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November 10, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-10

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Wednesday, November 10, 2010
C 4U *aC I an :aly
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tathedaily@umich.edu

If you look at American TV ... you would think
that we all went around wrestling and wearing bikinis.'
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, commenting on reality television to an Australian
radio station, as reported by Time magazine yesterday.

JACOB SMILOVITZ
EDITOR IN CHIEF

RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

MATT AARONSON
MANAGING EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflectthe official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Bleed blue
Give blood to beat OSU in annual donation drive
hough Michigan hasn't beaten Ohio State on the foot-
ball field in any of the schools' last six meetings, it has
beaten the Buckeyes in the past two Blood Battles. Blood
Battle is a competition between the two rival schools to see
which school can collect the most pints of donated blood. This
year, Michigan supporters must take the time to give blood and
save lives - with the added bonus of beating our school's fierc-
est rival. Members of the University community who are capable
of giving blood should make a donation to beat OSU and, more
importantly, save lives.

ROSE JAFFE

E-MAILtROSEsAT ROSEJAFF@ UMICH.EDU

Unintentionally offensive

Nov. 4 marked the beginning of this
year's annual Blood Battle. The event,
now in its 29th year, spans just over three
weeks and ends on Nov. 24, three days
before the Nov. 27 Michigan-Ohio State
football game. The event is sponsored by
the American Red Cross and Blood Drives
United, which is backed by the service
organization Alpha Phi Omega. Ohio State
won five consecutive Blood Battle victo-
ries between 2003 and 2007. Michigan has
made a comeback in the past two years,
winning by more than a hundred pints last
year. Michigan leads Ohio State in Blood
Battle victories with 16 wins overall -
Ohio State has 11 wins and the schools tied
once in 2000. Blood donations can be made
by students, faculty and community mem-
bers at organized locations across campus.
There is no synthesized substance that
can serve as an adequate substitute for
human blood, so donations are the only way
to replace lost or unhealthy blood. Accord-
ing to America's Blood Centers' website,
one pint of blood can save up to three lives.
The site also mentions sobering statistics
regarding how often blood is needed (about
once every two seconds), and how many
transfusions are needed in America each
year (more than 4.5 million). And though
37 percent of the adult population in the
U.S. is eligible to give blood, only 10 percent

donate regularly. There is always a need
for more blood, and University community
members should step up to help.
The competitive aspect of the event
drives many people to participate - and
that's fine, especially considering the
intensity of the rivalry. Everyone eligible
should donate and keep the Blood Battle
bragging rights in Ann Arbor for the third
consecutive year.
But more important than bragging
rights or numbers on the scoreboard is the
number of lives that supporters from both
schools can save by taking a short time
out of their day to donate blood if they are
able. Typically, donation takes less than
an hour and donation sites have been set
up in easily-accessible locations all over
campus. Participating in Blood Battle is
an easy, quick way to help people in a very
profound way. If the University commu-
nity can muster up close to the average 37
percent during this Blood Battle, it could
have an' impressive impact. Individuals-
interested in donating can go to bloodbat-
tle.org to find a donation site.
As much as the mentality of competition
is fun, the reality is that there is no loser of
the Blood Battle. Members of the University
community who are eligible to give blood
should make their way to a donation site and
take part in this life-saving initiative.

his is my second year liv-
ing in South Quad. And aside
from locking myself out of my
room every now
and then, it hasn't
been all that bad.
I've made some
new friends, found
some new places
to study and even
embarked on some
new adventures.
But take one look
around and you'll NOEL
notice some big
changes in South GORDON
Quad. For one, all
of the building's
lounge areas have
been converted into quads. And the
entire building finally has Wi-Fi
capability. But perhaps the biggest
difference is noticeable right as you
walk through the doors of South
Quad because hanging above the East
Side Community Center is a huge,
yellow banner. Instead of welcoming
you to the building, the banner lets
you know just how many days it has
been-since someone last reported a
bias incident.
From what I've gathered, resi-
dence halls across campus have expe-
rienced a significant increase in the
number of reported bias incidents -
especially incidents that target mem-
bers of the LGBTQ community. This
is especially disheartening to hear
given last month's string of teen sui-
cides that occurred seemingly within
a few days of one another. And let's
not forget that much of the campus
community is still reeling from the
controversy surrounding the first

