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“I Feel It Is Our Responsibility To Take Action…”

This is extremely long and wordy, so those of you with short attention spans can skip right to the comments section, engage your caps lock key, and start with the fire and brimstone. The rest of you: please be patient.

UPDATE: Tonight’s Student Senate meeting will take place at 7:00 pm in the EMU Fir Room.
Student Senator Dallas Brown is set to introduce a resolution at this Wednesday’s Senate meeting which condemns the Insurgent‘s Aroused Jesus issue and threatens to cut their funding by at least 50% in the upcoming year if they do not issue an apology.

The following is directly from a letter Brown sent late last night to the rest of the Senate (formatting errors are verbatim from the email):

Hey guys, I put this resolution in Stephanie’s mailbox on Thursday
with a note…Its not on the agenda for Weds.meeting for some reason.
I was hoping we could debate this. I feel it is our responsibility to
take action and I hope everyone sees the merit in hearing this
resolution. It will probably be very publicized and I hope both Mike
and Jared see the benefit of postponing official resignation as to be
included as voting members.

Lets go out with a bang.

Resolution to Condemn the “Student Insurgent’s March 2006, volume
17.4 publication.

Author: Dallas W. Brown

Sponsor: Dallas W. Brown

1.Resolution To Condemn the “Student Insurgent’s” March
2006,volume 17.4 2.publication, funded by the Associated Students of
the University of Oregon Incidental 3.Fee.

4.Whereas, the effects of the issue have resulted in the potential
loss of University 5.Alumni donations, ticket sales to athletic events
and enrollment, and

6.Whereas, the content of the issue offended a significant number of
individuals who 7.attend the University, and

8.Whereas, the content of the issue was pornographic, and distributed
in public places, 9.and

10.Whereas, the content was designed to offend and not educate,

11.Whereas, the content was malicious and vulgar,

12.Whereas, the content cannot be defended as means to the cultural
and physical 13.development of campus, and

14.Whereas, the University is an avenue for discourse and argument and
a institute for 15.cultural tolerance,

16.Whereras, student fees primarly fund the “Student Insurgent”,

17.Be it Resolved;

18.The ASUO Student Senate formally condemns the March 2006 issue of
the campus 19.published “Student Insurgent”, and

20.Demands a formal apology from the “Student Insurgent” to
offended members of the 21.community,

22.Uses educational benefit as the criteria for published materials in
the future, and

23.If the above recommendations are not implemented by members of the
“Student 24.Insurgent” be it further Resolved;

25.The Student Senate formally requests that the Programs Finance
Committee initiate 26.cuts to the “Student Insurgent” 2007-2008
budget allotment request to equal or exceed 27. 50% of the 2006-2007
allocated budget.

As anyone who has been following our blog could tell, this resolution appears to ignore the Southworth Supreme Court decision. I asked both outgoing ASUO President Adam Walsh and incoming President Jared Axelrod what their thoughts on Brown’s resolution were. “I hope he’s joking,” opined Walsh. “The resolution itself would never pass through the Con. Court” since it attacks the Insurgent’s funding and is “a blatant violation of viewpoint neutrality in the budget process.” Walsh added that the Executive would oppose the resolution at the Senate meeting, which coincidentally takes place on the last day he holds office. Axelrod was more guarded in his remarks but nevertheless agreed, stating “while I personally disagree with what was printed in the Student Insurgent, I stand behind students’ First Amendment freedom of speech rights.”

Needless to say, I was perplexed by Brown’s decision to go ahead with the resolution and decided that we at the Commentator should talk to him to discover his reasoning.

Brown’s argument is essentially that Southworth does not fully extend First Amendment rights to student-funded groups. According to him, it allows the door to be closed, for instance, to content does not promote the physical and cultural development of the student body or is pornographic in nature. “The University defines the standards by which publications can print,” he said. “And this University has defined that standard as programs which support the physical and cultural development of the University.”

“Within Southworth it says that the University establishes a general criteria for which to judge programs. It’s a mission and goals statement, essentially. And they have to be aiding [the University] in certain things. Like for instance, the University of Oregon is very clear throughout the Green Tape Notebook—it’s the most common phrase—‘to benefit the cultural and physical development of the University’. All I have to supply is evidence that shows that the Insurgent did counter to that criteria and goal. And they have so.”

But when I asked him if the Insurgent had not indeed created discourse and debate, he agreed, saying that “there has been discourse and debate about this to some extent, but that wasn’t the intentions of the individuals who did it. In fact, the[ir] intentions were to offend.”

But based on the Insurgent’s issue, this is only partially true. While collective member Jessica Brown, who writes like sperm think, made quite clear that her intention was to offend and “piss people off,” the willy-nilly editorial explicitly states “we also intend to provoke dialogue.” And it becomes clear that the Insurgent intended to create debate since there is debate within the very pages of the issue. The section titled “What The Hell Were We Thinking???” reveals a rare individualistic opportunity for Survival Center hangers-on to voice differing opinions on the matter: “Why are so many people I know comfortable bashing on Christianity? It’s not kosher to rip on any other religion and tear it to shreds,” says “Dinae,” who also claims to have opposed the publication of the Jesus cartoons.

What is so incredibly galling about efforts to defund the Insurgent is that it plays into exactly what they allege in their pages: that the U.S. is not tolerant of free speech when negativity is directed towards its dominant religion. As Don Goldman states, “we present these cartoons as a test. Just how much do we honor our own freedom of speech and how well do we deal with opposition to the U.S. religions?” Indeed, it’s almost as if the anti-free speech crusaders are doing whatever they can to prove the Insurgent‘s allegations correct.

