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Cedar Rapids Gazette Newspaper Archive: May 22, 1974 - Page 6

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Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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   Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - May 22, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa                                Fighting back against tell-all computers Editorial Page May 22, 1974 Slapping down ransom? PROMPTED BY the sickening Hearst case and a plague of other big-splash kidnapings late- ly, a bill to prohibit the payment of ransom has gone into the mill for congressional study. It has early earmarks of a cure that makes the illness worse. The argument for anti-ransom legislation is that a criminal would be slower to act on kidnap plans when he knows the victim's family can't legally pay off. Sup- posedly the lower prospect of reward would cancel some of the crimes that people now commit, expecting heavy hauls of loot. Realistically, the chances are that seldom will a shrewd criminal mind accommodate that hope. A no-pay law, if anything, might actually encourage rather than deter. Families overwhel- mingly concerned with getting back a loved one would be forced to disregard police entirely, make the deal alone and lose the help that law enforcement agents now provide. The seasoned criminal will sense this leverage and exploit it, not lay off. A law that regulates the victims of a crime (ransom payers) so that they too criminally break a law by yielding to such a threat also goes against the principles of simple justice. On top of that, most kidnaped persons' chances for release unhurt would not improve one bit thereby. The ran- som-ban idea should be dropped. Another possible response to kidnap-wave activity, however, does deserve consideration now by congress. This is a proposal to prohibit by federal law the accep- tance of money or goods known to be a ransom payment. The gobbled-up food handout in the Hearst case brought it up. Already an item of federal law (title 18, section 1201 of the U.S. Code) provides: Whoever receives, possesses or dis- poses of any money or any other property, or any portion thereof, which has at any time been delivered as ran- som or reward in connection with viola- tion of sec. 1201 of this title (kidnap- knowing the same to be money or property which has been at any time delivered as such ransom or reward, shall be fined not more than or imprisoned not more than 10 years or both. North Carolina's Senator Helms at one point queried Attorney General Saxbe as to whether this statute could cover the Hearst giveway. If Saxbe answered, the response seems inconclusive. But if it is right under the law as it stands for outsiders to accept and use kidnap loot at somebody else's expense, by any respectable standard of justice it is still wrong to profit that way from a crime. The law should make this clear beyond a doubt, without delay. Stimulating the arts {S PART of a seed-money ven- ture being launched nation- wide by the new Associated Coun- cils of the Arts, the Cedar Rapids-Marion Fine Arts Coun- cil's head man reportedly is plan- ning to mail-solicit the contribution from about 100 people in this area. That sounds like a fine idea, except for one thing: The oppor- tunity to join as "advocates of the arts" should go to possibly ten times as many people here. As Executive Director Dave Spatola rightly observes, Cedar Rapids has developed an out- standing cultural climate for a community of this size. Atten- dance and participation both are on the rise for many activities of- fered by arts-related groups: con- certs, art exhibits and fairs, thea- trical and dance performances the whole fine arts gamut. Good qualities of life, in terms of sheer enjoyment and appreciation on the part of thousands who partake, accordingly have grown impres- sively in recent years. The newly organized support campaign for this sort of movement nationally can only enhance programs gaining Comediennes' problem strength in our own front yard. Considering the modest input be- ing asked, it would seem possible to top the hundred-level many times among the patron-rosters alone of the Art Association, Cedar Rapids Symphony, Com- munity Concerts program, Com- munity theater clientele and allied cultural strongholds. If local interest in the national approach can reach the scale that underlying cultural enthusiasm seems to show, in fact, a strictly local contributive venture encom- passing all the arts might well run parallel to that. A small-gift op- portunity that taps the potential obviously here could take long steps toward the universal arts objectives of better and more. Isn't it the truth? By Carl Riblut, jr. We sin, and the preachers tell us that we aren't sorry enough because we in- variably go and sin some more. Making regrets for a bad or -naughty deed is something like the pain we get From striking the crazy bone in our elbow sharp and short. 