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November 16, 2011 - Image 4

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4A - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Wednesday, November16, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

C4C itigan 4:a.1,6,
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
MICHELLE DEWITT
STEPHANIE STEINBERG and EMILY ORLEY NICK SPAR
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS 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.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
Liberty for all?
Pledge shouldn't be mandated in public schools
tate lawmakers are apparently very concerned about dis-
plays of patriotism by students in Michigan. The state Senate
recently passed a bill that would require all public schools to
recite the Pledge of Allegiance each school day. The bill is an attack
on free speech in Michigan's public schools, and Republican Gov.
Rick Snyder should not allow it to become law.

The Type 3 gaffe

n the modern American news
media's coverage of politics,
every event
needs a narrative
so that people
keep watching.
Whenever a
candidate for
an office says or
does something,
pundits acrossD
the country rush DAR-WEI
to label what CHEN
happened or out-
line the ramifi-
cations of said event. One of these
labels is called the "gaffe."
For political purposes, gaffes can
assume a few forms. Sometimes
a politician will accidentally say
something that doesn't accurately
portray what he or she actually
thinks. One example of this form is
Republican presidential candidate
Herman Cain's latest statement
about the sexual misconduct allega-
tions coming from various women
he's worked with: "For every one
person that comes forward with a
false accusation, there are probably
thousands who will say that none
of that sort of activity ever came
from Herman Cain." Many comedi-
ans and liberal analysts are having
field days with this quote because
it seems to imply that Cain is using
the "I've only groped a few women"
defense, butI will defend Cain here.
What he probably meant was: The
vast majority of people who know
Cain would say that he's not capable
of such misconduct.
Other times, a politician says
something he clearly believes, but
states it in such an awkward man-
ner that the candidate's clumsiness
overshadows the message. Republi-
can presidential candidate Rick San-
torum has become famous for one
particular incident where he had
one of these gaffes. On a campaign
stop in Iowa earlier this summer,
Santorum pointed to a napkin on a

table and stated, "This is a napkin -
I can call this napkin a paper towel,
but it is a napkin," making the case
that gay marriage is actual marriage
to the same extent that napkins are
paper towels. His main point is clear
(gay marriages are not legitimate),
but the news media covered this epi-
sode as a gaffe because the analogy
was such a strange one.
The funny thing about this year's
GOP presidential nomination pro-
cess is the invention of a new type
of gaffe (let's call these "Type 3
gaffes"). Type 3 gaffes happen
when politicians clearly and sen-
sibly delineate what they believe,
but receive backlash because their
opinions run counter to all cred-
ible research or mainstream public
opinion. During the summer cam-
paign season, Republican presiden-
tial candidate Rick Perry talked to a
young boy in Iowa about how "evo-
lution is a theory that's out there ...
it's got some gaps," and with respect
to the evolution-creationism debate,
"You're smart enough to figure out
which one is right." Some media
members pounced on these quotes,
tagging them as gaffes from Perry
(Type 3), even though few in Repub-
lican circles believe in evolution to
begin with.
I cannot bring myself to accept
this incident as a mere gaffe. To
me, a gaffe involves a mistake.
Remember what happened in the
GOP debate last week when Perry
couldn't name the third government
agency he'd eliminate? That's agaffe
because his memory lapsed, and he
couldn't locate his notes (and it's
inconsequential because he'll have
his notes if he becomes president
of the United States). On the other
hand, what Perry said on evolution
is what he meant exactly. The media
does everyone a disservice by using
the gaffe label because what Perry
says will have very real consequenc-
es if he wins the presidency.
GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney

also had a Type 3 gaffe this sum-
mer when he infamously said "cor-
porations are people." With citizens
struggling across the country and
corporations earning record profits,
many people took offense because
corporations cannot be treated like
people, especially with the economy
in bad shape. This quote was labeled
a gaffe by many in the media, but
Romney honestly meant what he
said and how he said it.
Unfiltered looks
at GOP candidate
comments.
When the media calls something
agaffe, they seemto imply that there
was something inadvertent about
it. The "gaffe" label also too eas-
ily sweeps nonsensical statements
under the rug when substantive
policy discussions arise. Nothing
was inadvertent about Perry's state-
ments on evolution and Romney's
statements on corporate person-
hood. These Type 3 "gaffes" have
serious consequences, such as teach-
ing schoolchildren pseudoscience or
allocating the country's resources
inefficiently. Sure, President Barack
Obama has once said that he's vis-
ited 57 states (Perry supporters are
happy to tell you about this), but
unless he's going to waste federal
money on imaginary states, his gaffe
will have no tangible consequenc-
es. I don't know what to call them,
but maybe Type 3 gaffes should be
named something else that reflects *
how terrifying they are. Maybe
"unfiltered looks at Perry and Rom-
ney" will do.
-Dar-Wei Chen can be reached
at chendw@umich.edu.

