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Students defend work
Last Friday, we, writers of The Leek, the satirical page of Traverse City Central’s the Black & Gold, published an infographic describing in four steps how to “grind,” a controversial dance that has been commonplace in TCAPS schools but was recently banned.
We cannot stress enough that this graphic is satirical and in no way encourages the practice of grinding; rather, it entirely shames it. It uses hyperbole (step one states “locate victim’s hips and latch hold”) to express our belief that grinding is an inappropriate practice, especially in schools. It features one female student photoshopped dancing with herself -- purposefully avoiding any co-ed contact. Central students, our target audience, can recognize that both students pictured in the graphic are, in fact, the same person.
However, when local radio stations 106 KHQ and 104.5 Bob FM posted a picture of the graphic on Facebook, things got out of hand. They presented only a photo of the graphic without any context or our disclaimer, which affirms that The Leek is satirical.
This misrepresentation of the infographic victimized the students and their class adviser. It caused many disturbed adults to comment on how the graphic is unsuitable for a high school newspaper, one even suggesting that the students involved should be “flogged.”
Contrary to what critics have been saying, there was a rationale behind the graphic. It demonstrates how ridiculous and disgusting grinding can be, and attempts to enlighten students as to how many adults view grinding. As the practice has been banned at our school, it is not possible that students would interpret the graphic as condoning the dance.
If people think that what we did was inappropriate, good. If publishing this can open a dialogue about the place of grinding in youth culture, then we have done our job as satirists.
Scott Hardin & Alec Reznich • TC
Rough roads & TC
Michigan residents appear to agree that Michigan roads are in poor shape and in need of immediate improvement. What no-one can agree on is where we find the dollars to complete the task. To begin with, we should stop building new roads until we can maintain the roads we currently have.
Next, we need to embrace alternative transportation solutions as a means of using our roads less, thereby extending their usefulness; and only after exhausting all financing means from current taxation policies should we go to the public for the funds required to improve our roads. That means Lansing politicians must carefully review all expenses to ensure the public that Michigan cannot shift spending from other programs to assist in improving our roads.
The city of Traverse City after years of neglect, internally found the dollars needed to start required road improvements by carefully reducing other expenditures. One cannot assume the State has the same opportunity.
The Michigan Department of Transportation is doing their part in both curtailing new road construction and developing transportation alternatives. Before taxing more, the public must be assured that the legislature is not overfunding other programs such as higher education and prisons at the expense of our roads. If new funding is indeed required, we can no longer rely on regressive taxation to solve these issues.
The 2011 changes in Michigan tax policy recognized many of the inequities in the tax system which had too many breaks for retirees and an excessive taxation on small business. However Michigan missed the opportunity to establish progressive tax rates and the huge reduction in the earned income tax credit only served to advance regressive tax policy. The income disparity in Michigan households is widening at the same time that trips to food pantries are increasing at an alarming rate. Food pantry trips in Grand Traverse County have nearly double in the last five years and far too many of our newly created jobs actually pay little more than welfare. Yet our taxing policies on sales, assets and income do not consider ability to pay in the equation.
As the legislature explores new means of taxation to pay for road improvements they must expect that those of us (like myself) who drive newer, bigger and more expensive cars should pay a greater share of the cost than those who are already struggling to fillup their tanks just to get to work.
Mike Estes, Mayor • TC
Source of the sequester
In his 2/25 column, Steve Tuttle offers a reasonably fair-minded look at this sequester’s history. However, he asserts that Congress came up with “a law under which budget cuts and and tax increases will take place automatically absent a budget deal.”
However, in “Dragging Us Down With Them,” Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward wrote, “My extensive reporting for my book “The Price of Politics’” shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors.
“Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,” asserted Woodward. “They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved.”
Even White House spokesperson Jay Carney admitted that the sequester idea came from the White House. This deal is 19 months old. In truth, our legislators are doing exactly what their constituents want. Democratic electors want more spending, and the Republican electors want less spending.
Chuck Finley • via email