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Letters to the Editor 4/21

Paper shouldn’t express offensive views

This letter is in reference to the comic showing the Klansmen in The Oracle on Tuesday, April 15. I am not one to criticize others for their freedom of speech; however, I am one to challenge those who abuse their rights. A school newspaper is supposed to be keeping the students informed of news. I do not think it is supposed to allow people to express their thoughts in ways that would offend other students or challenge the ethics or morality of the school and its newspaper staff. I know, from being a former student body president, that these types of issues not only represent the newspaper, but USF as well.

People reading this paper are likely to harbor negative thoughts about comics like this. One perception garnered by a peer is as follows: “These people put this in the paper as though they miss the idea of being able to burn crosses on people’s yards.” Granted, this was only one person’s comment but it is enough to strike one’s attention.

I am just anxious to see how Oxendine Publishing is going to handle this article when USF submits for the Florida Leader Magazine in hopes for the “Best College Newspaper” award. I am also curious to know how President Judy Genshaft would handle a situation like this if someone from the NAACP responded because he/she is a generous donor to the USF Alumni Association.

I hope that your staff takes these things into consideration for future printings of the school’s newspaper and its jokes. As some may or may not know, Stetson University just had their newspaper pulled. I do feel that, as the newspaper is funded by Student Activities fees and various other sources, you should not forget it is placed in the school as a learning tool for journalism students to learn their “craft.”

Anthony Lewis is a junior majoring in pre-law.

Altered statistics used to prove point

The April 11 article, “Numbers, history used to drive home alcohol point,” is a perfect case study of how bad statistics come to be incorporated into academia, and then go on to shape policy decisions.

One year ago, several major publications, including The Washington Post, ascribed the source of the alarming statistic that “1,400 college students die every year in alcohol-related accidents” to statistical manipulation, and made it clear that no firsthand research had been done. It was obvious upon close inspection that Ralph Hingson, a prolific “anti-alcohol” college professor, used statistical manipulation to intentionally distort the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data, and many articles on the study duly mentioned the dubious methodology behind the eye-catching numbers.

However, a year later, this statistical game-playing is being rewarded, since the deliberately skewed data is cited by academics around the country — including Professor Goldman — as fact. The many caveats and explanations initially supplied have fallen away (as expected), leaving the bankrupt data to stand on its own. More insidiously, the data — now presented without qualification — assumes a sheathing of undeserved respectability, since most readers assume that statistically valid methods were used.

Students and the public deserve better than to have politically motivated statistics presented as facts.

John Doyle is executive director of The American Beverage Institute.

Bush should avoid repeating history

Plato remarked, “A tyrant is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.” It is astonishing to me that the man, President George W. Bush, seeking to liberate Iraq, is now bolstering the rhetoric game to embark on another possible “pre-emptive” war campaign against Syria.

Certainly, I do not condone the atrocities of Saddam Hussein and his government; I found his reign deplorable and am hopeful for the future prosperity of the Iraqi citizens. But, it appears the United States of America is blinded to history. The United Kingdom, in the early to mid-20th century, attempted to aid Iraq, which resulted in the Baath Party, later headed by Hussein.

Turning to the United States’ own doings in the Middle East, one must only look at Iraq’s neighbor to the east, Iran, and one can see the debacle created by the United States in its attempt to place the Shah into power. The result was the 1979 Iranian Revolution, with Ayatollah Khumayni coming into power and the creation of greater animosity and distrust toward the United States. Bush himself, in his 2002 State of the Union address and in other speeches since, taking from Frum/Worthington, labeled Iran as part of the “axis of evil.”

Installing governments, preemptive wars or whatever additional mechanism the Bush Administration might implement from its arsenal will not forge a Utopia, resolve the “threat” the United States perceives to exist or simmer the tensions. This will only garner greater suspicion, similar to Bush’s selection to have Franklin Graham, a noted Islam-a-phobe, speak on Good Friday.

A.J. Muste states, “There is no way to peace; peace is the way.” It is my hope, to avoid a repeat of history, that the Bush Administration reconsiders its foreign policy positions and seriously reexamines the current, so as to avoid further criticism and negative fanfare.

Jason Hersch is a graduate student in the institute of Islamic studies at McGill University (Montreal, Canada).