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August 11, 1989 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1989-08-11

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OPINION

A

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

v

Jesse Helms:
"THE GOVERNMENT should not gay men and gay sexuality. The ex-
be funding pictures of two men of hibit was eventually rescheduled at a
different races together on a table." braver and smaller Washington
So Senator Jesse Helms describes gallery.
the rationale behind his effort to cut Helms' bill states that its purpose
National Endowment for the Arts is to end tax-funded sponsorship of
(NEA) funding for any artwork or offensive artwork. Its real intent,
artists deemed as "offensive." The however, is quite different.
racism and homophobia pervading Underneath a coating of censoring
Helms' statement are a perfect reflec- racist artwork, Helms expresses his
tion of the bill itself. disgust for depictions of sex between
Passed by a voice vote in the half- men of different races; behind his
full Senate, Helms' amendment to expressed desire to end sexually of-
the funding bill would cut funding of fensive artwork, Helms condemns
work which is found to be racist, Mapplethorpe's celebration of gay
sexist, culturally offensive, or in- sexuality. By his stated criteria -
sults any "religious or non-religious barring the offensive - Helms' own
group." This last would presumably tax-funded support should be shut
include any criticisms of the Nazi off.
Party and the Klan, as well as the Where were Helms and his ilk
Catholic Church. when depictions of "Little Black
Helms' effort was prompted by the Sambo" were quite mainstream?
recent uproar over the Corcoran Why does he not attack the veiled
Gallery's decision to cancel a Robert sadomasochistic depictions of
Mapplethorpe photography exhibit women in everyday advertising, as
which included frank depictions of opposed to an exhibit which rela-

the modern art critic

tively few people will see? The real permit artists to both create freely
purpose of this bill is to impose a and to survive. By Helm's defini-
Senate-determined conception of tions, African fertility art, Manet's
morality upon artists. Olympia, Rembrandt's engravings,
In the European Renaissance, and Japanese pillow books would all
artists were dependent on the funding be unacceptable.
of a few wealthy patrons and monar- In general, his bill lacks any defi-
chs for their survival. To be able to nition, academic or otherwise, of art
paint at all, artists were often forced or the purpose it is meant to fill. Art
to tailor their work to the specifica- is meant to be thought-provoking
tions and taste of their sponsors. and controversial. Picasso broke the
When painting a portrait of the hegemony of one-point perspective,
king's daughter, one did not include and in his own day this was quite as
the warts if one wanted to eat. controversial as Mapplethorpe's
Criticisms of the status quo were by questioning of the heterosexist norm
necessity, quite subtle. Sexuality and of current depictions of sexuality.
morality were similarly censored or Helms' bill, however, is not based
exposed according to the tastes of the on any coherent or thoughtful analy-
sponsor. Goya's portraits of the
royal family of Spain are extraordi-
nary simply because the subjects are
not depicted as gods, but as clumsy
and plain; ordinary people.
The major purpose of the modern
National Endowment for the Arts is
to expunge such censorship and

sis of the role art plays in society.
Instead, it is a knee-jerk reaction to
only a few specific works.
As a result of this bill, which
hopefully will die in the House of
Representatives, the NEA will be far
more cautious in selecting art which
challenges the status quo. Helms
wishes to punish the museum which
initially procured the NEA endow-
ment for the Mapplethorpe exhibit;
the exact $45,000 cost of the exhibit
has been excised from NEA's new
budget. Helms, the self-appointed
guardian of American morals, has
always been seen by most as a
crackpot. It is frightening that such
lunacy is so influential.

