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Oberlin Students Need to Get Truly Serious About Marijuana
Get Pumped for Real Student Radio
New Obies Maintain Tradition
Onward Jesse Jackson
Alumnus Says Science and Religion Don't Ever Mix
Wahoo Intent is not the Issue
Give Our New President A Gift He'll Hate
California's Real Problem isn't Power, it's the Greens

Oberlin Students Need to Get Truly Serious About Marijuana

To the Editor:

When I came to Oberlin two years ago I hoped that I could be active in the things I cared about, but unfortunately there was not a student group devoted to one interest of mine. I decided to start one myself. However, that requires a lot of time and hard work, so I am writing this in hope of finding others that also share my interest.

I am trying to start a local chapter of the National Organization for Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Oberlin has a history of being at the cutting edge of activism and social reformation. Yet, there is currently no organization to advocate for the reformation of marijuana laws.

Currently, law enforcement arrests a marijuana smoker every 45 seconds. Marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers at least $7.5 billion annually. This seems like a waste of funds to me. That money could go to tax cuts for lower classes or health, or how about education or any number of good causes?

Arrest rates went up 60 percent during the Clinton administration. While he laughed about his own drug use on national television, he was passing legislation for tougher sentencing for drug offenders. (I am entitled opinion, and in my opinion, "I didn't inhale" is a whole lot of bullshit.)

America tried alcohol prohibition, but discovered that the crime and violence associated with prohibition was more damaging than the evil sought to be prohibited. With tobacco, America has learned over the last decade that education is the most effective way to discourage use. Yet, America fails to apply these lessons to marijuana policy.

I don't advocate fields of pot or people handing out joints on the corner, but it seems that we could come to some more reasonable ground. NORML lobbies for the reformation not the abolition of marijuana laws. The second sentence of their mission statement says that they do not endorse the smoking of marijuana, and I don't either. However, I don't feel that I should be a criminal for something I do in my free time without hurting other people. How many of you out there are criminals?

I have started the chartering process and I have contacted NORML, but there is a lot of work left to be done and I need all the help I can get. If you are interested in contributing please e-mail

---Blake Rehberg, College Sophomore

Get Pumped for Real Student Radio

To the Editor:

Welcome back everybody. Last semester the Review ran a generous story about our radio show on WOBC. Called "i'm on the stereo," it is a show by and for the kids of Oberlin. In the past we have had shows as varied as kindergartners telling jokes, middle school students sharing their thoughts on the DARE program, and high school seniors competing in trivia competitions (with some of our own college seniors). In addition we have had kids of all ages in the studio as DJs, playing their favorite music. We are looking forward to another semester of great shows, and would like to invite you all to listen. Our first show will be this Monday, Feb. 12, at 5 p.m. We will be on each week at 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, for the entire semester. The shows are an entertaining and often humorous way to learn about your community. Please do listen. Thank you.

---Jeff Price, College Senior
---Joshua Rosen, College Senior

New Obies Maintain Tradition

To the Editors:

Each fall at the start of the school year, hundreds of colleges across the country administer a survey to their first-year students designed by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, under the direction of Professor Alexander Astin. The freshman survey collects data about the newest class of college students across the country, including information about high school experiences, educational and career aspirations and attitudes about a range of national political issues.

As reported in the Jan. 26, 2001 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, the news about this year's national freshman class may strike some as discouraging. Just as this fall's presidential race was coming to its crescendo, college freshmen declared an alarming lack of interest in politics. Nationally, the portion of entering freshmen who reported that it was essential or very important to keep up to date with political affairs dropped to 28.1 percent, the lowest rate since the survey was established in 1966.

"If this fall's perplexing presidential race provided a lesson in politics," reported The Chronicle, "college freshmen may have slept through the class."

Still more disturbing for those who follow trends in civic engagement, only 17.6 percent of college freshmen nationally regard it as an essential or very important goal to influence the political structure. By contrast, 73.4 percent of college freshman nationally reported that "being very well off financially" was an essential or very important goal.

