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Thursday, June 5, 2014
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
hic ffiidiigan 4a4WIV
Edited and managed by students at
ithe University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Thursday, June 5, 2014
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Why I hate religion

New Maleficent still just a fairytale




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.
Supporting social science
Congress must consider social sciences' importance with budget creation
Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved
legislation to increase the National Science Foundation's
budget to $7.4 billion for the 2015 fiscal year, a 3.2 percent
increase against the Obama administration's proposed increase
of 1.1 percent. However, before the appropriations bill was passed,
an amendment was added by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to
specifically cut NSF funding for social sciences research. While
it's commendable that the House has increased NSF funding
more than two times the proposed increase, redirecting funds
away from the social sciences is a mistake. When reviewing the
bill, the Senate must keep in mind the importance of research in
social sciences and its impact on society.

The greatest form of human
freedom - and the basis for all
of our other rights - is the free-
dom of thought.
The right to,
believe whatever
we choose is the
foundation to speak,
associate and act
freely. Freedom
of thought gives JAMS
birth to new ideas BRENNAN
and challenges the
status quo, allowing
human beings the
courage to resist tyranny and formulate
new solutions to the world's problems.
Our right to think freely is what incites
us to speak when we're supposed to be
silent, to love when we're supposed to
feel indifference and to do that which
was thought to be impossible.
As a writer and vocal critic of
anything and everything I dislike, the
freedom to think and express my beliefs
is a constant source of deep personal
fulfillment. I can say with confidence
that I love my right to think and say
whateverv I want more than almost
anything in my life. I love it more than
any material good, more than any object
of sentimental value and more than
any person. When you love something
that much, it's logical that you would
absolutely hate anything that threatens
its existence.
I hate religion because it jeopardizes
all of our most treasured civil liberties
at their root: the freedom of thought.
Religion requires an individual to
suspend critical thinking and abstain
from any questioning of dogma, often
enforced through the threat of eternal
damnation, the promise of endless .
paradise or both. If one does notbelieve,
he orshehas committed anunforgivable
crime worthy of punishment. If one
breaks any of the religion's rules, he
or she has compromised their fate.
In some cases, if one even so much
as thinks an impure thought, his or
her destiny is in peril. Religion isn't
salvation, it's an Orwellian nightmare
enforcing thought crimes.
The bookNineteenEighty-Four opens
with its protagonist Winston Smith
hiding in the corner of a room out of
the view of Big Brother, scribbling his
thoughts nervouslyinto ajournal. If he's
caught, he faces imprisonment or death.
Religion takes away even that corner
where Winston can hide.
In a 1969 opinion, Supreme Court
Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote, "If
the First Amendment means anything,
it means that a State has no business
telling a man, sitting alone in his own
house, what books he may read or

what films he may watch." Religion .
takes ,away not only the bastion of
freedom in one's own home, but the
most valuable space for freedom that
exists: one's own mind.
Religion isn't a law that we are
all required to follow. It is, in fact,
protected by the very freedom I value
so much. If a person wants to filter
all of their thoughts and actions to
appease something they believe in,
even if it's something silly, that's
their choice. Adults are free to lock
themselves into refusing dissent and
obeying what Christopher Hitchens
labeled "a celestial North Korea." But
what about children?
Kids often have religion drilled into
their heads by their parents as soon
as they're able to understand, making
it nearly impossible to later bore out.
While religion is the willful suspension
of critical thinking for adults, it's a
command for children who don't know
any better to ask certain questions.
Grown adults are free to give away their
freedom of thought, but some children
are required to do so before they can
make the choice themselves.
To be clear, I'm not advocating for
the prohibition of all religion by law.
Nor do I fail to recognize that some
religions are far better in this respect
than others, some of whom hold very
few unquestionable tenants. What
I'm saying is that rules on what you
choose to think, say and do should
not be restricted by an illogical desire
to pacify a mythic higher power.
A person doesn't need to defer to a
hierarchy that supposedly punishes
"bad" thoughts to decide what is and
isn't good to contemplate.
While I love my own freedom of
thought, what I love more is everyone
else's. A democratic society is built on
a free exchange of ideas, an exchange
unfiltered and filled with criticism and
creativity. Progress is driven by new
ideas, unconventional wisdom and,
above all else, dissent.
Religion destroys a person's ability
to fully think for him or herself, in turn
destroying their ability to decide their
own path in life. On a large scale, it can
hinder progress for the rest of society.
I understand that religion can be
comforting; it offers a person concrete
meaning in life, explains what happens
when it's all over and gives someone
hope they may see their loved ones
again after they die. What it asks for in
exchange is a person's surrender oftheir
faculties to think and act freely.
If you ask me, that sounds like a deal
with the devil.
- James Brennan can be reached
at jmbthree@umich.edu.