In addition to the required recitation of
the pledge, the bill mandates that schools
purchase an American flag for each class-
room and ensure that it is on display. The bill
passed in the Senate on Nov. 10 with a 31-5
vote. While most members of the Republi-
can-led Senate voted in favor of the bill, some
expressed concerns about whether it would
foster love for one's country.
The bill would force students to recite the
pledge, potentially against their will, and is a
violation of free speech rights in schools. The
bill does provide an opt-out policy in which
students would not be mandated to recite
the pledge if they or their parents object. But
while students technically have the option to
not participate, the pressure they will likely
face from peers and teachers will place a bur-
den on them to make this choice.
Lawmakers are under the impression that
forcing students to recite the pledge each
school day will teach students American val-
ues and their importance. The pledge cer-
tainly features buzzwords that represent the
country's value system, but whether or not
the words teach students anything is debat-_
able. In reality, forcing students to robotically
recite the pledge without teaching them what
it means or why they are saying it strips the
pledge of all meaning, instead of making it a

beacon of patriotism as lawmakers intend.
The appropriate way to encourage stu-
dents to state the pledge is through educa-
tion. Michigan schools should teach students
what the pledge means and why it is thought
to be important. After students have learned
about the pledge, they can make their own
educated decision about whether or not to
recite it. But this should be done with older
students - not third-graders who may not
understand the impact of their words. Forc-
ing the recitation of the pledge not only voids
it of meaning, but it discourages freethinking
and personal decision-making among young
people.
Every minute that is spent debating and
voting on this bill is a slap in the face to the
thousands of unemployed people throughout
Michigan who are looking for help from their
lawmakers. Legislators need to stop wast-
ing time and resources on arbitrary bills and
show a commitment to legislation that will
increase Michigan's economic strength.
While ensuring first-graders are patriotic
is a noble goal, Michigan lawmakers should
consider focusing on rebuilding the economy
and creating jobs. Public school administrators
should handle the task of overseeing the Pledge
of Allegiance, and state lawmakers should
begin tackling Michigan's real problems.

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EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Caroline Syms, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
ADRIENNE ROBERTS |
Lea.ving leasing for later

What the frack?'

Simply put, housing is a mess. It's a big-
ger mess than a front lawn the morning after
game day. It's more complicated than a biol-
ogy exam the day after Halloween. Most
stressful of all, thoughts of where to live, who
to room with, what to pay for and which com-
panies to deal with engulf students' minds. If
first-year students haven't already found an
apartment or house by the time this is pub-
lished, say "hello" to another 5-by-5 dorm
room with that same roommate you haven't
decided if you like or not.
In February 2006, Ann Arbor City Coun-
cil passed an ordinance stating that lease-
signing would be prohibited until one-third
of the current lease period has passed. The
ordinance also allows house showings to
prospective tenants after a quarter of the
lease period has passed.
However, this ordinance only affects Sep-
tember-to-September leases. To evade this
ordinance, many landlords changed their
leases to May-to-May. This loophole in the
language exempts many properties from the
ordinance's measures, which are clearly ben-
eficial to students.
Tearsdo not need to be shed over this prob-
lem - there are simple solutions. Ann Arbor
needs to set a standard date for all landlords
to begin signing on houses or apartments,
regardless of a September-to-September or
a May-to-May lease. That date needs to be
in the second semester. Freshmen should
not have to scramble to decide which people
they met within the past few blurry weeks
they actually could live with. Students con-

sidering study abroad for the following year
should not have to chose to live in a dorm in
September. You may have been best friends
with your roommate in the beginning of the
year and then find out your personalities
don't mesh just right. Unfortunately, you've
already signed a lease - tying yourself to that
person for at least the coming year.
The solution is simple: Give people more
time. We need it. College is a time of growth
and discovery - people change and that's ok
and expected. Please give us the beginning of
the year to worry about exams, papers, social
lives, money and the football season, instead
of housing. Winter semester is generally less
dramatic than the fall. Housing crises may
actually be entertaining at that point.
Setting a standard for when house and
apartment leases are allowed to be signed will
not stop students from knocking on doors in
October or recruiting people to live with early
on. It will, however, give students time to fig-
ure out their wants and needs, who they can
envision as a roommate and their best option
for the following year. This way, students can
be flexible early on and focus on more impor-
tant activities. Ann Arbor's economic vitality
is dependent on its 25,000 students. Allowing
students to sign a lease at a reasonable time
will not harm landlords - their properties
will still sell out. City Council should push the
ordinance's dates to the winter semester. It is
the simplest way to end the unnecessary and
untimely stress placed on students.
Adrienne Roberts is an LSA sophomore.