However, as is often the case, the view from Oberlin is rather different. By a considerable majority, new students at Oberlin this fall did not agree that it was essential or very important to be very well off financially. Compared with their peers nationally, new Oberlin students were more than twice as likely to have discussed politics in the past year.

Indeed, Oberlin students of all classes participated in very large numbers in those College events related to the presidential election this fall - the Convocation Series lectures, the election night coverage itself, and both formal and informal discussions of the controversial Florida vote count.

Even compared with new students in other very highly selective colleges, new Oberlin students were substantially more likely in the past year to have discussed religion, to have visited an art gallery or museum, and to have participated in "organized demonstrations."

In the aggregate, new Oberlin students consistently indicate a stronger affinity for traditional liberal positions than their peers at other highly selective colleges, including the abolition of the death penalty, the continued legality of abortion, the support of affirmative action, the legalization of marijuana, the obligation of the wealthy to pay higher taxes and the right of same-sex couples to marriage.

As the index of student political engagement continues to go down nationally, new Oberlin students have remained remarkably steady over several years in their reported commitment to social causes and to the importance of making a difference in their communities.

Their choice of probable majors and careers reflects a stronger commitment to artistic excellence and to the pursuit of knowledge. Again compared with their peers at very highly selective colleges and universities, new Oberlin students are more likely to indicate an interest in careers in the arts, in teaching and in writing.

In a word, the freshman survey provides ample evidence that Oberlin students remain committed to leading meaningful lives, as they have for 168 years.

---Peter Goldsmith, Dean of Students at Oberlin

Onward Jesse Jackson

To the Editors:

For many Americans, Jesse Jackson has been one of the most remarkable Americans of the 20th century. Standing side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King, he fought against racism and injustice until King was killed in 1968. Standing up, often alone, since King's death, Jackson remained America's most dependable foe against racism and injustice.

How proud Dr. King would have been of Jesse Jackson, and how proud so many Americans are of him for remaining an indefatigable, fearless and faithful warrior whose voice to right the wrongs done to minorities, women, etc. must only be stilled by death itself, not by his marital infidelity.

Jesse Jackson is like our most dedicated and brave fire fighters who risk their lives to save others. As it would be unthinkable to allow bill collectors, IRS agents, etc. to distract fire fighters while they are busy extinguishing fires, it is no less absurd to think that Jackson should be pulled away from his fights to free our military heroes from our enemies abroad, to meet with foreign leaders to secure peace in the world, or to lead a march in Appalachia focusing on the plight of poor white Americans all because he fathered a child outside his marriage.

Thomas Jefferson, one of our most revered presidents, fathered more than one child with his slaves. King David, in the Bible, had his problems, as did Albert Einstein, Dr. King, President Kennedy, etc. The litmus test for being a great scientist, musician, politician, surgeon or a fire fighter must never be one's marital fidelity. Flawed men and women have always achieved and will necessarily always be the ones to achieve all the great accomplishments the world needed and needs. We humans are indeed flawed; some of us are unfaithful, some racist, some insensitive, selfish, unforgiving, etc. But there are roles for us to play in life, and Jackson has been playing his rather superbly no matter his transgressions.

Jackson erred shamefully, sadly and reprehensibly. Indeed, he has given his critics so much ammunition to use to silence his voice. But those who respected and admired him all these years because of his lifelong struggle to rid America and the world of racism and injustice must ask, indeed demand of him that he pick himself up right away and continue making noise with his voice to make America the true "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."

For most of his admirers and supporters, Jackson was never their pastor, priest, pope, pal, pen pal or playmate; he was simply a giant reservoir of inspiration in their lives because of most of his political positions, his powerful perspicacity to see the concealed beauty of America and his propensity to unmask boldly and uncompromisingly America and reveal its racism and injustice. It remains the challenge of all of those people to see that Jackson's voice is not quieted, no matter how vociferously the crowd against him may scream.

Let there be no misunderstanding here: Jackson is guilty of a colossal moral, spiritual, religious and marital wrongdoing. He will and should spend the rest of his life repenting for his errors, sins, etc. And so should all of us whose wrongdoings, mistakes and errors may never be revealed, except to God.

