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January 10, 2014 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-10

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4 - Friday, January 10, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


1we idtiglan 4a1*1
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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.
Failing 'Pure Michigan'
Gov. Snyder must block the shipment of tar sands across the Great Lakes
In a letter on January 3, Cynthia Quarterman, head of the
federal government's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration, urged Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to support
the Line 5 pipeline across the Great Lakes. The proposed Line 5 pipeline
would transport tar sands through the Straits of Mackinac to refineries,
most of which are in surrounding states. However, doing so poses extreme
environmental danger to the Great Lakes and surrounding areas. Gov.
Rick Snyder (R-Mich.) should not allow tar sands to be transported across
the Great Lakes and should oppose the Line 5 pipeline.

Joking without offending

n Dec.17, 23-year-old come-
dian Bo Burnham released
his newest special, "what."
on Netflix,
YouTube and
iTunes. Hav-
ing been a fan of
Burnham for a
longtime - Isaw
him live in Royal
Oak in 2010, back
when he was DEREK
a budding star
known for the WOLFE
comedic songs
he released on
YouTube - I was excited to spend
an hour watching it.
However, early into the viewing
Burnham joked: "Yo fellas, don't
you hate when you're blowing a guy
and he ends up being a faggot? Am
I right?"
Let me start by saying that I
think Bo Burnham is brilliant and
the rest of the special was hilari-
ous. The songs he writes prove
that he has a distinct understand-
ing of society that most people
his age don't. Just listen to "Art Is
Dead" or "From God's Perspective."
But this "joke" instantly made me
uncomfortable. It was supposed to
be funny, I guess. Yet it also struck
a chord with me. Why make this
joke, using that word? It is offen-
sive, wrong and, frankly, outdated.
It's also worth mentioning that the
rest of the show was sprinkled with
"fag" comments.
Now, I know that comedians
often intentionally cross the line
to make jokes - saying "faggot" is
commonplace for many comedi-
ans - and Burnham is known for
being a satirical writer. His mate-

rial often goes to extremes
a point about society's
However, the byproduct of
ire is the ambiguity as to w
being serious and when h
rizing something - a non
most cases. Actually, it's
aged because his show is
much like Stephen Colbert
ostensibly conservative
It's clear that most of what
sings and complains ab
what the real Bo Burnham1
But I see nothing sat
this particular joke. He's
not trying to
make a point
about gay rights
through the use
of this deroga- U
tory term. It's a der
cheap attempt
togetlaughsina a c
show that Burn-
ham said took come
him three years
to write. It's an
insensitive cop-out for sot
creative as he is.
So much of comedyi
making fun of people. H
we should be at a point
ety where we don't need t
people, especially entire g
people, to be funny. I know
ference is subtle and the
be hard to draw, but it's cr
only for comedians buti
conversation. I admit it's so
that I often struggle with,l
the need to change.
Bill Cosby, who's on the
end of the age spectrum at'
famous for his curse-free
agrees with me. In a Nov. it

to make on "The Daily Show with Jon Stew-
pitfalls. art," he expressed his dismay with
f his sat- Stewart's use of vulgarity at a char-
'hen he's ity comedy event saying, "the peo-
e is sati- ple were laughing so hard because
-issue in you were swearing and cursing ...
encour- from whenst I cometh, when people
an act, cursed, the next thing is somebody
and his was going to hit you."
persona. Cosby might be taking it to an
he says, extreme - he's definitely old-school
out isn't - because I think that appropri-
believes. ately placed profanity can be effec-
irical in tive. But certain derogatory terms
clearly like "faggot" should never be used
recklessly. On
the other hand,
sing offensively use of the word
was appropriate
.ogatory terms is in "Same Love"
because it was
heap attempt by used as a call
dians to get laughs. for gay rights
and equality.
There's no
denying that
2013 was a big
neone as year for LBGTQ rights; notably, the
Defense of Marriage Act was ruled
is about unconstitutional. But there were
lowever, too many instances in which ath-
in soci- letes and celebrities, such as Phil
o offend Robertson of Duck Dynasty, made
roups of truly offensive comments.
the dif- So while it's true-the law is mov-
line can ing in the right direction, the real
ucial not change begins with how we treat
in every and talk about minority commu-
mething nities. Though it's unlikely that
but I see comedians will change their lan-
guage anytime soon, we can simply
opposite stop laughing.
76 and is
comedy, - Derek Wolfe can be reached
nterview at dewolfe@umich.edu.

