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October 02, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-02

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4 - Friday, October 2, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
A pig and a protest
LGBT advocates should fight intolerance, not free speech
Last night, dozens of protesters gathered at the Blind Pig.
Members of the LGBT community and their supporters
turned out to protest the scheduled appearance of contro-
versial reggae artist Buju Banton. While Banton's lyrics advocat-
ing violence toward gay men certainly merit protest, the protesters
shouldn't have tried to force the Blind Pig to cancel the show. All
viewpoints, even those that are entirely detestable, deserve to be
heard, and criticism of Banton - and other fringe perspectives
like his - should never shift into criticisms of his right to speak.
Instead, they should be drowned out by reasonable views.


'5 .

Body image goes both ways

The outcry from the LGBT community
came in response to some of Banton's lyr-
ics, which use derogatory slang terms for
gay men and advocate violence against
them. His controversial reputation led sev-
eral venues to cancel his concerts, includ-
ing the Mejestic Theatre in Detroit, which
was supposed to host him Wednesday. His
show was moved to the Blind Pig in Ann
Arbor, which prompted the LGBT commu-
nity to attempt to secure his show's cancel-
lation, arguing that his blatantly violent
lyrics should not be hosted in the venue.
Among the protesters at the Blind Pig on
Wednesday were LGBT activist groups,
University students and Ann Arbor Mayor
John Hieftje.
It is disgusting for someone to advocate
the things Banton advocates in his song
"Boom Bye-Bye," including shooting gay
men with Uzis and, arguably, pouring acid
on them. People were correct to take issue
with Banton's backward and offensive
message. But by making the protest about
the Blind Pig's decision to host this artist,
the protesters crossed a line. While it's true
that the protesters have a right to oppose
the Blind Pig's decision, they shouldn't
have focused on silencing Banton. Free-
dom of speech isn't just a legal protection
- it's a moral position as well. Freedom of

speech rests on the precept that everyone
can speak as they wish, and those with
fringe, disgusting views like Banton's are
brought to light as such by everyone else.
But even more troubling about the efforts
to censor this view is Hieftje's role in it.
As a governmental official, Hieftje can't
be reasonably considered separate from
the office he holds, and his attempts to
convince the Blind Pig to cancel the show
were especially detestable considering his
status. Hieftje, as a figurehead for the city,
shouldn't be positioning himself against
free speech.
It's true that the despicable nature of
Banton's message makes the LGBT com-
munity's reaction somewhat understand-
able, especially when one considers all the
obstacles to social acceptance that LGBT
individuals continue to face. Hate crimes,
social stigma and marriage laws are only a
few of the discriminatory adversities these
people live with. But progress toward
LGBT acceptance won't come by censoring
views of intolerance and hate - it will come
by hearing and repudiating these views.
Ann Arbor's LGBT community rightly
protested Banton last night, but partly for
the wrong reasons. Next time, students
and city officials should wage their battles
more carefully.

ith shows like "The Big-
gest Loser" and "More
to Love" popping up all
over primetime
television and the
evening news's
obsession with the
obesity epidemic, "
body image issues
have gotten a lotv
of publicity. Wom-
en's magazines
like Cosmopolitan
are always offer- JAMIE
ing cosmetic and BLOCK
confidence tips
to women who,
despite already
being at a desirable weight, still feel
they need to look better (and need
44 new ways to please their men).
But in all of these media outlets, one
group remains tragically uncovered:
underweight males.
As someone who stands at a
decently tall 6'4" but weighs in at
just under 140 pounds, I often find
myself looking in the mirror, won-
dering if museums would hire me to
pose as skeleton. But more often, I
find myself making little jokes just
like that one as a coping mechanism
so I don't think about what's really
on my mind: How could anybody be
attracted to someone whose ribs are
visible nearly all the time?
Walking around campus, it's hard
not to notice the large population
of muscular, fit, healthy-looking
guys. It's not that they jump out or
anything, but they're everywhere. I
know it's fickle of me to be upset that
I don't look like them, but it's hard to
stop wishing for something you see
countless others achieving almost
Beyond letting body image issues,
ferment on my own, I have had a fair
share of nicknames and jokes made
about my particular build, nearly all