For Jackson's detractors this may be their time to excoriate him for his failings, hoping to divert his attention from his fight against America's racism and injustice. But this must also be his supporters' time to tell the Reverend that just as his voice bellowed forth the rallying cry against racism and injustice in the past, they will be extremely disappointed if he does not renew that fight with an even louder voice and greater furor of impatience than ever before, never mind the innumerable but momentary stumbles and falls here and there.

Even though Jesse Jackson fought against racism and injustice in our nation with irrepressible ardor, he never awakened a new day without forgiving Americans for their subdued or blatant participation in racism and in injustice and he graced each morning with beaming optimism about our country's future.

His foes will be relentless now and forevermore. Their action is regrettable but understandable; they want Jesse Jackson's voice stilled as if he were dead. But after his supporters have all cursed and chided him for a moment or two for his disgraceful behavior, they must quickly implore Jackson to focus once again on extinguishing the raging fires of racism and injustice in America and in the world.

May Jackson's detractors who are without sin be the ones to cast stones at him for the rest of their lives. All other Americans should try to be as forgiving of Jackson as he has been and will undoubtedly be of his fellow Americans, including his passionate detractors and foes, for whatever role, if any, they play in America's racism and injustice.

It is almost impossible to make the argument that Jackson's voice should be permanently stilled while claiming to be against racism, injustice, etc. To ask that only virtuous men and women need apply for jobs fighing against these evils is to offer a most insidious stratagem whose effect would be to fuel, not extinguish, the raging flames of racism, injustice, etc. Jackson's detractors have every right to offer this stratagem. It is unlikely that his supporters will be so gullible as to accept it.

---Booker C. Peek, Professor of African-American studies at Oberlin

Alumnus Says Science and Religion Don't Ever Mix

To the Editor:

The Winter 2000 issue of the Alumni Magazine asks the question "Science and Religion - Can They Work Together?" My unsolicited reply is, "No they can't. One is based, upon truth; the other on fiction."

A small percentage of scientists are Believers because of the exquisite precision of physical processes, the tiniest variance from which would make celestial mechanics and human life impossible. These awe-struck Believers cannot accept that what is, is. It is no miracle that hydrogen and oxygen combine to create life-necessary water. It is how the universe is. To ascribe its origin as the creation of an omniscient, omnipotent mind is equivalent to declaring that lightning and thunder are caused by an angry god. The task of science as a discipline is to explain things (contrary to Professor Craig's contention), so that humans can gain control over natural processes.

The greatest conceit ever contrived by the human mind is that an omnipotent god created the billions of galaxies and trillions of suns now moving through infinite space and that this same god is concerned with the Believer's behavior, even his thoughts. One consequence was President Jimmy Carter declaring himself a sinner because on occasion he had lusted in his mind for some attractive women he had encountered. The fact is that the human animal is driven by compelling sexual urges that largely shape his/her entire life and that the life of all living things have no other purpose than the transfer and perpetuation of their DNA. We of course can give our life meaning and purpose within that controlling proscription.

The sexual drive in humans is so dominant that in exchange for a few minutes of genital stimulation kings and emperors havc lost their throne; college presidents and professors, congressmen, presidents, doctors, psychiatrists, et al, have destroyed their lifetime careers. At this moment, thousands of Catholic priests have AIDS and every year hundreds of them die from this sexual disease, along with an occasional Bishop. And there is no way to measure the anguish, heartbreak and damage to children caused by extra-marital affairs. Every day's newspaper testifies to the cruelty, viciousness and murderous nature of humans. Those who contend that a god creates humans ought to be ashamed to say so.

Every religion has a so-called "Holy Book," and each correctly contends that the other books are false. As for "The Bible" being "The word of God," the thousands of absurdities and contradictions in it would make that god ineligible to graduate from Oberlin (or even from football rival Case Western).