'The best part of repentance h the sinning." proverb InlerOccon Press Svndicote ly-funny lib-out? By Don Oakley AS IF THEY didn't have enough In answer for already, male chauvinists are responsible for something else the fact that female comics have to play the role of ugly ducklings in order to get laughs. So claims one woman who has made a study of the situation. The leading comediennes "base much ol their material on the premise that they are unattractive women, although in fact none of them is ugly." writes author Ann N'ietzke in Human Behavior magazine. By contrast, male comics don't have to be concerned about their appearances, she says. They can go on and on about how ugly their wives or girlfriends are, just as if they themselves were handsome prizes, but the comediennes have to make themselves as unattractive as pos- sible or talk about themselves as if they were the homeliest creatures in the world who can't get or hold a man. When and if "women become liberated from matrimony as a central goal of their existence." says Ms. much of the material uf the comediennes will become irrelevant. This is probably true, and the funny girls had best make hay while the male chauvinist sun shines. Just about everyone today agrees that the goal of the feminist liberation movement should be In free women from cultural stereotypes and give them the right to choose lo marry or not marry, to pursue a career or not pursue a career, to have children or not have children and not have lo apologize to it. One thing Ihe critics of male domina- tion tend tu overlook, however, is the fad that men are even more biologically locked into their traditional roles than are women. Sure, they can choose to be truck drivers or business executives and maybe, in the future, they can even choose to be "househusbands." But until such lime as medical science enables mules lo bear children, there will never be such a thing as true oqualily of choice between the sexes. Until that day arrives, laughing at "ugly" comediennes may he one of I hi; few remaining prerogatives men will have. By Tom Wicker OTOCKHOUI If Richard Nixon lived O in Sweden, the (ruth about his lax deductions and payments would have been known as sunn as he filed his return. By tradition and law. just about every, public document here is open to anyone who wants to see it, whether it concerns him or not. That is one reason why the Swedish government is pushing ahead with a unique plan to control computer data banks. The tapes, discs and other exotic equipment by which data can be stored in computers are now considered "documents" by Swedish courts. Com- puters, moreover, are as common as aquavit and almost as powerful, in this country of skilled technology and social programs. Imagine what a godsend the computer revolution must have been to the health service agency that has to keep records on sick pay and other benefits for vir- tually every one of the S.I million Swedes. And since aggressive Swedish businessmen can get these "documents" from the government just for the asking, private computer registers have proliferated, too. Serialized Sweden and the computer were made fur each other in another way the per- sonal number that every Swede acquires at birth thereafter identifies him on everything from signed dinner tabs to his most important transactions. These numbers make it a simple matter to cross-reference any number of computer registers and compile a mass of detail on any Swede in fact, on practically all Swedes. Nobody seemed to be paying much at- tention until 1970 the year the national census was fully computerized and the government announced that the taped records would be sold to anyone who wanted to buy. That created something of an uproar, just as proposals were being made in parliament for the big brother of them all a single national computer register to compile and keep updated all available data on every citizen. Parliament finally backed away from thai one and created, instead, a commission to look into the matter of personal registers and the threat to privacy. The best estimates are that there may already be as many as to personal registers, public and private, in operation in Sweden. Some estimates run up to taking into account, say, every businessman's payroll that may be handled by computer. That, of course, is a form of data register or data bank; so is a newspaper's circulation list, if it is stored in a computer. Most registers, by themselves, are not a threat to anyone, or even a nuisance; but if all the data on them all were com- bined in a master regjster, no one can be sure what consequences might follow. The idea of privacy mighl well disap- pear. Some of the Swedish registers already are massive, and not just those of the government social agencies. The tax authority has a mass of data on every Swede's income and wealth. Direct mail advertisers can flood the country with a mailing, or pinpoint widowers without dependents, or pubescent girls, or people with hearing problems or flat feet. Some officials worry thai a foreign power could make shrewd use of a computer list of, say, retired military men with heavy divorce payments to make. Wo fcfi dogging Last July, as the first result of the parliamentary committee's report, a Data Inspection Board was created. On July 1 of this year, it will assume sweeping powers over privately owned personal registers and strong advisory responsibilities to government registers. The board will administer what is believed here to