The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on September 13, 1991 · Page 10
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September 13, 1991

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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 10

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Friday, September 13, 1991
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A-10Comment THE CINCINNATI ENQIURFR Friday, September 13, 199I THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER mm WILLIAM J. KEATING Chairman and Publisher GEORGE R. BLAKE Editor, Vice President THOMAS E. DUNNING Managing Editor THOMAS S. GEPHARDT Associate Editor DARRYLW. EVERETT Vice President, Advertising WILLIAM R. JOHNSTON Vice President, Circulation MARK S. MIKOIAICZYK Vice President, Production JAMES A. SCHWARTZ Vice President, Finance GERALD T. SILVERS Vice President, Marketing Services LEFTTHE UP UP m AGAIN.. A Gannett Newspaper Housing "LSS. Public concern over availability should spur search for new ideas effect is to discourage land specula tion. The tax system no longer re Defending freedom on campus A poll of city voters bv the Univer sity of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research found a high priority placed on programs that would improve the city's housing stock. If city officials are listening, that should be incentive enough to look into the advantages of a two-rate property tax that is in use in Pennsylvania. Cincinnati, like many larger cities, has much to gain from housing rehabilitation. Older neighborhoods are rich in salvageable housing stock that gives the neighborhood its style and character. Too often, however, these vacant dwellings are allowed to deteriorate until there is nothing left to save. The reason? It makes financial sense. Rehabilitation means labor and materials costs. But in Ohio, where the Constitution stipulates a uniform rate of taxation on real property, rehab also means higher taxes. In that respect, all homeowners are subject to tax penalties for fixing up a residence. In Pennsylvania, taxing jurisdictions can adopt a two-rate system that taxes the land at a higher rate than the buildings on it. The immediate Memos Cincinnati Foundation grows in both resources and service wards a property owner for allowing buildings to decay. The system makes sense. It is completely illogical that cities like Cincinnati should have concurrent problems of rapid deterioration and a lack of affordable housing. Nor does it make sense to tear down buildings that made the neighborhood. Some new construction is always warranted, but it should be done prudently. Changing to permit a two-rate system would require an amendment to the Ohio Constitution. That's more difficult than enacting legislation, but hardly impossible. The result certainly would justify the effort. Cincinnatians who are dismayed by the decay of historical neighborhoods like Over-the-Rhine applaud rehabilitation efforts like Glencoe Place in Mount Auburn. And now a UC poll has determined that housing ranks high among voter concerns. The only question left is, why aren't local officials curious enough to see if the Pennsylvania system would work here? up his duties in Cincinnati, he recognized his mission as fundamentally educational. He never missed an opportunity to enlist the interest and concern of Tristate young people in the march of world events. His most conspicuous work has been in sponsoring an annual conference on world affairs, which unfailingly brought to Cincinnati foreign-affairs specialists from throughout the world. The Cincinnati conference was internationally recognized for the depth of its inquiries and the breadth of its community support. He was a co-founder, and president of the National Council of World Affairs Organizations and commanded the respect of similarly situated council executives across the country. He has earned his designation as the Cincinnati council's president emeritus for life. The entire community owes him a deep debt. It may come as a shock to the television industry in Cincinnati and across the nation, but only 25 of the American people say that watching TV is among the three most enjoyable things they do when at leisure. A survey sponsored by Leisure Trends, a licensee of the Gallup Organization, found that 79 of Americans watch some TV daily. But most prefer reading or spending time with friends. "Television," says Leisure Trends, "is another example of how American business spends enormous sums of money chasing customers they already have without finding out where their new customers are coming from or where their old customers went." BY TIMOTHY M. BURKE & TIMOTHY A. FISCHER Guest Columnists On Dec. 3, 1964, Mario Savio stood on the steps of Sproul Hall at the University of California (Berkeley) and began the free-speech movement. For almost two decades thereafter, college students, exercising their rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, helped to remake America. Their efforts sped an end to a war, democratized many of our institutions and provided critical assistance in many of the victories obtained by the civil-rights movement. The speech used ranged from thoughtful and thought-provoking to vitriolic and decidedly uncivil. Many were offended, some were moved and a fair number of their causes succeeded. Today the right to speak one's mind on the political and social issues of the day is under a subtle but devastating attack in the very places that pride themselves on being bastions of academic freedom, our colleges and universities. The Aug. 25 article by Miami University Professors Richard Little and Howard Kleiman summarizes the debate that has arisen nationwide as well-intentioned academics, apparently under the guise of stamping out hate, have developed con-' duct codes