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September 14, 1999

Editorial

For the Good of USA, Trustee Mayer Mitchell Please Resign!

The Harbinger is a community newspaper, and as such normally does not write and has not written much about the University of South Alabama (USA), unless it affects the Mobile community of which USA is a member. As everyone knows, there is turmoil in USA involving mainly some members of the Board of Trustees, USA President Mr. Gordon Moulton, the USA Foundation Board, and the foundation's current director Dr. Frederick Whiddon, the first and former president of USA. Details of the dispute, at least one side of it, have been reported widely in the Mobile daily newspaper. Another side has been presented in The Harbinger -- see Tom Brennan's article on page 5 of this issue for the latest saga.

News of this turmoil has been reported in the nationally circulated Chronicle of Higher Education. One immediate negative impact is lowering of USA's bond credit rating, forcing the university to pay a higher interest rate if it were to borrow money to finance projects that benefit the university and the Mobile community that it serves.

Calls for the resignation of Dr. Whiddon from the USA Foundation for the good of the institution that he built have been prominently announced in the daily newspaper. Let The Harbinger be the first to publicly announce the call for long-time USA Trustee, Mayer Mitchell, to resign, for the good of USA.

Anyone who is not blind recognizes that the fight is primarily a power struggle between Dr. Whiddon and Trustee Mitchell, with others playing supporting roles. Like a schoolyard fight among two children, there is not a side to take because both are wrong. If you ask the USA faculty, many will tell you that their opinion of Trustee Mitchell is even lower than that expressed on the pages of the Mobile daily newspaper about Dr. Whiddon. And like a playground fight, the only way to end it is to send both children to their rooms.

Dr. Whiddon has served USA with distinction, and his imprint on the university is everywhere on campus, including a building bearing his name. Trustee Mitchell has been a USA Trustee since 1975, and his long-time contribution to the university is also recognized by a building named after his family. So it's time for both of them to resign from their respective posts and leave USA alone, so the university can go about its mission of serving the Mobile community via teaching, research, and service.

-- Edmund Tsang


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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

The recent rulings against the teaching of evolution in the state of Kansas raise many important questions, most of which are too extensive to be covered in a local newspaper. I would like to make a few points, however. I think it should be noted that Christianity has been refuted as a science by many researchers, most notably Galileo.

Galileo, if you remember, was an astronomer who disproved, among other things, Aristotle's theories of movement, and the long held belief that the sun revolves around the earth, calling into question the position of the Roman Catholic Church and the Bible as the supreme authority on such matters. This, of course, is why the Church made Galileo recant his statements.

The Christians who believe in the literal truth of the Bible still have not been able to explain why we cannot shoot a rocket to the moon according to Biblical teachings is very telling. It would seem logical that if the Bible were indeed scientifically sound, we should have no trouble sending a probe to Mars according to calculations derived from Genesis.

I would also like to point out that many conservative groups oppose the teaching of evolution on the grounds that it would confuse children. But this could only be so if every child was taught creationism from birth. Clearly not all children are brought up to hold the same beliefs, so this assumption is also false.

It is surprising to many people that the debate concerning evolution has never been settled, and still continues to plague education in this country. Evolution may indeed be just another theory, but careful scientific documentation strongly suggests that this theory is more credible than saying, "that's what my mommy, daddy, and my preacher told me."

The Greek philosopher Socrates believed that the unexamined life is not worth living. When we blindly accept those beliefs which have been given to us, then we cannot say that those beliefs are our own. Nor can we say that we are still a person, unless we change the definition of a person to exclude any mention of free will. A person can only be a person if he has the ability to choose his beliefs on his own, based on information, values, and many other mitigating factors, factors which Christianity seeks to eliminate, thus simplifying the process for us. If we let ourselves be programmed by a select few, and abandon our skepticism in favor of some sublime form of brainwashing, then we have rejected all that makes us what we are.

If life were as simple as Christianity makes it out to be, the issue of evolution would be irrelevant. The fact is even Christians acknowledge that the Bible is not the panacea for all of life's intellectual ills; otherwise, we would never have the need for mathematics or science. But, despite this, Christians still feel they have to force their flawed system of beliefs on others in hopes that they have satisfied the need of some divine being, (and protected themselves from the realization of their own ignorance.) If Christians, and religion in general, have any hope of surviving into the next millennium, their dogma has to evolve to accept those beliefs which are not in line with their insular way of thinking, or they will be made extinct by the onslaught of progress.

Dan Whisenhunt
Mobile, Al


Dear Editor,

Two recent stories about nationally syndicated radio talk show hosts have once again raised the issue of sexism and racism on the radio.

On August 24, Walt Disney Company issued an apology for a radio promotion that aired repeatedly during the nationally syndicated "Mark & Brian" show, which originates from KLOS- FM in Los Angeles, a Disney-owned station.

The apology comes roughly a year after the station gave away black plastic garden tools and promoted them as free "black hoes"--a crude pun on "black whore." The gimmick, which ran for about six weeks, prompted action by several civil rights groups in the Los Angeles area, who rejected the company's apology and are calling for a national boycott of Disney (Los Angeles Times, 8/25/99).

Disney's statement seems timed to deflect charges of racism and sexism. Two KLOS employees, according to the Times (9/3/99), have filed racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits against Disney, ABC and KLOS-FM, claiming that they became targets of harassment from co-workers and supervisors at the station when they complained about the offensive campaign. The suits also call into question a Disney spokesperson's claim that those directly involved were disciplined, since one of the lawsuits alleges that those responsible for the stunt have been promoted within the Disney company.

Deejays Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps recently made an on-air apology for the promotion. An Alabama radio station issued a similar apology on behalf of the same deejays in 1986, after they and another host were sued for making "libelous and slanderous statements which are racist, sexist, vulgar and obscene."

And this month, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Citadel Communications group pulled the nationally syndicated "Don and Mike" show from local station KHTL-AM (920) after racial slurs sparked concern among local community leaders and advertisers. On August 17, the hosts mocked the town of El Cenizo, Texas for adopting Spanish as its official language. According to a report in the Albuquerque Journal (8/28/99), the hosts called City Hall in El Cenizo and told the woman who answered the phone that "people who won't or can't speak English should 'get on their burros and go back to Mexico.' They also made lewd comments to the woman in English and Spanish."

The show is syndicated nationally to 60 stations by the CBS-owned Westwood One radio network.

For years, FAIR has sought to expose and criticize examples of racist, sexist or homophobic speech on the public airwaves. As staunch defenders of the First Amendment, we feel that nothing is more essential to democratic dialogue than an open and honest discussion about hate speech in our society.

FAIR's "Challenging Hate Radio: A Guide to Activists" is available at: http://www.fair.org/activism/hate-radio.html.

Peter Hart
FAIR


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