Wednesday, May 17, 1995-- The Michigan Daily -5
A nervous person with a bladder the size of a
g-pong ball, I've made numerous pit stops at all
restrooms on campus. After three years, I can
ely say that the ladies room of choice is the one
ated closest tothe Angell Hallcomputingcenter.
Actually, as University bathrooms go, it's only
e. It's not as posh as those at Rackham, yet
oesn't run out of toilet paper quite as often as
ats the stall with the most scintillating graffiti
lmpus. Its walls have become an open forum
women to discuss all the hot topics of the times.
far, the most commented upon theme is
Protected by anonymity, women write honestly
ir opinions and ask the questions they need
twers to. Many self-proclaimed heterosexual
pondents have taken the time to pen out long
y-friendly passages. Some others confess their
>ressed curiosity about dating other women.
ey ask for advice on how to meet lesbians.
n an age where one can get shot for declaring
shon someone ofthe same sex, these messages
a be comforting. They help the troubled and
nfused know they are not alone. Moreover, they
Ip make our sprawling campus seem less
imidating and more like a friendly place that
motes tolerance and compassion towardothers
gardless of their sexual orientation.
Not surprisingly, however, an equal number of
iters deride homosexuality. They want to stuff
an angry, "This is what gives you goddamn
xuals such a bad name." Another queries
sy if a woman were proud of being a lesbian she
add write it on a wall, as if homosexuality were
profane and undignified. This respondent's views
>y me. I wonder if it's fear or ignorance that
ssthis hate. I wonder ifshe shuns homosexuality
I once did, to mask her own insecurities.
I would like tobelieve that these hate-mongers
uld change if they would try and see life from
other perspective. Homophobic people should
ife from a homosexual point of view.
problem with discussing gay rights is that
public focuses too much on how respecting
y rights will affect the heterosexual majority.
orientation, one of the topics discussed in a
prkshop was the possibility of rooming with a
mosexual. Although I adamantly believe in gay
'hts, I was threatened by the idea.
it was posed. Why wasn't it asked: "If you were
y, how would you feel about living with a
Wight roommate?" Flip-flopping the issue would
N been morebeneficial as away to promote not
st tolerance, but understanding and compassion.
Contrary to popular belief, the assumed
anger" is not for the heterosexual roommate. It
far more perilous and frightening for gays and
sbians, who are the frequent victims of hate
imes and discrimination, in a society whose
ws do not universally protect the human rights of
If you are not homosexual, try to imagine what
would be like to fear being perceived as a threat.
Sine fearing that others might shun you lest
become labeled as - godforbid - gay.
sen, contend with the knowledge that society
>es not deem you worthy of protection from the
tolerance of others. (Small wonder some
)mosexuals dread living with a straight person.)
A little role reversal makes it all too obvious
by many closeted gays only feel safe expressing
eir feelings on a lonely bathroom wall in Angell
all. Society has made them ashamed and afraid
the consequences of their feelings. I dislike
gng comments from lesbians in the restroom
use love need not be confined to a grimy wall.
should surface on the streets, on the Diag, and in
e Union. As one anonymous respondent simply
rote, "All love is sacred."
Nur ABLE QUrABIE
"Your broadside against federal agents deeply offends my
own sense of decency and honor; and It offends my concept
of service to country."
-Former President George Bush, publicly renouncing his membership in the
National Rifle Association after afundraiser letter issued by NRA Vice Ppresident
Wayne LaPierre likened government law enforcement officials to "Jackbooted thugs
wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms."
Summer tripped up by construction
To the Daily:
Finally, after months of shoveling paths to
class, and weeks of hovering beneath umbrellas,
summer has reached the grateful city of Ann
Arbor. This phenomenon has effectively drawn
residents away from their MTV and landed them
with beers in their hands. Some athletic-minded
pale individuals have even used the recent sunlight
as an excuse to take to the sidewalks.
What they have discovered as they make their
way down State Street, from North University to
East Hoover, is that summer in Ann Arbor appears
to mean one thing: construction. How does this
differ from fall or winter? you ask. Answer: it has
expanded beyond campus, and is now taking over
the entire city.
