4A - Thursday, November 8, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A - Thursday, November 8, 2012 The Michigan Daily -michigandailycom
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
JOSEPH LICHTERMAN and ADRIENNE ROBERTS ANDREW WEINER
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.
Shirvell should receive unemployment benefits
Following a ruling by Lansing judge Paula Manderfield, for-
mer Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell
will be allowed to collect unemployment benefits in the wake
of his termination by the state. Earlier this year, the Michigan Civil
Service Commission decided to dismiss Shirvell due to "harassing
conduct" including "reprehensible speech, lies and half-truths"
published on his online blog, "Chris Armstrong Watch." Shirvell
created the blog in 2010 in response to the election of Chris Arm-
strong, the first openly gay president of the University's student gov-
ernment then called Michigan Student Assembly. The blog attacked
Armstrong for pushing a "radical homosexual agenda."
Federal law still says marijuana is an
illegal drug, so don't break out the
Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."
- Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Col.) said in response to Colorado's
legalization of recreational marijuana on Wednesday.
The calm after the storm
Although Shirvell's words and actions may
be utterly disgraceful and morally reprehen-
sible, they're protected under the U.S. Con-
stitution's First Amendment and as a result,
legal. Therefore, Paula Judge Manderfield's
decision to award Shirvell unemployment
benefits was justified.
Shirvell's blog accuses Armstrong of pro-
moting "gay 'marriage' rights and 'adoption'
rights." It has also included a picture of Arm-
strong behind a rainbow flag and swastika.
Shirvell has even appeared on a short television
spot, during which he said Armstrong was "act-
ing like a gay Nazi." After Shirvell refused to
retract his statements, Armstrong filed a defa-
mation lawsuit in 2011. A federal jury in Detroit
found Shirvell guilty and ordered him to pay
Armstrong $4.5 million in damages. During the
litigation, Shirvell was fired from his position
as assistant attorney general due to his "harass-
ing conduct" that "made a media spectacle of
himself and the Department of the Attorney
General." Shirvell then applied for unemploy-
ment benefits, but was denied. Judge Mander-
field overturned that decision, explaining that
Shirvell "was fired for constitutionally protect-
ed speech" rather than misconduct.
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance
Agency states that unemployment benefits are
"intended to provide temporary income as you
seek new employment." Still, there are restric-
tions to who can receive them. The Michigan
Employment Security Act asserts that a person
cannot receive unemployment benefits if they
were "suspended or discharged for misconduct
connected with the individual's work..." Michi-
gan defines misconduct as "willful and wanton
disregard of the employer's interest, or of the
employer's reasonable standards of behavior
... the actions of the worker must show gross
negligence." However, the state also says, "the
mere inability to do the job, or good-faith errors
in judgment, is not considered misconduct in an
unemployment compensation case."
The dismissal of Shirvell as assistant attor-
ney general was sensible, as his behavior was
outrageously offensive and was founded on
baseless prejudice. Nevertheless, Shirvell was
legally allowed to express and defend his per-
sonal beliefs. Thus, Shirvell reasonably believed
that what he was doing was legal, and from his
point of view, moral.
This does not qualify as "willful and won-
ton disregard," but rather a "good-faith error
in judgment." Even if calling a student a "gay
Nazi" on television is grossly unethical, it's not
illegal. As a community, the University should
remember that everyone, especially those we
disagree with, must be treated fairly and justly.
If we're unwilling to protect the rights of those
we disagree with, we have no grounds to expect
protection of our own rights.
n the earlier parts of the
now-concluded 2012 presi-
dential campaign, Democrats
a desire to
of extreme par-
to work coopera-
tively with the SA H
other to achieve
common goals. ROHAN
tions tend to fall by the wayside,
this particular desire for -biparti-
san politics has actually material-
ized. With the tumult of Hurricane
Sandy, Americans can finally bear
witness to the political aspiration
of true bipartisanship, even if it's a
Back in September, during the
Democratic National Convention,
former President Bill Clinton spent
a large part of his charge calling
for a return to the days of political
cooperation. Clinton noted, almost
prophetically, "I have been honored
to work with both presidents Bush
on natural disasters in the after-
math of the South Asian tsunami,
Hurricane Katrina, and the hor-
rible earthquake in Haiti."
From Clinton's specific exam-
ples, we see that it's precisely in
times of devastating crises that
party divisions give way to the basic
needs of human beings, which have
little to do with everyday politics.
What we witnessed these last two
weeks in the aftermath of Hurri-
cane Sandy certainly seems to sup-
port that idea.
With Sandy leaving hundreds of
thousands without power or run-
ning water across the Northeast,
President Barack Obama promptly
extended federal aid to affected
areas. Furthermore, he maintained
frequent personal contact with the
leaders of affected states, such as
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
- who has been a vocal critic of
the president throughout the cam-
paign. Obama's swift and effective
actions inspired the Republican
politician and staunch Mitt Rom-
ney supporter to openly praise the
President's apt response.