be arei
the cla
but the
are stil
of cast
to exp
What I
the wo:
is his
with cl
bad thi
why sh

iptation of Disney Aurora. Once an innocent girl with
a pure heart, she was betrayed by
sic well-made, but King Stefan (Sharlto Copley, "Old-
boy") and becomes vengeful and
esn t reinvigorate cruel: The rest of the story is a tale of
redemption, forgiveness, the mean-
alrytale movies oing of good and evil, blab blah blah.
"Maleficent" 's plot is so predictable
ByKAREN YUAN thatthe Mayans could have foreseen
Daily Arts Writer it. Luckily, the weight of this story
doesn't lie in its plot, but in its pro-
leficent" is a fairytale. It may duction.
nventionof It's clean, unsubtle filmmaking
ssic "Sleep- that exactly fits its genre. A fairytale
uty" (1959), requires tradition, formality, and a
bones of it Maleficent poetic cohesiveness, which the film
11 the stuff delivers. The first true love's kiss in
les, magic Walt Disney the movie, later proving to be false,
dramatic Pictures is silhouetted aod in shadow. The
ral scores. second true love's kiss is a scene
are things Rave and awash in bright lighting and sun
ect in this Quality 16 because the love is real this time.
of story. Another contrast occurs between
I mean is that "Maleficent," Maleficent's reaction to betrayal and
d by Robert Stromberg (from Aurora's (Elle Fanning, "We Bought
rld of production design; this A Zoo") - Maleficent immediately
directorial debut), is riddled goes- for vengeance while Aurora
iches, but that's not exactly a forgives. It's tidy symmetry. Malefi-
ng. cent and Aurora are foils of the most
movie tells the story of primitive, basic sense - one in black,
cent (Angelina Jolie, "The one in white; one representing the
") - how'd you guess? - from past, one the future. This sort of
's "Sleeping Beauty," and storytelling is exactly the type for
e cursed the infant princess children before bedtime, with clear

In March, President Barack
Obama and his administration
submitted the 2015 fiscal year
budget to Congress for review.
The proposal included a 1.1
percent increase in the fiscal
year budget for the NSF. When
reviewing the budget proposal,
the House decided to increase
the NSF's budget 2.3 percent
more than proposed by the
Obama administration. As the
NSF redirects more than one-
fourth of the federal support
to academic institutions, it's
imperative the foundation be
While an increased
budget benefits the NSF, an
amendment to redirect social
science research towards
natural science inhibits the
NSF's autonomy. Amendment
proponents assert that natural
science research significantly
outvalues social science

research, but this notion
doesn't account for the arduous
process to receive funding.
Those interested in NSF grant
money must submit extensive
proposals to a committee and
receive approval before given
funds. Over 40,000 proposals
for research, education and
training projects are received
by the NSF each year with only
11000 proposals accepted.
Given their experience in
scientificfields, members ofthe
selection committee are better
qualified than congressman to
analyze whether research is
worth of investment.
The committee contains
valid reasoning for supporting
social science research.
Proponents of more science
research cite that natural
science constitutes research
that is "necessary for economic
growth." While natural science

deserves substantial funding,
this shouldn'tundervalue social
science research. Scholars at
Rice University studied public
reactions to natural disasters,
and this information has been
used to aid evacuation plans
for future emergencies. Smith
argues that some research
money, like $50,000 to study
17th century Peruvian lawsuits,
could be redirected, so the NSF
should provide reasoning for
the research's value. While the
committe is qualified to make
funding decisions, it's possible
that a few of the 11,000 yearly
proposes could be efficiently
redirected. However, if money
is to be redirected, it could be
beneficial to both social science
and natural science research.
If money is taken from social
science funding, it should be
redirected towards others
areas of social science research.

