Civil liberties not at issue with smoking
restrictions

To the Daily:

Once again the Daily throws around the words “civil liberties”
as if it is defending some constitutional right (Where there’s
smoke
, 10/16/03). I think we would agree what you do in your
home or bedroom is your own business. However, when you do
something in public or that affects the public health or welfare
negatively, a supposed civil liberty is and should be in doubt. You
have no constitutional right to engage in an activity that causes
cancer to other unwilling participants, just as you do not have a
right to run a restaurant without a health permit, possess and use
large explosives, play music so loud in your house that it disturbs
half of your block or park in snow emergency zones during a big
snowstorm. If not enforced, all of the previous examples, as well
as smoking, can lead to public safety nightmares. The government
can regulate your activities if they have a potentially harmful
impact on society. If the Daily wants to squeak like a liberal and
back what it thinks are liberal ideals, it should have some real
force behind its arguments rather than randomly throw out happy
phrases like civil liberties and call it a day.

Kevin Nowak

Law School

Students, markets must determine outcome of local
venues

To the Daily:

I wish to comment on your editorial regarding the dominance of
national food franchises in Ann Arbor, So many you’ll freak
(10/16/03).

If students are truly concerned about the diversity of Ann
Arbor’s commercial scene they should focus their attention on their
consumption preferences rather than on the supply that meets those
preferences. Blaming “corporate America” is always popular, yet it
has little to do with how diverse Ann Arbor is since corporate
America is simply reacting to the demand set out by students. The
assumption that national franchises will run over any local
business is simply untrue and depends on the quality and prices of
local business in comparison to those offered by national
franchises. For example, in the last year Starbucks was driven out
of the Israeli market by fierce competition from local business
that (in my personal opinion) offered superior products at a lower
price. Thus, your suggestion that Ann Arbor “assist” local business
sounds like a call for protectionism that will serve the interests
of business owners and not of consumers. Markets should not always
rule, but they should determine the coffee we drink and the
sandwiches we eat.

Doron Teichman

Law School

Young people should take politics more seriously

To the Daily:

I just read Sravya Chirumamilla’s column, Hillary’s fashion
faux pas
(10/17/03). This column, quite simply, doesn’t make
any sense. Hillary Clinton is criticized for wearing a “black
pinstripe suit with a white shirt and pearls,” and then is
chastised for “missing an opportunity to dress for the job she
wants.” As an alternative, Chirumamilla says Clinton could have
worn a “pants-and-sweater combo” like the hosts of “The View.”
Hillary Clinton is a current senator for the state of New York.
There are also rumors of a possible presidential bid by Clinton.
I’m not sure exactly what a senator and presidential candidate
would wear to appear as if they are “dressing for the job they
want,” but I would think that a suit would be an appropriate
clothing choice; after all, that’s what most other senators and
presidential candidates wear while on camera.

Why do we need to analyze fashions anyway? The only
justification I can see is that Chirumamilla says that years of
reading fashion magazines has ingrained a need for analyzing the
fashions of politicians and leaders. While I respect other’s
choices of reading material, perhaps before she writes another
“political” column for the Daily, she could attempt to read a
magazine or watch a TV show that covers actual political
issues.

I also enjoyed the neat way she criticizes Hillary Clinton for
not using her time on “The View” or “The Daily Show” to espouse
political beliefs. Neither of those shows are meant to give
intensive political information; they’re meant to entertain.

As for the discontent that she claims many American feel toward
their politicians, perhaps the same remedy could be applied. Sure,
putting a novice into office sounds like a good idea, but mostly to
those who don’t understand that effective governing takes more than
a pretty face and the right clothes. How many people under 35 voted
in the last presidential election? What if we could get young
people to focus on issues instead of clothing choices? By accident,
Chirumamilla’s column contradicts itself, and exposes one of the
main problems underlying democracy in the United States. Young
people are more interested in fashion than ideas; more interested
in flash than substance; more interested in entertaining TV shows
than ones dealing with political issues. Until young people take an
active interest in politicians’ ideas and actually vote, we will
always be saddled with a government that is unresponsive to the
needs of young people. It would indeed be a great day if a
non-career politician could be elected to the White House or the
Senate, but it’s not going to happen as long as Chirumamilla and
her friends have their noses buried in the newest issue of Cosmo
and get their political information from “The View” and “The Daily
Show.”

Amy Chatfield

Alum

Honors Commons open to all, Honors Program seeks more racial
diversity

To the Daily:

One day before his viewpoint criticizing the Perlman Honors
Commons appeared in the Daily (Perlman Honors Commons
dishonorable
, 10/16/03), Rob Goodspeed defended the Residential
College’s Benzinger Library against a (rumored) University closing
on his weblog (www.goodspeedupdate.com), saying that the library
“serves as a resource for the Residential College: RC professors
put … materials on reserve there, and the library has hosted a
variety of artistic and educational events in the past.” The
Benzinger Library is a resource for the RC in precisely the same
sense that the Perlman Honors Commons is a resource for the Honors
Program. Each exists primarily to support the activities of its
respective program. The Honors Commons’ function is to provide a
site for honors seminars in its internal classroom, for
intellectual events such as the Fresh Ideas symposium I host
biweekly, for events planned by the Honors Student Steering
Committee, for meetings between honors faculty and students, for
student meetings, for student (and faculty) study, and for informal
conversation. As for access, Goodspeed is simply mistaken when he
says that access is restricted to honors students. Although the
primary function of the commons is to support Honors Program
activities, we have not found it necessary to restrict access to
serve that function. Of course, unlike the Benzinger Library we
have a central location, so we can’t guarantee that that will
always be so. Finally, I would like to clarify a misunderstanding
about our admissions process. It is true that this year we will be
able to make use of the University’s new application materials
(with new essay questions and teacher recommendations) to get a
better sense of our applicants, including their intellectual
seriousness and curiosity, but it is just not true that before the
program relied entirely on grades and test scores. The program also
took account of other factors, including, like University
admissions, race, in order to build a more diverse class. We are in
complete agreement with Goodspeed about the importance of that
goal.

Stephen Darwall

Director, LSA Honors Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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