The Behrend beacon. (Erie, Pa.) 1998-current, September 10, 1998, Image 4

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    page 4- The Behrend College Beacon. Thursday, September 3, 1998
The Behrend College Beacon
published weekly by the students of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
News Editor
Will Jordan
Photography Editor
Andrea Zarin()
Business Manager
Jaime Davis
Robert Speel
Jim O'Loughlin
Postal Information: The Beacon is
published weekly by the students of
Penn State Erie, The Behrend
College; First Floor, The J. Elmer
Reed Union Building, Station Road,
Erie, PA 16563. The Beacon can be
reached by calling (814) 898-6488 or
(814) 898-6019 (FAX). ISSN 1071-
Student Government is hold
ing elections for freshman senators in
the next couple of weeks. Petitions are
due on Monday for those positions.
The election of SGA senators caused
a lot of controversy last spring, and
the new senators are under pressure
to do a good job. For a new student,
the importance of SGA may not be
apparent. However, it is important to
understand that this is one of the stron
gest voices for students at Behrend.
The tremendous campaign of the fra
ternities and sororities to gain seats
proves the impact that SGA has on
SGA has an additional
twenty thousand dollars to distribute
to student organizations and supple
mental budget requests are due on
September 16. Organizations should
make use of these additional funds be
cause they are generated by the ac-
"Smart guns"
are a dumb
By Susan Glick
Special to the Los Angeles Times
Suddenly, everyone from gun con
trol advocates to big-city mayors to
the manufacturer of Colt firearms is
talking about using futuristic technol
ogy to make guns safer. Their idea is
to encourage the design and sale of
"personalized handguns" that can be
fired only by their owners. Ideas for
such guns include a computerized
chip that recognizes the handgun
owner's fingerprints and a radio tran
sponder that would detect a special
ring worn by the user.
Proponents argue that such technol
ogy, also known as a "smart gun,"
would stop the misuse of firearms by
children and render stolen weapons
useless. It certainly sounds promis
ing. Upon closer examination, how
ever, it becomes clear that smart guns
are a dumb idea.
Smart guns would have no impact
on the majority of gun deaths and in
juries in America. Suicide is the
nation's leading cause of firearm-re
lated death, but people can still shoot
themselves with their personalized
guns. The vast
majority of homicides, the second
leading cause of gun deaths in the
United States, take place between
people who know each other. Again,
personalization of weapons would
have a limited impact. Even in unin
tentional shootings, the category in
which the proponents of personaliza
tion see the greatest benefit, many
cases involve victims who are
wielding their own guns. So, even if
the technology worked perfectly, this
space-age gun would only live up to
its name in a small fraction of in
Statistics on firearm ownership re
veal another shortcoming to the smart
gun panacea. A Police Foundation
study published last year found that
while only one-quarter of American
adults owns a gun, 74 percent of these
owners have two or more guns. Fur
thermore, 68 percent of handgun
owners also own at least one rifle.
Therefore, smart guns would be ef
fective only if owners disposed of all
other firearms.
Finally, even if gun owners do re
place their current stockpile of hand
guns with personalized weapons, in
many cases they would simply be
exchanging one problem for another.
Editor in Chief
Anne Rajoue
Managing Editor
Ayodele Jones
Associate Editor
Mark Greenbank
Features Editor
Jon Stubbs
Layout Editor
Mike Perkins
Advertising Manager
Erin Edinger
Carey Smith
Letter _Policy: The Beacon
encourages letters to the editor.
Letters should include the address,
phone number, semester standing and
major of the writer. Writers can mail
their letters to
Letters must be received no later than
spm Tuesday for inclusion in that
week's issue.
tivity fee students are required to pay
in tuition costs. Student output is re
quired so that the money can be di
rected to student desires and wants:
without the input of the student body,
SGA won't know how to spend the
funds. To complain about the lack of
activities on campus and not attempt
to voice concerns at SGA meetings or
various other outlets for student fo
rums will no longer be warranted if
students choose not to participate.
SGA is a student based or
ganization that requires student sup
port, it is created for and by the stu
dents. Involvement from the entire
student body is needed. In fact, it is
required to fully represent views
across campus. Without student in
volvement, we are left without our
concerns being addressed and our
voices being heard.
The Police Foundation survey found
that more than 77 percent of hand
guns now possessed by private indi
viduals hold fewer than 10 rounds of
ammunition, reflecting the fact that
most of these handguns are revolv
ers. Because most guns produced to
day are larger-caliber pistols with 10-
round magazines, gun owners who
switch to personalized guns would
generally obtain a pistol of greater
firepower and capacity. Widespread
purchase of smart guns might, there
fore, greatly increase the lethality of
the nation's private gun stock.
This potential for customers to
"trade up" caught the eye of Ronald
Stewart, the president of Colt's
Manufacturing Inc., the famous fire
arm producer. Stewart has broken
ranks with the rest of the gun indus
try to pursue this new technology.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Depart
ment has
awarded his company $500,000 to
develop a smart gun prototype.
