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April 30, 2001 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2001-04-30

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday April 30, 2001
Students at the Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan
Ar a d u t, Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflet the opinion of th.
420 Maynard Street majority ofthe Daly's editorial board. All other articles, letters an
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Dail

Political analysts have traditionally
used the first 100 days of a presi-
dency as an indication of where on
the specru the president really is,
what his political style is, and his profi-
ciency in getting things done.
Wednesday marked the first 100 days of
George W. Bush's Presidency; so far,
his accomplishments have een -less
than impressive. On domestic issues,
Bush has shown that he prefers big
business to the American masses.
The Bush administration recently
announced that it would cease efforts to
promote ratification of the Kyoto
Treaty by the Senate. More than 100
nations around the world signed the
1997 treaty that called for a 5.2 percent
reduction of harmful green house
gases, most notably carbon dioxide.
The environmentally conscious
European Union has expressed anger
that Bush, the leader of the most indus-
trialized nation in the world, refuses to
assume a role in protecting the world's

ubious lea e ip
Bush's first 100 days prove disappointing

future. Bush's actions, or lack there of,
present the image that the United States
is ignoring a problem that it has played
a large role in creating.
Bush's critics contend that his deci-
sion to pull out of the Kyoto Treaty was
partly a reward to coal-rich Virginia for
voting for him and possibly a retaliation
against unions that were effectively and
actively anti-Bush. On Election Day the
United Auto Workers deliberately put
2,000 members to work getting votes
for Gore. Exit poll data gives evidence
that union households in battleground
states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and
Wisconsin were a key component in
Gore's victory in those states.
Bush has also exhibited a startling
lack of concern for pressing issues like

social security and Medicare. He has
done nothing to help the ailing social
security system and while he has pro-
posed a prescription drug benefit for
the poorest senior citizens, the proposal
is still in early stages and it is question-
able that the money allotted will be suf-
This is not all. Bush and the republi-
can-dominated Congress have together
formulated a bill that makes it harder
for consumers to declare bankruptcy
and a bill that loosens work-place safe-
ty regulations regarding repetitive stress
injuries. Banks and credit card compa-
nies - not private citizens - are the
obvious beneficiaries of the former bill.
The latter bill will make it more diffi-
cult for workers to fight hazardous

working conditions. According to AFL
CIO political director Steve Rosentha
"George Bush makes Ronald Reaga
look like Mother Jones." Bush has
to showthe United States how his
ticular brand of conservatism is difer
ent and where exactly his "compassion
comes into play.
But all is not lost. Bush still ha
most of his term to prove that th<
American people are his first priorit
If Bush really wants to demonstrate hi
"compassion," he should be more sen
sitive to the needs of the American pub
lic and more engaged in improvinl
international relations. He sho
remember that natural resources are
unlimited and will disappear ver)
quickly if our nation continues to con
sume them irresponsibly. It is still pos
sible that history will view his admmis
tration in a positive light
Unfortunately, his moderate campaigr
language has proven to be just a veneei
for his conservative core.

Naked ambition
Student protestors correct to defend tradition

buckle up or else
Misdemeanor arrests sometimes unreasonable

he Naked Mile was disappointing
for many this year. Although the
Ann Arbor Police Department
was happy about the dwindled amount
of participants and spectators, the lack
of participation was disappointing and
unfair. A series of threatening e-mails
from University administrators crossed
the wires in the weeks before the annu-
al event, informing students of the
"risks" associated with participating:
Being assaulted by spectators, arrest,
and even misdemeanor charges.
Students were urged not to run and
many were scared off by the threats of
formal charges.
Regardless of how the general public
may feel about college students cavort-
ing nakedly across campus, students
should have the right to run at their own
risk. The administration should allow
students - as legal adults - to make
their own decisions about their bodies.
Furthermore, the protest of about 100
students that took place on South
University Avenue in an attempt to
block police access to the runners is
fully justified and acceptable. These
students were part of a peaceful protest
that involved no infraction of the law.
Also, there was no violence or any other
dangerous activities among the runners.
Increased efforts to quell this tradi-
tional romp drove many students to
openly defend the runners and express
disapproval of the administration's irra-
tional enforcement. In the past, all
arrests made at the Naked Mile have
been alcohol-related. Starting last year,
naked students were charged with inde-
cent exposure, which is considered a
misdemeanor in Michigan.

