Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Letters to the editor — 4/26/02

Over the past four years, the war on alcohol has been seriously debated in Madison. I myself was a victim of the war when, in the spring of 2000, my roommates and I were issued $20,000 in tickets for a house party we threw on Mifflin Street. Granted, ours was an excessively large and potentially dangerous situation — we estimated at any one time we had up to 400 people in and around our home. But what kind of message did the police action create? As far as we were concerned it read something like, “We are against you.”

This year the city and UW-Madison Chancellor Wiley want to pressure students by squeezing us where it hurts us most — our wallets. They intend to control private businesses in the downtown area, taking competition between bars out of the picture. Certainly, some businesses will suffer severely (I don’t think too many of us visit Madhatter’s for the atmosphere) and others will continue to prosper, but what is of concern is not mere economics; it is the manner in which this war is being waged.

The chancellor seems concerned with his student body — and I believe he is. But in his attempt to clean up the image the city’s image of the UW student body, he is contradicting himself. Just last week I sat down at Memorial Union and ordered a 46 oz. Leines for just under $7. I haven’t had calculus since freshman year, but I think that works out to 2 oz. shy of four beers, at a cost of less than $2 per beer. Drink one of those in a sitting, ladies, and the university just sponsored some modestly priced binge-drinking.

In all the time I have spent at the Terrace, though, I have yet to witness anything other than students enjoying themselves and relaxing after classes. Drink specials are not the problem, nor are the quantities of alcohol served.

I’m not arguing over-consumption of alcohol is in any way healthy. My concern is that in their continued efforts to curb Madison’s drinking culture (and I say Madison’s because in no way is the drinking community restricted to the downtown/campus area crowds), the city government, police department and university are simply mounting an offensive.

Creating tension and mistrust between two groups of people is no way to resolve an issue. Let’s not abandon our healthy liberal atmosphere by relying upon “bans” and “controls” to solve problems in our community.

Nathan J. Hilmer

UW senior

James Kent seems to be confusing apples with oranges (“Church in Dire Straits,” April 25, 2002). He suggests the scandal in the Catholic Church involving priests who sexually abuse teenage boys would be solved if the requirement of celibacy were abolished. Does he really believe allowing priests to marry will prevent instances of predatory behavior toward children? Whatever the sexual orientation of any particular priest may be, the essential element of his vow of celibacy is to remain chaste — that is, to refrain from any sexual relationship.

Celibacy is a long-standing custom of the Catholic Church. It is a vow freely given by those called to the priesthood and one that, as long as it is required, ought to be observed.

Whether Kent or anyone else thinks the vow of celibacy inappropriate, outdated or oppressive is beside the point. Eliminating celibacy will do nothing to control sexual abuse of the young. Pedophiles do not prey upon children because they are unmarried and marriage will not redirect their sexual inclinations into socially acceptable channels. The only way to eliminate the problem of priestly abuse of minors is to remove offenders from their ministry and to carefully screen applicants to seminaries.

D. Streeter

UW graduate student

At first, Benjamin Thompson’s column, bravely entitled “The ’60s are Dead,” made me cringe and hiss. I thought of all sorts of nasty character-impinging rebuttals. But on second thought, I have to smile, because if I don’t, the recently deputized College Republicans will be knocking down my door, carrying cold steel and a red, white and blue warrant.

Thompson gets his information from the “papers,” by which he presumably means the front page of USA Today. If he would bother to walk to the library and read a foreign paper or two — even one of the conservative British variety — the black and white picture would begin to be colored in.

Let us recap what Thompson learned from his “papers.” Thompson learned the lives of Afghani women have been magnificently transformed since the evil Taliban was ousted. And Thompson learned Muslim people hate America enough to commit mass homicide/suicide because of “the pluralism and tolerance of the United States.” And Thompson learned the “silly” opponents of racism, sexism and American foreign policy are merely “seeking to emulate their heroes, the protesters of the ’60s.” And Thompson learned how to chew all this garbage up and regurgitate it.

There are a few tricks that Thompson’s master will never teach him. First, innocent American lives are not inherently more valuable than other innocent lives. Thompson must have a sliding response scale in his head — when an American dies, his blood boils; when an Englishman dies, his jaw clenches; when an Australian dies, his skin breaks out in a rash; when an Iraqi dies, he burps and finishes chewing his sandwich.

Secondly, our blessed United States of America has no legitimate claim to moral superiority in the world. I can think of 100,000 reasons off the top of my head: Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

Finally, it is true over the years savage American warriors have fought and sacrificed their lives to defend our freedom. Freedom, however, includes more than just the right to bear arms, the right to own stock in a Fortune 500 company and the right of plastic patriots to affix American flags to car bumpers. Like it or not, they also defended the thinking person’s right to dissent.

Read your history, Ben. Protest is not a ’60s thing — it’s been around throughout the millenia, as long as, well, fascism.

Kurt R. Spielmann

Madison, Wis.

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It’s evident from Benjamin Thompson’s “The ’60s are Dead” just how necessary anti-war and anti-racism demonstrations are today. I was shocked by what seemed to be his feeling that American lives were more valuable than other lives around the world. He alluded to the situation in Iraq, where over one million Iraqi children have died due to starvation and malnutrition as a direct result of the cruel foreign policy of economic sanctions in place by the United States. He argued vehemently about the need to show compassion for the lives lost Sept. 11, but then mocked people’s compassion for one million dead Iraqi children. This, in short, is racism.

What’s really disturbing is the whole point of the rally was completely lost on Thompson. People demonstrated their compassion and sympathy for the loss of life everywhere but additionally marched in opposition to recent American and Israeli policies of collective punishment.

Usually, when someone commits a crime in the United States, that person is held accountable, not his entire neighborhood. So why do we do that in this war on terrorism? If Osama bin Laden caused the deaths of over 1,000 innocent Americans, why not only go after him? Why attack thousands upon thousands of Afghans? If Saddam Hussein is our enemy, why not go after him? Why starve an entire nation of people?

Have we lost our humanity? Have we been so diluted by the media that now we readily equate evil with a certain religious group or ethnicity and thus feel no remorse for the loss of innocent life on the other side?

Is this not a civil society that believes in the equality of all human beings? If we, as Americans, truly believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we must stop our government’s policies of systematically punishing entire nations of people, stripping innocent civilians of their freedom and liberty, in the pursuit of our justice.

Dania Alsammarae

UW junior

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