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July 03, 2006 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-07-03

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6

4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 3, 2006
4 1'd ga Qrig

JEREMY DAVIDSON
Editor in Chief

IMRAN SYED
Editorial Page Editor

JEFFREY BLOOMER
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890.
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other
signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.
Editorial Board Members: Amanda Andrade, Emily Beam,
Jared Goldberg, Theresa Kennelly, Christopher Zhrozek
FROM THE DAILY
Stand and fight
Alumni Association right to speak against MCRI

FROM THE DAILY
A proposal to kill
Death penalty still has no place in Michigan
Despite all the death sentences address these problems, although the strict
carried out in other fine states, guidelines that would be needed to keep rac-
Michigan has not executed any- ist attitudes from influencing jury decisions
one since it became a state in 1837. That aren't exactly in place.
might change if State Rep. Dan Acciavatti Buteventhemostcarefully constructedsys-
(R-Chesterfield Township) has his way. In tem of executions remains problematic. The
reaction to a brutal crime spree that includ- limitations on appeals that would be needed
ed two murders in his district, Acciavatti to make the death penalty a cost-effective
hopes to amend the state constitution to endeavor would also invite the execution of
allow capital punishment for first-degree innocents. If horror stories of public defend-
murder. But doing so would be a step back ers in capital cases sleeping through court or
for a state that was perhaps the first gov- using cocaine weren't enough, the fact that
ernment in the English-speaking world to Barry Scheck's Innocence Project has used
abolish a punishment that is legally, finan- DNA testing to free 14 people who had been
cially and, above all, morally indefensible. sentenced to death should make anyone
More responsible legislators should ignore who thinks all those on the nation's death
Acciavatti's pleas and refuse to write this rows deserve to die think twice. It requires a
unjust practice into Michigan's laws. unique strand of cold-blooded utilitarianism
Appealing to a frightened public, Accia- to justify a system that inevitably will lead to
vatti says Michigan needs harsher punish- the occasional state-sponsored murder of an
ments, including death, to deter would-be innocent citizen.
criminals. He makes no pretense at proving Fundamentally, giving courts the author-
the dubious proposition that the death pen- ity to kill is an immoral act - as the old
alty is actually an effective deterrent. More adage goes, two wrongs don't make a right.
tellingly, he completely ignores the host of If punishment is meant to protect the public
problems associated with capital punish- and provide for the eventual rehabilitation of
ment that would make it unacceptable in a those who can be reformed, the death pen-
civilized society regardless of any supposed alty should have no role to play in the cor-
efficacy as a deterrent. rections system. Indeed, it is curious that
Those problems range from the mundane more religious conservatives, who purport
and perhaps tractable to the profound and to believe ina religion that preaches forgive-
insolvable. In American society, the death ness and tells them to love their enemies,
penalty is expensive to carry out and is dis- don't share the same view. Michigan has
proportionately imposed on minority defen- held the correct moral stance on capital pun-
dants. Limiting appeals and careful use ishment since statehood, and there's no rea-
of sentencing guidelines might, in theory, son to change it now.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

For the first time in its history, the
University's Alumni Association
has taken an official stance on an
issue. Consider the words "for the
first time," and then reconsider the Michi-
gan Civil Rights Initiative.
That proposal - which will appear on
the November ballot - seeks to end most
affirmative action programs in the state
of Michigan, especially at the University.
That's a thought the Alumni Association
deemed urgent enough to blaze a new trail
in speaking out against it, saying MCRI
would "severely limit U-M's ability to
attract, support and maintain a diverse
student body and academic community,
and is harmful to U-M's students and
alumni and society." The Alumni Associ-
ation has thereby added itself to a long list
of MCRI's strong opponents, including
both Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm
and Republican challenger Dick DeVos.
The Association itself also straddles party
lines, speaking to the broad ideological
spectrum that now recognizes the poten-
tial dangers of the proposal.
Though some criticism has arisen
regarding the Alumni Association's deci-
sion to take a stand, such arguments are
misplaced. Until 2003, the Association
had no set protocol to speak out and was
therefore unable to address officially
Gratz v. Bollinger or Grutter v. Bollinger,
the two Supreme Court cases challenging
the University's admission policies. Pre-
paring for the future, the Association then
developed a protocol precisely so it could
respond if another issue contentious and
important enough were to arise.
LIVE ON YOUR FEET