Stewart came to Colt in 1996 after
22 years at Chrysler. This month, he
will be replaced by Steven Sliwa, a
former software executive and presi
dent of Embry-Riddle University . in
Florida. Both men are business pro
fessionals, not pro-gun zealots. With
their fresh perspectives, they under
stand what their more narrow-minded
firearms industry colleagues missed:
Smart guns are smart business.
According to a 1997 survey spon
sored by the Johns Hopkins Center
on Gun Policy and Research, 35 per
cent of people who said they were
unlikely to buy a gun in the future also
said they would consider buying a
handgun if it were personalized.
Packaged with a slick sales pitch, new
technology will create a false sense
of security among consumers and
boost stagnant handgun sales.
Instead of distracting ourselves
with gee-whiz technology that is
years away from fruition, we should
address the real issue now. Guns are
exempt from every federal health,
safety and consumer protection law.
If handguns were held to the same
standards as every other consumer
product in America, they would likely
be banned, not "personalized." En
forcing such tough safety standards
may not sound as glamorous or as
easy as building James Bond weap
ons, but it would certainly save more
Is justice truly blind?
Laws are designed to ensure the
safety of its citizens and protect them
from the behaviors and actions of
undesirables in society. When these
laws are broken, consequences must
follow, usually in the form of fines
and imprisonment. Through our ju
dicial and legislative systems, crimi
nals are reprimanded for unruly be
havior, and justice is sought for those
victimized by these actions. Depen
dent on the crime committed, punish
ment is rendered, and whether or not
the punishment fits the crime is an
issue many question.
Will Foster, a 39 year old father of
one, was sentenced to ninety-three
years in prison because he was found
guilty of cultivating marijuana in the
basement of his Tulsa, Oklahoma,
home. He received seventy years for
the cultivation of marijuana, twenty
years for possession in the presence
of a child and three years for supple
mental charges. The sentence was
Critics distort
perception of
Gay Lifestyle
By Martha Knox
The Lantern (Ohio State University)
All Americans can now thank Sen
ate Majority Leader Trent Lott for
opening the flood gates to yet more
prejudice in this country. For those
who aren't aware, Lott made a state
ment in which he referred to homo
sexuality as a disorder comparable
with alcoholism.
Appearing in the New York Times,
the Washington Post, and USA To
day were countless advertisements
calling for gays to seek help for their
"problem," and accusing gay activ
ists of using their influence to turn
American children homosexual.
These ads reminded me of a Chris
tian film I watched called "The Gay
Agenda" that was shown last quarter
by Ohio State's Bisexual, Gay and
Lesbian Alliance in a presentation
called "Images of Hate." In the film,
former gay Christians, who had
sought help and become either celi
bate or straight, were interviewed,
"proving" homosexuality was a
choice and curable. All this was de
spite years of medical research op
posing that claim and the word of the
American Psychiatric Association.
Finally, it is ridiculous to claim that
what worked for one person will work
for someone else. The film mostly
focused on the so-called "agenda" of
gay activists. It grossly misquoted a
famous activist, entirely changing the
meaning of his statement and made
The 0 rdina
Lack of resources for on-
campus computer users
Have you had trouble getting a
computer in any of the labs on cam
pus? Have you had to stand in long
lines just to type up a quick paper
or check your email? Well, you are
not alone. With a push to incorpo
rate technology into education,
Behrend is seemingly stretched to
the limits when it comes to serving
on campus computer needs for the
ordinary college student. With the
large number of students still living
in temporary housing, Behrend can
not serve all those who wish to uti
lize the computer facilities.
Even though there are computer
labs at both ends of campus, we
might as well not have them at all.
While lines at all computer labs are
not yet too bad, the situation will
continue to deteriorate. In terms of
accessibility the library lab is almost
impossible to use. Every semester
it seems that by midterm about four
to seven of the computers in that
particular lab are either broken or
reserved. In a large lab this would
not be a problem, but with the li
brary lab only consisting of about
rendered by the twelve citizens who
also convicted him. Foster alleges
that he was growing the marijuana for
medicinal uses; he suffers from the
debilitating disease of rheumatoid
arthritis. Unable to seek alleviation
from prescribed pain killers, Foster,
under the recommendation of a doc
tor, used marijuana to provide relief
from his swollen joints and aches.
Although I do not advocate the legal
ization of marijuana, I don't think that
Foster's behavior (although illegal)
warrants the punishment he received,
nearly a century in prison.
In this case the punishment clearly
does not fit the crime. Foster was
victimized twice; once by this crip
pling disease and again by the very
system that is supposed to support
and protect its citizens. Whether or
not Foster was truthfully growing
marijuana for medicinal use no longer
matters; ninety-three years is a ridicu
lous amount of time to sentence a
him out to be an angry child molester.
The film's narrator proclaimed that
gay activists were fighting to lower
the age of consent, while simulta
neously filming a naked infant girl on
a man's shoulders.
In actuality, gay activists are only
trying to make the age of consent for
homosexual activity the same as het
erosexual activity, which it is not in
many states.