V

E

Lorenzo: unsafe at any speed

A . = c A N mNyH L

ON TUESDAY, August 1, striking $79 dollar one-way flights on
Eastern flight attendants, pilots and Eastern? One-way non-refundable
machinists held a rally at Detroit tickets are essentially worthless, as
Metro's south terminal to protest they are far -more expensive than
new owner Frank Lorenzo's resum- round-trip tickets.
ing of flights from Detroit. Lorenzo's ploy is basically aimed
Since the strike began in March of at the business community - which
this year, Lorenzo has threatened to often flies on one-way fares.
slash wages by 56 percent, to cut However, according to ticket agents
benefits and to curb aircraft mainte- and Union officials the biggest mar-
nance in order to speed up the num- ket for these tickets on August 1
ber of take-offs and landings the was students. The temptation to fly
company can squeeze into one work cheap is a big attractor for students,
day. but what about returning trips?
What Lorenzo started with Students who flew on Eastern prob-
Continental over a year ago, he is at- ably had a rude awakening when they
tempting to do to Eastern airlines. discovered that return trip fees more
Lorenzo's efforts are a classic exam- than doubled the "inexpensive" price
ple of Union busting - people like of Lorenzo's one-way tickets to
him sell an idea to the working pub- nowhere.
lic that striking workers don't have Students don't fall for Frank
the consumer's best interests at Lorenzo's brand of terrorism in the
heart, that strikes are selfish, and an airways. On August 1, during the
impediment to a true bargaining pro- rally, most travelers on the one
cess. plane to Atlanta that did fly, boarded
But his arguments against unions with airline tickets that had been in-
and for union-busting don't wash in validated when Lorenzo shut down
the long run. What is the benefit of the airline in March. Students need

to demand, not their right to fly with
those now-useless tickets, but their
right to a full refund because of
Lorenzo's mismanagement.
Amidst the corporate hype of
company turn around and new pas-
senger incentives, the real risks be-
come blurred and obfuscated. It's
hard to remember that workers arc
striking for pay equity as well as for
airline safety. They are not refusing
to fly planes, but refusing to fly un-
safe planes.
People seem to forget that
Lorenzo's other airline, Continental,
had the worst safety and baggage
handling record in the industry, with
reported near-misses out of Newark
at the high end of the national aver-
age and with over a quarter of a mil-
lion bags lost or mishandled in
1988. With one airline in a man-
agement shambles, how can Lorenzo
promise the public or Eastern work-
ers that his so-called new deal with
Eastern is safe and effective?
Don't believe the hype. Lorenzo's
public relations campaign is not sav-
ing consumers money but risking
people's lives - workers and travel-
ers'. Students need to support
Eastern strikers as they continue the
struggle to save the airline from
Lorenzo's tyranny and return the
company to collective bargaining.
Under Lorenzo's fist Eastern flights
are not safe at any price, or at any
speed. Support the strike and safety
first - don't fly Eastern!

____ __= ........LI ..
Support miners
LAST MONTH the 2,000th person and disabled miners was obviously in-
was arrested in Virginia for non-vio- tended to provoke a strike. The federal
lent civil disobedience against the government has charged the company
Pittston Coal Co. It didn't make the with more than 25 separate violations
New York Times, but that person was of federal labor law, and Pittston still
Gail Gentry, a disabled miner who refuses to bargain in good faith. Over
was paralyzed 10 years ago when the the past five years Pittston has laid *
roof of a Pittston mine collapsed on off 4000 out of 6000 miners, while
him. Gentry was arrested and taken to transferring operations to non-union
jail after pushing his wheelchair in subsidiaries.
front of a coal truck. He is one of The class nature of the US judicial
1500 disabled miners, retirees, and and law enforcement system has been
widows who lost their health coverage starkly illustrated since the strike be-
when the union contract with Pittston gan. While Pittston can safely ignore
expired in February 1988. the unfair labor practice charges,
The United Mine Workers of which carry no significant penalties,
America (UMWA) is fighting to pre- the union has been fined literally hun-
serve this medical coverage, and also dreds of billions of dollars for violat- E
for its continued existence as a union. ing court injunctions against the
The union went on strike at Pittston's strike. The governor of Virginia has
mines in April of this year, after sent over 350 state troopers in south-
working 14 months without a con- western Virginia to help Pittston
tract. Pittston is the leading coal pro- break the strike, and last week a
ducer in Virginia and the second Federal judge jailed three UMWA of-
largest exporter of coal in the United ficials for indefinite terms.
States. The company made a profit of The miners deservethe unqualified
$48.6 million in 1988. support of all who believe in basic
The miners believe, and the evi- human rights and dignity for working *
dence supports their view, that people. The union is the only institu-
Pittston, perhaps in conjunction with tion they have to defend tOcse rights,
other coal companies, is simply try- and tens of thousands of miners and
ing to break the union. The cut off of their families would suffer greatly if it
medical coverage to retirees, widows were lost.

Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. XCIX, NO. 12-S Ann Arbor, MI 48109
signed editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
toons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.

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