which seek to regulate speech. , As a law firm that represents fraternities and sororities across North America, we have witnessed with alarm this growing trend. We see that almost all of these codes promulgated by colleges and universities contain vague terms which clearly trample an individual's freedom of speech. An Ohio code For example, one state institution in southern Ohio published and enforced a speech and conduct code which prohibited the following: "Any act which demeans, degrades or disgraces any person. "Intentional public discrimination against a person on the basis of race, handicap, age, sex, color, creed, religion, political persuasion, nationality or sexual preference." Jim Borgman, or any other good political satirist, would be put out of business if he were not able to ridicule, demean or otherwise degrade someone's political beliefs, yet that is what this code of conduct prohibits. The suppression of expression is more frightening (and more effective) when it is imposed by a state institution; it is an instrumentality of the government seeking to control the speech of the members of its community. Would we tolerate the attempt if members of city council tried to impose the same rule on The Enquirer's editorial writers? The legal difficulty embodied in the conduct codes discussed by Little and Kleiman is that they are invariably ill-defined and fail to place those who would be bound by them on notice as to what conduct is prohibited. Words expressing opinions are later evaluated in the mind of an enforcer who subjectively determines intent and relative embarrassment. The speaker acts without an understand- uals? Of course, there are. Unless sexual behavior arises from the vapors, it is going to have some basis in the brain. Do post-mortem differences in parts of the brains of 19 gay and 16 heterosexual men prove that homosexuality is biologically innate? Of course, they don't. Brains, like any other part of the body, reflect the influences of genetics, environment, development and learning. The fact that brain cells in a small sample of gay men differ from the cells of an even smaller number of heterosexual men reveals nothing about why the differences exist. LeVay's study does not settle the question of whether you are born gay or choose to be that way. Why are some people so desperate for an answer that The sorority involved was punished by the state institution for its violation of the university's conduct code, although even a careful reading of the code would not (and did not) suggest that such a scene would be punishable or even offensive. It is beyond belief that this issue should even be debated on American campuses today. Long ago the Supreme Court of the United States clearly said: "State colleges and universities are not enclaves immune from the sweep of the First Amendment. ... The mere dissemination of ideas no matter how offensive to good taste on a state university campus may not be shut off in the name along of 'conventions of decen-cy.' "... The First Amendment leaves no room for the operation of a dual standard in the academic community with respect to the content of speech" Papisch vs. Board of Curators of the University of Missouri, 41 U.S. 667(1973). A college is the place where the testing of ideas is encouraged and freewheeling thought and open discussion are commonplace. The speech conduct codes, aimed at encouraging "politically correct" speech, stifle that discourse and intimidate to the point of suppression. What is to happen, for example, to the college newspaper editor who editorializes against the white-controlled military establishment embodied in the ROTC program on campus? Is that acceptable speech or not? What if the editorial writer chastises welfare mothers for refusing to get a job? Is that acceptable? If Judge Clarence Thomas, the president's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, can criticize affirmative-action programs, should not college students on state college campuses be free and feel free to do the same thing, even if on occasion they would do it in a manner that is lacking in the grace, eloquence and civility employed by Judge Thomas? The duty to teach Colleges are, after all, institutions of learning. As Little and Kleiman suggest, they ought to do what they do best and teach. By all means, teach cultural diversity; we can all benefit from a better understanding of one another. It is a far different thing, however, for a university to set itself up as a thought police which punishes expressions which are in someone's view distasteful. There is clearly a place for education and the encouragement of civil debate on campus. That needs to occur, however, with full recognition of the students' rights to freedom of speech. To the extent that it does not, our collective freedoms will all ultimately be diminished until the pendulum can complete its swing and a new free-speech movement arises on American campuses. Timothy M. Burke and Timothy A. Fischer are lawyers with Manley, Burke and Fischer, which represents numerous national collegiate fraternities and sororities. The firm distributes its quarterly Fraternal Law newsletter to some 12,000 subscribers. some basis in biology, but that does not mean we are not responsible for who we are and what we do. Morality does not follow from biology. Whether homosexuality is caused by nature or is a product of nurture, it is wrong to discriminate against homosexuals. Ethically, it does not matter why homosexuality exists. All that matters is that we use our brains and treat others fairly and with dignity. Arthur Caplan is director of the Center for Biological Ethics at the University of Minnesota. it i .i ' rV J y V'.. i 4 Mario Savio (1964) ... he helped to start it all ing of what words embody forbidden thoughts. On Aug. 25, the New York