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September 22, 2010 - Image 4

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4A - Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
E-MAIL ROSE AT ROSEJAFF@UMICH.EDU

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

ROSE JAFFE

JACOB SMILOVITZ
EDITOR IN CHIEF

RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

MATT AARONSON
MANAGING EDITOR

';5 weird why {hoa you Haw ee w s-,prs
c-c~' -e s iPsals 0 ' ee
Finally a reasonable rally

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.
Curing the law
State must clarify medical marijuana regulations
Medical marijuana may be legal in Michigan, but when
the law comes under scrutiny, more questions than
answers are found. Michigan voters called for the
legalization of medical marijuana in 2008. But the resulting law's
ambiguity has caused problems for patients trying to obtain the
drug for treatment. Last week, Michigan Court of Appeals Judge
Peter O'Connell called for a revision of the current law, which he
argues has been too "open for interpretation." Michigan lawmak-
ers should clarify the existing legislation so that patients who are
prescribed marijuana can get it without fear of violating the law.

0

Last Wednesday, Judge O'Connell
released a 30-page opinion on an Oakland
County case in which two Madison Heights
residents were charged with marijuana pos-
session. In the opinion, he argues that state
legislators should refine the medical mari-
juana law since it contradicts current Public
Health Codes that make the possession and
manufacture of marijuana illegal, accord-
ing to a Sept. 16 article in The Detroit News.
O'Connell goes on to say that even users
"who proceed with due caution" could "lose
both their property and liberty" because of
these inconsistencies.
Michigan's economy wins if legislators
can create a viable way of obtaining legal
medical marijuana. If Michigan created a
system like California's - where individu-
als who hold a prescription for medical
marijuana have access to regulated and
taxed dispensaries - the state could gain
millions of dollars in revenue annually.
The marijuana industry also could con-
tribute to the diversification of Michigan's
economy. Instead, the ambiguities in the
law prevent the state from capitalizing on
this potential source of income.
Cardholders deserve a clear way to
obtain marijuana. The drug can be a useful
treatment for various health issues. Among
other things, marijuana helps stimulate
hunger in people undergoing chemothera-
py, relieves pain, is used to treat glaucoma

and helps control nausea. Despite the fact
that Michigan's law is among the most
liberal in the country, it fails to establish
a clear, easily accessible and legal way for
cardholders to obtain marijuana. There's
no reason to deny medical marijuana card-
holders access to the treatment they need
and have been legally prescribed.
Michigan's law - which can be broadly
interpreted - is the crux of the problem.
Though medical marijuana users may
think they are operating within their legal
rights by possessing the drug, prosecutors
sometimes take legal action against users
under other state guidelines. This ambi-
guity exists despite the fact that nearly
63 percent of voters sent a clear message
to the state by voting in favor of legalizing
medical marijuana in 2008. Lawmakers
need to respond to the public mandate by
creating a unified legal structure in which
both citizens and law enforcement officials
can operate appropriately. O'Connell's
suggestion is sensible - he calls for the
Michigan Supreme Court to examine legal
routes which will combine ample drug
regulation with allowing dispensaries to
remain open.
Those prescribed the drug deserve a way
to get treatment without fear of prosecution.
The Michigan legislature must take swift
action to resolve the ambiguities and cor-
rect the contradictions in the existing law.

disagree with you, but I'm pretty
sure you're not Hitler."
This could be the citizens' ral-
lying cry in Wash-
ington D.C. this
October, when
Daily Show host
Jon Stewart will
host the "Rally 1
to Restore San-
ity," an event he
announced this
past Thursday
on his show. The JEREMY
rally's goal is to LEVY
bring togetherL
what Stewart con-_
siders to be the
normal Americans - not defined by
liberalness or conservativeness - but
instead by a tendency to be more mod-
erate than the most extreme left and
right. Given the recession and recent
frequency of unruly protest, this rally
could be exactly what America needs.
To explain why, I have to begin
with a discussion about political
polarization.
Two summers ago
when I had an intern-
ship with a local
Democratic Party
organization in the ,
suburbs of Chicago,
one piece of merchan-
dise that we sold to
constituents was a
children's book called
"Why Daddy is a
Democrat" by Jeremy
Zilber. I don't remem-
ber what the book saidS
word for word, but
the text read some-
thing along the lines
of, "Daddy is a Demo-
crat because he values
sharing, treating peo-
ple kindly and mak-
ing the world fair for
everyone." This book's
message has clear
implications - Republicans don't
value sharing and have no interest in
treating people kindly or fairly.
It's easy to see howa child can read
this book and gather that Republicans
are bad people. But this book is only
one example of the type of messages
people receive about individuals on
the opposite end of the ideological
spectrum.
Adults are also susceptible to such
messages about the opposing party.