MCRI is that issue. The Association's
decision to come out against the proposal
is not only appropriate, given how it would
alter the University community, but also
serves a symbolic role. For those eager to
dismiss the debate as a mudslinging match
between extremists on both sides of the
political spectrum, the willingness of the
Association to speak out suggests just how
critical this issue is to the general public.
Proponents of MCRI would like us to
believe that since the 1960s, our society
has progressed to a point where women
and minorities no longer face any dis-
crimination in access to education and
opportunities for work. But, studies con-
tinue to show that reality paints a starkly
different picture.
Affirmative action was intended to miti-
gate some of the very basic disparities
that exist within our nation's social fabric.
While few would argue that the system is
without its flaws, a society that champi-
ons civil rights is a society that strives for
equality of opportunity. A wholesale ban
on many of these programs guarantees
precisely the opposite.
As a significant voice of the University
as a whole, the Alumni Association has not
only the right, but also the responsibility
to come out against MCRI. In doing so, it
followed all the rules by going through its
recently created process. Those who oppose
the Association's action, therefore, have lit-
tle stable moral ground to stand on, and the
minor backlash the Association has faced
should not deter other groups from speaking
out against the defective and counterproduc-
tive proposal that is MCRI.

Issue advocacy n
for Alumni Assoc
TO THE DAILY:
Since when is political act
University Alumni Associ
(Expressing opposition to MC
ciation makes history, 06/19/2
Association had had the good
membership on this issue bef
lic stand, is it fair to enlist 1
resources even to support the
If the leaders of the Assoc
personal beliefs about the is
to spend their own time andm
them. But I strongly object t
organization's name and my
either side of the issue.
Ann Arbor must c
flaws of instant-ru
TO THE DAILY:
Last November, when New
Prof. Steven Brams gave a lec
tems at the University's Mather
he pointed out that proponent
voting often ignore how tha
operates. The Michigan Daily
voting system for Ann Arbor
instant-runoff voting, 06/19/20
point. Under the Hare System

ot a job based, it is not correct, as Prof. John Chamberlain
is quoted as suggesting, that "Adopting (IRV)
:ationg generally makes sense when multi-candidate
elections are common."
As Prof. Brams has pointed out, "The Hare Sys-
tivism part of the temmay eliminate a centrist candidate early onand
ation's mission? thereby elect one less acceptable to the majority. It
RI, Alumni Asso- suffers also from "nonmonotonicity" in which vot-
006). Even if the ers,by raising the ranking of a candidate, may actu-
d sense to poll the ally cause that candidate to lose -just the opposite
fore taking a pub- of what one would want to happen."
the organization's An example of the first problem is the last
majority view? presidential election France. In the runoff, Lio-
iation have strong nel Jospin, who probably would havebeaten both
sue, they are free Jacques Chirac and Jean-Marie Le Pen in a one-
noney to advocate on-one race, was eliminated, just as he would be
o their use of the under IRV. The monotonicity problem with IRV
dues to advocate arises because, under that system, a candidate
who would otherwise win can wind up losing if
Michael Smith more voters make that candidate their first place
Alum choice - surely a perverse result.
1 Approval voting is a system where, in an elec-
lonsiaer tion with three or more candidates, voters can
,noff voting give one vote each to the candidate or candidates
of whom they approve, and the candidate hav-
ing most votes wins. This is an alternative system
without the drawbacks of IRV. It would provide
w York University much-needed reform to our electoral system not
ture on voting sys- only in Ann Arbor, but also at the national level.
satics Department, Had AV been in place in Florida in 2000, George
s of instant-runoff W. Bush wouldnever have been elected because it
it system actually is clear that an overwhelming proportion of Ralph
's article on a new Nader voters would have supported Al Gore over
(Residents Push for Bush under AV.

6
0
6

OI-IN OQ)) F-

DAD, CAN AMERICA E CALLED THE 0 PEOPLE ARE DYING IN IRAQ TO
"LAND OF THE FREE' WHEN PEOPLE PROTECT PEOPLE'S FREEDOM TO DENY
CANT MARRY WHO THEY WAT OR EACH OHER OF THEIR RIGHTS? THAT'S r
EVtN BURN AN AMERICAN FLAG? . EVCRYONES GOD-GIVSN IGHT?
tLSON THIS COUNTRY
WSsFOUNDED ON THE THAT'S DEMOCRACY SON.
PRINCIPLE THAT EVERYONE YOO SURE DO LEARN FAST.
w IS ENTITLED TO
- FREEDOM.

F

06) illustrates this
, on which IRV is

John Howard Wilhelm
Alum

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