. Then again, it is possible the
next time you go swimming you'll be
struck by lightning during a shark
attack, even in a lake.
Those who mock natural selection
as only being theory fail to realize
the inherent fluidity and uncertainty
of science. Germ theory and the cell
theory are just theories as well, still
vulnerable to being found incomplete
or perhaps even incorrect. All three
theories have evolved, so to speak,
over decades into more refined forms
that can broadly explain the natural
world. They are stronger than any
other theories because they are scru-

tinized so closely and are backed up
by experimental evidence and obser-
vationthat other theories donot have.
Theories almost always change and
develop, but often they remain useful
to predict natural phenomena.
Not every black
hole is a giant
vortex of death.


Inexperimentation, scientistshope
to prove their own work correct. But
more is often learned in the mistakes
scientists make, or in accidentally
' proving an exception to the accepted
theory. Exceptions are sometimesdue
to experimental error, but they some-
times show flaws that are valuable
to scientists looking to perfect their
work. All science has bias, such as
confirmation bias by narrow-minded
but driven researchers, but through
peer review of work and independent
confirmation of experimental results
we can filter out biased observations.
In the false name of science, ped-
dlers of useless items like magnetic
bandages ''and those Who would
undermine scientific advancement to
suit political or religious beliefs use
unscientific arguments to "prove"
their claims. It is important for us to
be vigilant as a society to claims and
movements founded on outrageous
beliefs or faulty evidence. Part of this
takes better understanding of what
it means to be scientific. Caution and ,
skepticism mean more in the long run
than any idea that hasn't been - or is
unable to be - tested.
- Ben Caleca can be reached
at calecab@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke,
Sutha K Kanagasingam, Shannon Kellman, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Matthew Shutler, Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder

Love isn' tjust black and white

Despite valid arguments,
child labor isn't the answer
I appreciated hearing the viewpoint of Ibra-
him Kakwan concerning child labor ('Fair
trade' tragedy, 03/26/2009). His perspective as
a former resident of El Salvador is one that we
do not often hear at the University.
I am sure it is true that impoverished chil-
dren who do not have access to jobs in manu-
facturing or farming are more likely to turn
to prostitution or to gangs in order to survive.
However, this fact does not lead me to feel that
I should support multinational companies that
use child labor.
Instead, it strengthens my resolve to work
to ensure that children in developing countries
have greater access to education and resourc-
es. It makes me feel even more strongly that
I should show my support for legislation like
the Education for All Act, which would assist
developing nations in ending the school fees
that keep many impoverished children from
getting an education.
In addition, I know companies that use child
labor will likely not miss my business, as they
tend to make large profits. I feel that my money
is better spent on clothing made in worker-
owned cooperatives or on fair-trade certified
The companies who make these goods are
more likely to pay their workers livable wages,
enabling their children to attend school and
not have to work in a factory or join a gang to
survive. !
I feel that the money I spend on these goods
has a far greater positive impact than money
spent on sweatshop-produced merchandise
ever could.
Lisa Treumuth
Pharmacy graduate student
Earth Hour exemplifies
anti-progressive principles
This Saturday night, millions of people
around the world will be shutting off their
lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. to partici-
pate in Earth Hour, supposedly spreading the
message about reducing human impact on the
Before you shut off your lights, consider

the message you are sending.-By flipping that
switch, you endorse the movement for man to
withdraw, to stop changing the environment,
and to exist in a primitive, "natural" state.
Instead, participate in Edison Hour by turn-
ing on your lights during this hour in celebra-
tion of human progress and achievement.
. Before you condemnthe idea for being waste-
ful, think about what you mean by "waste."
Something that is "wasted" is used without an
adequate return.
We are using our energy in celebration of
the wonders of technology and an industrial
society. While too many people are sitting in
the darkness, perhaps trying to read by light
from their (mass-produced) candles, we will
be enjoying the freedom and safety provided by
the effort of man.
While the goal of efficiency is an admirable
one, the sacrifice of humanity suggested by
Earth Hour is not a solution. Efficiency and
the move toward sustainability should focus on
using fewer resources and less energy for the
same processes, not forcing us to give up the
things that we value.
Are you willing to surrender your laptop,
your heated house, your electric lights and
everything else you use daily just to reduce
your carbon footprint?
Will you return to a hunter-gatherer exis-
tence just to stop the human modification of
the environment?
As much as I would like to stop burning fos-
sil fuels since the by-products are bad for my
body, I value my modern conveniences enough
that I am willing to take that risk. If you are
not willing to do the same, you are welcome to
leave industrial society.
If you have a real commitment to efficient
development, consider purchasing "greener"
products and services.
Yes, you will probably pay more. Yes, your
product may be inferior in quality to the less
"eco-friendly" version.
However, spending your money is a personal'
choice and an investment. It will provide funds
and demonstrate a consumer demand for effi-
ciency so that newer, better products will be
As for nie: when these "green" products stop
asking me to sacrifice, I will happily switch,
but not before. For now, I plan to turn on my
lights and celebrate the current state of our
beautifully industrialized, pollution-creating
society during Edison Hour, and I hope you do
the same.
Victoria Miller
LSA junior