of which I have at least pretended
to be on board with. To name a few:
"Skeletor," "Holocaust victim," "tf
you turned sideways you'd disappear"
and "Watch out for light breezes."
Admittedly, many of the jokes are
somewhat funny, but they certainly
don't help me feel any better about
myself in the long run. I appreci-
ate them as an escape from shame,
though. Hell, I even made a Skeletor
T-shirt for myself in middle school.
I wanted friends, so I was forced to
turn my flaws into something likable.
The fact that some people have
body image issues and that others
make jokes about is nothing new. It's
obviously not a good thing, but it's not
unique to my situation. What under-
weight men face that others don't is
the lack of readily available support
and comfort. In all the school-spon-
sored discussion on body image I've
attended since middle school, my sit-
uation has never come up. Nor does
it come up on primetime TV, on the
news or in magazines. Underweight
males need to be a part of body image
discussions from the start, not just a
statistic used to make the other num-
bers look bigger.
Along with having these body
issues underpublicized is an inherent
guilt abouthavingthe issue in the first
place, which can worsen already low
self-esteem. Whenever I complain to
anyone looking to lose even a little
bit of weight, my complaints are met
with statements like "Are you kid-
ding? I'd kill to be thin like you." But
you never see someone who wants to
gain weight lamenting that they can't
be more like their overweight friends,
because the media has trained us to
think that this is obviously insen-
sitive, while forgetting to mention
that the struggle can go both ways.
Not only am I physically weak, but I
also lack the mental and emotional
strength to accept who I am.

It's not enough to have an emerg-
ing group of young, thin, hipster
male role models. Just because
there are famous people built like
me doesn't make me feel any more
adequate. What I need is for my lack
'of confidence to be taken seriously,
not tossed away as an unreason-
able complaint from someone with
a divinely bestowed metabolism.
This pressure to be macho, when
unchecked, can lead to steroid abuse
and other unhealthy habits like hing-
ing on fatty foods, not to mention
intense depression. Imagine hating
yourself every time you wear short
sleeves because you have to look at
your skinny arms and wrists, and
you'll start to get the idea.
people can have
low self-esteem, too.
While underweight males are
arguably one of the smallest groups
in the bad body image pie chart, I
can guarantee that most of you know
a male who, whether he admits it
or not, wishes he could bulk up. As
someone who has been dealing with
this problem for as long as I can
remember, I beseech you to be sen-
sitive with these friends, regardless
of how "okay" they may seem to be
with their weight and build. The
common saying of "the bigger they
are, the harder they fall" just doesn't
hold up here - the small can fall just
as hard, and it doesn't take much to
tip them over.
-Jamie Block is a senior
arts editor. He can be reached
at jamblock@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Ben Caleca, Brian Flaherty,
Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer,
Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
P atsy overlooks the social Only proactive policies will
reality offair pay policies combat pay discrimination


The brighter side of business

In Vincent Patsy's recent column, he devel-
ops his entire argument upon the basic idea
that people are paid less because they are less
productive (Policing equal pay,.09/30/2009).
The economic principles stated in his col-
umn - that, in the free market, people would
be paid what they ultimately deserve - are
undoubtedly true on a two-dimensional
model. However, that view, like many simple
economic models, completely ignores social
Patsy's description of the "outbidding" pro-
cess is unrealistic. Workers can't actively com-
pare wages and continuously shift between an
infinite number of jobs as they please. Like-
wise, employers don't constantly observe a
pool of workers, vying for labor and thrilled to
pay high wages. Employers will, of course, pay
less if they can. That's the entire basis of pay
discrimination in the workplace.
Since the Lilly Ledbetter Act was cited in
Patsy's column, itrcan be assumed that the argu-
ment is mainly about the pay gap between men
and women. Patsy's column revolves around
the assumption that the group that earns less
is "less productive and (produces) fewer goods
per day (than those who snake more)". This
point is the argument's biggest and most insult-
ing flaw. It is both arrogant and misleading to
suggest that women earn less simply because
they are inherently less productive.
It's unfortunate that groups with histories
of oppression make less money, but it's not
entirely surprising. It is, however, shocking
that some people still imply that it's due to an
inborn racial or gender inferiority.
Kaitlin Henry
LSA sophomore

Though Vincent Patsy's latest column voices
an interesting concern about Obama's efforts
to level the playing field in terms of wage dis-
crimination, he overlooks and skews some
key points that are important to keep in mind
(Policingfair pay, 09/30/2009). Stating that the
market is the most useful tool in which to cure
inequality is overly simplistic, unrealistic and
even irresponsible.
In order to make noticeable strides toward
actual equality at the workplace, to borrow
Patsy's advice, based upon talent and devotion
alone, efforts must be made and action must be
taken to ensure that the ground is fair at the
beginning. By ignoring racial and gender-based
policies, whether intentional or de facto (an
unimportant qualifying tool, as discrimination
is discrimination), we're allowing these poli-
cies to perpetuate. The Obama administration is
nobly trying to amend an already set system of
flawed favoritism.
Sometimes, when deficient - if not blatantly
unfair - practices like pay discrimination are
not explicitly spelled out in policy, it is easy to
believe that they have arisen as a result of natu-
ral causes and therefore will be fixed, lessened
or accepted by waiting. But it would be ineffec-
tive to rely on the market change itself or become
organically evened because it has no interest in
doing so.
More importantly, there are human ways to
expedite the process and rectify the situation.
Allowing the government to step in and assist in
creating a justbase is far from nepotism - in fact,
standing back and watching a stoppable stagger
continue as Patsy suggests would be just that.
Rebecca Egler
LSA junior

