The OC Blog Back Issues Our Mission Contact Us Masthead
Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator
 

Archive for April, 2006

Electronic Insurgent

Friday, April 21st, 2006

As Tim mentioned earlier there’s been a bit of a brouhaha over the latest issue of the Student Insurgent, the University of Oregon’s student-run Marxist/Anarchist publication.

In their latest issue, the Insurgent Collective decided to print a number of depictions of Jesus in various poses. As a headline on page 11 of the issue makes clear, their purpose in printing the comics was to confront Christians. And as Collective individual “Jessica” says on page 16, “I have to say it is really fun to offend people.”

Regardless of content, people and organizations should not be censored for speech that’s considered “offensive” or “hateful.” Indeed, we support the publication and round denunciation of ideas and opinions which are bigoted or inappropriate. The best way to counter the free expression of bad ideas is with the free expression of good ideas.

Of course, the Insurgent collective does not necessarily agree with us. Last year, Collective individual Pira Kelly was one of the loudest supporters of the effort to defund the Oregon Commentator. She passed out pink armbands symbolizing the fight against free speech before our budget hearing. What a difference a year makes!

Anyway, we’ve put the Insurgent issue in question up in .pdf form since we have no ideological qualms about technology. Please note that it is not our opinion and does not reflect this author’s own views or beliefs. Also, since the format of their magazine was too wide for our scanner we’ve had to splice each page together. If a member of the Collective would like to put a better copy on the web, I know that I for one would appreciate it.

Insurgent 17.4

UPDATE: I notice that we’ve been getting a significant bit of traffic thanks to links from Hot Air and a few other blogs. For those of you who are new: thanks for visiting. You may have noticed that the Student Insurgent mentioned our own publication of the Muhammed cartoons as one of their justifications for printing the anti-Christian drawings. I encourage you to read the issue in question and decide for yourself if the Commentator’s presentation and editorial are comparable in tone and substance to the Insurgent’s. As always, I believe that context is everything.

UPDATE: You can find an archive of our blog’s coverage of the Insurgent (including more recent tidbits) here.

Wait, Wait, Don’t Censor Us!

Friday, April 21st, 2006

The ODE this morning points to a small battle between our dearest friends The Insurgent and the University administration. Well, okay, mail services.

Apparently The Insurgent doesn’t qualify for use of the University’s non-profit bulk mailing discount. Seems odd, as the entire time I spent at the OC we used the bulk mail price to send out issues to alumns. The Frohn insists this was in the works before this issue of The Insurgent, but I don’t feel particularly inclined to believe him. Given his incredibly spineless history as University President, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he’s concerned with the University’s image and is making up an excuse. They should just mail the damn things, and proceed with corrections to the rate from there. It doesn’t seem like student groups were informed of this new policy in an efficient and timely manner, so the right thing to do is mail these copies of The Insurgent and change the policy going forward.

My favorite part of the article, though, is this bit:

University student Zachary White filed a grievance with the ASUO against the publication April 13.

“As a student minister at the Newman Center, and as a faithful Catholic who has never ridiculed the beliefs of others, I find it intolerable and contrary to the University’s mission of tolerance and non-discrimination to use public funds to allow for discrimination of a religious group on campus,” according to White’s grievance.

Never ridiculed the beliefs of others, eh? You ever recited the Nicene Creed there, papist? I mean, that’s sort of a defacto ridicule of non-Christian beliefs*. Never? So you’re one of those folks who thinks all beliefs are equally valid? I mean, really, you going to file a grievance against the ODE for allowing Ailee Slater to say that Hamas’s viewpoint could use some improvement?

Ridicule of belief is, frankly, an incredibly important aspect of the war of ideas. Moreover, it’s good, old-fashioned fun. Regardless of the merits of The Insurgent’s claims, they have a right to publish them as they see fit. Frankly, I think it’s incredibly myopic to say that Christianity has had nothing but a negative influence on western culture over the past 2000 years. Much of cultural development, especially in the areas of philosophy and science, are the direct result of Christianity’s influence. Sure, science goes back to Aristotle in some form, but to deny the influence of Aquinas is completely stupid as far as I’m concerned. Hell, Newton was a Puritan and it’s arguable that those beliefs stongly influenced his drive to understand the natural world. Note: I am an atheist, but I want to point out how incredibly silly I think The Insurgent’s position is.

