The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, February 06, 1998, Page 5, Image 5

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    Where’s the beef?
Oprah Winfrey cattle trial lacks merit on both sides
chemical engineering
major and a Daily
Nebraskan columnist.
How now, mad cow?
It’s a brawl in the Old West,
where both the Hatfields and
McCoys are packing six-shooters of
the First Amendment, and the drama
is as bizarre as a physically attractive
The scene is Amarillo, Texas,
where cattle are tearing away the very
fabric of the Constitution, all in the
name of Oprah. This soap opera is
mangling die threads of sanity, leav
ing us bewildered and confused,
graying the space between black and
white, good and evil, the just and
When I first heard about the
Catdemen vs. Oprah Winfrey trial, I
thought probably like many of you,
that Oprah Winfrey’s show can air
any opinion she wants. This $ 10.3
million lawsuit is, much like Texas
itself, a bunch of bunk. After
researching the premise and oddities
of this trial, I had no idea what to
believe. Both sides point to the First
Amendment - one side claims slan
der hurts, the other doesn’t
This fight arose from the April
16,1996, broadcast of “The Oprah
Winfrey Show,” which focused on the
possibility of mad cow disease reach
ing the states from Great Britain.
Guests on the show were Howard
Lyman, who was a former cattle
rancher turned vegetarian; Dr. Gary
Weber of the National Cattlemen’s
Beef Association; and Dr. Will
Hueston of the University of
1T1U1 J UU1U.
In the following debate, Lyman
said the U.S. Department of
Agriculture has placed the public at
risk for mad cow disease, saying it
could make AIDS look like the com
mon cold. After Lyman finished,
Winfrey then stated, “It has just
stopped me from eating another
Dr. Weber and Dr. Hueston were
allowed to retort during the taping,
during which Dr. Hueston later men
tioned the show had “a lynch-mob
mentality” toward meat eaters.
With the episode’s extreme vege
tarian views, Texas cattlemen decided
to sue Lyman and Winfrey for slandei
because “The Oprah Winfrey Show”
aired Mr. Lyman’s inaccurate com
ments. Cattle producers claim it cost
them $10.3 million.
The case focuses on two points:
First, if the comments said on the
program actually caused a $10 mil
lion loss in future prices, and second
ly, if the First Amendment protects
Lyman and Winfrey’s show from
slander, even though they may have
knowingly lied to stress their opin
ions. A tough call.
But what makes this case so
damn interesting are the words said
by Lyman.
Lyman is certainly a man who
believes in his convictions, which I
can respect However, during the trial
he answered questions all but proving
iuj i^uvuutvv uuvui uiv uiovuov auu
basically common sense in general,
saying, “I believe there are a lot of
ways of educating other than facts.”
He also said his statements on the
show were “based on the information
(he) had in (his) soul.”
This is why vegetarians freak me
out When I hear this, I think of the
future. 1 think of all the psycho vege
tarians like Howie Lyman in a court
room saying, “I believe there are a lot
of ways of educating other than facts.
That’s why I blew up the meat-pack
ing plant killing 232 people!” or “I
mack that pipe bomb, based on the
information I had in my soul!”
Lyman even admitted some of his
family believes he’s nuts! Does
Oprah Winfrey believe her show is
credible claiming a madman from
Montana is an expert on a disease
that can actually kill people? Do
Oprah and Jerry Springer just rotate
With the estranged Mr. Lyman
looming in the mist, the trial has
shown itself to be more disturbing
than eating a half-digested pancake
off the floor at McDonald’s, just like
that bastard Todd Munsondid! On
one hand, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”
may have known or, more important
ly, should have known the statements
from Howard Lyman that caused this
$ 10 million suit were untrue.
On the other hand, tabloids chron
ically print false information about
celebrities and national figureheads
and continue unscathed, making one
wonder, why should Oprah pay the
bill? Boiling away die quirks of the
trial, one final question becomes
apparent: Should slander be legal
even if it’s a source of damage to
someone or some group?
Now the word “damage” trans
forms into a vague, unclear term
meaning financial loss, emotional
loss, etc. How much damage is need
ed for slander to be illegal? What
forms of damage are legal and ille
Because of die existence of these
questions, Winfrey should not com
pensate the Texas cattlemen for the
lost earnings. If Winfrey was ordered
to repay the cool $10.3 million, what
kind of precedent would be set?
