Amendment One Coverage Update

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By my count, the DTH’s coverage of Amendment One now tilts 31-2. They ran a few more anti-amendment pieces this week, which you can find below.

28

29

30

31

Since the DTH has apparently abandoned any pretense of a fair discussion of the matter, it has fallen to more responsible parties to pick up the slack. To that end, I’ve reproduced (below) a letter to the editor from a former CR staffer that the DTH has refused to publish.

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To the Editor,

In Thursday’s Quick Hits, the Daily Tar Heel claimed that “there is nothing conservative about Amendment One” and “If you don’t want the government involved in your life, then you shouldn’t vote for an amendment that would infringe on citizens’ liberty.”

I believe the editorial staff have made the common error of confusing conservatism with libertarianism. Conservatism is not an ideological drive towards a minarchist state with maximum freedoms and minimum government. Rather, conservatism seeks to create a ‘right-ordering’ of society based on principles of truth, natural law and basic human rights to life, liberty and property. As William F. Buckley put it, “Conservatism aims to maintain in working order the loyalties of the community to perceived truths and also to those truths which in their judgment have earned universal recognition.”

This does not mean eliminating as much government as possible, but instead ordering government to best maintain society. Edmund Burke once wrote that “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites…Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without…Men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.” Conservatives recognize that liberty requires restraint, preferably from a person’s own conscience. In some cases such as the civil law of marriage, it is necessary for the government to restrain certain passions. Therefore, many conservatives support Amendment One.

BREAKING: DTH Claims Mantle of Conservatism For… Itself!

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So, technically this isn’t breaking news, as it actually happened yesterday, and I am only just now getting around to writing about it. But, I’m taking my cue from the DTH here, never let the facts get in the way of a good headline.

The DTH’s Quickhits yesterday were quite amusing. Elizabeth has already covered their drive-by job on the Carolina Review, but let’s also consider their treatment of “Conservatism.” Note that’s “”Conservatism”” not “Conservatism” because we all know that Conservatism isn’t actually a real thing. People aren’t Conservatives, they’re “Conservatives.” You know, kind of like how the DTH only reports “facts” and not actual facts and, they have “reporters” not reporters. And people don’t actually adhere to Conservatism, they adhere to “Conservatism,” which is some sort of made-up political ideology that exists solely to oppress black people and gays.

But back to the actual text of the “Quickhit.” I do like the way it started out: “Let us be clear…” I think they were trying to channel some of that old Hope n’ Change of my man Barack (who apparently will be on campus Tuesday… what’s up with that???). But they continue, “There’s nothing conservative about Amendment One.” Note that’s conservative, not “conservative,” so I think we may be talking about actual Conservatism here. This is quite amusing. Apparently, the DTH thinks that it has some sort of authority to decide what is and isn’t conservative. Because when William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan and all those other Conservative luminaries died, they didn’t pass the mantle of Conservatism onto something like National Review or Human Events or some other group like that. No, the Daily Tar Heel has inherited the mantle of Conservatism. Yes, that’s right. The same newspaper that has advocated for such Conservative positions as raising the county sales tax and affirmative action is now your one, authoritative voice for Conservatism on campus.

And we all know how balanced the DTH has been on the marriage issue. Just check out how evenly divide their pro- and anti- amendment pieces break down:

Pro-Amendment

1

2

Anti-Amendment

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

So, for those of you keeping score, that’s 27 articles/letters/editorials opposing Amendment One to 2.

I’ll also refrain from commenting on the glaring contradiction between a paper that openly endorses a health insurance mandate and then claims that you should oppose Amendment One because “If you don’t want the government involved in you [sic] life, then you shouldn’t vote for an amendment that would infringe on citizens’ liberty.” Right. The only thing that’s more personal than marriage is your health, but it’s OK if the government has complete authority to tell you how and what kind of care you will receive.

And just in case the aforementioned hypocrisy wasn’t enough to convince you, be warned that if you’re conservative and still support the Amendment, then “you’re either intellectually deficient or just plain dishonest.” This obviously explains why, in a fairly conservative state, 58% of voters support the Amendment. It’s not because there’s actually a conservative argument to be made for traditional marriage (an argument that the DTH has never bothered to consider), but because supporters of the Amendment are stupid. We all know that anyone who dares disagree with the Omniscient and Omnipotent Daily Tar Heel doesn’t do it because they might have a legitimate disagreement with the paper (or… God forbid, the Daily Tar Heel gets it… WRONG!). They do it, because these people lack the capacity for rational thought and are barbarian ignoramuses who need the enlightened reason of the DTH’s master editorialists to tell them what to think.

So remember, the next time you want to know the authentic conservative position on an issue and you’re only interested in learning some of the facts and reading half-baked editorials, just pick up the nearest Daily Tar Heel. You’ll be glad you did.

