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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 4. 21st March 1973


page 2


Letters header

A Comfortable Adolescent

Dear Sir,

Thanks to the article on Creative Adolescence in the last "Salient", I am now a mere youth once more. Fortune has smiled on me!

Imagine my previous state. Compelled to be always munching toffee apples I could never make more than brief sallies away from the corner dairy. How was I to be a student in those circumstances? And my mates used to laugh at me. Tension and frustration appeared to be my lot in life.

Now having read that wonderful article I rejoice in my regained adolescence. You see I have taken up T.M. or a form of it anyway. For like my mates I do it, not alone, but using any bird who happens along. Birds are so obliging.

Well, using these bits of skirt, I have made tremendous progress. Tension is gone, I am concerned about nothing and no one. In the past week I have been to two lectures, made the decision to throw out those crazy ideas of love and marriage, and am reading more comics than ever.

Such a great transformation you would hardly believe. So thanks to that nice group the I.M.S., Mr P. Ness and those easy birds, I remain as a comfortable adolescent....

Moose Brown

Military Cover Denied

Dear Sir,

I've spent six summers now looking at the rocks of the Transantarctic Mountains and so was rather distressed to learn [Wilkes writes to P.M., "Salient", March 14] that I, and a number of students at this university, have been participating in "basically a military exercise in polar warfare operations using "scientific support" as an excuse for cover". I don't know what goes on at Harewood, but I've spent a lot of time at McMurdo and Byrd Stations, wandered around the radio rooms there, been at flight scheduling sessions of VXE-6 squadron (which does the flying for the U.S. and N.Z. programmes there), and I have yet to see any activity that I could not relate to the scientific programme. True, the flight crews get experience in polar flying, but the Antarctic Treaty allows the use of military personnel for logistic support, as Mr Wilkes notes.

"Salient" and Mr Wilkes do not mention that the U.S. government has reduced the level of military support anyway, and that the U.S. Navy now operates under contract to the U.S. National Science Foundation. N.S.F. have looked into the feasibility of total civilian logistics, but, despite Mr Wilkes' casual comment, it is not easy to find a civilian organisation that can operate and maintain 4 ski-equipped Hercules aircraft and 6 helicopters on a regular schedule for 5 months of the year in Antarctica; each season build and maintain snow runways at McMurdo and two inland stations, and provide landing and navigational aids to international airport standards — and provide two ice-breakers and three transport ships, including a tanker, for three months in the summer all for $20,000,000.

As long as there is a military around this seems like one of the better ways of using it. It even gives us a chance to raise their level of consciousness.

Peter Barrett

Antarctic Research Unit Victoria University.

(We are grateful to Mr Barrett for his comments, but maintain that there is a solid body of evidence to indicate that the Americans are using 'Operation Deep-freeze' scientific research to cover up military activity.

We have fuller documentation in the Salient office to bear this out and we urge anyone interested to come in and see it. We regret that the length of the article is such that we cannot print it in full. —Eds)

Abortion & the US Supreme Court

Dear Sir,

The comments on the U.S. Supreme Court decisions on abortion in "Up From Under" (March 7 Salient) are misleading. The decisions legalize abortion "on demand" for six months of pregnancy throughout the U.S. It would be inaccurate to characterize the decisions as providing the states with an "escape hatch" for "reactionary" purposes. The sweeping character of the Court's decisions was designed to terminate litigation on this matter. The court does not wish to deal with the divisive, emotion-laden issue of abortion again. The decisions therefore are not intended to produce evasive legislation which would again be subject to legal challenge.

"Up From Under" notes that the right to abortion can now be exercised (under the Court's rulings) under "medically safe conditions". This consideration, a protective one, involves state intervention; an unqualified individual cannot terminate pregnancies without incurring criminal penalties, nor can inadequate facilities be utilized for these purposes. An individual who misled women about qualifications to conduct abortions would be in violation of the laws; caveat emptor and laissez faire are principles without application to the consumption of medical practice. The Supreme Court has granted to women the absolute right to abortions through the first six months of pregnancy. The States' intervention is limited solely to ensuring that medically safe conditions prevail, particularly during the middle trimester of pregnancy. Moreover, the decisions clearly obligate states to ensure that requests for abortion are met expeditiously since delay can alter the legal status of the women involved. It is likely that requests for abortions in the U.S. will be dealt with on a fairer, more closely supervised, more equal basis than any other matter involving medical care.

The opportunities available to women for early, safe abortions render unlikely requests for abortions beyond six months. The Court's decisions do not explicitly authorize the arbitrary prohibition of abortions during the final trimester; the judgements appear to anticipate that state statutes governing this period will erect safeguards around abortions carried out for medical reasons. The Court does not expect non-medically motivated abortions to be performed during these final three months. Few women would decide in their seventh, eighth, or ninth month to undergo an abortion, when safe, legal opportunities were available for the previous six months. The Court argued, however, that the foetus was viable at this point; consequently, a right to "potential life" becomes more real, and a decision to terminate pregnancy must hence be less casual, more restricted. This sensitivity to the unborn's life, resting on medical evidence and a controlled ethical sense, does not weaken the decisions, nor does it warrant a crusade.

The Court's rulings - which summary violates perhaps more than it elucidates — deal carefully, at great length, with the medical, legal, religious, historical, and ethical arguments and perspectives surrounding this important, fundamental problem. Those concerned with the complexities of abortion law reform should consult the Supreme Court's decisions (Doe et al v, Bolton, Attny-Gen. of G.A., et al; Roe et al v. Wade, D.A. of Dallas County; 22/1/73).