The word GOD should be seen as an acronym for "Greatest Of Delusions." But some delusions indeed are useful, like looking in the mirror and thinking yourself handsome or pretty, or that there is a life after death (once a record of your behavior is examined). Honestly, I wish I could believe an omnipotent god is concerned about my welfare. But such a belief demands a human sacrifice - the intellect.

Consequently I must find solace from life's harsh reality by living with my own delusion. When I look in the mirror I see a man who must be no more than forty-nine years old.

---Robert "Roy" Taylor, OC '49

Wahoo Intent is not the Issue

To the Editor:

I recently read a December issue of the Review and came across the following quote from Bob DiBiasio: "Our belief is that the vast majority believes that it's not insensitive. There has absolutely never been any intent to demean. If there is no intent, can it be demeaning? We never humanize that logo. It's just a caricature and that's all."

But does it matter that the "vast majority" not believe? Does it matter that the logo is never "humanized"? Blackface and caricatures of African Americans in the earlier part of the 20th century certainly didn't incense the "vast majority" and were definitively never "humanized." That didn't make them right; it did make them despicable.

The Indians logo - called "Wahoo," apparently - is equally despicable. Proponents keep saying that "thoughtful people" don't seem to mind. If they don't mind, how thoughtful can they really be? Just because a lot of people do something insensitive - wears logo t-shirts and hats, say - doesn't make that action right. It just makes it wrong in quantity.

---Kevin Munoz, OC '95

Give Our New President A Gift He'll Hate

Dear Editor,

To the Editor:

As we all know, President's Day is coming up on Feb. 19. There was a wonderful article by Patt Morrison in the Los Angeles Times which proposed making a donation to Planned Parenthood in the name of George W. Bush. We thought this was a great idea, and wanted to share it with the Oberlin community. To make it even easier for everyone, we've done a little research and offer you a few more suggestions as well:

Planned Parenthood Federation of America -- Click on the icon in the upper left hand corner to make a donation, and they will send a letter to Dubya letting him know what's up.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Cleveland, 3135 Euclid, Suite 102, Cleveland OH 44115 (216) 881-7742. Mail a check with a note saying that you would like the donation to be made in honor of George W. Bush of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500. You can also call to make a credit card donation.

National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League -- Click on the icon on the right hand side of the screen to make a donation, and you can choose to have an e-mail sent to Bush letting him know the donation was made in his name. -- For those of you who would like your money to be spent a little closer to home.

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice -- Because our new President's "Office of Faith Based Action" will probably not be helping them out any time soon. 1025 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 1130, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 628-7700. Enclose a note asking that your donation be made in honor of George W. Bush of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500.

Republicans for Choice -- Not for those who oppose all things Republican, but they do need all the help they can get.

By the way, the Morrison article can be accessed from on-campus computers through Nexis. Go to the "Libraries" link off the main Oberlin page, click on "News Sources" then on "Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe." Once in "General News," do a search for Patt Morrison. The article was in the Metro section on Jan. 26 and is entitled "A President Rowing in Reverse on Abortion Issues."

As the article points out, Bush has stopped Federal overseas spending on sexual counseling and announced a "safety review" of RU-486. Pro-life demonstrators are swarming over Washington. (One of us got swept up and surrounded by them on the Metro on her way home from work over Winter Term!) Help us live up to Oberlin's reputation for activism by donating time or money to these organizations.

---Jesse Davis, College senior
---Elizabeth Gelner, College junior
---Heidi Lyons, College senior
---Cassandra Ogren, College junior
---Jeremy Waterman, Double-degree senior

California's Real Problem isn't Power, it's the Greens

To the Editors:

Yesterday [Jan. 17], California power officials ordered utilities to cut off electricity to half a million people in San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, and Silicon Valley. State regulators imposed rolling blackouts on northern California when they realized that energy supply was dangerously low and about to bring down power grids all over the state. Hospitals, schools and day-care centers lost power for hours. Thousands of businesses were paralyzed, including banks, hotels, stores and supermarkets. Even police and fire services suffered power outages.

