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DETROIT NEWS — Don't Punish State Colleges for 'Angels' Play

May 14, 2007

Dear AFA-Michigan supporter,

Talk about overwrought: the Detroit News editorial below suggests that Michigan’s already much-maligned economy will be damaged if Saginaw Valley State University is held accountable — the only way they can be — for using our state tax dollars to violate the state’s indecent exposure laws.

The editorial’s references to “a few buttocks” and “bare derrierres” and “a few naked bottoms” seems intentionally crafted to deceive readers by omission, refusing to acknowledge the broadly-reported fact that the play — in violation of state law — featured full frontal male nudity in a public theater on the campus of a taxpayer-funded university.

Having never discussed the issue with us in advance, the editorial’s author also falsely reports that AFA-Michigan has threatened to lobby for funding cuts at “other Michigan colleges and universities” because SVSU thumbed its nose at state law and used our tax dollars to pay for it.

If you’d like to submit a letter to the editor in response to this editorial, you can do so at:

As always, thanks for your support.
Gary Signature
Gary Glenn, President
American Family Association of Michigan

Detroit, Michigan
May 14, 2007


Don’t punish state colleges for ‘Angels’ play
Lawmakers should drop threats to slice universities’ funding

If the American Family Association of Michigan gets its way, a few buttocks will derail Michigan’s economic resurgence.

The AFA and its supporters have been raising a stink, even threatening to lobby for a decrease of state funding to Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) and other Michigan colleges and universities for hosting a play that includes bare derrieres. The focus of their protest: Saginaw Valley’s student production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Angels in America,” which explores AIDS.

“The people I’ve talked to, including the Democrats, are willing to nick their budget, just to send a message,” state Rep. Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township, said Friday. SVSU and other universities are nervously waiting to hear what their public funding allotment will be as the state Legislature scraps over the budget.

Brandenburg says he’ll push for funding cuts to any public university that shows “Angels” or other plays with swear words or nudity.

Don’t Brandenburg and his supporters have anything better to do than cause a tizzy over a few naked bottoms? Their example supports our case that the state Legislature should be downsized from full- to part-time. Then the politicos might not waste taxpayer money on such meddling.

Michigan is relying on its public universities to be the engine of new job growth. The universities bring in millions of dollars in research jobs and development money.

More important, they are the bridge for thousands of Michigan residents to get a college education, the new foundation of a viable American livelihood and life.

With every dip in state funding, tuition goes up, and fewer students can afford it. There’s a direct link with rising college costs and falling or stagnant student attendance.

Decreasing Saginaw Valley’s or other universities’ budgets to protest a play will only hurt students — and the state. Four other Michigan universities — including Michigan State University and the University of Michigan — have performed “Angels,” says SVSU spokesperson J.J. Boehm.

To be sure, Brandenburg’s concern over America’s crass culture and media being increasingly filled with obscenity-laden songs, violence and sex is warranted. But “Angels” dramatizes the painful lives of AIDS patients and their devastating deaths. Seeing people suffer is far from glamourous.

He admits he hasn’t seen the play himself, but he’s open to trying it out. We encourage him and other state legislators to see such plays before punishing all Michigan students and their parents by dinging college funding.

In the context of a sophisticated play such as “Angels,” students know better than to interpret nudity as obscene. Brandenburg and his circle of supporters should focus on what matters most in Michigan: adequately funding public universities to fuel the state’s comeback.

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