These manipulative tactics and
veiled messages of hate which make
homosexuals out to be frustrated
pedophiles are too prevalent to be
excused as mere oversight or igno
rance. This is a case of paranoia about
gays entering mainstream American
culture. These are people afraid of the
lesbian couple moving in next door,
Colle !e Student
thirty-two computers this makes for
long waiting lines and frustration.
At the other end of campus the prob
lems continue. Many faculty and staff
members encourage computer use and
Even though sched
ules are posted it
seems that the labs
are always filled ev
ery day.
have to use the labs in Hammermill.
This obviously creates a problem be
cause how can a student get into one
of the labs to do any work when the
labs are filled with classes in session?
Even though schedules are posted it
seems that the labs are always filled
every day. It is extremely frustrating
when you have to complete a project
and see that pink "Class In Session"
sign taped to the door of the
Hammermill labs.
It is understandable that faculty
ORMit 4 lit Thcast
or lat usism`9os,s
person for the possession of an out
lawed substance when countless
numbers of murderers, rapists and
child molesters only receive a frac
tion of Foster's prison time or even
go free.
The "prom-mom" in New Jersey
who admitted to the strangulation of
her newborn child in a bathroom at
the prom and then returned to request
a favorite song from the DJ is still out
on bail pending her sentencing for
which she will probably have to do
minimal time. Amy Grossberg and
her boyfriend killed their newborn
and then threw him in a motel
dumpster and yet she received only
two and a half years while her boy
friend got two years. Is the posses
sion of an outlawed substance re
garded with more importance than
that of human life?
I believe in the scales of justice but
when violent offenders plea bargain
and obtain less prison time than those
or a gay English teacher in their
schools. They do not want gay
lifestyles to improve or become dig
nified and socially accepted. They
want children to continue using slan
derous insults towards gays. They
wish to keep gays exiled to the closet
of shame, secrecy and degradation.
We should be careful not to blame
the Republican party for Lott's state
ments. Republicans do not suffer as
a whole from this extreme homopho
bia, shown by groups like Log Cabin
Club, a gay Republican organization.
Nor should be blamed Christians as
a whole, shown by groups like the
Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay
Those endorsing the ads are spe
cific fundamentalist Christian orga
members have no where else to go,
but how can a student type up a pa
per, or work on their resume when
they can not gain access to a com
puter? It is a travesty in our techno
logical age that at any given time, a
student cannot get on a computer
somewhere, at any point during the
day. I'm not talking about playing
around on the Internet or sending
emails either, but to type up a paper is
becoming nearly impossible. Sure, a
student can go late at night to the labs,
provided they don't have an early
class, or that the rest of the campus
isn't there hurrying to get work done
Yes, all on campus living areas are
computer accessible, and that is a great
benefit to those with computers. Un
fortunately not every ordinary college
student can afford a computer or is
able to bring one from home. Better
measures need to be taken to assist
those who rely upon campus computer
labs. Just last year a special computer
lab was established in Lawrence Hall
for the Psychology department. Sign
up sheets were posted on the door for
found guilty of possessing narcotics,
the system must be rectified. The
criminals who receive minimal time
tend to repeat their crimes without
ever fully repaying their debt to soci
ety. I am fully aware that our prison
system is not one that can fully reha
bilitate those who are "socially un
fit," regardless they must repay their
debt to society, and that can not be
fulfilled if criminals are continually
being sentenced to a minimal amount
of prison time. Serving two years in
a minimum security penitentiary for
manslaughter and homicide is in great
contrast to serving ninety-three years
for possession of marijuana. When
will this hypocrisy stop and the judi
cial and legislative systems start mak
ing criminals take responsibility for
their socially unacceptable actions,
instead of having them spend "vaca
tion" time in "Club Fed.?"
Jones is Managing Editor of The Bea
con. Her column will appear every
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nizations, such as the Christian Coa
lition, the American Family Associa
tion and Family Research Counsel.
These groups, which do not speak for
the majority, have proven to have
much influence and power.
I worry when a Senate majority
leader can publicly denounce homo
sexuals and get away with it. I also
worry when the largest and most re
spected newspapers in the country
run these type of ads.
To end on a happier note, I remem
ber a gay activist saying once that the
religious right is actually the gay
rights movement's best ally, in that
without the publicity it has stirred for
gay issues, the movement would have
never gotten so ahead, so quickly. So
those Psychology majors who wished
to reserve a computer. Having lived
in that building the largest number of
people I ever saw in that lab was four.
There are about twelve computers in
that lab. Many times the people in the
lab were playing games on the com
To relieve some of the frustrations
in other computer areas perhaps stu
dents could be granted access to this
Lawrence lab. Also maybe some sort
of sign up system could be used to
reserve computers.
With the expansion plans for our
campus and a move to increase on
campus residency to about 5,000 stu
dents, newer and larger labs will have
to be added. In the meantime, the
present facilities to accommodate stu
dents is completely unacceptable. It
seems that those ordinary college stu
dents who wish to use on-campus
computer labs will have to continue
to wait in lines and fight the crowds.
Greenbank is associate editor of The
Beacon. His column will appear ev
ery three weeks.