Letter from Jude ’97

Antioch is a place that I will never forget and that I will always remember. As a spiritual person I now know that it is God (whatever name you choose to give him/her) who blessed me with the know-with-all to choose Antioch College and to complete my undergraduate education. It was an American education unique to liberal arts education in America. To this day I cannot thank my human ancestors who preceded me in the Civil Rights Movement and the Abolition Movement before it at Antioch College in little old Yellow Springs Ohio. I neither am prepared to let go or to say good-bye. It is a sincere prayer of mine that Antioch College remains open and that the Board of Trustees and the Antioch College Continuation Corporation agree to such an autonomous agreement.
I did not know as a teenager entering Antioch College that I’d settle down in Yellow Springs Ohio nor that I’d enjoy working with students, faculty, staff, and administration of Antioch College as an adult well into my thirties. Yet it is true. Here I stand having been impacted by and hopefully at my best impacted Antioch College in miraculous ways only God could conjure up. Now it is important to me that all you agnostics and people that do not believe in God out there not right me off as a televangelist or evangelical Christian with the Christian Right or something. Continue reading Letter from Jude ’97

From the Editor – Bryan Utley

Many who know me know that I am probably the biggest proponent of the state of Wisconsin here at Antioch. Of course, many of you are thinking that all there is in Wisconsin is cows and people with funny accents. Of course, you are dead wrong. Wisconsin has been the first in many areas. In 1998 my congressional district (the 2nd congressional district of Wisconsin) was first in United States history to elect an openly gay (Tammy Baldwin) non-incumbent candidate to Congress. Also it was my Senator Russ Feingold who was the only United States senator to vote against the Patriot Act and one of two to initially vote against the War in Iraq. When questioned on his reasoning for voting against the Patriot Act, Senator Feingold simply answered, “Because I read it”. Continue reading From the Editor – Bryan Utley

Patriarchy in a Post-9/11 world

Last Saturday,  professor of popular culture at Bowling Green State College and Antioch alumnus, Dan Shoemaker, presented his lecture, “Patriarchy and Post-9/11 Cinema” in McGregor 113. The presentation, slated to begin at 6 p.m., in typical Antiochian fashion, took half an hour and a series of phone calls before attendance was high enough to justify warming up the projector, but eventually the show attracted a crowd of over 30 students.

A graduate of the college with a BA Communication and Media Arts, Shoemaker started off the presentation by discussing his own opinions on modern cinema as a professor of popular culture. “Like most people,” Shoemaker said, “I go to the movies to be entertained and illuminated. Unlike most people, when I see something that bugs me, I write a paper about it.”

Questions of critical film viewing framed Shoemaker’s dissection of cinema and his final conclusions of conspiracy. “Whose fantasy is it? What version of happiness is endorsed? What logic makes it to make sense?” he pondered, while showing excerpts of movies like Million Dollar Baby, and Boondock Saints.
“In the wake of 9/11,” Shoemaker finally suggested, “American people needed assurance, and Hollywood stepped in to provide it.” To back up his claim, he cited examples of classic Hollywood responses to real-world crises; Invasion of the Body Snatchers, War of the Worlds, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. These examples today seem obvious illustrations of blatant propaganda. Shoemaker argued that current cinema is no less  propagandistic, if one only knew where to look.

Initially, Shoemaker’s claimed that Hollywood was deliberately putting subliminal, conservative messages into mainstream films were suspect and far-fetched. His specificity in particular was cause for skepticism; Rumsfeld’s reasoning behind the Iraq war promoted in Million Dollar Baby, specters of the Bush administration in The Boondock Saints, and so on. However, as Shoemaker screened a series of scenes from recent and not so recent films to illustrate his points, his theories became increasingly plausible. The promotion of patriarchy and family values can be easily seen in most modern films, but Shoemaker also pointed out examples of hegemony, anti-pacifism, gender role reinforcement, and religious fanaticism. Some of his points were still a stretch to see, but others came to life on the projection screen in McGregor and posed real cause for concern as to the state of cinema today, making Althusser’s  quote “The media reinforces dominant ideology,” once again tangible.

Real World News

In a non-binding vote on Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee dismissed President Bush’s escalation of the Iraq War as “not in the national interest.” The vote comes one day after President Bush appealed to congress to give his revised Iraq plan “a chance to work.” The resolution, which passed 12-9, opposes Bush’s plan to deploy 21,500 additional troops for peacekeeping operations in and around Baghdad.

Three prominent senators; Democrats Joseph Biden and Carl Levin, and Republican Chuck Hagel proposed the resolution earlier this month. “We better be damn sure we know what we’re doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder,” said Senator Hagel, the only Republican on the committee to support the resolution. Vice President Cheney disregarded the objection, saying: “It won’t stop us, and it would be, I think, detrimental from the standpoint of the troops.” Cheney commented four days after U.S. forces faced one of the bloodiest days of the Iraq War since the invasion began four years ago, with 25 soldiers lost in a 24-hour period.

