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November 28, 1995 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-28

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 28, 1995

lbe Arbig~un ?tailg

JEAN TWENGE

Tim ERASABLE PEN

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

MICHAEL ROSENBERG
Editor in Chief
JULIE BECKER
JAMES M. NASH
Editorial Page Editors

Iy ou ever buy a Cbivtmas car,
make sure it's hunter green

mUnless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of a majority of the Daily 's editorial board All
other articles, letters, and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
Still chasing Jake
Rt enewing Baker case threatens Net speech

Take Baker is a wanted man once again.
Five months after a judge cleared him of
'federal charges stemming from an explicit
rape-torture fantasy he posted on the Internet,
the government is attempting to resuscitate
:its case against Baker. This appeal is bound
:to fail-- for the same compelling reasons the
-government's case was thrown out in the first
place.
The government's appeal, filed last week,
.seeks to overturn a June 21 ruling by District
-Court Judge Avern Cohn that dismissed
charges against Baker. The government had
brought five counts of transmitting threats in
interstate or foreign commerce for e-mail
communications between Baker and an uni-
dentified man in Canada known as Arthur
Gonda. Federal agents first arrested Baker
after learning of a sex fantasy he had posted
on the Internet newsgroup alt.sex.stories.
Baker's story was lurid and patently disgust-
ing, but the government failed to prove that it
represented a direct threat to the woman
named as the target of Baker's sick fiction.
Significantly, the gove'rnment's case rested
only on Baker's subsequent e-mail commu-
nications, which did not name any specific
targets. The government was hard-pressed to
Prove those messages were a threat to any-
thing but common decency.
Baker was suspended from the University
:last February and later jailed 29 days while
awaiting trial. That trial never happened.
,Cohn, in an unambiguous opinion, scrapped
:the government's case during pre-trial delib-
erations. The judge's decision was born of

respect for Baker's First Amendment right to
distribute even material that violated stan-
dards of good taste. Baker is now attending
another university - and by all accounts,
has maintained a low profile there. The
government's dogged pursuit of its case
comes less from a concern for the safety of
the woman named in Baker's fantasy than a
desire to regulate free speech on the Internet.
As such, the appeal is especially dangerous.
"While new technology such as the
Internet may complicate analysis and may
sometimes require new or modified laws, it
does not in this instance qualitatively change
the analysis under the statute or under the
First Amendment," Cohn wrote in June.
Cohn's ruling is potentially precedent-set-
ting. By affirming First Amendment protec-
tions for Baker's communications, Cohn was
affording the Internet the same free-speech
guarantees as other media. Reversing that
blanket protection now would open the door
to further legislative meddling in the Internet,
which was foreshadowed last summer with a
congressional bill to impose "decency" on
the Internet.
Lawyers for the government and Baker
are scheduled to deliver oral arguments to the
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati,
possibly by the end of the year. If the three
appeals judges decide a trial is warranted, the
case will return to the U.S. District Court in
Detroit. For the sake of free speech in all
arenas - even distasteful speech in a devel-
oping arena - the appeals judges should
follow Cohn's lead and dismiss the case.

(6 etthe season begin!"cried one ofthe
many Christmas circulars stuffed
inside my newspaper. Unfortunately, that
was at the beginning of November.
The Friday after Thanksgiving was once
considered the official beginning of the
Christmas season - about four weeks, a
reasonable length of time for all ofus to shop
for presents, get into the holiday spirit, drink
eggnog and eat fruitcakes until we bloat,
wait in airports for canceled flights and take
final exams. But like presidential campaigns,
the arrival of winter and the renting season
in Ann Arbor, the Christmas season seems to
begin earlier and earlier every year, and with
less and less purpose.
Two days after Halloween I had the bright
idea of going to the mall to buy sheets for my
bed - a one-stop, practical trip, or so I
thought. I ended up in Sears attempting to
tune out piped-in Christmas music and resist
the urge to buy a dust ruffle.
I don't know how it happens, but some-
where in our development women become
imbued with a nesting instinct. Years of
department store ads and beautiful displays
have taken their toll, and we all end up in the
housewares section buying color-coordi-
nated placemats, towels, seat covers, potato-
peelers and Salad Shooters. ("I like this, but
does it come in hunter green?")
Symptoms are especially acute during
the Christmas season. Signs you may be
suffering include:

