The April 6 Signal featured a very offensive “Pope Maze” in the comic section. The Pope does not need help to ascend to heaven and your implication that he does was degrading to his legacy. The Pope was not only a great leader of the Catholic Church but a great leader of the world. Even if you are not Catholic, he deserves a basic level of respect, which you certainly did not give him. In addition, the selection of a new Pope is a tradition of the Catholic Church and the mockery the Signal made of it by instructing the reader to burn a section of the paper to produce a new Pope was insulting. But your suggestion to burn the paper was right, except the reasoning was wrong. Readers should burn your rag of a paper in protest of your offensively anti-Catholic writings.

Cassandra Demski

I am writing in response to the cartoon about the pope in last week’s Signal. I know that there was supposed to be some sort of humor behind it, but the maze inviting us to “Help the Pope ascend to Heaven” and the reference mocking the announcement of a new pope were more than offensive. They were deliberately malicious, disrespectful and spiteful. And on a campus that prides itself on equity and diversity, one would think students would be a little more tactful than to openly mock religion.

Do not, however, mistake me for somebody who is too sensitive about social issues or against the right for people to have their voices heard. When somebody has an opinion that is labeled “offensive,” such as the idea that gay marriage should be outlawed which somebody actually proposed in this paper, it is perfectly acceptable because that is the person’s opinion. It is his right to hold it, whether people agree with it or not.

However, this cartoon and the following comment are not an opinion on anything, but instead an example of a person going out of their way to ridicule something – in this case the church, its followers and Pope John Paul II. Furthermore, the comic is not only offensive to me as a Catholic, but simply as a human being, due to the abhorrent disrespect it shows for those who have died. I am not sure who drew the picture or who allowed it to be printed, but that information is pretty much irrelevant. I am only disappointed because I thought students at TCNJ would have more class than this comic showed.

Nick Dimakos

Smoking ban won’t solve all problems

In last week’s Signal, there was an article documenting the possibility of a smoking ban in all on-campus dormitories. Student quotations seemed to indicate that some feel the ban is necessary to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke, while others feel non-smokers are unaffected by smoking inside a room.

However, no comment was made regarding the fire hazard posed by smoking.

Candles, halogen lamps and other commonplace items are outlawed on campus because of the associated fire risks. Yet, as of now, lighting up a cigarette with a lighter or match is ok. Not only is this inconsistent, it is dangerous. Perhaps smokers consider this a small risk, confident that they will never drop the cigarette, yet no one fights for my right to a halogen lamp on the grounds that I will be very careful with it.

It is possible that a smoker could be of drinking age and drop a cigarette into a bottle of vodka, lighting it on fire. Of course we never hear of any such thing happening, but it certainly could happen.

If we truly want to be safe in our dorms, we must have sensible and consistent fire-prevention regulations.

Mike Richman

Pennisi, Lovett don’t have all facts about evolution

In his well-known article on microevolution, Matt Esposito concluded by saying “If you write an evolution paper with God as the creator, you’ll be laughed out of the Science Complex.” And, either by intention or accident, the follow-up articles by Mr. Pennisi and Dr. Lovett have confirmed this point. And in their fervent attempt to defend their own beliefs, they commit some of the same errors they accuse Mr. Esposito of.

The one issue on which I agree with Dr. Lovett and Mr. Pennisi is that there needs not be a conflict between science and religion. However, a conflict does exist between evolution and religion, at least Western religions, with both sides being responsible for it.

Rather than printing yet another set of definitions for micro and macro evolution, I will, for the sake of the simplicity, refer to the work of the zoologist Dr. Gerald Kerkut, who in his 1960 book “Implications of Evolution” subdivided the Theory of Evolution into two parts: the Special Theory of Evolution, which states that changes occur to the genomes of species and these changes are caused and preserved by natural mechanisms, as well as the General Theory of Evolution, which states that natural mechanisms account for all changes to the genomes of all species and biodiversity on earth is attributable to these natural mechanisms.

I feel I speak for most of the conservative Christians on campus, if not in this country, that there is no conflict between the special theory of evolution and the Biblical account of creation. However, the General theory is where the irresolvable conflict between conservative Christianity and Evolution arises. The General theory clearly states that all variation in life on Earth can be explained by natural mechanisms. However, the first chapter of Genesis provides an alternative interpretation of the origin of biodiversity.

“And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth” (Genesis 1:20-21) Obviously, unless God is counted as a natural mechanism, the two positions cannot be reconciled.

Dr. Lovett, Mr. Pennisi and a number of others on campus would have us believe that the General Theory of Evolution has been proven true. If this is the case, then it would necessarily invalidate Genesis 1 and 2, if not more of the Bible. However, despite Mr. Pennisi’s numerous citations and statements, he is as guilty as Mr. Esposito in reporting, to quote Dr. Lovett “errors and half-truths.”

The first issue in question is dating. While Mr. Pennisi is quick to cite papers that support current dating methods, he neglects to mention the problems that still exist with these methods. Even if the assumption is made that no other problems exist with radiometric dating, we cannot go backwards more than 400,000 years.