lie the first national law- governing the application of automatic data processing lo personal information. Its first task will be to register, inspect and license existing "personal registers" any index, list or other notes stored in a computer and containing personal data about identifiable people. Tom Wicker After July I, anyone wauling to es- tablish a new personal register will have lo be licensed by the data board. Both for existing and new registers, the board will be entitled to issue strong directives as lo how the register may be used, what data may be collected, who can have access lo it, whether persons registered in the file must be informed, and how data musl be stored, weeded nut and safeguarded. The law inundates complete access for the board lo any personal register, and even allows Ihe board In deny Ihe es- tablishment of a register, or to order one closed. Some of the other provisions of Ihe Swedish data ticl are as follows- Only government agencies so em- powered by law can collect data on criminal records, psychiatric records, diseases or alcoholism, reception of social welfare benefits. Churches and political parties can keep IMS ol their members; otherwise, religious and political affiliations may nut lie listed in any regiMer. Individuals may inspect their own files in any register on demand once a year, force corrections of inaccuracies or incomplete data and collect minify damages for any injury done them by the circulation inaccurate incomplete mfdntuutot! The data board will designate a "responsible keeper" for any personal lady rides again register. The keeper will be liable lo criminal charges if he violates Ihe rules laid down for his register for example, jf he supplies information lo anyone he has reason in suspect will use it illegally If a register is lo be closed, the data board will decide what lo do wilh the in- formation il contains. With its right "f inspection, the data board also can act as a sort of ombuds- man for complaining citizens, and has great power lo order redress of legi- timate grievances and complaints Government cloud All this applies with force unusual in Swedish law to privately owned personal registers the massive ones, for in- stance, now upended by direct mail and advertising firms. It is not so clear what powers the hoard has in relation to government registers, which are the biggest anil perhaps the most dangerous potentially. The hoard can inspect government registers and make recommendations; it must be "consulted" before new govern- ment registers are established. But it cannut direct other government agencies and force compliance. (iiven the general civility of Swedish institutions, however, and parliament's declared interest in controlling excesses in personal data processing, officials believe the dala board will have great impact on government-register opera- tions. At least Sweden is making a start in a field withot real precedent. The United Stales and most other computer coun- tries are jusl beginning lo study the problem. People's forum Doctors' Iming To the Editor: I would like to comment on Joyce Ileisler's letler (Forum, May Although 1 can understand her irritation upon having to wait in her doctor's office, I feel there is another side lo Ihe problem. I believe that she, as well as many others who tend to be impatient, fail to realize that scheduling in a doctor's of- fice is very difficult, ft takes only one or two emergency-type situations to easily throw scheduling off for an hour or more, and this does not include time scheduled for simple problems which when checked by the doctor are found lo be more complex. 1 don't believe anyone involved in the situation is at all happy when things are running way behind schedule, but if this is the case there are always valid reasons in the office of a busy doctor. There are simply more people to be seen than there are time slots in the day, and her case is a perfect example of how this can hap- pen. An illness which arises suddenly and needs immediate attention should not be put off. It is a good doctor's office in which people in this type of situa-tion are not put off for days so that it will he more convenient. I'm sure her case and situation was very likely not the only extra case her doctor worked in thai day because im- mediate attention was needed, even if it meant that he had to run a little faster to get it all done and thai he would mosl likely eal supper hours later at the end of a busy day. I think he and many other fine doctors in Cedar Rapids are lo be commended for taking time to make certain their pa- tients get proper care when they need it. Kalhy Peoples 1010 Tenth street SVV Symbolic To the Editor: One of the most basic and vital con- cepts of a democratic society is freedom of speech and of the press. Taken for granlcd and often abused, this freedom has nonetheless been of immeasurable value in-propagating our system of government. Like any powerful tool, il is extremely beneficial when used constructively. However, when it is used to defame and vilify the President of the United Stales, it can be just as powerful a tool in un- dermining the very system il has helped build. Mosl of what has been reported on Walergate is faclual and unbiased cri- ticism of