Abortion conflicts with freedom

“Freedom of choice is a basic right to one’s own body,” said Barbara Sieck ’05 in “Freedom of choice is a basic right to one’s own body”, commenting on ensured justice for all members of society: women, children and their families via the right to abortion.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” said Thomas Jefferson, our third president about the ideals of individual liberty.

According to Webster’s dictionary, liberty is defined as “free from all restraints.” This means doing whatever one pleases, whenever one pleases and to whomever one pleases. Sieck states in her reproductive rights article that “until women are able to control their reproduction completely, enjoy sex without fear of repercussions and have sex that occurs only with approval and consent, any talk of true equality will be meaningless.”

Is this how we define our freedom? As utter self-indulgence without consequence? So what happens then if a person finds “complete pleasure” in abuse? In polygamy? In stealing? In raping? In shooting? In lynching and burning? In oppression? In slavery? In misogyny? In terrorism? In destruction? In voluntary massacre? How about in narcissism to the point of racial genocide? Can we then justify the actions of such individuals by attributing their actions to personal moral philosophies?

If so, then what happens to the people on this earth who are the wrong color, the wrong sex, the wrong ethnicity, the wrong nationality, the wrong religion and the wrong beneficiaries of the thing we call life?

But this is not how we are, is it? This is not how we live. Freedom comes with responsibility. We operate within a system of rules and laws that protects us as individuals. It is a system we depend on to maintain our freedom, to serve justice where justice is needed, to give voice to the voiceless, to help those who cannot help themselves and to shelter the things we value. Independence involves significant dependence. How ironic.

We demand our inalienable rights to be honored and upheld by the country we inhabit. Without the aid of this great nation, however, we would be helpless, fearful individuals. But we don’t think of this reality, because we have faith in the land we live in, those with whom we share it and the longevity of its self-evident truths. This blessed assurance extends into all aspects of life, including that of procreation. An unborn baby trusts the safety of its mother’s womb, though it is a separate individual. We trust the safety of the US, though we are autonomous men and women.

Each person has a right to life, born or unborn. Each person has a right to liberty, American or not. Each person has the right to a chance at happiness. Until that word “all” in the phrase “all men are created equal” is acknowledged and treated accordingly, then talk of true equality is, in fact, meaningless. Like Sieck, I want to live in a world where people can live fulfilling lives with the freedom to control their own destinies. I want to live in a just world for men, women and last, but not least, for children. But such a high commitment does not allow for a puerile shirking of accountability. Being born to privilege, which is without freedom, entails specific obligations, especially to those weaker than us. It is a call to integrity. As to whether or not you answer-that is entirely up to you.

Sarah Bass ’06

Show respect for Valentine food

Show respect for Valentine food

Last week’s article in the opinion section was a little hard on Valentine. It was not only whiny and tastelessly sarcastic, but completely ignorant of everything this college is supposed to stand for.

The article dealt a few hits below the belt. It went so far as to imply that Valentine’s food actually causes indigestion. This is a sneaky and completely unfounded suggestion. Another empty argument was that the so-called “their salad” phenomenon (that is, everyone gets the same salad every day) was a sign of bad food and lack of variety. In class, people tend to sit in the same seats. Does this mean that the class is boring? No. People simply find comfort in routines. Lastly, I believe some of the statistics from the article were a little inaccurate. It mentioned that the menu was “50 percent vegan.” I asked the dining hall supervisor about the vegan percentage and we performed a little math. The percentage of vegan items on the menu totals 15 percent, not 50.

This leads us to the issue of variety, the most common complaint against Valentine. There are only so many kinds of food in this world; of course the same dishes are going to appear. Most people only eat a few different kinds of meat, anyway. What do the complainers want? Venison, or maybe pheasant? If you don’t see enough variety out there, it’s easy to create your own. I make an amazing light dessert out of Golden Grahams with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and chocolate milk. It almost tastes like mousse, except it’s simple and refreshing. In the grand scheme of things, food variety isn’t even that important. Pretend that, like a Buddhist monk, you lived on three bowls of rice a day. You are still a lucky person for having a full stomach.

The article also questioned the taste of the food, calling it “bland,” “plain” and “thick.” I happen to think the food tastes damn good. The food has a fresh ingredient quality that is far too often absent from cafeteria food. I discussed this matter with the Pizza Guy. The pizza sauce doesn’t just come from a can. Instead, the Pizza Guy gets up early in the morning to make that sauce from fresh tomatoes.

The Pizza Guy also mentioned that, downstairs, there are 15 chefs who work very hard for long hours to make the food. When people complain or write slandering articles, it hurts their feelings. “The food doesn’t just appear,” he said. The staff works very hard for very long hours-some of them arrive at work at 5:45 a.m.- yet they are still friendly and willing to make conversation with students.

Before you complain about Valentine, you should take a second to think about what this school stands for. Sure, there are plenty of schools for rich kids that have low academic standards, high tuitions and quaint little French cafes to eat in. But unlike these schools, Amherst concerns itself with education, not the excessive luxury that’s all too prevalent in our society. Notice that after his inaugural address, President Marx opted to hold brunch in Valentine instead of spending the money to set up a special brunch tent. That’s what this school is all about.

Brandt Tullis ’07

Stop funding The Hamster

Stop funding The Hamster

I was astonished and outraged when I read “J.R. Mead’s Top 10 Ways to Spend Embezzled Money” in the Halloween issue of The Hamster. The self-proclaimed “Journal of Collegiate Satirical and Social Thought” has skirted the line between comical and libelous in the past, but it crossed that line with this article.

The Amherst Hamster’s general conception of humor involves dealing with serious issues in insensitive and childish ways. It is unclear to me why “HIV Positive Man Always Negative” is any more clever than the pun riddles in children’s magazines, or why discussing stereotypes by publishing an article about “Big Black Cock” is funny. For these, I could say “to each his own,” but The Hamster’s personal attack on an Amherst student is unacceptable.

The attack claims to be one based on John Mead’s embezzlement of a large sum of money from The Amherst Student. The event is a part of public knowledge, and The Student was correct in publishing an article about it. But The Hamster’s approach to the issue is unenlightened and cruel. Suggestions like “A Matching Pair of Shoes” and “A Shave and a Haircut” for ways to spend the money reach beyond commentary on the issue and into the domain of school-yard bullies.

Mead is taking time off from Amherst, but may return next year.  Students should create a supportive environment for his return, not an intimidating and intolerant one. We have been willing to overlook serious indiscretions in the past, so why should John Mead’s mullet affect our treatment of this indiscretion?

The piece, however, is not merely one that should be offensive to John Mead. No one would have defended The Hamster had they published this article before the embezzlement, not merely because it’s offensive to the individual, but because it creates an environment where personal appearance becomes an issue for public mockery. Amherst is constantly trying to shed its J. Crew stereotype, but how can we if not conforming to the Banana Republic norm is material for a humorous magazine? Mead’s decisions related to The Student’s funds had nothing to do with his sneakers, and the two should not be linked.

The AAS should withdraw funding from The Hamster. Especially with so many student publications vying for limited AAS funds, there is no reason to make The Hamster privy to student funds. Student funding should not go to student attacks.

Nancy Hawa ’05