A less emotional approach to this issue in New Zealand, which would transcend the present repetitive debate, might centre on recommending to M.P's a careful reading of the Court's opinions. Their application to New Zealand would liberate mothers and fathers from the suffering involved in the trap of unwanted pregnancies, while ensuring that unborn children are not aborted arbitrarily or casually when capable of external life.

Dr Stephen Levine,

Lecturer in Political Science.

Majority Against Disruption?

Dear Roger & Peter,

I write to you on behalf of the Marxist Labour Group in connection with the article "Sectarian Sabotage" and the" editorial published in Salient on 7th March 1973.

You refer to the small number of persons who make up the aggregate national membership of The Socialist Action League and the Marxist Labour Group. You are, no doubt, approximately correct in estimating this at about 50. Is it, however particularly meaningful to contrast this number to the figure of 250 who recently attended a Wellington Hart meeting?

I suggest that there are other indicators which throw a different light on matters. At last year's National Anti-Apartheid Conference, the motion to oppose the Hart-Care non-violent disruption tactic was lost 126-73 (these figures are from memory and may be slightly out. Of the 73 who voted for the motion, 3 were M.L.G. members and, I estimate, 12 were S.A.L. members. On this basis, among activists, on the tour tactic question there would be 4 persons outside of the combined ranks of SAL—MLG, who agree with their policy for each one inside.

How do matters stand outside the activists on the suitability of the tactic?

A survey by a Teaching Fellow at Canterbury University Mr A.D. Paine, showed that 70% of those who opposed the tour were not in favour of the disruption tactic.

If this survey is valid, then it would seem that among the people who already oppose the tour and are hence disposed to some extent to follow the lead of anti-Tour organisations the tactic which Hart-Care proposes is unattractive.

M.L.G., as you say, does not wish to create an organisation which will run counter to the many excellent educational activities of Hart and Care, but seeks to open an organisational avenue for those who rightly or wrongly do not agree with the Hart-Care tactical approach re non-violent disruption. Seemingly, there would be many who are potential supporters. We hope to create a united-front organisation to reach them.

Photo of a stamp being licked

Yours fraternally

Hector MacNeill

Mrs Brown's Virtues

The Editor,

Relieved to see that someone has finally exposed the 'virtues' of Mrs Brown's Accommodation Service ('Salient' Wed 7th 1973).

The 'help' we received from Mrs Brown last year consisted of her visiting the flat we were anxious to move out of, and commenting that it was a terrible place for anybody to have to live in. Needless to say we did not get another flat through Mrs Brown's service.

I suggest that the service be investigated by Student Association and if need be Mrs Brown should be ousted from her sinecure and replaced by somebody who is willing to act on the behalf of students.

Dissatisfied Maureen Ward, 9 Wai-te-ata Rd, Kelburn.

A Christlike Reproof?

Dear Sir,

I would like to comment on a letter in last week's Salient (14/3/73) by Brent Ellis.

He was criticising a letter printed in the Salient on 7/3/73. Brent says that 'love thy neighbour', and 'tolerance' is nothing more than wankage, yet he maintains that he has thought about the christian dogma as he says earlier on in his letter.

Firstly I would suggest that he doesn't know a thing about Christianity except the word itself. And secondly he shows a hang-up on adolescence, for I quote:

"Finally — just because you grasped onto something that gives you a 'pious-trip' every Sunday, along with other boys and girls (lovely, so sweet and adolescent)".

He seems to think that church is a pretty and sweet place for boys and girls, but any deep-thinking person knows better. If Brent could try and grasp the idea that there are many intelligent and tolerant people in the church he would be better off, for his letter is written in great ignorance and shows just how intolerant he is.

Yours etc.

Nigel Williams.

P.S. — I am not the writer of the letter dated 7/3/73 that Brent criticised.

What We got in the Mailbox.

Dear Sir,

I cannot sit back passively and observe the good names of other men dragged in the mud, as has been done in the last edition of Salient over the Rotherham vs Lee case.

I am not making a comment on the incident of the 5th March, for I cannot be the judge, but I do wish to say something on the way in which the whole affair has been handled.

Every man has the right to a good name and every man must see to it that he respects the good name of other men. If this is not the case, what sort of society do you want? The difference between what is right and wrong would become of little consequence. Yes, I am writing in defence of a Principle, for which I make no apologies.

Whatever the act in question was, Mr Lee's right to a good name has been violated. I would call it straight out detraction, and the abuse of a human value. (Thrifty anti-racists would take this incident up as another example of the subtle forms which racism is taking in our "fair land".) It doesn't matter what was done, the varsity library was not the place from which to tell the world. It looks suspiciously to me like a crafty advertisement for the Hart organization, which, curiously enough, is devoted to the cause of oppressed human rights. Just where is your revolution leading to if, in the fight for a better life you abuse the rights of others?

If I am to be logical I must also complain about the editors comment which appeared after "a Malaysian student's" letter. You were equally as destructive of the standing of certain other men in our community. The Verbal Violence which was engaged upon, was the cause of much damage which is irreparable. This form of violence is far worse than any form of physical violence and equally more contemptible and ought to be dealt with in correspondingly stringent ways.

Yours etc.

M. Pervan

Turn to page 15 for more anti-Salient letters.