s black men who spent nine
months in a white woman's
womb, Obama and I have
something in common. We are the
beautiful progeny
of interracial rela-
tionships, a part of
a growing trend.
Multiracial couples
are simultaneously
loved by Ameri-
cans who dream
of a day when race
discrimination MATTHEW
ceases to exist MATTEW
and resented by HUNTER
people who reject
the prospect of
becoming romantically involved with
another to whom they cannot cultur-
ally relate.
According to Time Magazine,
interracial marriages have increased
almost 1,000 percent between the
ban of anti-miscegenation laws in
1967 and 2003 (Color-Blind Love,
5/12/2003). "Mmixing of the races"
is inevitable. Considerations about
maintaining racial loyalty when
searching for one's mate might be
more productively discussed in the
context of negotiating complexities
involved with interracial relation-
Interracial couples cannot escape
the scrutiny of outspoken intra-
breeders. Amongthe mostprominent,
and perhaps the most legitimate, of
those who oppose some form of inter-
racial dating are black women. In a
2006 essence.com survey, 53 percent
of readers disapproved of seeing a
black man with a white woman.
To strengthen their case, black
women cite the statistics of "ineli-
gible" black men. According to the
University's 2008 enrollment statis-
tics, black women make up 60 per-
cent of the African American student
population. Combine that with the
201,000 black male-white female
marriages, as determined by the U.S.
Census Bureau, gays and the incar-
cerated, and hopes for an eligible
black man understandably decrease.
All of these factors account for the

increase of black female-white male
Similarly, black men seem to usu-
ally prefer black women. But in
social spaces dominated by whites,
the number of white women far out-
weighs that of black women. The
most likely candidate for a significant
other is then usually a white woman.
It is a rare man who, during his free
time, struggles to search far and wide
for the ideal black woman for the sake
of "staying loyal" to one's race.
Given that black men and women
who date outside of their race are
a growing minority group, practi-
cal questions arise. How can blacks
negotiate the issue of finding the
ideal white man or woman? How
can whites better understand why
they are usually not the first choice?
If they are the first choice, what cul-
tural negotiations might be made to
satisfy critics' questions? What sac-
rifices might whites make to experi-
ence the gain of one's black partner?
The Time Magazine article also
discussed the case of Chip, a white
man who was raised to be racist. He
fell in love with a black co-worker,
Yvette. Chip's father hasn't talked to
him since, and Chip's daughter said
that it was confusing when her dad
was the only white man at family
gatherings. But a child's confusion
can transform into wisdom. As their
13-year-old daughter said, "I feel
special because I can see the world
through black and white eyes both."
I have a few suggestions for inter-
racial couples. First, no one should
ignore race. Discussions of race and
politics should be on the front lines of
communication. Conversations about
identity, slavery, racism and race
education for children are essential
discourse. Second, each person must
attempt to better understand the
other's families. Having both white
and black families, I know that they
can be equally crazy but also equally
To black men: understand why the
sisters can be frustrated with you. To
black women: black men should be
with whomever they choose, so be

To whites; there are a few racial
issues that can easily create tension.
One such issue is the stereotypes of
white women being sexually over-
whelmed by black men. In a 2005
New York Press article entitled "A
White Woman Explains why she Pre-
fers Black Men," Susan Bakos claims
that she will never go back to white
men because, "that phrase, 'Once
you go black, you never go back' is
all about the feeling of the skin." She
continues, "I want black men. They
want me. We look at one another and
exchange a visible frisson of sexual
energy in the lingering glances. And
our attraction is based first on race."
The challenges
interracial couples
face today.
Lastly, white men should be care-
fulnot to treat a black partner as their
"ethnic prize." This subtle objectifi-
cation reminds many blacks of Jose-
phine Baker and of white men with
a long history of emphasizing the
"unique sexuality" of black women.
There is much to be gained from
datingoutside one's race. But because
racial stereotypes and tensions are
still so prominent, we must tread
carefully so as not to let society
determine the fate of interracial rela-
tionships. Limitation to one race is 4
not only sometimes impractical, but
also often restrictive of one's own
ability to share and learn from deep
relationships with others. I think our
openness to view the racial boundar-
ies of relationships on a continuum of
great possibility rather than binary
opposites will make this long transi-
tion into a nation of multiracial babies
much easier.
- Matthew Hunter can be
reached at majjam@umich.edu.


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