Quarterman's letter stated that Enbridge
Energy Partners, the operator of the pipeline
in question, has made considerable improve-
ments in safety standards. Sen. Carl Levin
(D-Mich.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sta-
benow initially requested information about
the pipeline's safety, expressing concern for
the transportation of light crude oil under
the lakes.
"We cannot afford to have a spill that could
damage the Great Lakes and Michigan's tour-
ism economy," Stabenow said.
Despite Quarterman's assurances, Enbridge
has a history of failed pipelines, calling the
company's credibility into question. In 2010,
the company's pipeline in the Kalamazoo River
burst, causing one of the largest on-land oil
spills inhistory. The Environmental Protection
Agency estimated more than a million gallons
of oil were released in the spill, costing $765
million in cleanup expenses. The company's
unsuccessful history demonstrates insufficient
attention to safety, making the federal govern-
ment's assurances untrustworthy.
Past failures of Enbridge's pipelines reveal
that the risks tar sand pipelines pose out-
weigh potential economic benefits. Crude oil
in tar sands ismuch more volatile than other
types of crude oil, making it extremely diffi-
cult to extract from sand, clay and bitumen.
The process involves burning natural gas to
generate steam for melting, and uses two to

five barrels of water for every barrel of oil
refined. The energy necessary to extract, sep-
arate and process oil from tar sands results in
total greenhouse gas emissions three times
that of conventionally produced oil. The
entire process is extremely inefficient and
ecologically damaging.
Furthermore, Snyder also faces intense
scrutiny for his environmental record, and
approval of the Enbridge pipeline would only
worsen his rating. Michigan's Sierra Club gave
Snyder a failing grade for his environmental
policy. According to Mike Berkowitz, legisla-
tive and political director of the club, "Nearly
80 percent of decisions made by Gov. Snyder in
our scorecard contribute toward polluting our
water, air, land and undermining public health
and good government." By rejecting Enbridge
Energy's Mackinac pipeline, Snyder would be
working to strengthen protection of Michi-
gan's natural resources, potentially reversing
a troubling trend of policies that sacrifice the
environment for economic benefit.
Though Snyder has not made the protec-
tion of natural resources a top priority while
in office, it is vital that he protect the Great
Lakes from the potential spills caused by the
pipeline. Snyder must oppose the transporta-
tion of tar sands oil across the Great Lakes in
order to prevent Enbridge Energy from creat-
ing yet another environmental and financial
disaster - one that Michigan can ill afford.

Check out The Michigan Daily's editorial board meetings. Every Monday and Thursday at
6pm, the Daily's opinion staff meets to discuss both University and national affairs and
write editorials. E-mail opinioneditors@michigandaily.com to join in the debate.
A price too high

Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan, Rima Fad-
allah, Eric Ferguson, Nivedita Karki, Jordyn Kay, Jesse Klein, Kellie
Halushka, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Victoria Noble, Michael
Schramm, Matthew Seligman, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
What comes next?

A fundamental component of the battle
against the inequalities we see on campus,
big or small, is awareness. Awareness of
our environment. Awareness of the way we
think. Awareness of the people around us
and the steps we can take to ensure a healthy
and supportive community. And yet, vague
words like "awareness," "community" and
"social justice" can trick people into think-
ing these issues have nothing to do with
them. What does awareness really entail?
One could argue it is as simple as acknowl-
edging the existence of another human being
or social identity. Fortunately, conversations
that have been happening on campus have
proven this to be completely false. You can
see it all around campus: From classrooms to
dorm rooms to bus stops, people have been
talking about things like Theta Xi, #BBUM
and #UMMockEviction. The reality is that
these issues affect everyone, regardless of
your background.
These issues are microcosms of larger,
global issues: Theta Xi's appropriation of
black culture is an example of the appropria-
tion of minority group's cultures, #BBUM,
tackled the lack of cultural sensitivity and
inclusivity on an institutional level, and
#UMMockEviction drew attention to Pal-
estinians being forcibly removed from their
homes, raising awareness about the Arab-
Israeli conflict. Although knowledge of these
events and conversations can be thought-pro-
voking and raise questions, simply knowing is
not enough. In my eyes, the next step is enter-
ing into a conversation to hear other peoples
perspectives, and luckily for me, I found a
platform to do that through SAAN, the South
Asian Awareness Network.
I began working with SAAN during the
first semester of my junior year as a small
group facilitator for the annual conference
in January. A good friend of mine was one
of the committee chairs and encouraged me
to apply. After going through the applica-
tion and interview process, I was fortunate
enough to be offered one of the 30 facilita-
tor positions. From there, things began to

change. At the start I felt out of place, hold-
ing varying degrees of understanding on the
concepts that we were discussing. It made me
uncomfortable to see my lack of awareness,
but slowly, I began to engage my discomfort
and see how it could be a learning experience.
And I began to grow.
Finding a comfort zone on this campus can
be tricky, and finding a space where you're
just uncomfortable enough to know you're
growing can be even harder. The SAAN Con-
ference works to provide both the former and
the latter. Entering into a space with a large
group of people who may be strangers and
who are from radically different backgrounds
can be intimidating. But over the course of
two days, people are able to navigate their
ways to growth and deeper understanding.
What I most enjoy about the SAAN Confer-
ence is exactly this: being able to learn and
grow as an individual with completely new
people, all while engaging in dialogue about
relevant social justice topics. Although con-
versations about such issues shouldn't end
with dialogue - in fact, to me, dialogue rep-
resents just one phase of a cyclical process -
having these conversations about identities
and issues can lead to compassion and even
to action for a greater cause. I invite you all to
join usas we start on this path toward a more
supportive, empathetic and involved campus.
Through the SAAN Conference, we hope to
engage our participants in a way that chal-
lenges their thinking, as well as expose them
to new ideas and bring them to new levels of
awareness and understanding with regard to
themselves and the world around them. What
happens then? Our hope is that participants
can then take this new knowledge and under-
standing into their daily lives and, if they
so choose, actively engage in conversation,
action and change.
This year's conference, titled "Panorama:
Capturing Change Through the Lens of Cul-
ture," will be held January 17th and 18th. Reg-
ister now and learn more at umsaan.umich.edu.
Vishnu Venugopal is an LSA senior.