"The fact ofthe matter is that if the
president of the United States comes
here and he is willing to help my
people, andthe does it, then I'm going
to say nice things about him because
he's earned it," said Christie.
Such extolment comes after
Christie likened Obama to "a man
wandering around a dark room,
hands up against the wall, clutch-
ing for the light switch of leader-
ship" when he spoke at a Romney
campaign event in Richmond, Va.
not two weeks prior to the storm.
In addition to Christie's unan-
ticipated praise, Obama received
the public endorsement of New York
City's Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg,
an independent, who has, in the
aftermath of Sandy, put environ-
mental concerns at the forefront of
his own political interests. "We need
leadership from the White House -
and over the past four years, Presi-
dent Barack Obama has taken major
steps to reduce our carbon consump-
tion," Bloomberg wrote in a recent
editorial. Bloomberg's endorsement
is another concrete example where
the desire to achieve a common good
in the aftermath of disaster, tran-
scends political polarity.
In recent years, political coop-
eration has become the exception to
the rule. Bitter disagieements along
party lines often dominate political
action and discourse. However, from
the devastation of Hurricane Sandy,
there emerged a rainbow of hope for
cooperation to quell the ever-increas-
ing polarization of the parties.
While this single instance of
political response surrounding
Hurricane Sandy offers proof that
bipartisanship is not an impossible
dream, its endurance as an every-
day practice is unlikely. Soon, the
wreckage of the storm will clear
and America will forget how coop-
eration helped to resolve a catastro-
It's disappointing, though not
It shouldn't take
a calamity to
unite our nation.
unexpected, that political coop-
eration in our day emerges only in
times of intense duress. However,
such times remind us that, at the
end of the day, we're all just people.
In the face of imminent danger, we
cease being Republicans, Demo-
crats or Independents. Political
affiliation is superfluous when deal-
ing with issues that must quickly
and efficiently be resolved.
Now that the results of the 2012
presidential election are in, Obama
has another chance to heed the
calls of political cooperation Clin-
ton spoke about at the convention.
"When times are tough and peo-
ple are frustrated and angry and
hurting and uncertain, the politics
of constant conflict may be good,"
Clinton said. "But what is good pol-
itics does not necessarily work in
the real world. What works in the
real world is cooperation."
The recent response to the crisis
of Hurricane Sandy has proven that
cooperation between different par-
ties is possible and effective. If we
could only find a wayto achieve such
harmony in the face of the everyday
and not wait until we are impelled
by devastating circumstances, we'd
be in much better shape.
- Sarah Rohan can be reached
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Eli Cahan, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein, Melanie Kruvelis,
Patrick Maillet, Harsha Nahata, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne Roberts,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Michael Spaeth, Gus Turner
MAURA LEVINE V1EWPOINT
Sportistas, not sex objects
Every once in a while you come across a Unfortunately, men do not accept these
"tomboy" who loves to watch sports, shout' women or give them credibility. When partici-
with the guys and follow the stats of her favor- pating in a conversation with men about sports,
ite team. She dons her favorite player's jersey a knowledgeable woman is scorned. It's unfath-
and wouldn't miss game day for the world. But omable in American society that a woman could
these women seem a rarity. In the new book possibly know as much about sports as a man
"Sportista: Female Fandom in the United simply because it isn't the "norm." When men
States," Political Science Prof. Andrei S. Mar- come across a woman with extensive sports
kovits and Michigan Law student Emily Alb- knowledge and passion, they often think, "You
ertson address this phenomenon. shouldn't know this!" and write her off without
They delve into the intricacies of the a second thought.
"sportista" and what makes her tick. They A sports-savvy woman is disregarded
reveal the reasons for her behavior with unless she's Erin Andrews or Bonnie Bern-
empirical research. In the field of sports, stein. These women, among several others,
women are not accepted as equals to men - are celebrated and respected female sports-
they're marginalized and presented differ- casters. They gained credibility, however,,
ently. This issue faces all women on campus through beauty and sex appeal. Markovits
every time the game is on, whether they're and Albertson argue that female athletes and
on or off the field. sportscasters have been sexualized across
Across our campus, men and women care the globe. Female athletes frequently appear
about sports in different ways. When asked naked in Playboy and female sportscast-
in a classroom setting to write an index card ers are often viewed only for their dazzling
with all the German soccer players they can appearance rather than for their reporting
remember who played in the World Cup, the capabilities. While some may argue that the
male students always knew more than the sexual hype helps women get their name out
women across the board. Men seemed to before eventually being seen as legitimate
ponder this question diligently, taking care athletes, that doesn't mean it isn't degrading.