On Tuesday President Bush addressed the nation in his annual state of the union address, during which he called on congress and the nation to lend him their support. “We went into this largely united – in our assumptions, and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq -and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the fi eld – and those on their way.” Bush said in his address to the legislature.

Bush went on to characterize the confl ict in Iraq as a front in his Global War On Terror, saying: “In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance of success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq – because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching. The war on terror we fi ght today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. That is why it is important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through.” Lieutenant General David Petraeus, Bush’s choice to become the new U.S. commander in Iraq, said on Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, “The situation in Iraq is dire. The stakes are very high. There are no easy choices. The way ahead will be very hard. But the hard is not hopeless.” Monday more than 130 Iraqis died in the capital Baghdad, 88 in a double car bombing at a crowded market. Iraqi ‘police’ also recovered 29 bodies bound and executed scattered across the capital. The attacks came as 3,200 troops, the advance guard of Mr. Bush’s 21, 500, arrived in the capital to boost security.

The coordinated assault on the Baghdad market entailed a parked car fi lled with explosives, that was detonated by remote, followed by a second car, driven by a suicide bomber, which plunged into the panicked crowed before exploding. The market, which specializes in pirated movies and secondhand clothes, was popular among Baghdad’s poorest residents.

Next week both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are set to vote on resolutions in opposition of the troop ‘surge,’ a largely symbolic move that will not stop the executive branch’s plan for further entrenching our troops in the tactical nightmare of Iraq. Senator Biden defended the vote, however, saying: “(The legislation) is an attempt to save the president from making a significant mistake with regard to our policy in Iraq.”

Letter from Jeffrey N. James, Esq.

Date: October 20, 2006

Letter to the Editor – Antioch Record

I am writing to you as the father of Cary James, one of the four students recently suspended from Antioch College for traveling to Columbus, Ohio to purchase marijuana for themselves and other students.

Earlier this year, our family was pleased when Antioch accepted Cary’s application for admission. After visiting the college, Cary felt that Antioch was where he belonged and would flourish. Based on its reputation, we were thankful that Cary had chosen to attend a “liberal” liberal arts college. I use the term liberal in the most positive sense of the word, not as it has been defined in more recent times by conservatives and the religious right. By definition. liberal means “broad minded” and “favoring reform or progress”.

As an undergraduate student, I learned to logically examine the world by the Socratic or dialectical method. Through critical examination of issues, we come to a better understanding and resolution of the problems we face in life. This is the type of education I envisioned for my son in attending Antioch. I was disturbed when I learned that Cary was being expelled (which was later amended to a one year suspension). What concerned me most was not that he was being expelled, but the basis for his expulsion.

As a criminal defense attorney, I am troubled by the criminalization of our youth, and the hypocrisy with which we administer our current “zero tolerance” policy regarding drug and alcohol use. As one who upholds the principal of honesty, I freely admit that I have smoked marijuana. I was, after all, a product of the sixties and seventies. In raising my children, I have not voluntarily disclosed my past usage, nor have I denied this fact as they grew older and were capable of questioning me. I have however always advised them of the potentially harmful effects of drug and alcohol use and abuse, and tried to instill in them an understanding of the problems associated with any addiction. At the same time, I understand that people will engage in the vice of their choice. What vice you indulge yourself (food, wine, sex, gambling, the list goes on), is a matter of your choice. Just as I ask that you tolerate my vices, so long as they do not infringe upon your rights, I will tolerate your vices. For me, the occasional one or two martinis long ago supplanted any desire to smoke marijuana. However, I do admit that a few years ago I smoked marijuana with a good friend, Deb, six months before her death from cancer. We were attending an outdoor wedding for mutual friends. Deb had discovered the benefit of marijuana in counteracting the constant nausea caused by the chemotherapy. Deb did not want to smoke alone, so I gladly joined her in sharing a joint on the shore of a lovely lake. I will always remember that afternoon and the time spent with an old friend.

I have no regrets, nor shame for that event, so please don’t have any for me.

Unfortunately, too may of the people in a position to set policy for the rest of us, hide or deny their own use or experimentation with marijuana. This is sad in light of the statistics regarding marijuana use in our country. According to the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 96.8 million Americans age 12 and older, have tried marijuana at least once in their lifetimes. This represents 40.2% of the age 12 and older population. Among college students, the Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that in 2004 18.9% of college students admitted to marijuana use within the past 30 days, with 33.3% reporting use within the past year and 49.1% within their lifetime. Among similar aged young adults not attending college, the statistics on marijuana use are comparable to those reported for college students. Obviously, these statistics demonstrate that a substantial portion of our young adults have tried or are using marijuana. The question thus becomes, are they all criminals? Unfortunately, our country’s misplaced “war on drugs” and “zero tolerance” has answered that question with a resounding “yes”.

