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ISSUE 118 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 4/15/2005

Ventura refreshingly candid

By Andrea Horbinski
Copy Editor

Friday, April 15, 2005

The 38th former governor of Minnesota walked into Boe Chapel April 4 sporting jeans, a ‘do-rag and a beard inspired by none other than Captain Jack Sparrow.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person in the crowd who was pleasantly surprised to hear Jesse Ventura offer political opinions which were well-reasoned and well-supported. Ventura said a lot of things which deserve to be said.

He warned his audience that “When I talk I’m a lot like a Grateful Dead concert” – and he wasn’t kidding. One of his speech’s central themes was the untrustworthiness of the media.

At one point, after calling members of the press “pedophiles,” Ventura also openly mocked the representatives of the local media who attended, saying, “I can’t wait to read the crap they write tomorrow.”

It’s unfortunate that Ventura possesses such an animus against reporters. While his reasons, grounded in personal experience, seemed valid – and it is certainly true that the American media is guilty both of abusing its power and of underutilizing it – the media is a necessary part of any democracy – particularly ours.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate … to prefer the latter.”

The media’s role of informing people is vital; if the press won’t do it, who else will?

Ventura also spoke about the First Amendment, noting that it seems as though “If you speak out or disagree [with the government] you’re unpatriotic. That’s hogwash.” He continued, “It’s a sign of strength!” He couldn’t be more right.

Not only are dissenters pesky reminders that only 51 percent of the country voted for our current president, dissent serves a far more important function in that the unfettered exchange of ideas is the cardinal virtue of democracy.

Only by hearing every viewpoint can citizens and representatives decide the best course of action. Moreover, if we lose the habit of disagreeing with the government, it becomes that much easier for the government to take away our opportunity to do so.

Ventura also noted that the first amendment, and the Constitution in general, was instituted to protect not popular, but unpopular, speech. “The Constitution should be there to protect rights, not take them away,” he said, earning another round of applause, and rightly so.

In this context, the recent talk of a “defense of marriage” amendment to the Constitution becomes even more disturbing. Ventura pointed out the absurdity of the label when he declared that, “I’m still trying [after being married for 30 years] to figure out how my marriage is under attack” when two gay people want to make a lifelong commitment to each other, “and I don’t even know them!”

Though many of Ventura’s opinions sounded like those of the Democratic party, one feels he would criticize anyone currently running the country, regardless of their political affiliation. Certainly, he never missed an opportunity to criticize both the Republicans and the Democrats, or as Ventura called them, the “‘Democrips’ and the ‘Rebloodlicans,’ [because] the only different between the Crips and Bloods [two gangs based in Los Angeles] is, these guys wear Brooks Brothers suits!”

Ventura also harangued both parties for their role in taking control of the presidential debates away from the League of Women Voters and putting it in the hands of the Federal Debate Commission in 1996, which handily ensured that no more third party candidates could participate.

Right again, for the exact same reason: Unpopular opinions must have the right to be said and to be heard.

At one point Ventura discussed the shootings on the Red Lake reservation, which he rightly called a tragedy, but he refused to say anything else.

After declaring, “I’ve got assault weapons,” he asserted that the second amendment “Has nothing to do with hunting and fishing,” but is there so we can defend ourselves against our government if it becomes oppressive.

Ventura is right about the history of the second amendment, but he’s wrong about gun control.

The truth is, if Uncle Sam comes after you, Uncle Sam will get you, no matter how many assault weapons you own; our country’s military superiority over just about anyone else – ourselves included – is a matter of record.

Since that’s so, there’s no reason assault weapons shouldn’t be banned. While the fault for the damage they do lies not with the weapons but with “the idiot that’s pulling the trigger,” if there’s no trigger for the idiot to pull, the idiot’s capacity for violence is greatly reduced, and ergo, so too is human suffering.

All in all, Ventura was a refreshing change from the dour, polished spin-meisters we see on C-Span and talk shows. If more politicians, like him, eschewed style for substance and spin for straight talk, I’m sure more people would take Ventura up on his final plea and, “Get involved!”

Copy Editor Andrea Horbinski is a sophomore from Marlton, N.J. She majors in classics and linguistics with a Japanese studies concentration.

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