Massachusetts Daily Collegian

For UMass politicos, no help from

By Dimitry Shapiro and Dmitriy Shapiro

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It is the natural state of college campuses in a free society to be open to political dissent and demonstration. Our education is enriched by varying views from many spectra. At UMass, we have some of the most politically active groups of students in the country. Yet we need not forget the majority of students that are involved in majors other than those that are politically related, and often times have no strong opinion of issues.

These people are those who will really grow to become the ‘Silent Majority’: most of the time, Independents who rely on the facts presented to them either through research, media, or those that are politically involved. Those who are involved directly in politics are responsible for presenting to their peers the complete facts of any issue, and then being able to explain why they believe their side to be superior.

The recent actions of the Justice for Jason organization have been reproachable in the respect that they are not able to present all the proper information to the community. Though their bias is understood, deliberately restricting the facts should be unethical. Having been at the rally in front of the police station on Tuesday, it was evident that the crowd was the same rabble that we usually see protesting any and all things at the drop of a hat.

The ‘Socialist Worker’ was being peddled at rallies, next to protesters wearing ‘Stop police brutality’ coats, next to a sign that referred to Gaza. The connection between these issues and Justice for Jason is held together by only a small thread. The protesters are far-left underachievers that most of the campus community, which is Democratic, dislikes even more than it does Ed Cutting.

Many University Democrat Club members, who are my friends, told me they ignore these groups most of the time. The leftists on this campus, through their immaturity, manage to discredit the work that the UMass Democrats and other democratic agents on campus are doing.

So, why the coats about police brutality? To my knowledge, Jason Vassell was not attacked or brutalized by ‘racist’ police officers, just two drunk punks. The protesters amassed in front of the UMPD station calling for an investigation of Lt. Thrasher and the department on account of their ‘racism.’ As far as I know, the current Interim Chief is Officer Whitehead, who is African-American. Why would this racist department do this? During this rally, they blocked the road for a long time, preventing students from getting to their classes, and Auxiliary Services vehicles.

This group that is comprised of Justice for Jason, Radical Student Union, International Socialists, SGA and other fringe groups do not represent the ideas of the general population of UMass. Yet through the newspapers, they make it look that they represent everyone on campus. The Student Government Association (SGA) is expending a lot of effort in this venture, distracting themselves from their real job of representing students.

The International Socialists, always looking for their target market, were successfully selling the ‘Socialist Worker’ for one dollar. Usually, it takes five to 10 cents to print one copy of a paper, you can pick up the Collegian for free, but the ‘Socialist’ comes with a two thousand percent mark-up.

The real victim in this case becomes justice itself. The trust that our system was designed to dispense a punishment that fits the crimes committed by both Vassell and his assailants, yet Justice for Jason has stood in the way of this process from the very beginning. They stage demonstrations in front of court houses, in front of the DA’s office and call-ins. Everyone is able to call the DA’s office if needed, the actions of Justice for Jason will now make it much harder for reasonable people to contact Elizabeth Scheibel.

Lacking arguments, and bereft of facts, Justice for Jason uses emotional appeals to students that are not familiar with the facts. Collegian columnist Alana Goodman appeared on UVC-TV’s Yak Back! last semester opposite professor Michael Thelwell, one of the leaders of the Justice for Jason movement. The professor’s arguments did not match up and is now immortalized on YouTube. Alana asks the professor if he denied that Jason did anything that was written in the police report, and Thelwell replies that he personally talked to Jason and he was not able to even repeat that words that were said to him: he was that innocent. Of course Jason would not repeat those words. He is trying to defend himself. It is essential now that the moderate and silent students of this University stand up to all these groups that create a bad image for our campus. Most of us are interested to see how the justice system will handle the case and the important facts that will come out in court that are not covered by Justice for Jason and their media.

Dmitriy Shapiro is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]

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