Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Point: The Priavy Battle

Privacy is an Inalienable Right
By: Brian Restuccia

Recently the issue of personal privacy in relation to the government has become an issue that is at the forefront of the political process. Laws like the PATRIOT Act and the warrantless wire tapping that have been eroding the constitutionally erected walls of privacy that the individual is endowed with in the United States of America. Proponents of this point often argue that if a person is doing nothing wrong, they have nothing to hide and so should not mind if someone is snooping around in their business. I recently came across a paper by Daniel J. Solove of The George Washington University Law School entitled "I've Got Nothing to Hide" and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy that deals with just such an issue.

The linked paper above is definitely worth a read for anyone interested in or concerned with the privacy issues that we are facing today. Solove teases out interesting subtexts of the "I've got nothing to hide" argument, that it generally amounts to an individual not caring what happens, so long as it doesn't happen to them. That the data being gathered by these privacy breaches is in fact not very personal, unless you really are committing a serious crime, and that the trade off in privacy may prevent another terrorist attack.

Since September 11, 2001 the population has been more willing to turn a blind eye to the egregious attacks on their privacy by the government. This paper does much to reinforce the belief that privacy is a right, not a privilege to those that "have nothing to hide". The author points to The Trial by Kafka for a literary metaphor to the current privacy squeeze we see ourselves in today. I have not read this book, but I certainly plan on doing so now, given this recommendation.

Beyond this article, I think that it is less patriotic to live your life in a petri dish for the government than to question their activities when you feel you, or another citizen, has been wronged. If you don't have anything to hide, when the government asks to encroach on your life, you should push back, demand a warrant, to make sure that the government doesn't have anything to hide. We need to remember that the United States of America is not simply the president, or congress, or judges, or the countless agencies encircling them. The United States of America has endured beyond transitions in political persuasion and power struggles between the various branches because of its people. Our unique culture is something worth fighting for and protecting. It is becoming more evident that it is up to the individual to look out for their neighbor, when the government is becoming increasingly concerned with looking at your neighbor. With the FBI, NSA and other organizations involved raising the stakes in the privacy battle, this is become very difficult. Perhaps Benjamin Franklin said it best when he noted, "Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security"

Friday, April 13, 2007

Re: Imus Situation

By: Steve Lorenz

As much as I want to disagree, I can't help but rally along Brian in this situation. I actually have quite a bit to say, so I will attempt to break this up.

First, and most simply, this situation is the best representation of a double standard in today's society. While I still believe that black America has a long way to go in the fight for true equality, I do think the playing field is as close to balanced as it has ever been. I recall watching the Rutgers players' press conference and listening to C. Vivian Stringer continually mention that these players are going to be future doctors, lawyers and teachers, which was comforting in certain extents, and disconcerting in other ones. While I completely agree that what Imus said was wrong, and that he should have been punished (I felt a month-long suspension was necessary, not two weeks), since when have such independent and capable people had such soft skin? Less than five percent of those who heard Imus' statement actually heard it on the radio.

This is where Sharpton and Jackson come into the situation. They cry foul, and demand Imus' job (and got it), but honestly where are the grounds for termination? This is where the "rap music is full of foul language argument" comes completely into play as well. My two favorite moments so far from the fallout of this situation completely prove my point. Read ESPN's article on the Imus firing and you'll find this interesting quote from Al Sharpton himself:
"I hope he continues in that process. But we cannot afford a precedent established that the airways can commercialize and mainstream sexism and racism." Less than five minutes later, while watching Sportscenter, I listen to Stuart Scott (An outspoken critic of Imus and his comments, also African-American) describing Kobe Bryant's drive to the hoop using Mims' hip-hop, chart-topping single "This Is Why I'm Hot", which (you guessed it!) contains degrading racial and sexual lyrics. I have read articles claiming Sharpton and Jackson have made efforts to "contain" and "create opposition" against the rap/hip-hop movement. Where are those front page articles? Where is the media uproar? Give me a break! If this isn't the definition of a double standard, then what is? There is no doubt that Imus is promoting to an older, smaller demographic than these innumerable rap artists, who are making millions of dollars doing the exact same thing in an undoubtedly more explicit fashion. Absolutely ridiculous.

Lastly, there is no doubt that Imus has taken an absolute beating in the media and it has subsequently resulted in his job and reputation being ruined. I feel these actions were executed in a completely wrong fashion. Instead of destroying Imus and his show, wouldn't society have better benefited by using him as a tool to further the battle towards racial equality? He, probably more than anyone now, completely realizes the effect that one comment on one radio show on one day can do to this entire country. He has been very apologetic and has met with Sharpton (for some reason) and has met with the Rutgers team and coach personally. They deserve the personal apology, and have received it, so isn't that enough to mend some bridges? Instead of burying an important radio personality, can't he be used to spread a message of racial equality, based on his harrowing experience? Instead, he is fired, and the racial fires are burning as strong as ever.

- Steve Lorenz

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Point: The Hypocritical Imus Shakedown

Casting The First Stone
By: Brian Restuccia

The recent firing of Don Imus has brought about the discussion of what is the politically correct type of discourse for things like race, gender and sexuality. His comments have opened him up to assault from all sides, particularly by the Reverend Al Sharpton. What he said was unwarranted and socially unredeemable, but then again what you type of high standards do you effect from a shock jock? The issue here is not about one man saying one insensitive comment. The problem I have with this situation is the way that he is being attacked and that there is an obvious double standard about precisely who is responsible for maintaining civil discourse.

Sharpton is known as a vehement defender of civil rights and a famous activist defending the African American community when they have been slighted or wronged. There are some instances, however, when his exuberance and support has gotten the best of him as he has quickly and vigorously supported 'victims' in cases that later proved to be fraudulent. Famous cases include Tawana Brawley, the Crown Height Riots and the LoanMax spokesman incident to name few. The issue that Imus brought up was whether Sharpton would be willing to apologize to the Duke lacrosse players for judging and slighting them, just as Imus had done for the Rutgers basketball team. Some people may view this as a cop out, or an attempt to divert some media attention away from himself, but I think this is a legitimate question.

It's not about Imus asking to be let off the hook. It's about the idea that responsibility for raising the discourse on race, sex and equality in general should not be burdened solely by one group. It should not be that Imus marginalizing a group is in someway so much worse than Sharpton doing the same. Why should Imus loses sponsorship and a TV show, while Sharpton remains unaffected for similarly ostracizing a group? Imus is pushing for (in his apology) and being asked to push for equality and tolerance, but by Sharpton not ever apologizing it makes it look like he is not interested in the same, just promoting his own agenda.

- Brian Restuccia

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


This blog is being run by two University of Michigan students, Brian Restuccia and Steve Lorenz.
Brian Restuccia is an economics and political science major
Steve Lorenz is a history and possibly economic or political science major as well.

The purpose of this blog is to give ourselves a place to post our thoughts on politics. We generally find ourselves on opposite ends most issues, so we will have plenty of opportunities for lively debate.