Anyway, digressions aside, White needs to grow up and realize that nobody has a right not to be offended. The University needs to just go ahead and send the damn commie rags because that’s the right thing to do. And, lastly, I need a damn nap because I am cranky.
_______________________________
*note, I am totally fine with ridiculing the beliefs of others, as some beliefs are patently stupid.

4/19 Student Senate Meeting

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

Ah, another wonderful Student Senate meeting. After missing a rousing session last week (where the Senate “nickel and dimed” the MCC by giving them a paltry $6,000 after the group requested over $8,000 which it had originally misspent) I decided that I should personally witness this newfound fiscal conservativism.

Unsurprisingly, I was disappointed.

It really isn’t worth my time or the wear and tear on your eyes to do a detailed writeup, so instead I’ve just included a few clips of the interesting points of the meeting:

  • The first is a funny moment near the beginning where Mike Filipelli is describing a correction to the surplus account that had to be made. Dallas Brown compliments him, but when Filipelli attempts to respond Brown cuts him off, reminding him that it’s still his speaking time. (2:01 1.38mb mp3)
  • The second is the SETA hearing. This group recently bought a plane ticket (and housing) for an Animal Rights Lawyer to come and speak. This was a bit of a problem since they didn’t actually have this expenditure budgeted. Instead, they had a number of random line items that didn’t actually correspond to any of their planned events. Or at least two of them, “Abolish Vivisection Action” and “Vegan e-Law Conference Speaker Event.” While Dallas Brown points out how irresponsible this is, the Senate approves to move the funds anyway. (On another note: at 4:10, in the middle of discussion on the item, Monica Irvin’s phone goes off– she promptly leaves the room to answer it.) (10:16 7.06mb mp3)
  • Last but not least is the latest round in the pissing match between interim DDS Co-Directors Dallas Brown and David Goward. During announcements, Brown asks the Senate if they’ll support him in requesting that the Executive extend the application deadline for next year’s DDS Co-Director positions since there have thus far only been two applicants. President-Elect and Senate Ombudsman Jared Axelrod aptly points out that the positions should have been filled sooner since the Green Tape Notebook stipulates that interim positions may not last longer than three months. Some interesting ASUO political wankery here. (13:08 9.02mb mp3)

I hope I have sufficiently bored you. Good night!

“My Dinner with Jack”

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

This is a little outdated, and many of you who are “in the know”, so to speak, have probably already read it. Nonetheless, this is the cover story for the March third issue of the Weekly Standard, written by Oregon Commentator alum Mark Hemingway. It’s already gotten some play in the blogosphere from the likes of Hit and Run and the Volokh Conspiracy, and in my opinion it’s easily the funniest and most interesting article about that unlovable lobbying loser. I mean, it’s all about the making of Abramoff’s Dolph Lundgren film vehicle Red Scorpion. Awesome

It’s Just a Plant

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

13.jpg
Click to enlarge.

As far as I can tell, this children’s book about two hippie (read: unfit) parents who teach their young child about marijuana is not an elaborate hoax. It’s still quite funny.

(Via Screenhead)

Recent Comments List

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

As you can see on the sidebar, I’ve re-implemented the recent comments list that we had back when we were using Movable Type. Also, the archive is finally updated.

Jimmy Kimmel: Zionist Racist

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

The last full episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live I saw featured Kimmel and Snoop Dogg getting drunk on Vodka, and ended with Kimmel making fun of one of his guests, a ventriloquist, before manhandling his puppet. It was decent television, but nothing special. I’ve caught the show sporadically through the years, but I’ve never watched more than 10 minutes of it at a time.