Perhaps this sort of protest is the
only voice that students have left in an
increasingly authoritarian atmosphere.
What began as a spontaneous, upbeat
event with little to no risk involved for
runners is now a fiasco of chases,
threats and arrests. Several students
were chased by DPS and AAPD offi-
cers as they ran and many were threat-
ened with arrest if they did not put their
clothes on.
The increased police activity sur-
rounding the Naked Mile is unnecessar-
ily bringing down a beloved tradition.
Man y who would have enjoyed the
lighthearted jog could not do so for fear
of severe consequences. The number of
participants significantly decreased in
2000 (400 participants down from 800
the previous year). The number of spec-
tators also dropped this year to about
7,000 compared to last year's 10,000.
The fact that students can be charged
with a sexual offense just for running
across campus naked is ludicrous. The
students who wish to run in the Naked
Mile are not out to threaten or offend
anyone. If it is their mere presence that
one finds undesirable, then one can
choose not to attend. Secondly, brand-
ing runners as "sex offenders" puts their
harmless college fun in the same cate-
gory as the more heinous acts of rapists
and child molesters.
It will be interesting to see how next
year turns out, especially after students
have chosen to protest the efforts of the
AAPD. It is difficult to predict what
will happen, but the strong resistance
presented this year may fuel new and
effective efforts to revive the Naked

magine your mother driving you
home from soccer practice on the
quiet 15 mile per hour streets of your
quaint town. Suddenly, a police car flash-
es its lights and pulls your car over and
you realize that you, your mother and
your sibling never fastened your seat-
belts back in the parking lot. The police
officer proceeds to handcuff and arrest
your mother and to search your car; if it
wasn't for the kind neighbor who came
to get you, he also would have arrested
Sound unlikely? Texas resident Gail
Atwater and her children thought so, too.
A police officer observed Atwater
and her children breaking the law by not
wearing their seatbelts; the maximum
penalty for this minor infraction is a $50
fine. Instead of issuing a ticket, he sub-
jected her to the humiliation of a full cus-
todial arrest, posted a $310 bond and
made her pay to have her truck towed.
Atwater was sure that such a severe pun-
ishment for such a minor offense would
constitute unreasonable search and
seizure, a breach of her Fourth
Amendment rights. She filed a lawsuit
against the city of Lago Vista, its police
chief and the officer who arrested her.
The case went all the way to the U.S.
Supreme Court, where justices were
sharply divided, ruling 5-4 that a police
officer who observes someone breaking
the law - regardless of minority of the
infraction or fine - can make a full cus-
todial arrest without violating the Fourth
Amendment's prohibition of unreason-
able seizure.
This ruling gives new dimension to a
police officer's capacity to control a situ-
ation that could be seen as dangerous but

it also provides room for abuse.
A seatbelt is a life-saving device tha1
the law says everyone must wear, but was
this misdemeanor offense truly seen as
menace that needed Atwater's arrest
be corrected or was it simply somet
to fill the time of a bored cop in a quiel
town? This unbounded discretion given
to police officers could provide ample
excuse for the stopping and lawful
harassing of an individual. In a time
when racial profiling is already a serious
problem (though race was not an issue in
Atwater's case), this ruling could prove
especially harmful; it will give poli
officers one more reason to stop 'sus
cious-looking" minorities.
In the majority opinion on the deci-
sion, Justice David H. Scouter felt that to
"mint a new rule of constitutional law,"
would turn many ordinary arrests into
occasions for further constitutional
debate. But the arrests that are extraordi-
nary are left with no defense; whether
you are caught stealing or simply not
wearing your seatbelt, you are still sub-
ject to the same punishment.
For Atwater's minor infraction, a mi-
demeanor under Texas law, she should
have paid $50. How can it be lawful to
transform a $50 fine into a release bond
of $310?
Obviously, this ruling gives less
power to the "criminals" and more power
to those keeping the peace. But what
kind of criminal is Atwater? All can le
from her mistake of not wearing a sea
belt, but the misdemeanor offense was
not a threat to others; her punishment
was too severe. The Supreme Court rul-
ing was unreasonable and has a danger-
ous potential for abuse.

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