Bedding compulsions. If you have
ever had the urge to buy pillow shams, seek
treatment immediately. Mall store bedding
departments are incredible money sinks. If
you're going to do it right, you learn, your
bed must have matching sheets and a com-
forter, at least four full-size pillows, a dust
ruffle and numerous matching throw pil-
lows, preferably including a few of those
cylindrical-shaped ones that look like Tootsie
Rolls with glandular problems. (As far as I
know, the facade bedroom window from the
displays is optional.) As pretty as it may
look, it's completely impractical - unless
you're sleeping alone in a king-size bed,
there's not enough room for both you and the
pillows.
Advanced compulsions include buying
window coverings in the same pattern as
your sheets and knowing the difference be-
tween 180, 200 and 250 thread count in
sheets. If you can tell the difference just by
feeling the fabric, cut up your credit cards
immediately.
And thank goodness for those charge
cards, because all of these accessories must
be bought at once. Otherwise, you'll end up
behind the times with the wrong colors for
next year. Right now, unless you have ma-
roon and hunter green in your bedroom,
you're hopelessly out of style.
U Bathroom obsessions. If you believe
our capitalist giants, the U.S. economy would
completely collapse without the sale of fuzzy

bathroom rugs. Also essential are color-
coordinated toothbrush holders, soap dishes
and wastebaskets. Advanced compulsions:
framed photographs and an expensive wicker'
magazine basket filled with every edition of
"Uncle John's Bathroom Reader."
Christmas crap. Christmas is a great
holiday for seeing friends and family, but I
really don't think it's necessary to com
pletely redecorate a house in red and green.
You can buy Christmas clothes, Christmas
rugs, Christmas candle holders, Christmas
underwear and Christmas dolls, all of which
are useless I I months out of the year (or
maybe, with the recent lengthening of the
season, for 10 months). One of these days
they're going to come up with Christmas
furniture and Christmas cars, all of which
have to be packed away on Jan. 1.
I'm not even going to talk about shoes.
After my stint at Sears, I managed to
make it out the door with sheets and two
pillowcases - an amazing balance which
will allow me to actually sleep in my bed
without throwing 10 pillows on the floor. By
the end of it, though, all I wanted to do was
put on my four-year-old coat, slide my
mother's old hat on my head, climb into my
1988 sedan with no hubcaps and think.
I headed back to campus, where I would
be tempted to buy nothing but textbooks,
report covers and incense.
-.Jean Twenge can be reached over
e-mail at jeant@umich. edu,

MArr WIMSATT

Mooi's DuiEmt4

-~I
) OLD WoMAd IWANTS
US fO (Ge1'LoNCQ)

NOTABLE QUOTABi*
'What's a
province?'
- Toronto Raptors
forward Tony
Massenburg, when asked
how many provinces
there are in Canada

The parent trap unlocks
Court decision marks progress in adoption

Last month in New York, children's and
human rights moved to the forefront
when the state's highest court ruled that a
couple, homosexual or heterosexual, does
not have to be married to adopt a child to-
gether. This decision makes New York only
the third state, after Vermont and Massachu-
setts, whose highest courts have recognized
the right of unmarried couples to adopt chil-
dren. The ruling is a long-overdue recogni-
tion of the rights of both children and adop-
tive parents.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice
Judith S. Kaye wrote that the decision was
consistent with recent changes in state law
that encourage "the adoption of as many
children as possible, regardless of the sexual
orientation or marital status of the individu-
als seeking to adopt them." At long last, the
courts have disregarded their misplaced con-
cern about sexual orientation and remem-
bered the countless unadopted children who
hang in the balance of their decisions. Prima-
rily, the latest ruling will allow children to
receive privileges from both parents, includ-
ing health insurance benefits, Social Security
payments and inheritances. Moreover, per-
mitting these adoptions, in Kaye's words,
"allows the children to achieve a measure of
permanency with both parent figures" - a
worthwhile goal.
Because the state does not recognize same-
-sex marriages, this ruling is particularly im-
portant to gay and lesbian couples trying to
-raise children. Previous law allowed one

partner in a homosexual relationship to adopt
a child, but would not legally recognize the
mate as the child's second parent. With this
decision, the court has finally recognized
changes in the American family, such as the
sixfold increase since 1970 in the number of
unmarried couples with young children.
Without legal recognition of both parents,
one parent could lose custody of a child if the
other died, or could be denied visitation
rights if the couple broke up. This adoption
ruling finally allows the law to reflect reality,
according long-overdue legitimacy to same-
sex parents.
Although the court decision applies
equally to heterosexual couples, because
same-sex marriages are not recognized by
state law it is specifically a huge step toward
the legal acceptance of homosexual parents.
With children who need parents and adults
who want to parent them, obstacles based on
sexual orientation are counterproductive. In
a society where many children come of age in
foster homes and state institutions, this deci-
sion is clearly in the best interests of children.
While the New York decision is wel-
come, there remains much to be done before
homosexual parents are fully accepted - it
will still be very difficult in practice for gay
and lesbian couples to adopt. For this reason,
this ruling must be seen as only one move
toward full rights and freedoms for gay,
lesbian and bisexual people. Nevertheless,
the court ruling is refreshing. One can only
hope more such changes will follow.