and effort to write their answers as thor- Women shouldn't have to be sexualized to be
oughly as possible. Women, on the other popular and celebrated. Male athletes don't
hand, didn't seem to know as much and sim- have to appear fully naked in a magazine to
ply didn't care. They blew through the exer- be held in high esteem for their efforts on or
cise, turning the card in quickly after jotting off the field.
down a single name. Here at the University, our female sports
While performing this study and other are not nearly as distinguished as their male
similar ones in Ann Arbor, Markovits came counterparts. Women's basketball games
across a few female students who stuck out don't draw the same crowd as the men's, and
- women who looked at sports in a different we're always talking about our star football
light and seemed to care just as much as the players instead of our female Olympians.
men about their answers. Markovits began Like everywhere else in the world, women
to ask these "sportistas" about their experi- athletes are seen as either sexy or undesir-
ences and found several common traits. able and female sports fans are written
Women who gathered initial interest and off as posers. While it's true that, on aver-
maintained interest in sports had pressure age, women don't take as much of an inter-
fromadults, peers or their ownself-perceptions est in sports as men, we should respect the
to keep playing and watching their favorite "sportista" athletes and fans, on campus and
games and teams. They generally had fathers across the world, and recognize their inter-
who positively influenced them to care about, ests and achievements sans the sexual objec-
watch or play sports. tification.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda
What do you want to be when you
grow up? I'm sitting in my kinder-
garten classroom as Ms. Thurm asks
me this question. It's not so difficult
- Jedi are pretty awesome, I fig-
ure, why not just do that? Saving the
world from your Dad's evil empire
andgettingthe girl inthe end doesn't
sound like too bad of a future.
Back then, it was a simple ques-
tion. One that could be answered
without worrying about recessions
or responsibilities or raging hor-
mones or reading quizzes.
I'd like to think I've grown
slightly wiser in my (comparative-
ly) old age, so why is that question
so much harder now?
"What do you want to be?" has
since evolved into, "what could I
be?" and then even further into,
"what should I be?"
Let's start with the former: noth-
ing has made "what I could be" more
clear than the college admissions
process. It's a time of stress, emo-
tional breakdowns and, maybe most
importantly, evaluations. There are
few processes that are as intense-
ly evaluative as having complete
strangers take a look at your life,
using only three recommendations,
three scored test sections and three
The entire process on both sides
is based on what could; "could you
see yourself there ... could you live
'x' miles from home ... could you
find someone and something here
to love ..." On the other side, it looks
like "could he excel in our classes ...
could he represent our school the
way we'd like ... could he contrib-
ute to the academic, intellectual
and social diversity in our commu-
nity ..." Between the time when the
Common Application is submitted
and when those oh-so-looked-for-
ward-to admissions decisions start
coming in, it's made pretty clear
what you could be.
"What should I be" is a harder
question. That "should" is more
subjective - it's up to us. We can
study what we please, we can
identify with what we please, and
we can say what we please, as we
please. That, in the end, should be
the blessing of college.
But the "should" is likely influ-
enced in many subtle ways: the eco-
nomic should, what we need to do
outside of class to make sure we can
stay in class; the social should, what
activities outside of school make
sure we can bear staying in school;
the academic should, what we need
to do inside class to make sure we
move forward. And that's a lot to
We've looked at the "want" of that
impossibly difficult question, maybe
we oughtto look at the "to be." In the
words of Thomas Merton, it's "not
what we do, but how we do it." He
believed that being is established in
action, not by results - bythe means,
not the end. In that sense, "work" is
becoming of an individual - it's by
the way he interacts with the world
that he discovers who he is. And, in a
world of industry, "work" is the pri-
mary obligation of the individual to
society. But more important than the
work he does is how he does it.
Benjamin Zander establishes two
criteria for this "how": work ought
to bring one to love and allow one to
play. That's an interesting theory in
a world where we struggle through
the academic week toward the free-
dom of the Friday night.
The missing piece in all of this
is a simple one - the concept that
"working is playing." So, "What do
you want to be" refers exclusively
to Monday morning through Friday
afternoon. That's probably why we
have so much trouble answering
the question. Believing that what
we can do refers to a completely
different set of criteria than what
we should do, that the "can" refers
to the weekend and the "should" to
the week, has separated our pas-
sions from our ambitions.
We've all grown up (at least
slightly) since we've been asked
that questions. It's no longer what
do you want to be when you grow
up. Now the question is: are you
what you want to be now that
you've grown up?
I believe we would have a much
less negative experience answer-
ing the first question if we could
respond positively to the second.
Forget "working hard" in order to
"play hard." Work, at this point in
our lives, should be playing - doing
what we could love for another 70
years or so. That's the blessing of
college. We aren't what we get, but
how we get it. Get it?
Eli Cahan is a Business sophomore.