'uits' remiere
Season premiere that USA Network tries to offer.
None of their series do this as
provides reliable well as "Suits." Over the course
of three seasons, this show has
entertainment and developed into a highly enter-
taining, well-oiled machine.
character chemistry While it's not telling revolution-
ary stories or offering anything
By ALEX INTNER that's hugely worthwhile, it's still
Daily Arts Writer good television, and in this case
that's enough.
There's something to be said At the end of last season Mike
for television that is purely enter- Ross (Patrick J. Adams, "Orphan
taining. It's not Black") left Pearson Spektor
particularly for an investment banking firm
great, but .each to escape the possibility that
episode is com- him being a fraud wouldn't be
petently made, SUitS revealed to anyone else. The pre-
there's an inter- Season 4 miere follows through on this
esting story Premiere cliffhanger, creating a new status
week to week, quo where Mike and Harvey Spe-
and, above all, USA ktor (Gabriel Macht, "The Good
watching each Wednesdaysat Shepherd") work on different
episode is fun. 9 p.m. starting sides of the same case. It does a
This is the type June11 lot of the expositional heavy lift-
of television ing, setting up the dynamics that

Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
messages and simple poetry.
Symmetry occurs again and
again in "Maleficent." A young,
trusting Maleficent eagerly says,
"Come out!" to Stefan, who is hid-
den in foliage. Years later, a young,
trusting Aurora eagerly says,
"Come out!" to Maleficent, who is
hidden in foliage. Both are chil-
dren smiling at the one who will or
has unmade them. Stefan kneels to
plead to Maleficent when she vis-
its him in revenge, and Maleficent
kneels before Stefan when he read-
ies to kill her many scenes later.
Both characters bitterly exclaim
the season will follow, with Mike
and Harvey working on different
sides of a business fight.
What results is a refreshing
change in dynamics. Instead of
digging deeper into its premise
and reusing the same ideas from
the previous three seasons, it puts
a twist on the show's central rela-
tionship and concept. Putting the
mentor and the mentee on oppo-
site sides of the fight isn't uncom-
mon, and "Suits" doesn't bring
much to differentiate it from oth-
ers. Instead, the series relies on
Macht's and Adam's abilities to
sell it. The two actors have fan-
tastic chemistry, which makes
their scenes fun to watch. Not
only do they both communicate
their characters' mutual respect,
they each bring their character's
feelings to the forefront (with
Harvey wanting to protect Mike
and Mike wanting to earn Har-
vey's respect).
This illustrates what makes
this show enjoyable: watching
this cast interact. At this point,
any character from Pearson Spe-

"True love doesn't exist!" at differ-
ent moments, and both characters'
faces are half-covered in darkness
as they slowly descend into vio-
lence and hatred. Stefan's face is
most obvious about this - watch the
lighting changing from the moment
he decides to betray Maleficent to
even after the deed is done.
The ending of "Maleficent"
attempts to subvert the fairytale
genre a la Disney's last blockbuster
"Frozen" (2013). I won't spoil any-
thing, but I will tell you that the
subversion feels tired. Expected.
Anti-climactic. Only there because

it's trendy and hip and another ban-
ner feverishly waving for House
Feminism. Am I giving too much
away? The thing is, despite a poten-
tially refreshing trope inversion in
the name ofgirl power, every female
in "Maleficent" is still romanti-
cally attached to a guy. Their major
character points revolve around
romance. In the context of the rest
of the film's traditional, ye-olde-
fairytale atmosphere, a new spin
almost feels forced - and it doesn't
help that one of the side characters
literally looks into the camera to
clarify the twist.

Michael and Harvey have a moment
ktor can be thrown into a room
with another and it will be a
strong scene. This is especially
true for the characters of Jessica
Pearson (the impeccable Gina
Torres, "Firefly") and Donna
Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty, "What if
God Were The Sun"). Each scene
the two share together peels back

a new layer in their partnership
and friendship.
Ultimately, despite the amount
of exposition and the familiar
storyline, the season premiere of
"Suits" features the fun character
interactions from a great ensem-
ble that lead to it being the per-
fect summer diversion.

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