ydrofracking is one of
the most volatile forms of
fossil
fuel extraction
around. I say
this not as an
environmental-
ist, but as an
engineer. My
classmates can
vouch for me
when I say that JOE
engineering stu- SUGIYAMA
dents are drilled
in the art of
logical deduction. We understand
that opinions and actions can have
repercussions that can affect the
lives of millions. Without adequate
logical planning - and I'm not even
talking about something crazy sci-
entific, simply weighing the pros
and cons would suffice - any proj-
ect can turn disastrous. This was
clearly not the approach taken by
the New York based group, Clean
Growth Now, when they decided
that hydrofracking can be safe.
Just like that, huh? The self-
proclaimed "moderate voice" of the
hydrofracking debate - which has
conspicuously forgotten to include
any environmentalist experts on its
panel - appears to have turned a
blind eye to the laundry list of prob-
lems associated with the practice.
For those of you who may not be
familiar with hydraulic fracturing
known as hydrofracking - here's
the lowdown. It's a method used to
extract natural gas that channels
millions of gallons of highly pressur-
ized water - along with hundreds
of toxic chemicals and particulate
matter - to break through bedrock
and reach natural gas deposits deep
below the surface.
This method of extraction poses
a serious threat to the health of
people as well as the environment.
The water that is used to break
up the bedrock is ridden with
chemicals that contaminate the
groundwater in the vicinity of the
hydrofracking. The Environmental
Protection Agency has recently
been investigating this matter in
Pavillion, WY, where concerns
have grown over the levels of

contaminates in drinking water
caused by local hydrofracking.
The EPA has advised the resi-
dents of the city to not cook with or
drink the water. It has also advised
that showers should be taken only
with adequate ventilation to avoid
the inhalation of the chemicals.
Encana, the company respon-
sible for the hydrofracking in the
area, has taken necessary steps
- including providing alternative
water sources to the citizens - to
lessen the blow of probable law-
suits. Once further investigation is
done, the company will surely be
responsible for the ensuing reme-
diation processes.
Unfortunately, this is not a unique
situation throughout the country,
and it begs the question: How can
something so destructive be allowed
to occur in populated areas? The fis-
cal benefit of hydrofracking seems
to have put health concerns on the
back burner.
A Feb. 26 New York Times arti-
cle assures us that poisoning our
groundwater is not the only problem
associated with hydraulic fractur-
ing. The water used to break through
the ground can sometimes be taint-
ed by radioactive materials that
exist naturally below the surface.
The highly pressurized slurry of
water injected is pumped out of the
excavation and placed in a retention
pond for decontamination and then
shipped off to the nearest wastewa-
ter treatment plant.
However, negligent laws gov-
erning the on-site treatment have
allowed the radioactive levels of
the water to go largely untouched.
Wastewater plants don't have the
capacity to treat the high levels of
radioactive materials present in the
drilling water and have no choice
but to discharge the contaminated
water into local water supplies. In
Pennsylvania, the radioactive levels
detected were thousands of times
greater than federal standards.
Although treatment of this con-
taminated water occurs before the
water reaches our faucets, farming
and fishing don't have the benefit of
this secondary treatment, and peo-
ple are thus exposed to the radia-

tion by way of ingestion.
Many proponents of hydrofrack-
ing have argued that natural gas is *
a cleaner energy alternative to coal,
which is certainly true. There is
nothing clean about the burning of
coal, which is a major contributor to
globalwarmingand other air quality
issues. However, coal appears to be
the lesser of two evils. The benefits
for the atmosphere associated with
using natural gas simply don't out-
weigh the irrefutable damage done
to our water supply.
This method to
extract natural
gas is dangerous. *
So how do we stop such a terrible
innovation in energy technology?
With alternative energy sources.
Original, no? Though this point has
been belabored by environmental-
ists across the board, it should be
noted that even natural gas wells
will someday run dry. We need a
logical approach to this situation
and address it before we have an
energy Armageddon. If we divert
the money from hydrofracking to,
say, creating a more efficient solar
panel, the looming energy crisis for
our grandchildren could potentially
be averted, and millions of people
can stop thinking twice before run-
ning their faucets.
So next time you see one of
those ExxonMobil hydrofracking
commercials - laced with inspi-
rational music and scenic nature
shots - or hear the Clean Growth
Now group raving about the ben-
efits of hydrofracking and natural
gas, please admire their sheer igno-
rance toward human health. Yes,
hydrofracking is big business, but
with a little more time and funding,
renewable energy could be big busi-
ness as well.
- Joe Sugiyama can be
reached at jmsugi@umich.edu.
*j

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