What They Said
February 10, 2005
Public Policy Forum with New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Compassion in Dying Advocate David Leven, sponsored by the Health Advocacy Graduate Program
The problem of passing medical marijuana legislation is, in part, one of image. The idea of smoking a joint or growing [marijuana] in your house is beyond what legislators can vote for—even though they may have done it when they were younger. These are big obstacles. Their concern is that if they legalize the growing of marijuana, they will lose re-election. Political advisers have not yet caught up to the reality of what the people think. Eventually, if the people support it, the legislators will follow.
Amy Paulin represents the 88th District, including Bronxville, in the New York State Assembly.
February 11, 2005
Poetry Workshop and Craft Talk
Art should be useful. If I read a poem and it makes me laugh, that’s useful. If I read a poem that makes me more confused and more aware of the randomness of the universe, that’s still useful because it’s bringing me closer to truth. If I were writing a poem that didn’t have a shot at doing that, I would stop, because it wouldn’t be any more artistic to me than icing a cake. Often, I’ll spend a lot of time on a piece but never get to this “X” factor that makes a poem useful: I’ll have paper with great stuff on it, nice ideas and pretty pictures, but it might as well be nothing to me.
David Berman, author of the collection Actual Air, is a poet and musician. His band, the Silver Jews, has released four albums on Drag City Records.
February 17, 2005
“Serious Questions – The Next Four Years: The Values Discourse in Contemporary American Politics,” a discussion sponsored by The Donald C. Samuel Fund for Economics and Politics, and the Dean’s Office
Republicans are doing something very old-fashioned in politics. Instead of working to have a deliberative democracy in which representatives educate the public, Republicans are saying that representatives should represent the actual views of certain core constituencies. And they’ve tapped into them. On cultural issues, Democrats are faced with doing something they’re very hesitant to do: confront people’s beliefs as being in error. My fundamental view on these cultural issues is to dive in there and argue about them in the public sphere, instead of bracketing them and assuming that they can’t be communicated and articulated and spoken to.
Angelia Means is a former assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College and clerk at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She has written for journals such as Political Theory, Constellations and Tikkun, and contributed to the books Human Rights in an Age of Terror and Citizenship, Borders, and Gender.
March 9, 2005
“My 20 Years in the Cuban Revolution,” part of “Beyond Borders: A Series on Latin America and Latinos,” sponsored by Global Studies, Film History Faculty Gilberto Perez and the Office of Multicultural Affairs
The Bay of Pigs shows us the basic difference between two of the leaders of the Cuban revolution, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Che was a man of absolute honesty and conviction. He thought that, in entering Havana, Fidel should say, “This is a socialist revolution. Create militias, arm everybody—the revolution will be destroyed if you don’t.” Che said that when you believe in something, you do it, and you say it out front. Fidel is how I define a revolutionary: an opportunist with principles—you wait for the right moment to make a statement. Fidel waited until the Bay of Pigs was underway to go on television and say, “This is a socialist revolution, 90 miles from the empire.”
Cuban journalist Edmundo Desnoes is the author of Memorias del Subdesarrollo (Memories of Underdevelopment) and co-author of the screenplay of the same name. In 2003 he returned to Cuba for the first time in 22 years. Recently he completed a sequel to his book, entitled Memorias del Desarrollo (Memories of Development).