But thanks to the rational folks at Indymedia (my only source for news), I now know that Jimmy Kimmel is nothing but a Zionist racist. What precipitated this discovery? Well, the other night Kimmel had Charlie Sheen on as a guest. At one point, the conversation turned to 9/11 — total yuck-yuck fare, I know — a topic that has interested Sheen ever since he stopped doing smack and donned his tinfoil hat. Sheen has questioned whether or not the government played a role in the attacks. But apparently Kimmel, being a conniving Zionist racist and all, was having nothing of it, and changed the topic. Thus, the apoplexy from the Indymedia crowd:

It’s nice that someone mentioned 911 truth on TV, but it’s obvious that Kimmel was just out for some ratings and had no intention of actually trying to find out anything new about 911.

Yep, another year without that coveted Pulitzer, Kimmel.

But [Sheen] did mention [9/11] so it was a small step forward. And Oprah? Well, don’t hold your breath on that one either. She still thinks James Earl Ray killed MLK.

Gasp. Fuckin’ Zionist racist.

what else would you expect. these t.v. talents and their producers didn’t get to be out-front of the big media machine by letting the a little truth disturb the surface of their trip through the status-quo media-matrix.

I have now begun peppering all sentences with the phrase “status quo media matrix”.

Note to Emerald: Look Up “Individual Responsibility”

Monday, April 17th, 2006

I usually don’t read the ODE editorials, as I have a strong aversion to mealy-mouthed opinions. But something about today’s editorial, “Mandatory insurance for health makes sense”, caught my attention: It’s bad … really bad.

Not far into the piece we get our first taste of the ODE’s sluggish cognitive abilities.

Individuals should be required to take preemptive measures, to ensure that the government and taxpayers will not be forced to pick up the slack once an accident or health problem occurs

Barely three sentences later, after extolling the legislation’s “amalgamation of the socialist value of government protection for all and the capitalist value of individual responsibility”, the ODE dishes us this nugget.

The government will help subsidize those with low incomes.

Brilliant, because governmental subsidies are completely unrelated to taxes. Seriously, no relation. I would expect this sort of poor argumentation from the sub-literates at the Insurgent, but I cannot fathom anyone at the ODE reading this and not realizing that it makes less sense than giving Paris Hilton a recording contract.

Two brilliant takedowns of mandatory health insurance can be found here and here (downloadable PDF), and naturally they come courtesy of the Cato Institute.

As Alan King states in his Wall Street Journal Op/Ed, “to subsidize zero-deductible health insurance, state taxpayers might have to pay about $6,000 per recipient.”

Undaunted, the Emerald continues by trotting out the poor people.

If lower-income citizens are forced to buy into a health insurance plan, they will be more likely to exercise early health-care measures such as scheduling regular visits to the doctor.

What an utterly condescending sentence. Think about it for a second. Now, if manufactured prescience concerning the behavioral patterns of the impoverished were a sound rhetorical device, then — and only then — would this argument make any sense. Instead, this anti-individualistic claptrap is patently paternalistic and therefore unconvincing. Giving the government unprecedented power is not the answer. Especially for “lower-income citizens”.

And make no mistake about it, this is an unprecedented plan. Although the Emerald claims that this plan is no different from legislation that forces car owners to purchase car insurance, it actually is quite a bit different. Purchasing a car is a choice that a person makes. After making this choice to purchase a car, a person must then legally insure it. Owning a car is not a right, but rather a privilege, thus certain stipulations apply. Merely existing, however, is not a choice, but rather a right. At no time has the government forced its citizens to purchase a good or service as a condition as merely existing.

Pulitzer Stuff

Monday, April 17th, 2006

I don’t normally give a damn about the Pulitzer Prize, but I was happy to see that two of this year’s winners were the much-deserving Times-Picayune of New Orleans and Sun Herald of Biloxi. Also among the winners were The Oregonian and Oregon native Nicholas Kristof.

An Open Letter to the Emerald

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Oh God, what’s he going to complain about now?

Rubes. I read the ODE daily. The majority of my time reading is often spent on the second-to-last page of the paper filling out a sudoku or struggling with the NYTimes crossword. I’m not alone: I’d say a good 1/5 of the people in my classes also at least attempt the sudoku or crossword. But facing me every day is Rubes, which I can flatly say is the worst syndicated comic I have ever seen. (Another Creator’s Syndicate comic, State of the Union, comes close.) I have never, ever laughed at it. I consciously try to avoid reading it, but I inevitably fail every day thanks to Rubes’ proximity to the crossword.