The State-Hill-Packard intersection boasts a
circus of orange-vested flag-wavers, impatient
joggers running in place at the corners and
construction workers who are barely visible from
the pits they have dug in the pavement. Vehicles
have actually been lining up for blocks just to
catch a glimpse of the action.
Behind West Quad is a parking structure with
thre floors that have been fenced off in plastic.
There is some sort of loud, top-secret operation
going on in there. From the building roars a
grinding, piercing, typical construction-type noise.
Go see it for yourself, then return home and
observe a moment of silence for the sanity of its
However, if your trip home takes you down the
sidewalks of South State, be forewarned - you'd
be really embarrassed if you suddenly fell into one
of the new street-side craters - especially since
there will be three blocks of backed-up cars and
two dozen porch loungers with nothing better to
do but sit and laugh at you.
School of Art junior
The art of debate
One of my best friends visited this weekend
from East Lansing. The way he tells it, all of the
conservatives at that other school seem to feel
redeemed by last November's election results. It's
just too ironic that MSU's graduation speaker this
year was President Clinton.
Anyway, I've always known my friend to be a
clear-minded person who had his priorities straight
and put his pants on one leg at a time. He is also quite
intelligent, so his first real lapse seems to have been
going to Michigan State. His second error was going
hook, line and sinker for the Republican Party.
Sunday for breakfast, we headed over to check
out the strange new Ann Arbor coffeehouse, Not
Another Cafe. While reclining on their luxurious
sofas and drinking our regular coffee (not
cappucino nor espresso), we had another of our
marathon political discussions. We talked about
taxes, the media, Ayn Rand (he's reading Atlas
Shrugged), Bill Clinton's changing stripes and a
score of other current topics.
I consider myself a Democrat whose party has
gone astray, so when my friend would begin with a
predictably conservative postulate, I would refute
him vigorously. After we had expanded our initial
arguments, however, we usually found we were
not so far apart politically. It amazed me that so
much of what he said made sense, and he was
surprised at how much of what I said was in line
with his thinking, once we got past the party line.
For example, he said he thought racial
discrimination had virtually disappeared "No
company has a policy anymore of refusing to hire
someone because of their race." He said a qualified
person could get agoodjobregardless of their color.
"Yes," I rejoined, "but that doesn't mean
discrimination is gone. The manager at a fast-food
joint who is hiring a new cashier could decide he
won't work with a Black person. Or it could be a
corporate office director. That happens every day."
he said, "but we've made it absolutely illegal in this
country. And it doesn't make economic sense for a
company to discriminate.
"It doesn't have to make economic sense. It's an
emotional issue, not a rational one. There are many
latent bigots out there who support militant racists
like John Metzger. It's dangerous to say 'racial
discrimination is gone' if you mean institutionalized
racism is just about extinct," I replied.
We eventually agreed that the continuing
economic and social legacies of racism were bigger
problems than individual acts of bigotry - which
aretoo common-and we agreed that thiscountry
has strong laws about discrimination.
We also agreed that you shouldn't force
someone to pay for the sins of their ancestors
(although he has stronger feelings against
affirmative action programs than I).
That's a good consensus for two people of
different political parties, but we couldn't devise
an easy solution for the disparity of opportunity
that exists for different races in America.
After our leisurely discussion, I thought how
American politics have gotten so far from reasoned
debate in recent years. If they gotrpast their shallow
popular rhetoric, Democrats and Republicans
might just find that they are closer to agreement
than they think.
But politicians on opposite sides of the party line
won't allow themselves to be caught agreeing on
anything if they can help it. It doesn't serve their
purpose. If they would acknowledge that they were
really fighting about where to strike the balance and
not about absolutes, our politics would be more
productive and less offensive.
Our esteemed leaders ought to try settling their
differences in calmer tones while seated in
comfortable chairs, over a cup of good coffee, They
would enjoy their work more.
And my friend and I would appreciate their
VIsrr THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM - A MAMMOTH RESOURCE ON
ON NORTH UNIVERSITY, NEXT TO THE BUS STOP. YOU'LL HAVE A WHALE
OF A TIME, YOU PREHISTORIC COUCH POTATOES. WELL, WHAT ARE YOU
WAITING FOR? Go HUG YOUR DINOSAUR TODAY!