So far, the media has blamed free markets and "deregulation" as the cause for the power shortages, even though California's energy market is by no measure free and was not "deregulated" in 1996, but actually "reregulated," with one set of regulations substituted for another. While reregulation was certainly responsible for California's energy crisis, another important cause has gone unnoticed and has not been given proper attention: environmentalist activism.

Environmentalists have worked for decades to stop the construction of major power plants in California, and have succeeded. As a result, California generates less power per resident than any other state, and imports about one quarter of the energy it consumes. Since 1985 only minor power plants have been built in California, adding only 6,000 megawatts to the state's supply, hardly enough to meet an increased demand for 10,000 megawatts. If plants capable of generating an additional 4,000 megawatts had been built in the last decade, there would be no energy crisis today. By preventing entrepreneurs from building power plants, environmentalists choked the supply of power and set the stage for crises like the current one.

The origins of today's energy crisis can be traced back to the1970s, a quarter of a century before any "deregulation" took place, when environmental groups committed to stop the construction of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Lawsuits, demonstrations, and media campaigns succeeded in delaying the plant's construction for ten years. A "study" released by the Environmental Impacts Analysis was used to force unnecessary project changes on the original plant's plans, like the inclusion of an expensive but superfluous mechanism to cool water dumped into the Pacific Ocean, presumably so fish wouldn't "feel the heat."

Environmentalists justified the changes by claiming that nuclear power is inherently unsafe. But the fact is that hundreds of nuclear plants have been safely producing electricity around the Western world, without the burden of having had environmentalist changes to their original plans. A spokesman for the Government Accountability Project, another environmentalist organization, explained their agenda: "We don't want safe nuclear power plants. We want no nuclear power plants."

Environmentalists, however, did not succeed in preventing Diablo Canyon's completion in 1985, though they managed to multiply building costs twelve-fold, from $500 million to $6 billion.

Similar problems plagued San Onofre, built to supply Southern California with energy. The nuclear plant was completed in 1984, and also had its cost driven up by environmentalist litigation, from $1.3 billion to $4.3 billion. Businessmen quickly realized that such high and unpredictable costs made construction of nuclear power plants financially impractical, and no entrepreneur has dared build another nuclear plant in California or anywhere else in America since.

Environmentalist groups have also prevented coal and oil power plants from being built by lobbying legislators to enact such draconian regulations and unreasonable air-quality standards that even some existing plants were forced to shut down.

A telling illustration of the scope of the environmentalist impact on power generation is the Honey Lake plant, in the Sierras, which used timber chips and forest leftovers as fuel to make electricity. The plant was forced to close down because of a mandated moratorium on forest logging, prompted by a lawsuit from Earth Island Institute, a San Francisco-based environmental group. Another dozen similar plants scattered around the Sierras will probably share the same fate, and the 300,000 homes they serve will become the next victims of environmentalist litigation.

At the EPA, environmentalists have worked to institute a torturous process to slow down and deny approval to the construction of power plants. Daniel Nix, deputy director at the California Energy Commission, observed, "Of the last five certificates we awarded [for power plant construction], four were challenged by the Environmental Protection Agency."

Environmentalists have done everything to stop the construction of new power plants, from nuclear to "environmentally friendly" timber chip plants. What could be their motives for limiting energy supply?

Their leaders tell us that their purpose is to protect man. Yet, they are well aware that man needs energy and technology to sustain modern industrial civilization. They also know progress cannot happen without increasing energy supply. The recent blackouts are evidence that their goal is to protect fish, trees, water and air at the expense of man.

The blackouts are an early warning sign of the dangers to human life coming from environmentalist activism. Californians are paying dearly for the environmentalists' determination to slow down the engines of the world and halt human progress. But how much more of the Green agenda are Americans willing to put up with, and for how long? The choice we face is clear-cut: Greens, blackouts, and stagnation - or modern industry, new power plants, and progress. Take your pick.

---David Holcberg, Senior writer, Ayn Rand Institute Marina del Rey, CA

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Copyright © 2000, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 129, Number 4, Semptember 29, 2000

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