PRESS CLIPPINGS
Absent progress, 'compromise' must do

By David Katz
Perhaps recently fired Cali-
fornia football coach Keith
Gilbertson should seek ajob with
the "nonessential" component of
our federal government. At least
for the time being, he would have
a measure of job security. Of
course, Gilbertson is probably far
too competent to ever attain a
position of power in the federal
ranks. The successful politician
must be willing to "compromise."
If you haven't noticed, this week
has been a virtual cornucopia of
compromises: Newt agreed to let
federal employees, with the ex-
ception of Congress, get back to
"work," and Clinton agreed to let
the next president deal with the
nation's financial crisis.
Following in the footsteps of
their congressional idols, the As-
sociation of Students of the Uni-
versity of California (ASUC)
Business Management Board
(BMB) made an astonishing com-
promise, agreeing to actually meet
because, hell, they "finally real-
ized that it's important." (I don't
David Katz is a junior
majoring in English and
philosophy who will not be
held responsible for that
whole blue naked thing. This
article originally appeared in
the University of Calfornia's
The Daily
Californian.

know guys, it's only our money,
"important" may be pushing it.)
And of course, we must not for-
get the university, which won't
let rising fees dispel them from
compromising a mere $292,500
to buy Gilby out of his contract.
Amid all these nail-biting
compromises, I was shocked to
find that Clinton, Newt, the BMB
and the alumni all maintainedtheir
positive outlooks. There must be
something wonderfully positive
in the autumn air; the spirit of
holiday giving has at last landed
in the lap of the powerful. With
this thought in mind, I rushed to
the nearest phone and contacted
my Visa company. In the wake of
a promised reduction of our multi-
trillion dollar deficit, my bank
would surely be willing to work
out a little "compromise" over
my infinitesimal bill. In fact, the
ominous institution was appar-
ently in the giving mood. Just the
other day I received a notice from
my bank urging me to advance
my limit:
"... and for the first day you
will maintain a low interest of
only 2.9%. If you find yourself
unable to pay off your expendi-
ture within 23 hours of incur-
rence, we will possess your soul,
a simple and painless process per-
formed by our branch supervi-
sors Ward Connerly and L. Ron
Hubbard. Of course, if your soul
does not meet our minimum col-

lateral standards, we reserve the
right to possess the souls of your
family, friends, and that girl you
liked (and we mean like, like-
liked) in the third grade."
Although my bank was un-
willing to actually speak to me on
the phone, the touch tone opera-
tor/Yoda advised me that, if one
is going to "compromise," one
needs to have something to com-
promise. I pressed 3 and was told:
"Compromise is for the power-
ful, the rest of youjust complain."
The unwillingness ofmy bank
to compromise really came as no
surprise. Luckily, my father has
always taught me how much au-
thority sucks. Unfortunately, the
authority he used as a didactic aid
was his own. It was my father
who first demonstrated what con-
stitutes a successful compromise,
at least when dealing with some-
one more powerful than yourself:
Dad: Clean your room.
Negotiator Dave: All right, but
first I need to eat.
Dad: Clean your room!
Negotiator Dave: Relax Dad,
I will, when this show is over.
Dad: Clean your room!
Negotiator Dave: Five min-
utes, Dad. Chill!
Dad: Clean that room, which
used to be yours, but which will
soon be occupied by various for-
eign boarders now that you have
decided to save us money by liv-
ing on the street!

When I became a matriculated
student I was frustrated, but ndt
surprised, by my powerless post-
tion - bottom on the totem pole
of power. Not only am I forced to
obey the authority ofthe real gov-
ernment and the real police, bait
also the ASUC, the Student Con-
duct Office, the library security
and sadly, even the campus wo1
service.
In the bureaucratic fish -Onk
that is the University of Califor-
nia, the students are the feeder
goldfish. As a group, we areae
indispensable meat of the sys-
tem, we make the campus what-it
is. But as an individual, I often
feel like my head is caught idfe
filter as innumerable guppiesan-
noyingly nibble atmy ass. (So ne-
times I start a harmless metaphor
and it gets a little too crazy.).,
Nevertheless, I am conftd 1t
that without these momenti of
seeming helplessness, studeats
would be all the less inspiredWe
are continually urged on by th:e
notion, "It has torget better t9an
this." For the time being, we have
nothing to "compromise" but-qur-
selves - and we are not above
this. The next time a professor
criticizes your Dukes-of-Hazzard
reading of "King Lear," simply
paint yourself blue and streak
naked through his class. If-he
questions your actions, calbily
respond, "Haven't you heard,
we're in an era of compromise."

HOW TO CONTACT THEM
University Regent Philip Power
(D-Ann Arbor)
412 E. Huron, P.O. Box 7989
Ann Arbor, MI 48107
University Regent Rebecca McGowan
f A L&nn Arhrl

A PERFECT

MATCH

University Regent Daniel Horning
(R-Grand Haven)
600 S. Beacon Blvd.
Grand Rapids, MI 49417
University Regent Nellie Varner
f rDrtmit

rd)
U

you

The Daiy
aditermal nails

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==

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