I have a friend who frequently jokes
that this country should have let the
South go when it had the chance -
implying that the entire population
of the South consists of conservative
hicks.
This sort of thinking about the
opposing party is absurd. Not all con-
servatives are as inflammatory as the
pundits at Fox News. Not all liberals
are impractical hippies. But why do
so many people think the opposite is
true? The answer is complicated. In
the past decade, politicians in the two
major political parties have become
more polarized, and academics argue
whether the same can be said about
the parties' constituencies. There are
many causes of polarization, but this
column will focus on one: the media.
Media frequently reports on the
most extreme constituents in both
parties, adding to the perception that
constituents of the two parties are
very, very different. This is primarily
because media outlets have an incen-
tive to create conflict in order to make
- e Z
more money. For example, in his book
"Culture War? The Myth of Polarized
America," Stanford Prof. Morris Fio-
rina cites a Newsweek article about
gun control in which the reporter
selectively interviews citizens with
the most extreme positions in order
to exaggerate the theme of polariza-
tion - ultimately skewing readers
perception of the opposing parties'
supporters. And this is a mild example
in comparison to other media outlets,

most notably cable news shows.
Surprising as it may be, I think
"The Daily Show" may be one of the
most visible outlets that regularly
acts to circumvent media's polarizing
abilities.
If you aren't a frequent "Daily
Show" viewer, you may be under the
impression that Stewart is merely a
comedian and fake pundit. But within
his comedy, Stewart makes real argu-
ments about politics, and perhaps his
most concentrated attack has been on
an alarmist media. In 2004, he went
on the debate show "Crossfire" and
told the hosts that they were doing
America a disservice by engaging
in "political theater" instead of real
debate. Similar themes can be found
constantly on his show.
If successful, Stewart's D.C. rally
could take his initiative against media
alarmism to new levels. The goal of
the event is to show that the media's
portrayal of a deeply divided America
is unrepresentative of the true popu-
lation. To do this, Stewart hopes to
bring out more mod-
erate citizens who are
less likely to be found
at typical rallies - or
at least people who
aren't crazy enough to
make the news when
they attend said ral-
lies. While it is pretty
clear that Stewart is
responding to conser-
vative political com-
o mentator Glenn Beck's
rally in August, Tea
Z Partiers are not being
$_ exclusively targeted.
Stewart wvas sure to
criticize the extreme
-D Left in his announce-
2 ment of the event as
well.
When we assumue
the worst about citi-
zens with different
political leanings than
us, we have to ask ourselves where our
perceptions come from. The media
often plays a strong role in crafting
those views. Stewart's rally - while
partially a comedic media stunt -
could invoke a serious message with
enough support. I think a rally against
irrationality is something we can all
get behind - Republican or Democrat.

ALEX KING I
College rankings don't matter

-J

Jeremy Levy can be reached
at jeremlev@umich.edu.

To base one's college decision - either entirely
or largely in part - upon college rankings, as
Ashley Griesshammer encouraged in her view-
point last week, is folly (College rankings matter,
09/16/2010). These rankings might be useful in
telling the public about broad differences in gen-
eral quality among universities, but to rely upon
them for more specific distinctions is a mistake.
In fact, to call them useful in making broad dis-
tinctions is generous. Who needs U.S. News &
World Report to tell them that Princeton - #2
on the 2011 list - is, in general terms, a better
institution than, say, Hofstra (#139)? On the
other hand, what's the use in knowing that the
same magazine considers Georgetown (#21) bet-
ter than the University of Californina at Berkeley
(#22)? No one ever needs to say, "Georgetown is
better than Berkeley - if it's printed here, it must
be true!"
Of course, it isn't fair to only pick on U.S.
News and World Report, even if they are the
progenitors and perpetuators of this tired
trend. The cover of Forbes' Aug. 30 issue
claims to reveal the "250 Best Colleges for Your
Money," which reasonable readers might think
would favor public institutions and their lower
tuitions. The list starts off typically enough,
with Williams at #1, followed by Princeton and
Amherst. But the concerned Wolverine will
spend a few seconds looking for his beloved
school's name, which fails to appear in the top
50 listed on the first page of the story.
Rather, the University has somehow plum-
meted all the way to - are you sitting down?
- 92nd place, just below Furman University of
South Carolina and Drew University of New
Jersey. Readers in East Lansing will have to
turn to Forbes' website to discover that their
university has dropped out of the top 250 print-
ed in the issue altogether and fallen to 282nd
place. I'd like to remind the reader that these
rankings come from a magazine purporting to
rank "the schools that offer the best return on
your educational investment."
There are so many methodologies, numbers,
surveys and half-baked ideas that go into each

