Horns Up, Horns Down for Nov. 26


Horns Down: ZBT replaces lewd mural with… another lewd mural

On Friday, the Daily Texan reported that the fraternity Zeta Beta Tau, commonly known as ZBT, painted over lewd murals depicting women performing sex acts on members of the military after recognizing, according to the national chapter, that the murals were a “poor decision.” On Monday, this newspaper reported that ZBT had made another poor decision: painting over said murals with only slightly less lewd depictions of women in sexual positions. The new murals, for example, “included a woman clothed in a bra and jeans bending over with an armed gunman firing a missile toward the woman to the words “REP ANAL.”” Another charming pictograph scrawled on the walls of the party’s set pieces included the words “Chinese Whore House.” 

ZBT’s decision to “remedy” the situation by adding a bra to a bent-over woman in a blatantly sexualized position is absurd. It’s no wonder the murals’ offensiveness is lost on the brothers of Zeta Beta, who can’t seem to understand that the explicit sexuality of the murals isn’t the problem — it’s the explicit misogyny and disrespect of the military that has everyone up in arms.

Horns Up: New committee to ensure judicial impartiality

Last Thursday, a group of concerned citizens met to hash out the possibilities for reforming judicial selections in Texas, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The conversation, which was dominated by talk of concerns with the current judicial selection system, will continue over the next year as a special legislative committee tackles the question of how to best select judges in Texas. 

Texas is one of the few states that require its judiciary representatives to run in general elections. As a result, concerns of the judiciary being sold to the highest campaign donor are perpetual. And judges often worry about the implications of asking for campaign money from wealthy donors they may later meet in court. 

While the problem of judicial corruption has taken a backseat in Texas, this might not be the case if the political landscape in Texas shifts to that of a more two-party state. The judicial branch of the government, both historically and theoretically, has been the one of great integrity and even greater impartiality. We must be confident that our judges can make decisions based on the facts of the cases in front of them, rather than on who the prosecuting counsel is or whose business is at stake. We’re glad the legislature will start to brainstorm ideas on how to keep the integrity of the system intact.

Horns Down: More revisionism from the State Board of Education

On Thursday, members of the Texas State Board of Education singled out a Pearson Education biology textbook, questioning the book’s assertions on natural selection and the theory of evolution. The board voted to have three of its members pick outside experts to scrutinize the book, despite the fact that the book in question is already being used in more than half of U.S. classrooms. While a 2011 state law gives school districts the authority to choose their own books, most adhere to the recommended list suggested by the Texas Education Board. In addition, Texas is so large a state that the textbooks selected by Texas are often also the ones marketed nationally. We think the comments of the board’s vice chairman, Republican Thomas Ratliff, sum up our views on the issue: “I believe this process is being hijacked, this book is being held hostage to make political changes. … To ask me — a business degree major from Texas Tech University — to distinguish whether the earth cooled 4 billion years ago or 4.2 billion years ago for purposes of approving a textbook at 10:15 on a Thursday night is laughable.” 

Colleagues, on the other side of the debate, shot back that they “weren’t laughing.”

Horns Down: Why we should keep Ted Cruz out of U.S.—Iran negotiations

On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz openly criticized the deal struck between President Barack Obama and the Iranian government, in which Iran agreed to halt its development of nuclear weapons in exchange for relief of $6 to $7 billion in economic sanctions for the next six months. The deal, which is the first diplomatic accord between the two countries since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, could be a major step toward a larger, more comprehensive agreement still to come, and it is at least a temporary reprieve from the escalating tensions in the region.

But Cruz argued that the deal didn’t go far enough in our favor: “According to the interim agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program that was reached this weekend in Geneva, not one centrifuge will be destroyed. Not one pound of enriched uranium will leave Iran. Not one American unjustly detained in Iran’s notorious prisons will be released. But Iran will start to receive, in a matter of days, $7 billion in relief from international economics sanctions. … The administration has gotten it backwards, and it is time to reverse course before any further damage is done.”

All the facts Cruz cites are correct, but he ignores the key point that Iran has frozen its capability to enrich uranium to the level needed for nuclear weapons, which is the greatest diplomatic success on this issue in decades. Moreover, it is clear that in foreign policy, as well as domestic governance, Cruz doesn’t understand what a compromise is. Instead, his unrealistic foreign policy goals bring to mind President Harry Truman’s naive and ill-fated 1945 assertion that, although he couldn’t expect to get 100 percent of what he wanted in negotiations with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, he did expect to get 85 percent. With hubris like his, we’re glad the person leading American negotiations with hostile foreign governments is anybody but Cruz.