the transgressions by our President. His ability to effectively govern our country has been eroded to the point where resignation or impeach- ment now seem justified. However, he still represents the highest arid most powerful office, in America and is not a buffoon who should be subjected lo open vituperation by the press, television, and sick cartoonists and comedians. The connotations involved go beyond the misdeeds of President Nixon. They reflect portentously on the dignity and esteem of the office itself. The leader of any country can be superseded, but it is the office which is symbolic of the system and this symbol will live on long after the man himself is gone. Dave Bradley 2131 Blairs Ferry road NE Clairvoyance on campus comprehended well By William F. Buckley, jr. IS THERE A greater joy nil earth than the 19-year-old who sees things as they are, writes about them wilh the quiet authority of a professional, and seasons his commentary with the wit and urbanity of the humanist? The following came in as a letter from a sophomore at Yale university. I com- mend it to all who despair of .American youth, and the author. Richard Brookhisor. to editors looking for writers from the class of 0 How glad 1 was to see you phi the liberal label on Shockley. When 1 first started thinking of Shockley as a liberal, it seemed like little more than a clever and infuriating paradox; but now I'm convinced there's nothing paradoxical about it. Let Shockley speak for himself: "The voting citizens of the United States can and should endeavor to make their government formulate programs so that every baby born has high probability of leading a dignified, rewarding, and satisfying life." (This was on one of his pass-outs. I The debate itself (at Yale university) was a dream. I ate with the contestants beforehand at Mury's. Service was its usual minutes late. I wondered what Shockley thought (if the black waiter; wondered, a little guiltily, what I thought of the black waiter; then dashed over to the auditorium and smirk in a side door. The next hour and a half was just like a high school basketball game wilh one side, mi game, and (Inly the refs to boo, About -IH minutes into it, people started appearing in the windows. A friend sat leu feel above my head screaming "Slmrklcy N'azi! Shockley Ilien looked down, said "Hi, anil began screaming again. My conservative friends paced anx- William F. Buckley, jr. iuusly back and forth, conferred with the moderator, made blistering statements to the press. Some of the liberals got pretty blistered too. One guy (I heard he was a Vietnam Veteran Against the got up and began say- ing "Brothers and sisters" and ended shouting "i have as much disrespect for Ibis crowd as 1 do for It was no use; he couldn't be heard beyond (he first row. The Party fur Workers Power, or some other comic-opera organization, had a huge banner hanging from the balcony. One kid jumped through the windows and was promptly hustled nff. Outside, ynu could see cameras flashing like noiseless lightning. After !lll minutes there was a louder cheer than usual a bullhorn appeared at one of the windows. At this point, the university called it off. The campus police hustled .the "speakers" off the stage. Greg Hyatt, the moderator and a good friend, waved at the crowd. They stuck around for about minutes, as most crowds at basketball games do, ripping down Hie other team's poslers. Someone got up on a chair and said I hey should make sure Shoekley leaves Yale as Ihotigli we were going to hide him mid then unleash him In the Swiss UIHIIII at :i o'clock In Hie morning. Out- side, an ice cream truck had parked in front of Woolsey Hall and was making a killing. Capitalism, at least, was alive and well. I learned that the Young Christian Fellowship had been out loo, singing hymns. "Whose side were they oil9" Someone shrugged. "God's." The crowd was already melting into the night, like little waves. I kicked the iron fence in front of Bcrzclins for about five minutes, then went hack to my room. II feels bad, not the least because we had to do it for Shockley. It is nut pleasant defending the rights of some whose ideas you condemn and abhor. I felt sullied; I thought YAP (Young Americans for Freedom) was sullied- I thought Mory's was sullied. And it feels had on the purely childish level, because I can never respond. They could bring Gus'Hall tomorrow, and I hope I would picket, and I certainly hope I would pass out leaflets denouncing him, but I could not shout him down because 1 have my asinine principles to worry about. ISul it feels bad, most of all, because 1 saw Mill people, supposedly the brightest in my generation, panicked by an idea. It feels bad hearing friends, for whose opinions of Spenser and Becked I have nothing hut awe, using the arguments of the Grand huiuisiliir Shoekley shouldn't speak at Yale. And if you're that elitist (and you nmsl. be something of an ellllsl lo have wanted In come to Yah') _ enough lo insist thai "the public" Isn't mature enough to hear Shoekley debated and refilled, then all the more reason why Ihe elite should be alisolulely cldar alioul Ihelreonvlellons-aiid ihal'comes 'only from having them challenged Oml debated.   

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