Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Books · Fraternity Hazing gets your Goat
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Fraternity Hazing gets your Goat

Nancy Sundstrom - February 26th, 2004
The latest in this genre is Brad Land‘s “Goat,“ a searing and unforgettable
tale of fraternity hazing that is as hard to put down as an accident is to
look away from. It‘s also an astonishing debut that is filled with power and
passion and pain as it spins a cautionary tale about fraternities and the
tragic consequences that sometimes accompany the need to belong and be
accepted. No wonder other authors like Burroughs, Susan Orlean and Lorenzo
Carceterra (“Sleepers“) are raving.
About to begin his sophomore year of college, Land is a trusting and
slightly naive 20-year-old who is still dealing with the aftereffects of an
assault where two strangers he gave a ride to robbed, beat and kidnapped
him. The local police aren‘t exactly helpful in assisting Land, though his
assailants are later arrested. Through it all, Land tries to move his life
forward and in so doing, leans on his younger, self-centered brother, Brett,
who proves to be about as much of an ally as the cops were. When Brett
leaves for Clemson and joins a fraternity, Kappa Sigma, Brad follows,
believing it will help him start anew.
Early in Goat,“ he recounts what life was like on campus:

“This is how it goes:
We‘re getting floored at a beginning-of-the-semester party. Me, my younger
brother Brett, these three people we came with. At this old fraternity
house. Two stories with a big front porch and a backyard with a chain-link
Brett‘s on the porch standing next to me. People moving all over the place.
Like cells. Everything pulsing. All sweat and smoke. The house is breathing.
These two girls come up. Just stand there looking us over. One of the girls
looks at Brett like she loves him already. She‘s short and has long hair
pulled into a ponytail. Legs all muscled like a soccer player‘s. She‘s
wearing a Zeppelin T-shirt with a hole beneath the neck cuff. The other
girl‘s standing beside her all bucktoothed and shaky. Got a tattoo on her
left shoulder blade. Something swirled and tribal. Her arms crossed. I give
her a smoke and she nods, cups one hand around the lighter I hold out and I
can tell she‘s drunk by the way her eyes wobble, the way she squints them
against the porch lights. The other girl rubs the shaky one‘s back, runs her
hand down and pauses in the bare patch of skin between her jeans and top.
The shaky girl looks her over and smiles. Brett tells them to kiss. They
look at each other and laugh and then the shaky girl moves toward the other
one, puts a hand around her waist and holds the cigarette out to the side.
Her tongue‘s out and inside the other‘s mouth and they lock together, wet
cheeks pulsing with the overhead light. The shaky one steps back and pulls
on the smoke, exhales and looks at Brett.
I‘m staring at the two girls and the shaky girl asks if that was okay, and Brett says yeah that was cool, and I nod, say yeah good, and then Brett says do it again and they just laugh.
The short girl says you don‘t even know us and Brett says so and cocks back
his beer. When he brings it down, she takes the beer from Brett and drinks.
Hands it back. And now the shaky girl looks at me like she knows something
about me with my skinny arms and black hair all matted from the hot air
outside. Brett‘s talking to the short girl and I don‘t know what to say with
this shaky one staring at me. The short one leans, whispers in her friend‘s
ear. They turn and walk away.
Brett tells me they want us to come over later.
I nod like it‘s standard.
School‘s two days away, and for both Brett and me, it‘s the whole
college-in-the-same-town-you-went-to-high-school-in thing. It‘ll be my
second year, Brett‘s first, and right now I‘m not too happy with this small
liberal arts school because it‘s backward and I went to high school with
most everyone there, but for right now, just right now, it‘s okay because my
brother‘s here.
I couldn‘t hack school last year at another college because I was lonely and
I failed most everything. I tell everyone it was from the drugs or the
alcohol but the truth is I was just lonely and cried all the time and lived
in an old house with lots of dust.“

Desperate to belong, Land subjects himself to barbaric hazing rituals that
only serve to deepen the humiliation and phobias associated with his
abduction. As a new pledge, or “goat,“ Land accepts the abuse until pushed
to a point where he challenges the frat group‘s mentality and the
sublimation of his own will to violence. It is the death of another goat
after an especially brutal round of hazing that pushes Land away from the
life he has fought to be a part of, and the act is his first real step in
healing and redemption.
In “A Streetcar Named Desire,“ Tennessee Williams wrote that “Deliberate
cruelty is not forgivable,“ and that sentiment rings throughout this book.
The violence is jarring, but never gratuitous, and Land has a fresh, hip,
often funny style that serves to lighten the material when it is very much
in need of it. Like James Frey, he plays with language and grammar (there
are no quotation marks), and while it can sometimes be annoying, it also
doesn‘t diminish the power of this coming-of-age tale. Like Land‘s journey
itself, this is tough-going in parts, but the knowledge gleaned makes it
well worth it, particularly for male readers.
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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