Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Separation of church, state draws 'fuzzy' line in practice

As an alumnus I have the privilege to enjoy from afar the debates that occur on campus. Recently I enjoyed the opinion piece by Silas Montgomery, however I was a little disappointed at some of the responses it received for their lack of constitutional awareness. I am also a second-year law student at Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago. As such, I feel compelled to correct a misunderstanding that was fairly well represented in the letters published on Friday.

Regarding, Jefferson's (in)famous uttering of the "separation of church and state," it is simply incorrect to somehow presume that this phrase is synonymous with the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The problem is that the phrase draws a clear line between the public sphere and the private, a line that is remarkably fuzzy in legal history, scholarship and practice.

For example, in June, the Supreme Court ruled that a public display of two framed copies of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky was unconstitutional, but a giant 6-foot granite monument of the Ten Commandments in Texas was acceptable. Both decisions were split 5-4. Go figure. Justice Scalia, writing the dissent in the Kentucky decision, noted that ruling against the display of the Ten Commandments "ratchets up this court's hostility to religion." It seems Mr. Montgomery is in prestigious company when he gets a sense of religious persecution.

Finally, Mr. Montgomery did not mention one aspect of the Tijeras case. The tiny cross on the town seal is joined by an American Indian religious symbol as well as a conquistador's helmet. Because these symbols are clearly part of a larger historical display of Tijeras' origins, the town has a constitutional right to keep the cross where it is.

I encourage any skeptics of this argument to go ask my excellent colleagues at the James E. Rogers College of Law to elaborate more fully. And while you're asking questions, you might ask one more: If the ACLU is concerned with the establishment of any religion and is not targeting Christianity in particular, why did they only sue to remove the cross and not the American Indian religious symbol? Personally, I think they both should stay.

Joshua Montgomery
UA alumnus

'Conspiracy theory' label undermines reasonable ideas

I have to say that Michael William's letter to the editor ("Anti-war activists rely too much on conspiracy theories") was cleverly done. I'm sure he knew that labeling something a "conspiracy theory" is a great ploy to try to delegitimize issues deduced from reason. I'm sure he knew that south Vietnam under Diem was incredibly oppressive and contributed actively to America's often indiscriminate use of carpet bombing, village raids and chemical agent use that resulted in more than 1 million Vietnamese deaths.

I'm sure Mr. Williams was also aware that Ho Chi Minh's atrocities during that time did not have to equal that of the country's invading force as well as its puppet government installed to the south because he already won the country's hearts and minds. I'm sure Mr. Williams was already aware that we supported Pol Pot as a counter to Vietnam's unstable borders during the war.

I'm also sure he was aware that Saddam was recruited by the U.S. to initiate a war with Iran, a former client state that we lost control of in 1979. I'm sure he knew this cooperation continued until 1990, during Saddam's genocidal campaigns. I'm sure he knew that from 1980 to the early 1990s, Turkey destroyed more than 3,000 Kurdish villages, created millions of refugees and killed tens of thousands (this indicating, among other circumstances, double standards).

I'm sure Mr. Williams deduced our involvement in the Middle East as strategic. I'm also quite positive Mr. Williams knew that hierarchical societies are not synonymous with socialism. At least I assume he understood this and was being cleverly sarcastic. I hope so, or else his rhetoric about reason could be mocked, provoking discussion that standards need to be raised for future UA alumni.

Charles Hertenstein
economics sophomore

Not saying no not the equivalent of sexual consent

In response to the article "Two Students Report Assaults" on Oct. 14, I am shocked that the University of Arizona Police Department did not encourage the sexually violated students to press charges against their assailants.

Arizona state law ARS 13-1406 clearly states, "A person commits sexual assault by intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact with any person without consent of such person." The law does not state that the victim must protest or fight back in order for it to be considered rape. In fact, ARS 13-1401 defines someone who is under the influence of alcohol as incapable of giving consent to sex.

This battle is very close to my heart because during my undergraduate studies, a friend of mine was raped by an acquaintance while passed out drunk. The police at that university discouraged her from pressing charges for the very same reasons as described in this article.

Drinking with someone to the point of intoxication is not a license to have sex with them. I am devastated that five years later, we still fail to support the victims of these crimes in seeking justice. The UAPD should worry less about the difficulty of prosecuting the offenders and more about following the Arizona state law. Men should be made aware that not saying no, especially while drunk, is not the same as saying yes.

Lucy Blaney
Latin American studies graduate student