Other “strongholds” of evolutionary theory have also been shown to have problems, most of which are ignored or overlooked. One area is the search for “missing links,” or extinct species that were supposedly the evolutionary “bridges” between one organism and another. One of the most commonly discussed areas of “missing links” is with human evolution and our supposed transition from ape to man. But problems have been repeatedly shown – and often repressed – with our supposed evolutionary lineage. A 1994 study by anthropologist Fred Spoor, for example, showed that the “links” Australopithecus and Paranthropus would have been closely related to modern great apes in their posture and movement. Combined with their physical similarity to great apes, this suggests they may not have been a transitional species after all.

Countless other issues exist that need to be considered. University of Washington astrobiologists Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee published a book titled “Rare Earth” in 2000, in which they discussed a large number of factors that needed to be almost exactly right in order for Earth to be capable of sustaining life. Their hypothesis was that this would greatly limit the amount of life on other planets in the universe. However, a person who does not reject creationism outright would, when reading this book, begin to think, “If life is actually as rare as Ward and Brownlee suggest, why did it occur at all?”

Mr. Pennisi urges us, in the conclusion of his article, to “see the glory of God in the light of His work, through the spectacular array of natural laws which guide our universe.” I urge him to do as he himself said. I urge him to look for God in the work of His hands.

Mark Strohmaier

SAF’s purpose: to promote a right-wing agenda

Dear Dan McElwee and Students For Academic Freedom (SAF):

Let’s first find some common ground. I wholeheartedly agree with the basic sentiments expressed by your organization. The college setting absolutely should be one of free and open inquiry. If any member of the campus community found themselves punished for dissent in the classroom, I would be outraged.

If this should occur, I would implore you to file a formal complaint in order to redress this injustice. The student grievance procedure is clearly outlined in the Academic Policy section of our Student Handbook (http://www.tcnj.edu/~academic/policy/StudentComplaintAppealProcedure-undergraduate.htm). Each department has a complaint committee, “preferably with student members.” Furthermore, if you are unsatisfied with your appeal, the chain-of-command extends all the way up to President Gitenstein.

However, SAF, both in the chapter at TCNJ and nation-wide, is attempting to institute an “Academic Bill of Rights” to curb this alleged political and intellectual repression. If you folks are so concerned about your fellow students being victimized by professors, instead of attempting to pass an extraneous piece of legislation, why not encourage them to submit formal complaints?

I’ll answer my own question: Your purpose is not to defend “academic freedom,” but rather to promote a right-wing agenda. There is nothing wrong with arguing for a particular ideology or viewpoint; indeed, this is what makes college such an enriching environment. However, when an obvious “bias” is masked by an ostensible commitment to “unbiased” inquiry, it is nothing more than an insidious attempt to trample on the freedom of those with whom you disagree.

The members of SAF have appointed themselves the watchdogs of the “liberal learning environment” of the College, rather than following the appropriate established channels for lodging academic complaints (which include student participation at the departmental level). When an organization attempts to pass legislation that addresses an issue already covered in the basic rules and regulations of the College, alarm bells should immediately ring. SAF’s redundancy in its “Academic Bill of Rights” suggests ulterior motives.

And with SAF’s far-right backing, primarily from David Horowitz, we must ask – what really is your mission?

Matthew Richman

SGA needs more action, less talk

Recently there has been much political ado on campus. The SGA elections are here, and, as usual, so are the campaigns. I was looking forward to the campaigns this year, not only because I, as a former SGA member, decided not to run, but also because the uproar over nothing does entertain me.

The most interesting campaign this year thus far is “Expect More,” championing the Target sign as their unifying symbol. Apparently Target is now selling politicians, but you better get there quick, as the ‘buy two presidents and get one free’ deal will end soon. I decided to give their campaign a chance, however, despite knowing the candidates and having a good sense of their platform, or, more accurately, the lack thereof. I thus proceeded to peruse one of their flyers and browse their Web site looking for novel ideas about how to improve the campus – or at least a reason to vote for them.

Alas, I found none. However, I did learn that they would like to foster unity, the most commonly used word by politicians who have no clue what they’d like to do in office but would really like to get elected. I also learned that they’d like to build trust between the student body and SGA, although I have no idea how. I’m guessing that their campaign of hollow slogans and fluffy language isn’t going to do it, though.

Please don’t misinterpret me: the candidates running on the “Expect More” ticket are good and decent people. But their campaign for the top jobs in SGA, the government that is supposed to stand up for our rights against The College and multi-million dollar monopolizing corporations, consists of no tangible ideas whatsoever. Perhaps instead of “unity,” the “Expect More” ticket should work on actually fostering ideas and a little courage and conviction in SGA. I did my best this year as the Vice President of Administration and Finance, but it’s not exactly easy when you have almost the entire Executive Board, backed by most of the Senate, trying to shut you up. Then again, I did speak my mind freely – and we all know that SGA must do everything it can to squelch free speech. Otherwise, we’d actually be given a choice between reform and rhetoric and I think deep down SGA knows which one would win.

Matthew Civiletti

Former VP of Administration and Finance, SGA