The Intolerable Nature of David Horowitz

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Proof that David Horowitz is not the Devil

I’ve always been kind of intrigued by the response that David Horowitz always generates on this campus. It seems like the reaction is always very visceral, very passionate, and very negative. Which begs the question, “Why?” Surely a man that so many people not only dislike but despise must be saying some pretty terrible stuff. Yet after seeing him speak twice on campus and after having read several reactions to him in the Daily Tar Heel, I have yet to come across any sort of reasoned argument against the man.

Take his most recent campus visit as an example. After about 20 minutes into his speech, and before he had even said anything controversial, nearly every Muslim student (and a few other sympathizers) in the room walked out. Now, I know that several groups on campus, Hillel, the Muslim Students Association, Students for Justice in Palestine, etc., really despise Horowitz. But given their little performance at his speech the other night, I wonder if any of them have ever actually heard what he has to say, or if they are just being told that they should despise him. Personally, I was hoping for a little dialogue in the Q&A part of the talk, but apparently Mr. Horowitz’s opponents aren’t interested in debate. If he’s so obviously wrong, it shouldn’t be too hard to show that through a few thoughtful questions, right?

Judging by the responses to Horowitz in the Daily Tar Heel, one might be tempted to think that his opponents don’t want to debate him because they are unable to counter anything he says. It seems like the best they can do is to call him a “well-paid, fire-breathing provocateur,” accuse of him of “weav[ing] a tapestry of truth using tattered fragments of evidence,” and make rather ironic claims that “there is no space in our campus dialogue for generalizations and discrimination.” I suppose if you have no grounds on which to attack his actual arguments going for a character-assassination is the next best thing, but it’s not particularly persuasive. Of course, every now and then, a student (not a UNC student of course) will attempt to challenge Mr. Horowitz on his views. But before long, these students tend to find themselves in the rather awkward situation of endorsing well-known terrorist organizations, which might explain why they’re a little reluctant to engage in any sort of debate.

I’m not really an expert on Middle Eastern affairs, which is why I like to go to these sorts of events, to hear two sides hash out the issues. But when one side fails to show (or rather, just straight-up leaves), I’m inclined to favor the side that actually argued its position. If David Horowitz is such an evil hate-monger, it shouldn’t be too hard to prove that he’s wrong. Yet, I have yet to see anyone do that. Indeed, I haven’t even seen anyone prove he’s a hate-monger. It’s like there’s some sort of massive Group Think going on, where everyone just feels compelled to hate David Horowitz, but no one can explain why. If there’s any side that appears to be caught up in irrational emotion, it appears to be those who oppose Mr. Horowitz, and if they ever hope to persuade anyone who doesn’t already agree with them, they ought to work on formulating actual arguments.

The Great Dance Marathon Controversy

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Since apparently nothing on this campus can stick around too long without becoming controversial, it’s worth commenting on the recent controversy surrounding the UNC Dance Marathon. I find myself in the rather odd position of agreeing with the Daily Tar Heel, though for slightly different reasons.

My first encounter with Dance Marathon was fairly weird. I was walking into Lenoir going to get something to eat, when I was rushed by a guy dressed up as a big, pink fairy (complete with wings). He promptly asked me if I wanted to join Dance Marathon “FOR THE KIDS!!!!!” As I still possessed a modicum of self-respect, I told him no and made a quick beeline for the door. The experience only went downhill from there. Earlier this year, I had to go up to the CR office for some reason or other and had trouble getting into the office because Dance Marathon had set up what looked like an Occupy CR Office event in the suite (complete with BO) and there were people strewn all over the floor.

Now, I think that Dance Marathon’s “cause” is admirable, but their technique needs some work. Part of the problem they are probably not able to replicate the success of a similar program at Penn State is that (from all appearances) they rely on student dancers to raise money from their friends and family (who, probably don’t have much cash to start with). Additionally, their recruitment technique is primarily limited to getting up in people’s faces and screaming “IT’S FOR THE KIDS!!!!!!!” which aside from its rather Orwellian undertones is a rather poor way of convincing people to help you.

I know personally, a fairly off-putting aspect of the event is the rather sanctimonious and self-righteous attitudes of some of the organizers and the general self-congratulation that seems key to the whole event. Of course, this is not unique to Dance Marathon. Indeed, it seems to be a growing trend these days. There are races and marathons and runs and walks and dances, all for different causes, many of them quite worthy causes. But what do these events actually do? After all, it’s not as if a donor to Dance Marathon is suddenly going to pull his donation because a couple dancers didn’t show up. He’s doing it (for lack of a better word) FOR THE KIDS!!!! not for the dancers.

IT"S FOR THE KIDS!!!!!!!