But Ian, what about Sally Forth, Cathy, or – gasp – Family Circus?

All of the above can be quite unintentionally funny at times. There’s the sheer stupidity of Sally Forth, the hilariously misogynistic predictability of Cathy (I’m still not entirely sure that “Cathy Guisewite” isn’t a pseudonym for an angry male cartoonist bent on repeatedly broadcasting every negative female stereotype), and the overarching sexual tension of Family Circus. At worst, I can read them and laugh at how bad they are. Their cinematic equivalents are Battlefield Earth and Manos: Hand of Fate. Rubes’ equivalent is Son of the Mask. Every viewing reinforces the feeling that I somehow deserve monetary compensation from its creators and distributors.

I don’t believe you. I’m sure Rubes has the occasional hilarious comic!

No. If there had ever been a funny instance of the comic I’m sure it would have been featured on the cover of one of Leigh Ruben’s books. Is this funny to you? Or this?

Now I’m sure Rubes is incredibly inexpensive to reprint and (as I well know) there’s something to be said for a low-effort feature that can take up white space every issue. But I have a better, cheaper idea: An empty white box with the heading “Make your own comic!” Cheap, effective, and it would creatively engage the readers. Just give it a shot, Parker Trina. And hell, if it doesn’t work out, then how ’bout a Jumble?

UPDATE: I’ve been informed that Parker Howell does not, in fact, have any control over the classifieds section of the ODE. Thus, I redirect my plea to Classified Manager Trina Shanaman. I’ll make you cookies, brownies, or whatever other baked good you desire! (Note: I am not particularly good at baking, but I will try my damndest.)

Elections Watch: Axelrod and Guzman Win

Friday, April 14th, 2006

Jared Axelrod and Juliana Guzman* – 1685
Todd Mann and Jontae Grace – 1502

Shimeon Greenwood* – 812
Manisha Marberry – 1067

Erica Anderson* – 1034
Lisha Menne – 886

Kyle McKenzie – 1023
Wannita Nualngam* – 930

Natalie Kinsey – 941
Cassandra Day* – 925

*Denotes member of Jared/Juliana slate.

Congratulations to Jared and Juliana on their victory. Despite my pessimistic view, I sincerely hope that fiscal responsibility, governmental independence, and observance of rules will be a hallmark of their term. Axelrod is certainly a competent and intelligent enough of a person– I just hope he has the political capital and will to make it happen.

Ad Hoc Committee: Due Process Too Annoying To Bother With.

Friday, April 14th, 2006

Ruff is probably wondering where my purported haitus from Teh Internet actually is, but I’ve found I can still get excitable about student politics. Don’t ask why, I think because I need to get out more. In any case, The Ol’ Dirty has a very positive guest commentary about changes to the University’s conduct code. The op-ed comes from some of the fools involved in the creation of the new Student Conduct Code.

Let’s go to the board, shall we:

Currently, a student who is physically abused off campus has no recourse on campus and would have to attend classes with their attacker. By expanding jurisdiction off campus to cover incidents of violence we hope to be able to address this issue.

We have these things called “courts” that are designed to handle violations of criminal law. If a person is convicted by one of these “courts” it is unlikely that he or she will be returning to campus any time soon. If a court fails to convict an individual, that means that for all legal purposes the allegation brought against same is false, at least as a matter of criminal justice. Being that the burden of proof is lower in civil court, alleged victims can seek recompense that way if a criminal court fails to convict. OJ didn’t do it, but he’s still broke.

The other significant issue is the role that lawyers play in the conduct process. The current formal hearing process is modeled on the legal system. A representative from the Department of Justice prosecutes the case on behalf of the University, and the accused student is defended by legal counsel. In the current system, both accused students and any witnesses can be cross-examined — just as they would be in a criminal or civil court. For many of us, the prospect of being cross-examined by a lawyer is enough to keep us from reporting possible conduct code violations or from using the system at all.