of these rankings, it's hardly any wonder that
they each produce wildly different results. In my
casual analysis of some recent rankings of the
University, I found that we rank 29th, 92nd, 7th,
1,283, 874th and 2nd - Okay, I made those last
two up. But with such disparate numbers, how
could anyone ever make a serious decision about
where to apply to or attend college based on the
difference of a single spot or two in the rankings,
as Griesshammer suggests she did?
Not only do these rankings differ from pub-
lication to publication, but they can also vary
sharply from year to year. Is the University
truly two spots worse than it was last year, and
five spots worse than in 2006, as U.S. News
suggests? I realize that the football team has
suffered since 2006 and the campus's squir-
rel population has reached a critical point, but
what of our new business school and residence
hall? I strongly doubt that any "true" indicator
of the University's rank (if such a thing could
even exist) would find that it has declined in
quality or has been surpassed by other schools
to the tune of five spots in as many years.
But the college ranking's greatest sin is in
implying that universities can actually be com-
pared by inputting a handful of numbers into a
formula, and then printing the results in order.
This implication is especially dangerous for
potential applicants. Statistics like the alumni
giving rate, student selectivity or graduation
rate at a particular school and their relative
weights in a particular ranking should not be
of major importance to high school seniors.
Rather, the student should ask, what's campus
life like? Do I want to attend a Big Ten school
or a small liberal arts college? How will I make
my mark there? College counselors have their
trite sayings, but they're not wrong in telling
applicants that college is a match to be made,
and not a prize to be won. College rankings
rankle me because they intrude upon appli-
cants' process of legitimate discovery about
which school is best for them.
Alex King a Business sophomore.

-he
podium

Talk amongst yourselves. Rachel Van Gilder wonders if the new permanent
stadium lights enhance the Big House's atmosphere or are wrong for
Michigan tradition. Go to michigandaily.com and click on 'Blogs'.

COLLEGE DEMOCRATS
Debate for democracy

Everyone likes to compare options before making a
decision. When you're shopping, you'll try on a few pairs
of jeans before deciding which ones to buy. When choos-
ing your classes, you read multiple course descriptions or
syllabi before registering. You can sample different fla-
vors of ice cream before you commit to buying a cone. So
why is it that when Michiganders make arguably the most
important decision of this election cycle - who will be
the next governor of our state - we are denied a side-by-
side comparison of the two candidates?
The short answer is that the Republican candidate for
governor, Rick Snyder, has apparently decided that hav-
ing a debate with his Democratic opponent, Virg Bernero,
is not in his self-interest and has all but quashed the pos-
sibility of an open, honest debate.
About a week ago, the two candidates had almost set-
tled their plans for a series of three debates, but Snyder
decided to drop out of the agreement at the last minute.
He offered only the excuse that he disliked Bernero's
terms, which, according to the Detroit Free Press, includ-
ed airing the debate during the evening for increased
viewership and negotiating moderators for the exchang-
es. Despite public pressure over the past week, Snyder
still refuses to participate in a televised match-up.
If one word can describe Snyder's behavior in this mat-
ter, it's "evasive." Even though a whole seven weeks has
passed since the primary election, Snyder continues to
construct roadblocks toward reaching an agreement on
this issue. By dragging out the process long enough, he
might effectively pass the time frame in which debates
are feasible. Unlike Bernero, who has publicly stated that
he would like at least eight opportunities for moderated
policy discussions, Snyder keeps stringing the process
along in a manner that wastes time and frees him from
the necessity of saying "no" to debates outright.
Even during the Republican primary, Snyder stuck to
town hall meetings and other forums in which he was the

only candidate available for the audience to question. Per-
haps the former Gateway executive believes that appear-
ing in public alongside a competitor would detract from
the expensive ad campaign in which he has invested mil-
lions of dollars from his personal savings. Bernero, on the
other hand, whose career lies in the less lucrative field of
public service, favors providing voters with a forum that
is less costly and that encourages them to form their oWn
opinions of the two candidates at hand.
There is no reason that an honest candidate should
seek to avoid the opportunity to present his or her posi-
tions to the public in such a waythat they may be weighed
against the positions of another. Dodging such a critical
aspect of the democratic process seems to be little more
than a means of avoiding discussion of the issues in an
unscripted manner. Unfortunately, as demonstrated by
his recent actions, this seems to be the route Snyder has
chosen.
Regardless of party affiliation, every citizen deserves
the access to information about candidates for public
office that debates provide. By preventing debates in an
apparent attempt to suppress the voice of his opponent,
Snyder has failed to look outside of the realm of his own
campaign strategy and consider the consequences such
a stance will have on the quality of democratic decision-
making.
The people of Michigan have a monumental decision
before them. Over the course of the next month and a half
they must determine collectively who they would like to
govern their state. At the very least, they deserve a series
of public, televised debates to help them come to the right
conclusion. It is unfortunate for everyone that Snyder
does not seem to agree.
This viewpoint was written by Devin Parsons
and Robert Bowen on behalf of the University's
chapter of College Democrats.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Jordan Birnholtz, Adrianna Bojrab, Will Butler,
Eghan Davis, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Will Grundler, Jeremy Levy,
Erika Mayer, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga, Tommaso Pavone, Leah Potkin,
Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Laura Veith

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