openly gay Michigan Student Assem-
bly president. But after talking to
people about some of these issues, I
realized that many students on cam-
pus have a rather vague idea of what
actually constitutes a bias incident.
According to the Bias Incident
Hotline Project, "bias incidents are
motivated by prejudice against race,
religion, national origin, sexual ori-
entation, ethnicity, social economic
status, gender expression, mental
ability, physical ability, immigration
status, age, size and shape. Although
not all bias incidents are hate crimes,
they can cause mental, emotional,
spiritual, and physical harm not only
to those who experience the inci-
dent but to members of the targeted
group." There's a lot to unpack in this
definition, beginning most impor-
tantly with the idea that bias can take
many different forms.
I think there's a misconception,
especially among college students,
that bias incidents have to be out-
right, deliberate attacks on a person's
identity. But nothing could be further
from the truth. In fact, I would argue
that off-hand comments are perhaps
even more sinister than straight-
forward insults because they often
rest upon an assumption that humor
somehow makes any underlying
prejudice acceptable, or at the very
least, less bigoted. Take the dry-erase
boards that students hang on their
dorm room doors, for example.
Many people (guys in particular)
don't see the problem in drawing a
penis on another guy's door. After
all, it's funny. But why is it funny?
Is it because there's supposed to be
something comical about a man being

sexually attracted other men? For, if
that wasn't the case, why don't we see
more vaginas drawn on people's white
boards? Could it be because there's
something not as funny about a man
being sexually attracted to women?
Simply put, the phallic image sug-
gests that homosexuality and same-
sex attraction makes for the perfect
punch line. I think that is how most
bias incidents occur. They're not done
out of malice or blatant disregard, but
rather, out of ignorance and lack of
understanding. This isn't to say that
I haven't been called a "faggot" or a
"nigger" to my face. Rest assured that
I have, right here in the great city of
Ann Arbor.
Students should
keep an eye out for
bias incidents.
The way to combat these attacks
isn't with violence, retribution or
further intolerance. If anything, we
should educate ourselves and oth-
ers about the importance of mutual
respect and acceptance. I realize
that not everyone will develop a pas-
sion for justice or become an ally in
the fight for universal human equal-
ity. But you can do your part to help
stop bias incidents from happening in
your community.
-Noel Gordon can be reached
at noelaug@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be fewer
than 300 words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. Letters
are edited for clarity, length and factual accuracy. All submissions become property of
the Daily. We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.
PHOENIX VOORHIES|
The living Constitution

A drab dictionary

During his recent speech at the University of
California at Hastings, Supreme Court Justice
Antonin Scalia shared with students his belief
that "you don't need the Constitution to reflect
the views of current society," and stated that
he interprets the Constitution "the way it was
understood by society at the time." In so doing,
Scalia, a clear originalist, gives his opinion to the
big question: Should the Constitution be inter-
preted with the original intent of its creators?
Interpreting the Constitution in a manner
consistent with the document's original intent
poses a distinct advantage. It deters judges
from unfettered discretion to inject their per-
sonal values into the interpretive process and
protects against arbitrary changes in constitu-
tional laws. President Thomas Jefferson stated
that if the Constitution, by way of interpreta-
tion, can be changed by the simple decree of a
judge, the document will be "a mere thing of
wax in the hands of the judiciary which they
may twist and shape into any form they please."
I'm of the opinion that interpreting the Con-
stitution to reflect our Founding Fathers' origi-
nal intent holds theoretical advantages. But I
also believe that absolute adherence to the lit-
eral words of the document would thwart our
ability to apply the wisdom of the Constitution
to matters relevant to today's society.
At the same time, if one views "interpreta-
tion" as the inferred meaning of words memo-
rialized at a particular period in time, the
questions would then become: is the act of
"reading into" those words essential? If so, to
whom do we owe the benefit of such interpre-
tation? In other words, do we seek to derive
the meaning of the written words as viewed
by the average person in today's society, or by
the average person at the time the laws were

passed (or the collective intent of the voters
who passed them)?
By entrusting the original framers with the
authority to draft the Constitution, it's likely
that past members of society anticipated that
the intent of the drafters would remain rel-
evant. Assuming that's the case, I believe that
we're required to interpret the document
in a way which best preserves the Founding
Fathers' literal words, but only to the extent
that wouldn't result in wholly absurd results
when applied to today's society. But is this
realistic ifa more modern interpretation would
best benefit the people?
Scalia, almost as though he was respond-
ing to my unasked questions, said in a speech
given at the University of Vermont that "It's
not always easy to figure out what the provi-
sion meant when it was adopted ... I don't say
(interpreting by original intent) is perfect. I
just say it's better than anything else."
It should be noted that members of today's
society can change the Constitution through
a formal amendment process. By following
this procedure, the propriety of any proposed
amendment is put to the test and concerns
about arbitrary interpretation decreases.
But this doesn't entirely resolve the basic
question of whether a challenged constitution-
al provision should be interpreted through the
eyes of the original drafters. With deep respect
for history and our Founding Fathers, I answer
that question in the negative. I believe that the
Constitution was created to survive time. But
to truly do so, the document must be flexible
enough to endure evolutionary changes and
responsive enough to remain relevant.
Phoenix Voorhies is an LSA sophomore.