But then, who are the dancers dancing for? I would argue that they are, in fact, dancing for themselves. What does standing all night in gym really accomplish? Is it helping anyone? Does anyone benefit from my completing exhausting myself and feasting on Jimmy John’s all night? No, of course not. The real benefit from this event comes from the people who are actually forking over the money (though, in fairness, many dancers work hard to raise this money). The people standing in the gym all night aren’t really doing anything, though they are able to get that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with associating yourself with a good cause. The marathon part of the Dance Marathon is largely for the benefit of the dancers. Dance Marathon serves a good cause, but the rather egocentric nature of the marathon is a bit of a turnoff (it also eats up a fair amount of money).

Now, this isn’t to say that the marathon could become a little less self-serving in the future. Perhaps, instead of standing in a gym all night eating cold pizza and listening to bands no one’s ever heard of, the dancers could find something a little more productive to do. The possibilities here are really endless. They could go volunteer at the hospital for 24 hours and go entertain the kids for a bit, or find some other way of assisting with the mission of the Children’s Hospital. They would still get that nice, warm feeling inside them from knowing that they’re improving the lives of sick children, but they’d also be doing something meaningful.

And that is my largest criticism of the event. It’s not that the group doesn’t raise enough money or doesn’t serve a worthy cause, it’s that the marathon does very little to further the mission of the Dance Marathon. Dance Marathon should ditch the marathon and find something more productive for its 2000 dancers to do.

Mulligan!

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The Daily Tar Heel is reporting that the Board of Elections may consider “re-doing” the Student Body President race because of some problems with the voting software. There are several things to consider here. The first is the Student Code. In Title I, Chapter 9, Section 902 (10), under the heading of “Responsibilities,” it states, “The BOE shall have the ability to call for a re-election if a violation occurred that might have affected the outcome or compromised the integrity of the election.”

Now, the key word in this passage is “violation”. Does a technological failure that prevented students from voting constitute a violation? It is quite clear that whatever happened “affected the outcome” of the election, as the margin of victory was a mere four votes and the number of affected voters seems to be quite high (with several students apparently being unable to send in a ballot via email because the BOE’s inbox was full of provisional ballots).

However, the Code never actually defines what a violation is in Title I. However, in Title VI, Chapter 7, Section 701 E (4), there is a category of “Technology” violations. According to the Code, “This category shall include but not be limited to campaigning online in illegal ways.” Seeing as the definition here is very broad and there is little other guidance in the Code for a situation like this, one could plausibly interpret the present situation as being a technological violation in Title VI, which would necessitate a re-vote via Title I because of its affect on the outcome of the election.

So, at least in my humble opinion, I believe that a re-election is, in fact, necessary and the proper procedure to follow per the Code. We should not allow technological glitches that prevent students from voting from having a disproportionate impact on the outcome of our elections. While the Code isn’t exactly crystal clear, there is a plausible case to be made for a mulligan.

Decoding the DTH’s Code of Decoding Congress’ Code of Discodification

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Anthony, if I may add the Congressional perspective to the DTH’s Coded Decoding of the Coded Congress. Before we completely decode ourselves, let’s take a look at some coded history.

First, none of the changes Congress has made to the Code in the last few months have had an effect on how student organizations obtain funding. In fact, if I remember correctly, the only change made to Title V (the Financial Title) was the elimination of the stipend for the Honor Court Outreach Coordinator (a bill which I wrote).

Second, contrary to what the editorial claims, Student Congress does not “approve” student organizations, the Student Union (and the Division of Student Affairs) does that. So, I can safely say that no group has had its recognition put in jeopardy by the late publication of the Code.

I’ll also note, given that the Speaker cannot appoint clerks without first being elected Speaker, Zach has conducted the appointment process fairly quickly. Within days of his election, applications for the two clerk positions went out, and interviews followed soon after. The clerks themselves would have been confirmed by Congress much sooner, however, illness and scheduling conflicts created some issues here (two items outside the control of Congress and the Speaker).

There are also obvious ethical issues to consider should the Speaker begin unilaterally updating the Code, as the Editorial Board seems to desire. In order to avoid these ethical conflicts of interest, the role of updating the Code is delegated off to the clerks. Admittedly, there are a few kinks in the present system (mainly that there are no “interim” clerks to serve in the transition period between one Congress and the next). However, considering that we’re already paying someone to update the Code and, we don’t want the Speaker to be in the awkward position of making the law and promulgating it, we should reform the current system. Complete abandonment of ethical principles is unnecessary.

In short, the coded editorial misses several points. In the midst of their decoded coding of disencoded things, they made several coded factual errors. In a discoded rush to judgement, they neglected several obvious coded facts. Perhaps in the future, they should decode their own discoded codes before passing judgement on such a coded Congress.