uring my time at the Univer-
sity, I've become aware of ste-
reotypes surrounding various
majors. College lore
says that General
Studies students ,
find it difficult to
spell their names
correctly, while it's -
believed that Envi-
ronmental Studies
majors live deep
in the woods and BRIAN
smoke great quan- FLAHERTY
tities of pot. And a_
common assump-
tion about Business
students like me is that we are moti-
vated by selfish interests like making
money. But like many of the labels that
get thrown around on college cam-
puses, that one misses the point of why
people choose Business asa major.
Of course, that's notto saythatmon-
ey-grubbers are a rarity in the world
of business. There are more than a few
Ross School of Business students who
are ready and willing to offer 90-hour
work weeks and years of their lives to
prestigious but cutthroat firms. Busi-
ness programs tend to be a magnet
for intelligent, aggressive people who
dream about Maseratis and Hermes
handbags. But many people are drawn
to business for other reasons.
Personally, I wasn't certain that I
wanted to study business until, during
high school, I learned a true story that
most Business majors learn about here
at the University. The story is about
river blindness, a debilitating disease
caused by a parasite commonly found
near rivers and streams in Africa.
When transmitted to a human host
by the bite of a common black fly, this
parasite multiplies and, if untreated,
causes itching, skin disfigurement,
lesions and eventual blindness. For
million of children in many African
villages, the existence of this parasite
meant that growing up blind was sim-
ply an unavoidable part ofgrowingup.

Until the 1980s, there were no good
options for fighting river blindness. But
that changed because Merck, a large
pharmaceutical company, did some-
thing that had never been done before.
After identifying a substance that had
little commercial value but did have
the potential to treat river blindness,
Merck invested millions (at a financial
loss) to develop and test a drug called
Mectizan. It turned out to be very
effective in treating river blindness,
and in 1987, Merck's managers pledged
to provide Mectizan free of charge to
anyone who needed it (a commitment
that Merck continues to honor today).
An estimated 16 million children have
been spared from river blindness due
to control efforts involving Mectizan,
and Merck has set a goal of completely
eradicating the disease by 2020.
Mectizan is tangible proof that a
good business can do much more than
generate money. At their best, enter-
prises aren't soulless machines run
by robots. Instead, they are groups
of people working together to shape
the world according to their values.
Merck's first purpose, according to its
mission statement, is "preserving and
improving human life." But one thing
that high-performing companies like
Merck,Boeingand GE have in common
is that they are built around cultural
values other than money. In fact, busi-
ness research gurus like Jim Collins
have found that the highest perform-
ing firms don't set profit maximization
as their main goal.
A recent survey of big pharmaceuti-
cal firms showed that Merck isn't sim-
ply an anomaly - respondentsreported
donating 13 percent of their income to
charitable causes. Actions that aren't
strictly profit-driven take place across
industry boundaries. Many shoppers at
Target would be surprised to learnthat
five percent of the company's income is
donated in order to serve community
issues. Finance textbooks and econo-
mists can claim that the primary goal
of a business should be to maximize

profits, but an alternative view is that
profits are simply a necessary condi-
tion for a business to continue its work
- which can be whatever its managers
and shareholders wish it to be.
Business majors
are more than
Unfortunately, business students
and corporations have recently got-
ten a bad reputation. Events like the
financial meltdown, companies like
Enron and managers like Bernie
Madoff have exposed the fact that
the private sector can fail and is often
overly driven by short-term oppor-
tunism. Left unchecked, businesses
can do nasty and unethical things in
the pursuit of profits, ranging from
stealing from investors to dumping
poison into rivers.
In debates over business and assess-
ments of business people, it's impor-
tant to see the good in addition to the
ugly. Private enterprises have occa-
sionally given us problems, but they've
also given us solutions: cars, Mac and
Cheese, global supply chains, iPods
and most other modern conveniences.
In a century that is likely to see a ris-
ing population, increasing scarcity of
resources and wide-scale environmen-
tal challenges, enterprises will con-
tinue to act in ways that preserve and
improve the quality of life for billions
of people. And behind a lot of those
enterprises, there will be managers, a
lot of them former business students,
who see profit as a tool with impact
rather than an end goal.
- Brian Flaherty is an associate
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at bfla@umich.edu.

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