Yes, and it is modeled after the legal system for a reason: the legal system, for all its faults, is designed to give the accused as many rights as possible and is built upon the presumption of innocence. I also take issue with their statement later in the same paragraph that prosecuting a case and finding the truth are different. The purpose of a trial is a finding of fact: did or did not the person(s) in question, beyond a reasonable doubt, violate the law(s) in question. Simple concept, really. The implementation is difficult, sure, but the point is that the accused are presumed innocent. That brings me to the next little gem:

The change also levels the playing field as in our current process accused students have free legal representation provided by the Office of Student Advocacy whereas complaining parties — that is, the students affected by the alleged code violation — have no legal representation unless they hire their own attorney. This difference creates a disadvantage to those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

That’s great, except that in any sane legal system the ground between accuser and accused is not supposed to be level. Unless these busybodies want the University to revert to Napoleonic justice, the burden of proof must lie with the accuser. The entire purpose of due process is ensuring the legal rights of the accused. The already low burden of proof in the Student Affairs process (“preponderance of the evidence”, which amounts to basically a 50/50 liklihood of violation) makes it even more important that the accused have all of his/her rights protected. In a world where parodying unpublished materials stored in a public_html directory on a University server constitutes a violoation of the Conduct Code, taking proper legal representation out of the mix removes one of the few levels of protection for the accused.

It is your code. Together, let us create a code that enhances the educational mission of the university and one that provides a safe campus for everyone. If you have any questions or want to attend a feedback session, please e-mail Lisa Freinkel at freinkel@uoregon.edu.

Here’s my input: burn the thing. Write a simple, clear code that has only to do with academic malfeasance, and leave the rest of it to the grown ups in real court. Stop playing dress-up with justice, and stop infantalizing university students.

Comedy Central: Scared of Free Speech

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

I haven’t seen last night’s South Park episode yet, but I intend to ASAP. From an article on CNN.com:

Banned by Comedy Central from showing an image of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, the creators of “South Park” skewered their own network for hypocrisy in the cartoon’s most recent episode.

The comedy — in an episode aired during Holy Week for Christians — instead featured an image of Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and the American flag.

[...]

Parker and Stone were angered when told by Comedy Central several weeks ago that they could not run an image of Mohammed, according to a person close to the show who didn’t want to be identified because of the issue’s sensitivity.

The network’s decision was made over concerns for public safety, the person said.

Comedy Central said in a statement issued Thursday: “In light of recent world events, we feel we made the right decision.” Its executives would not comment further.

Comedy Central’s decision is based off of the rather bigoted notion that American Muslims will violently react to something shown on a basic cable cartoon show. Incredibly, Cartoon Network apparantly believes that it would be held responsible for such a violent reaction.

Of course, where there’s defecation, there’s Bill Donohue:

A frequent “South Park” critic, William Donohue of the anti-defamation group Catholic League, called on Parker and Stone to resign out of principle for being censored.

“The ultimate hypocrite is not Comedy Central — that’s their decision not to show the image of Mohammed or not — it’s Parker and Stone,” he said. “Like little whores, they’ll sit there and grab the bucks. They’ll sit there and they’ll whine and they’ll take their shot at Jesus. That’s their stock in trade.”

If they’re whores, then consider me a gentleman caller.

Looks like the tinfoilers were right on this one…

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

because every bit of information that goes through AT&T’s network also goes through NSA filters. Illegally, of course. Read this. Then read this. The “vulnerable to hackers” line is laughable to anyone who has an even rudimentary knowledge of computer network security.

Election Watch: Like Bush v. Gore, but with dirtier politics, less Texans, and Duckweb instead of Diebold

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006
  • According to Parker Howell on the ODE‘s experiment in democracy, the race between Mann/Grace and Axelrod/Guzman is within 30 votes:

    ASUO Elections Board Coordinator Ryan Coussens announced less than one hour ago that only 30 votes separated the Jared Axelrod-Juliana Guzman and Todd Mann-Jontea Grace tickets for ASUO Executive in this week’s primary as of 2:30 p.m.

    And by “announced” he means “neglected to inform the Commentator.”

    But nevermind that. At this point the real question is who’s going to get out the Pioneer Cemetary vote.