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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 22, 1998)
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Law should consider
society s concerns
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court
decided that people infected with HIV
but who do not show symptoms of AIDS
will be protected under the 1990
Americans With Disabilities Act.
And a recent case in Nebraska shows
exactly why people with HIV need this
Two men from Elm Creek say they
have been evicted from a public housing
project because one of them is HlV-posi
They have filed a lawsuit in U.S.
Federal Court against Maple Manor
apartments, alleging that the manager
told them several times she did not want
the apartment complex or the city “cont
aminated with AIDS.”
Anyone with even a little AIDS edu
cation knows sharing an apartment build
ing with someone who is HIV-positive
poses virtually no health risks, which is
exactly why the case needs to fall under
the Americans With Disabilities Act - the
threat isn’t real.
We need to start addressing disability
in terms of the fears and stereotypes of
society, rather than the physical state of
The Americans With Disabilities Act
was designed to protect people with dis
abilities from discrimination in work,
housing and public facilities.
However, opponents of the Supreme
Court’s recent decision argue that label
ing people with HIV who appear
“healthy” as disabled is a violation of the
original intent of the act. They said the
purpose was to guarantee that public
buildings had wheelchair ramps and ele
vators. In other words, people who
appeared to have a disability would not
be discriminated against.
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seems to be the first step in defining
“disability,” and maybe it should be
looked at as a societal construct instead.
A so-called “normal, healthy” person
is one who stands up straight and can
climb stairs. Light switches and door han
dles are built with this person in mind.
Then “accommodations” are made for
people with disabilities. A wide bath
room stall and a ramp are added, and
“able-bodied” people everywhere get to
pat themselves on the back for being so
But when the definition of disability
is challenged, solutions aren’t that sim
ple. Suddenly, we need to ask why people
were excluded in the first place.
And in the cases of people who have
HIV but appear healthy, no physical bar
riers can be blamed for discrimination,
and we have to start questioning ideas.
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Unsigned editorials are the opinions of
the Spring 1998 Daily Nebraskan. They
do not necessarily reflect the views of the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, its
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A column is solely toe opinion of its author.
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Submit material to: Daily Nebraskan, 34
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Computers not safe from government
CLIFF HICKS is a senior
English major and the
Daily Nebraskan opinion
“What interesting e-mail,’’
Jonathan Laffette said, sitting behind
his computer terminal, deep in the
offices of the National Security
“Let s see. ...He’s having an
affair, she’s stealing from her
employer, their son is a pom freak
and their daughter, hmm, well, it
looks like she s about to run away
with her boyfriend, whom she affec
tionately calls ‘Fang.’How wonder
fully defective. Let’s see what their
neighbors, the Hendersons, are up to
Don’t laugh. It’s not that unlikely,
the way we’re heading.
I’ve always found it funny how
technology stories get buried on
Page 7, even though the ramifica
tions of them affect the majority of
This time, it’s cryptography -
that’s code-work for die techno
phobes out there - and the govern
ment’s opinion on who should and
should not use it. *>
Hie government claims that
gyand, therefore, exportation ofit
needs to be regulated.
Weapon: any instrument used to
injure or kill. ' ; •
Codes are used for privacy.
They’re used to keep what’s your
business, well, your business.
The government doesn’t think so,
though. They say they’re “protecting
the nation from terrorism.”
It’s for our own good, they say.
We’ll thank them, they say.
Trust them, they say.
As the Information Age rapidly
approaches the Disinformation Age,
I don’t even trust my best friend.
(Editor’s note: Sorry Chris.)
In about five years, the Internet
will be directly plugged into many
people’s houses. The technology rush
is either going to level off or cause a
major crash in the near future.
Then, pretty soon, the computer
will become the center of the house,
like the television was before it, and
the radio before that.
We’ll make phone calls via com
puter, we’ll watch TV on our com
puter monitor (which will be huge by
then, trust me), and the world will
center on them.
There will even be more than one
in many houses. Kids will want one
Welcome to tomorrow.
The thing is, though, that the
government couldn’t watch your
house through your television, it
couldn’t listen in on your life through
ii win Know aoout you mrougn
your computer - the only question is,
how much and how soon?
Computers will have cameras on
them. Should the government have
the ability to look in on those cam
eras, just to be sure you aren’t doing
Many people keep their finances
on their computers. Should the
Internal Revenue Service be able to
Idblcmtb those files, just to be sure
you aren’t trying to stiff it out of a
Corporate secrets and novels, life
stories arid personal matters - it’ll all
be there for the government’s perusal.
What are your options? Sorry to
say, they aren’t plentiful.
The first is to oppose the govern
ment’s attempts to try and make all
of your information “free” and its
It wants to dictate what can and
cannot go up on the Internet. The
Communications Decency Act,
which was struck down earlier this
year, has spawned a sequel.
It isn’t any more legal than its
predecessor, but what the heck,
Congress figures it can keep passing
bills like this until either we tell it to
stop or the Supreme Court gets tired
of hearing these kinds of cases.
What the government finds inde
cent, it can fine you for. Or arrest
you for. And no, to answer the unspo
ken question, “indecent” is never
The word “indecency” is part of
the problem. The government wants
to play watchdog for the morals of
the American people.
I’ll tell ’em where it can stick its
And if I catch the government in
my computer, I can practically guar
antee I’ll take it all the way to the big
boys at the Supreme Court.
The Internet, as it should be, is
the world’s largest forum. The right
to free speech is not to be restricted,
so don’t tell me what you find inde
cent and tell me I can’t say it.
utnerwise, sooner or later, tne
word “freedom” will be indecent.
We don’t all want to be alike - it’s
our differences that make us strong.
What you think is indecent, I think is
information, or even more likely, art
An outline for a fiction story
about overthrowing the government
isn’t sedition, but a government offi
cial looking at it sure might think so.
The government is playing knee
jerk reaction to something it’s mak
ing no effort to understand.
Rule technology - don’t let it
This is our government. It listens
to us. It answers to us. To paraphrase
Bill Cosby: we brought them into
office, we can take them out again
just as quickly.
Information can’t be regulated. It
shouldn’t be. Otherwise, there will
be underground hacker movements,
and there will come a day, when one
14-year-old kid says “the line has
And the world will fall black at
the push of a button.
iber for verification J p
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