According to the report “Incarcerated America”, published by the human right organization “Human Rights Watch”, over two million men and women are currently incarcerated. Although we hold ourselves out as the “land of the free”, the United States “incarcerates a higher percentage of its people than any other country.” Contrary to popular beliefs (perpetuated by the fear politicians attempt to install in us to mobilize support), the increase in our prison population is not attributable to any increase in violent crimes, which has held steady over the past two decades. Rather, the increase has been in non-violent, drug related crimes. Since 1980 the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses has increased twelvefold. Further, we should be alarmed by the disproportionate burden the “war on drugs” has had on our minority population. “Although blacks account for only 12 percent of the U.S. population, 44 percent of all prisoners in the United States are black”.

Drug Sense (www.drugsense.org), an organization committed to educating and debating the merits (or lack thereof), of our current drug policies, reports that over 1.68 million people will be arrested this year for drug offense, according to FBI estimates. A large portion of these arrests will be for marijuana. FBI statistics for 2005, estimate that 786,545 people were arrested for marijuana law violations, of which the vast majority, almost 90 percent, were for simple possession. Not only is there the tragic human costs (disrupting families, lost work and productivity, criminal records, etc.), the actual monies spent to fight the “war” is staggering. It is estimated that between the federal and state governments, over 50 billion dollars will be spent in 2006 directly related to enforcing drug laws. I suggest that, as a nation, we would be better off if a large portion of this money was spent treating drug addiction, educating our children and providing employment opportunities. This issue should at least be openly discussed and debated.

Similarly, we have taken a wrong approach to the use of alcohol by our youth. When I was in college, it was legal to drink “3.2 beer” (beer with an alcohol content not exceeding 3.2% by volume), from age 18 to 20. The effects of increasing the drinking age to 21 have been far reaching. In analyzing this issue, we must recognize the extent to which alcohol is being used by our youth. According to the Core survey, sixty-nine percent of college students under that age of 21 report using alcohol within the past 30 days and eighty-two percent admit to alcohol use within the past year.

By increasing the drinking age to 21, we have criminalized our youth. This instills in them disrespect for the law, as they have determined to ignore the law and drink anyway. Additionally, we have failed to teach them about drinking. We simply ignore the fact that they’re drinking alcohol and then turn them loose at age 21. By bringing back “3.2 beer” (or what ever percentage is determined appropriate), we would allow them to drink in a safer environment. From their standpoint, because it’s all illegal, what difference does it make whether they drink beer, wine or 151 proof rum. Either way, they are committing the same criminal offense – underage consumption of alcohol – a misdemeanor of the first degree. Thus, we have young adults consuming more potent forms of alcohol, with the consequences of excessive intoxication and alcohol poisoning.

For years I have been an advocate of bringing back 3.2 beer and lowering the drinking age to 19. Whether we agree on age 19 and beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent is irrelevant. The point is that this issue should be openly debated, and hopefully we will come to a better solution. Alternatively, we can continue with our current policies and accept that we have made our children criminals and placed them at greater risk from drinking more potent alcohol. Just as we debate other issues (abortion rights, stem cell research, the war in Iraq, illegal aliens and so many others), we must openly debate the failed effects of our drug and alcohol policies, particular towards our younger citizens.

Following Cary’s expulsion, I was given an opportunity (exactly one-half hour), to meet with President Lawry, Dean Williams, Richard Jurasek and Joyce Morrissey. In expressing my views, as set forth above, I found your administration less than receptive to discuss these issues. When I expressed my concern that they had chosen the most severe from of punishment (expulsion), I was rebuked in my categorizing expulsion as the “most severe” sanction. I was then advised that they could have turned the matter over to the local prosecutor’s office.

I was astonished that your administration would consider criminal prosecution an option. In response, I simply reminded your administration that possession of marijuana in an amount less than 100 grams is a minor misdemeanor in Ohio. Whereupon, Dr. Lawry asserted the charges could have been greater (apparently suggesting that the four students were engaged in trafficking). As a defense attorney, I can only state that such charges would be problematic. Under Ohio Revised Code section 2925.51, the state must preserve and test any illicit drug and provide defense counsel with both the test results and a sample of the drug for independent testing. If the state fails to comply with these requirements, the charges must be dismissed. But, more important than the obvious defenses, do you really believe that the four students, in sharing their marijuana with their fellow students and friends, were engaged in trafficking? Have we gone that far in criminalizing our youth? What about the hypocrisy this demonstrates. All of us who have smoked marijuana at some time in our past (and the numbers are substantial), acquired it from someone, maybe a friend or fellow student. Were they all criminals?

It is unfortunate that this matter has come to this conclusion. I know that Cary will not be returning to Antioch and that he misses the friends he made in his short time on campus. What happens at Antioch in the future is in the hands of the administration, staff and students. In writing this letter, it is my hope that the school’s policies will be critically reviewed and debated. Only then will Antioch resume its course as a “liberal” arts college. Our future is in the hands of our youth. It is my hope they pursue a future free from the intolerance and hypocrisy which we have shown them. I wish you all the very best in your future.

Jeffrey N. James, Esq.
email: jjnjames@aol.com
Lombardi, George & James, Ltd.
7 W. Bowery St., Ste. 507
Akron, Ohio 44308
Office: (330) 535-9655;
Cell: (330) 815-3063;
Fax: (330) 535-9921