hen I graduate, I'll proba-
bly be busing tables - if I'm
lucky. In fact, I think that's
my goal right now.
I could be opti-
mistic and look at
graduate schools,
but after my per-
formances on my
recent exams, I
somehow doubt
that will happen.
But I don't know
what else to do ERIC
with a degree in
English. SZKARLAT
I suppose I
still have time to
change my major to something more
marketable - the trouble is that I don't
want to. There is something about the
English language that I have fallen in
love with. It's just the way words sound
and feel and the natural rhythms they
form that are just exquisite.
But ignore my nerdgasm.
Then again, don't ignore it yet. You
see, English is compiled of words just
like that one: "nerdgasm." Old Eng-
lish, a Germanic language, would take
two words and combine them natural-
ly - words like "werewolf" are good
examples. Modern English does the
same - "nerdgasm" takes two words
and combines their effects to estab-
lish a new meaning. It is a function-
ing word of the English language, and
operates under principles similar to
those of our parent language.
But where is the dictionary entry
for "nerdgasm," or a million other
words like it? Too many language
purists would criticize its entry into a
dictionary. But it's a word, and it has
a definition. A dictionary - if noth-
ing else - should serve as a reference
point for the most current uses of lan-
guage. Slang or not, words should be

recognized. Language needs to be rec-
ognized for all it can do.
I never really understood why my
teachers said, "'Ain't' ain't a word,
because it ain't in the dictionary."
To begin, the statement is itself a
paradox. My teachers always empha-
sized "ain't" when they parroted that
phrase, but in turn, they emphasized
the meaning of the "ain't." Aren't
words merely units of sounds or let-
ters that carry meaning?
With all that said, I looked it up.
"Ain't" is in some dictionaries.
For some reason though, we deride
its use as improper. But if language
was always used properly, how did
Latin and Germanic languages
become so different? Language, by its
very nature, adapts and changes with
time. It must. Our first grade teach-
ers had their causality backwards.
The dictionary doesn't make words,
people do. All you need to be ableto do
is express yourself and communicate
effectively with others.
We blanket "ain't" and "nerdgasm"
under the same title. We call them
slang, and somehow that makes them
inferior words. You shouldn't use
them in a paper, certainly. But why
not? What makes words inferior to
other words? If I said to you, "I ain't
tired," would you understand that
any differently than if I said, "I'm not
tired?" Denotatively, they're precise-
ly the same.
There are widespread words that
have known definitions that aren't
recognized as having entered the Eng-
lish language. Even the Oxford Eng-
lish Dictionary falls short on "ain't,"
giving it no formal definition, in spite
of the fact that it has been used since
at least the 18th century.
That's not to say that this can be
applied to all words used by anyone.
If I decided that a hijjippo was a flying

circus clown with a nose shaped like a
grape who only wore teal jumpsuits, I
don't think I could use that in any set-
tingandbeunderstood,unless Iinitial-
ly defined it for the intended audience.
Nor do I think hijjippoo (the plural of
hijjippo, naturally) are particularly sig-
nificant to any sort of discourse.

Don't restrict
your language to
proper vocabulary.

4

So I dedicate this column to the
English language purists: Don't
diminish the breadth of our lan-
guage's capability. From creative use
of prepositions to the split infinitive,
these are things that our language can
do that very few others can. If I want
"to boldly go," why should my profes-
sor demand that I say instead "to go
boldly," or "boldly to go?" The rhythm
of the infamous Star Trek split infini-
tive is vastly more fun than the techni-
cally "proper" alternatives.
If you can communicate effectively,
then you can communicate how you
please. I don't need the Grammar
Police - the Big Brother of English -
telling me how to say what I want. If
I have to say it one way over another
then the value of what I'm saying -
the significance that I am saying it and
no one else - is lost. I won't have my
words taken from me. Like the poet,
I will fight with the pen, for the pen,
and for the right to use the pen as I see
fit - even if I'm only a busboy.
- Eric Szkarlat can be reached
at eszkarla@umich.edu.

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

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