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Letters to the Editor

Politics has no place in schoolbooks

I would like to call everyone’s attention to a decision made in Texas on Nov. 5 to change the wording in middle- and high-school health text books regarding marriage. The agreed upon change replaces phrases such as “married partners” and “when two people marry” to “husband and wife” and “when a man and woman marry.”

Now, it matters not if you are religious, non-religious, staunch against gay marriage or its biggest supporter, Democrat or Republican; you must recognize the implications of this. Using public education as a political tool to spread ideological views is comparable to measures taken by Hitler to convince Germans that they were a superior race. Really think about it.

This is a dangerous path for our country to be heading down and if people do not recognize that today, we are well on our way to realizing the Orwellian prophecy. Do not ignore the similarities between Big Brother’s regime in 1984 and our present society. We are increasingly governed under the auspices of “Freedom is Slavery. War is Peace. Ignorance is Strength.”

I am not an alarmist and this is not meant to be partisan. The actions of the Texas Board of Education cross the line of a free society where we supposedly are allowed to think as we please and have the liberty to form our own beliefs on dogmatic principles. Whatever your opinion, do not forget the famous saying: “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.” Just because your beliefs happen to coincide with the current political leanings does not mean you have to agree with their practices. It is only a matter of time until things come full circle and you find yourself being oppressed. I am sure you will want someone defending you when that time comes. No one is exempt from the consequences of a repressive society. Do not just defend the people you agree with, defend us all for the sake of all of our freedom. Is that not what our country is founded upon?

Vanina Granell is a junior majoring in international studies.

‘Young vote’ was not apathetic in election
Re: “Young Voters Don’t Turn Out,” Nov. 5

As a 23-year-old political activist, I must admit that Gina Araya’s article places me somewhat on the defensive. However, an analysis of the data from this election demonstrates that the constructed claim scapegoating youth voters is a product of the media spin disconnected from reality.

Despite obvious attempts at youth-voter suppression nationwide, young voters reported for civic duty in the largest numbers since 1968 — a year characterized by an already real draft and tens of thousands dead in Vietnam. An Associated Press report from Nov. 3 indicates that 21 million Americans under the age of 30 voted in 2004 — an increase of 4.6 million from the 2000 election. Furthermore, the percentage of eligible youth who voted also increased: from 42.3 percent in 2000 to approximately 51.6 percent in 2004.

A logical look at these statistics proves that youth did turn out to vote. The catch? So did the rest of America. The concomitant increase in the overall number of voters diffused the youth vote “stronghold” on which politicians and pundits were banking. However, relative to the number of youth voters in past elections, the turnout was phenomenal.

And remember: Suppression was evident on the USF campus. Students were illegally registered as Republicans, and their addresses and subsequent precincts deceitfully changed. The Supervisor of Elections acknowledged that too few polling machines had been allotted to the precincts, yet refused to remedy this vitally iniquitous obstruction. There were needlessly long lines, mistaken precincts and incorrect registration data. Thus, as Araya outlines, some students were turned away from the polls.

Rather than implicated, young voters at USF should be especially commended: A four-hour wait in the Marshall Center in an effort to critically influence one’s future is admirable. Despite the suppression, over 700 students cast their ballots. According to the precinct’s poll clerk, this is a 900 percent increase from the past record. One wonders how the feat of a record turnout can be justifiably criticized.

Perhaps, instead of further alienating the already “disenfranchised” youth voter by disseminating fallacious media spin, we can analyze the data and conclude in truth. To all of this, however, there is a positive: The next time one complains of the political “apathy” of modern youth, a reason will be evident. In fact, creating this erroneous claim to place blame on young Americans — potential voters for the next 60 years — is ingenious. Thank you Karl Rove.

Robyn Brancato is a graduate student in bioethics and an officer of the Alliance of Concerned Students.

Voting against ‘values’ is not equal to ignorance
Re: “Ignorant voters present on both sides,” Nov 8

It was nice to hear an attempt at mediation. One could even call the piece heroic — not so much for facing the fearsome task of rationalizing the outcome of the election, but for leaping so gallantly from statistics to satisfaction.

To say that the majority of 59,054,087 red votes were informed and rational is courageous. If only it were true. The truth is that shameless campaigning and wanton appeals to credulous honor led to the misconception (ignoring the embarrassing homosexuality thing) that the Bush vote was for morality over mechanism.

Plus, surveys suggest that 40 percent of last Tuesday’s total was represented by evangelists. Though most wouldn’t label themselves so extremely, many don the same crass veil of noble intentions.

Fowler’s statement that “Americans chose ‘moral values’ over the value of personal economic gain” exemplifies this, and is probably correct.

The Democratic declaration of stupidity and ignorance is not, however, a value-bereft ego trip. We know Republicans are the new sensitive lot and all, but relax. Our behavior is just a defense mechanism in a time of fear. We’re surrounded by people who tottered right, toward an illusion of righteousness and a banner covered in the ‘G’ word, undereducated about what values they supported on the 2nd.

Nikolaus Drellow is a sophomore majoring in English.

Music is not only about entertainment

Re: “Students and choir not in concert,” Nov. 9

I would like to thank The Oracle and staff writer Thomas Simonetti for the much-needed publicity by having an article and picture of the USF Brass Choir on the front page of Monday’s Oracle. I would like to clarify one aspect in the article. I disagree with Jeremy Gautier’s statement of “that’s all music is about: to entertain you.” The many varieties of music that exist require different levels of listening, mainly active and passive.

We live in a society that is very busy and people must make choices about how to spend the little leisure time they have. Our society also is one in which products are mass produced, mass marketed and mass consumed. Technology has provided the convenience to access and appropriate most anything that is within our interests and financial means at any time. This has brought about a populace that demands immediate satiation and gratification. It has also brought about a perception that what sells more has the most value.

The entertainment industry gives people what they want to listen to and many times we can enjoy this music with passive listening, i.e. music to drive to, dance to, party to, music to relax to, etc. Classical music does not meet the criteria to be entertainment. Much (but not all) of the music we in the USF School of Music study, rehearse and perform asks the listener to actively listen. To some, this is no easy task, as music has frequently taken a secondary place to visual stimuli and fashion in the “pop culture. This is not inherently bad as long as one understands the function of the music within those contexts. The music majors here at USF are constantly striving to better their abilities and art. To do this we cannot program music that satisfies the common passive listener who wants to be entertained. Good active listening takes patience and practice just like any other worthwhile endeavor.

With this said, I invite the people who want to take in a cheap concert and those who “have to” attend a classical concert due to class requirements to investigate what we have to offer. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the level of talent and musical passion exhibited by the students that make up the USF School of Music. Just don’t come to be merely entertained; that is not our purpose. Just bring open ears and more importantly, an open mind, and you just might be moved.

Tom McNair is a graduate student in music and the conductor of the USF Brass Choir.