Times carried a story on Michael Hamm, a black man who was charged with violating Florida's Hate Crime Act. The basis of the charge was that Hamm called a police officer a "white cracker." While this case occurred off campus, it is no different from situations that have occurred at colleges and universities, and it is a good example of how ill-defined these terms can be. Would "cracker" be objectionable if it were a white individual calling a white police officer a cracker? What if he called him a "white pig"? The problem is no less real on campus. The University of Connecticut expelled a student from its dormitories and dining halls because she hung a sign on her door which enumerated classes of people who were "welcome," "tolerated," "unwel-comed" and '"shot on sight." She was alleged to having included (though she denied it) "homos" among the last category, along with "bimbos," "preppies" and "racists." The subsequent federal court suit, alleging a violation of the student's First Amendment rights, resulted in the university dropping charges not only against the young woman but also charges against 16 other students accused of similar infractions. Codes meant to regulate speech or-conduct which is "hateful" can frequently be triggered by speech which is merely "insensitive" or sometimes wholly innocent. At the same southern Ohio institution which promulgated the speech con-. duct code quoted above, one sorority was punished by the university because a group of the chapter members pantomimed a scene from Good Morning, Vietnam. The young women's crime was that they dressed in the style of the Supremes. They were not in black face, although it is not clear that that would have made any difference. The university later decreed the skit to be racist, even though it was simply a group of young women dressed in slinky dresses attempting to dance like the Supremes. There were absolutely no racial comments made in the skit or racial stereotypes employed. To that extent, it was far tamer than similar theatrics performed on Saturday Night Live or In Living Color. to it rlnps? Thprp arp two reasons, both bad. Many people, including the folks at the Lambda Legal Defense Fund, firmly believe that if homosexuality is biological, then it is natural. If it is natural, then it must be normal. If you are gay, not because you learned to be or chose to be but because your genes made you so, then it must be OK. This is pure malarkey. Things are not normal, good or OK simply because they are natural. Cancer, acne, depression and allergies are all natural, but that is no reason to say they are normal or good. Equally dumb is the idea that if homosexuality is biological, then those who are gay cannot change or did not choose their behavior. Every human behavior has The Greater Cincinnati Foundation issued its annual report to the community the other day, and it portrays an increasingly useful engine to keep Greater Cincinnati's civic and philanthropic life moving forward. The foundation was established 28 years ago as a means of allowing individuals to make large and small gifts to the entire community. In particular it gave today's Cincinnatians an opportunity to contribute to worthy causes far into the future. Through the generosity of the community and the wisdom of the foundation's leadership, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation has seen its assets grow to $84 million. Its grants have exceeded $40 million. One of the foundation's extraordinary features is the extent to which it relies on the volunteer service of competent, civic-spirited Cincinnatians exemplified by its current director, William A. Friedlander, and the current chairman of its board of governors, Kathryn M. Pettengill. The foundation's paid staff and hence its overhead is among the smallest of any of America's community foundations. The Greater Cincinnati Foundation has established an indispensable niche for itself in Cincinnati's life. It deserves to continue growing and serving. Cincinnati's civic and educational life is notably diminished by the retirement of William C. Messner Jr., president of the Cincinnati Council on World Affairs for 34 years. From the time Mr. Messner took The 'why' BY ARTHUR CAPLAN Knight News Service Is homosexuality a learned behavior? Or is it simply the result of biology? The answer to these questions seems to make a great deal of difference to the moral views of many people. It shouldn't. The latest volley in the nature-nurture war over homosexuality was fired by Dr. Simon LeVay of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif. In a paper in the prestigious journal Science he presented some findings that seem to favor the biological explanation of homosexuality. LeVay reported that, in examining samples of brain tissue obtained after autopsies performed on 19 gay men, 16 men thought to be heterosexual and six heterosexual women, he of homsexuality is not the important issue found systematic differences in their hv- the brains of homospvmk nnH hmcv. m ui:... J the brains of homosexuals and hptprnspv- they want believe pothalmuses, an area of the brain thought 10 De involved in controlling sexual behavior. The cells from the brains of the homosexual men more closely resembled those of the women than they did the heterosexual men. Many gay-rights groups greeted LeVay's article with unabashed joy. The Lambda Legal Defense Fund, a national gay-rights group, gushed that "if there is a biological basis for homosexuality, it is difficult to fathom on what moral, ethical or religious grounds one can reasonably discriminate (against homosexuals)." What is really difficult to fathom is how a group committed to human rights could get so caught up in scientific claptrap. Are there likely to be differences in

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