Should anyone with proof that some
one misdirected the American public
sue for a variety of damages? What
about judicial cases where a state
ment is false using one point of view
and true viewing another angle? This
could become a backed-up judicial
Besides, profiting from raising
cattle should not be viewed as a right.
It is a business, and with a business
there are sound times and not so
sound times. Don't misunderstand
me: “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was
terribly irresponsible and should real
lze me amount oi sway upran nas m
public opinion. Winfrey cannot be
held responsible for die gullibility of
the American people.
Instead of receiving a $10.3 mil
lion shaft, Oprah should eat a ham
burger in front of America, a quaint
gesture saying, “I’m sorry. I screwed
up.” Then paparazzo should say,
“We’re sorry we whacked Princess
Di.” And the creator of those wimpy
microbrews must say, “We suck. We
screwed beer.”
America would be right again.
An eye for an eye
The punishment should match the crime for serious offenses
KLAUS MARRE is a senior
broadcasting major and a
Daily Nebraskan colum
On Tuesday night, Karla Faye
Tucker got the needle and, as always,
the death penalty caused great con
troversy all through the land.
There was a time when I believed
capital punishment was wrong. That
time was June 14,1993, between 10
a.m. and 10:02 a.m.
In general, I am opposed to tak
ing another person’s life, but on the
other hand, I cannot answer the “If it
was your little sister, would you want
uic muruerer aeaa' question wnn a
“no.” Hell, I’d gladly kill the bastard
Back in the old days, if you stole
something, you’d get your hand cut
off. If you committed adultery or
raped somebody... well, you do the
math. That system really isn’t that
bad, because you can steal only twice
and rape just once. So much for
repeat offenders.
Actually, I’m not in favor of dis
membering rapists... hold on! Hell
yes, I am. Let’s get back to punish
ment that is just that - punishment. I
am not a religious man, but those
Christians might have been on to
something when they came up with
that “eye for an eye” thing.
Well, I guess many rapists get a
fair share of their own medicine in
jail, but that is not what I mean. To
me, it comes down to making sure
the criminals get what they deserve,
and they never do it again.
Call me old-fashioned, but if you
take a human’s life, you just don’t
deserve to be a part of society any
more. The same holds true for rapists
or child molesters. If you screw up
the life of another person in such a
way, you should never be allowed to
be free again.
I used to work with kids who
were physically, mentally and sexu
ally abused. I believe harming a
child in these ways is the worst crime
a person can commit. These children
are scarred for life. The memories
will never go away and can possibly
affect the rest of their lives. In their
cases, considering today’s life
expectancy, this equals 70 years of
nightmares, 70 years of being afraid
to trust another person and 70 years
of horrendous flashbacks.
The criminals’ punishment is not
even close to what the victims have
to endure. They’ll get a slap on the
wrist from some lenient judge, or
maybe they’ll go to prison for a few
months. Then they come back and do
it again.
There is something wrong with
that picture. Just look at the case of
Mary Kay LeToumeau, the teacher
who had an affair with a 13-year-old
student. She had a child with this bov
and went to jail for three months. On
Tuesday she was arrested again for
having been with the same boy, sit
ting in a car with “steamed-up win
This encounter should have never
happened. There is no way she ever
should have seen this boy again.
Let’s put away the double standard
for a second and pretend society
would treat this case as if a male
teacher had raped a female student
Put yourself in the position of
this child’is parents. First of all, there
is the suffering the family had to go
through after finding out their little
kid was raped by a teacher (child
rape was the charge she admitted
being guilty of). Then they find out
the criminal was released. Then, less
than half a year after the first convic
tion, the same thing happens again.
In crimes such as rape or child
abuse some way has to be found that
ensures the victim and die criminal
never meet again. I believe
LeToumeau should have been locked
up for a large portion of her life, sim
ply because die does not seem to fit
in society. Why give her another
chance just to see her fail again?
I’m all for trying to rehabilitate
people who are guilty of minor
offenses like grand theft auto.
Society can afford to give them
another shot What is the worst that
could happen? They steal another
car, somebody gets insurance money,
and no harm is done. The same does
not hold true for other crimes.
Why give a rapist a second
chance? So that he (or she) can ruin
another family’s life? I don’t think
so. Just put them in a safe place for
20 to 30 years.
My idea of an
efficient cor
facility does
not include a
an 8
back castration for
sex offenders,
then you can v
count on my —
A. A
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