In the comments above Tyler mentions that the PFC is throwing around the spread from last year’s HATE issue [Vol XXI, Issue XII & XIII, Pg 20] as an example of “hate mongering” by the Commentator.
As the Editor who ran that picture, the one whose friend drew it, and the person by whom the entire theme for that issue was decided, I would like to take this opportunity to explain to the PFC and anyone interested a little about the issue theme. Also, I will be recounting a brief experience I had with one R. Johnson of Eugene.
Fist of all, The HATE Issue. For regular readers of the magazine, and for those with a sense of humor, understanding the HATE issue is simple. However, some folks might not get it, so let me explain. Every May, the staff of the Oregon Commentator takes 48 pages to vent its spleen. Topics covered every year are “I Hate Eugene”, “I Hate the UO” and something akin to “I Hate the ASUO.” Other topics vary, but in my four years at the Commentator squirrels, the French, science, The Brainerd Lab, “My Girlfriend’s Cat” and Whitey have been the subjects of ire.
As a sophomore, I wrote “I Hate Jesse Jackson” which wasn’t about the man so much as his mostly horrible ideas and his propensity for, say, complete and total hypocrisy. Notice that all subjects covered are lampooned (to be generous) for their behavior rather than their identity. I suppose “I hate Whitey” is an exception to this rule, but if that joke was beyond your grasp, well, there’s nothing I or anyone else can do for you.
With the basic premise of the HATE issue laid out, let’s move on to that picture with the swastika on the robot. In April of this year, or maybe it was May, I asked my friend Christopher Flanagan to do some art for me. I’ve known him for years, he’s a good guy, and a hell of an artist as the issue demonstrates. Chris, also, is not a particular fan of my politics. The instructions I gave him were something like, “I want five, full-colour two-page spreads; plus a cover; plus your advertisement by three weeks from now. Theme? Hrm…I was thinking Gothic Horror, but how about some stuff that just looks real cool and is kinda scary? Great.”
Chris and I talked about the project off and on, and I think he at one point asked me if nazi robots were scary. I replied that, yes, yes they were. I didn’t really see more than concept sketches and the finished products which, honestly, are some of the best art I’ve seen for an issue of the Commentator. So yeah, there’s a swastika on page 20. You know what? Nazis are scary, I have encountered their modern-day brethren, as I will elaborate on shortly, but the fact that one robot that MUST die is denoted as a nazi robot using an easily recognizable symbol of national socialism tells nothing of the opinion of the magazine. Do we believe in zombies because they appear on page 14? When Brian Boone wrote “I Hate Squirrels” did he think they really were plotting revolution?
Let’s take this one step further, there is a button I saw around campus periodically, I believe my old roommate even had one, that depicts a stick figure putting a swastika into a wastebasket. Does this backpack ornament belie the wearer’s latent nazi sympathies? I think not. WAIT! Didn’t Ed Harris wear not only a swastika, but an entire Nazi uniform to film Enemy At The Gates? He must be a closet anti-Semite!
Furthermore, and the other denizens of the EMU third-floor can attest to this, I once threatened a holocaust denier (and probable neo-nazi) with bodily harm if he ever returned to my office. In fall of last year, that’d be late 2003 for all you Gregorian calendar folks, a shabbily dressed man in an orange knit cap and glasses came into the OC office. He said, “I have some literature you boys might find interesting.” I glanced at the top of the pile, then thumbed through. The first item in the stack was something called the DeWeese report, which I won’t link to, and was probably the closest thing to acceptable in the lot. The majority was psychotic, nutball conspiracy theory about Jews and Judaism, and a fair amount of holocaust denial material. Needless to say, I was not pleased.
So I got the guy’s attention by screaming something like “hey fucker” at him. I then proceeded to hurl his materials at him, call him a fascist [and, for once, the word was used correctly], yell and curse in his face quite a lot, and threaten him with great physical injury if he returned to spread his filth again. The practical upshot was his shouting, “your children will live in tyranny” and my going to apologize to the folks in Legal Services and down at the ODE for causing such a disturbance. Weeks later we got a letter from one R. Johnson of Eugene explaining that he’d seen me at my most irrational, that my children would still live in tyranny, and that he’s not a nazi but a man out trying to spread the truth.
1) Nazi sympathizer comes in.
2) I yell at him, throw his garbage at him, tell him to leave on pain of death.
3) He leaves.
4) I apologize for the noise and cursing.
5) I get a letter explaining to me that I am intolerant for refusing to listen to said same holocaust denier and probable neo-nazi.
Tgraf was there, I’m sure somebody at the ODE heard, and I know the folks in Legal Services were wondering what was up. Hell, I called my now ex-girlfriend minutes later in a fluster from the encounter. But, hey, I ran a picture of a swastika on page 20; that must mean I am a hateful, horrible person. Nope, doesn’t matter that I think Hasidism is about the coolest spiritual outlook on the planet, nah. I ran a swastika. Best non-econ professor I had in college? Hands down Jon Seidel [JDST 213, it's awesome], but that doesn’t matter, I ran a swastika.
Please. They could at least come up with something even sort of tenable, even if their tomfoolery is patently unconstitutional. It’s no fun shooting lame ducks.