n Dec. 16, while most stu-
dents were on their 12th
cup of coffee amid study-
ing for a stats
final - and the
lucky few were
already in their
"Finals are done
so I'm not leav-
ing the couch"
phase - a major
decision came
out of the Feder- PATRICK
al District Court MAILLET
for the District
of Columbia.
Federal Judge Richard Leon ruled
that the National Security Agency's
bulk collection of phone records
and other personal information is -
most likely - unconstitutional. This
ruling marks the first major court
decision against the NSA's contro-
versial data mining collection pro-
gram that has come to light since
the leaks by former NSA contractor
Edward Snowden last summer. With
any luck, the ruling by Judge Leon
will be the first of many to come.
For those unfamiliar with the
agency's history, after the passage
of the 2001 Patriot Act, the NSA was
given the authority to collect data
"that may be relevant to a terrorist or
spy," as opposed to the previous reg-
ulation of collecting data only stem-
ming "directly from or to a terrorist
or spy." While this distinction may
seem irrelevant, it greatly expanded
the NSA's jurisdiction and power
track virtually every American.
NSA's scope was again expanded
by the Foreign Intelligence Surveil-
lance Act amendments of 2008,
which were renewed in 2012. The
amendments allow the warrantless
collection of communications data
where at least one end of the com-
munication is not an American citi-
zen. This information includes the
time, duration, number of calls and
the phone numbers of the sender
and receiver of a particular phone
call. However, it does not reveal the
two names of the parties involved
in the conversation.
For those of you who may not be
making international calls, don't
worry; the NSA has its eye on you
too. As part of the Snowden leaks,
the American people became aware
of a secret data collection program

known as PRISM, which accumu- Snowdenleaks suggest that millions
lates information directly from of terabytes are collected in any
internet servers including those of given month while the records of
major companies such as Google, millions of phone calls are recorded
Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft. each day.
Intelligence gained from these serv- NSA proponents claim this mas-
ers includes e-mails, videos, video sive collection of data is helping the
and voice chat, photos, stored data, United States combat terrorism.
IP addresses, file transfer informa- During a testimony before Con-
tion, social networking details and gress, NSA Director General Keith
real-time notifications of target Alexander claimed PRISM has led
activity such as logins and chat. to the prevention of 54 attacks on
The parameters of PRISM's col- the United States and its allies,
lection are even more vague than a claim that immediately caused
those of the international phone media and congressional backlash.
call collection program. Once a tar- ProPublica, an independent, non-
get is identified as being a foreigner profit newsroom that performs
- a process that has only 51 percent investigative journalism, investi-
accuracy according to a Washing- gated these 54 "thwarted terror-
ton Post study - any person in con- ist plots," and concluded that only
tact with that target is now subject four could actually be accredited for
to investigation, as is anyone with- being revealed through NSA data
in the inbox or outboxes of these collection efforts. General Alex-
extended targets' e-mail accounts. ander later rescinded his claim of
In fact, the NSA is allowed to use 54 attacks and revised the number
"three hops" of separation from its to "dozens." Deputy NSA Direc-
original target. This means that if tor John Inglis also conceded that,
someone identified as being foreign at most, one plot - which he could
communicates in any form with not specify - might have been dis-
someone who communicates with rupted by the metadata mining
someone who communicates with program.
you, the NSA is allowed to collect The NSA's data collection pro-
information from avarietyofsourc- gram is a massive infringement
es including your phone and e-mail. on our civil liberties. The incred-
According to ibly loose param-
these param- eters of these
eters, a Face- programs are
book user with While combating purposefully
1,000 "friends" terrorism is vital to structured to
can open an include virtu-
investiga- security, sacrificing ally every Ameri-
tion network can citizen. Our
of 26,699,560 our rights is country was not
people - a founded on the
number slight- not the answer. idea of "well, I
ly more than have nothing
the population to hide..." and a
of Texas. democracy cannot function with
Think about how many interna- this type of mentality.
tional students you are Facebook As the debate over the NSA's data
friends with. Think about how collection program is sure to contin-
many e-mails you have gotten from ue in the coming weeks and months,
the University that have also been students must to remain engaged
sent out to thousands of other peo- in the political conversation. While
ple. Both of these most likely qualify combating terrorism both at home
you to be subject to investigation and abroad is vital to our country's
under the first or second degree of security, sacrificing our constitu-
separation as outlined by the NSA. tional rights as American citizens is
Although the exact amount of data not the price we should pay.
collected by the NSA in a certain
time period is both classified and of - Patrick Maillet can be
a nearly inconceivable volume, the reached at maillet@umich.edu.

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