“[T]he fact is, they had an image that was created with the sole intent and purpose of offending as many people as possible,” Brown said. One would “have a hard time defending the artistic qualities of something that has that reason [for being] created. In fact that goes more under the lines of something that’s pornographic.” Incredibly, Don Goldman also addresses this in his writeup (which, I remind you, is in the same issue as the cartoons): “‘Pornography’ still has no definition, but the reactionary right uses the word to ban all nudity, sex and anything that might concern the body from the naval down. The real issue of freedom of speech is the right to publish naked pictures of human beings.” Goldman is partly wrong– pornography does have a definition, albeit one which is murky: pornography is essentially erotic depictions created to stimulate sexual excitement within the viewer.

Was anyone was turned on by the Insurgent’s cover? Disgusted, offended, or dismayed, sure. But aroused? Wait, please don’t answer that.

Let’s say this once more, hopefully for the last time. Given that the Insurgent hasn’t printed anything illegal – which it hasn’t, and that wouldn’t be for the ASUO to decide in any case – the Programs Finance Committee can’t cut the Insurgent’s budget based on their content (although they can cut it for spending too much money on things unrelated to putting out the magazine, like travel or paying stipends to collective members – just a thought). Senate can’t pass a resolution cutting their budget based on their content. The Executive can’t capriciously decide to slice their budget based on their content. No part of the student government can start making decisions about the Insurgent’s funding based on their content. People in student government who are not named “Adam” seem to find this an incredibly difficult concept, so let me also say that even if a new committee were to be formed – one that hasn’t even been thought of yet, one that is still just a twinkle in a bureaucrat’s eye – then it still wouldn’t be able to cut the Insurgent’s budget based on its content.

Pause. “OK, then what we’ll do is refuse to recognize their mission statement, so then they won’t be able to-” No. You can’t do that either. What you can do is remove all funding for all student groups who advocate non-neutral viewpoints, which we at the Commentator would certainly be in favor of. Of course, this has a snowman’s chance in hell of happening, despite the fact that this controversy has pleasingly upgraded it from a snowball.

And while it would be a nice gesture if the Insurgent were to apologize for their recent infantile ramblings, it’s worth noting that the Collective has undergone a bit of a shake-up since Aroused Jesus came along. Don Goldman and Pira Kelly, to name but two, are no longer on the list of contributors. It might be a good bit of public relations for their successors to point this out. But be that as it may, the student government has neither legal nor moral authority to compel an apology from them. Dallas Brown’s resolution is an empty threat and a pointless piece of showboating intended to impress upon donors that the UO won’t stand for this sort of blasphemy. As Brown said in our interview: “I’m standing up for my constituents who, you know, deserve the funding that they receive from donors, from alumni, [and] from people who support the athletic teams at the University.”

One would hope that wealthy donors would take the law and not emotion into consideration when deciding what to do with their money.

  1. […] I’ve made a slight change to our comments system in order to help visitors identify comments that are not from who they say they’re from. One of the limitations of the WordPress comment system is that anyone can enter any username and any email address, so it’s relatively easy for people to pretend to be, for instance, Jared Axelrod. Well, we aren’t removing that ability– anonymous comments are here to stay. But we are enabling people to register on our site and be identified as who they say they are when they post. These users will be delineated by a red asterisk next to their name. So how do you register? […]

  2. Timothy says:

    If you attempt to single out one of us, you will have to deal with all of us.

    They say that as if it’s any more intellectually challenging.

  3. Andy says:

    However, we will not allow any person within our group to be attacked. We are not a hierarchy. There is no individual entitled to full credit or complete blame for anything we produce. We are a collective. If you attempt to single out one of us, you will have to deal with all of us.

    Well maybe if you all weren’t such pussies, had an office or phone number, you could substantiate that threat. We had to send Tgraf to defend your sorry asses.

  4. Olly says:

    And while it would be a nice gesture if the Insurgent were to apologize for their recent infantile ramblings, it

  5. The Master says:

    Let’s see…I wrote my prediction after I got out of a meeting with the Senate President (Stephanie Erickson).

    So yes, I know my shit.

    HOWEVER, I did NOT know about O’Reilly nominating Dallas Brown for sainthood (and Dallas is a good guy, let me tell you) on his 5PM show.

    Because of issues unseen (O’Reilly), I believe that my statement still stands as per the time it was submitted.

  6. […] It’s 7:10 and the meeting’s beginning. Senator Dallas Brown has made a motion to add his resolution regarding the Insurgent to the agenda, which Senator Sara Hamilton has seconded. I’ll be doing occasional updates to this post as the meeting progresses. […]

  7. Timothy says:

    Is is up to the University of Oregon to decide if a group deserves money? Or once a group gets money they can

  8. The Master Knows Shit says:

    I guarentee you that the Student Insurgent will be on the agenda tonight

  9. The Ombudsman is a stupid name Jared says:

    hahaahaha…from a source deep inside the Axelrood circle…, “the words ‘squeal like a pig’ were heard.”

  10. Anthony says:

    Nate is a fucking idiot…could he please stop licking Jared’s ball sac and grow some of his own? What an idiot! He really needs to have a reality check…I feel real sorry for the student body next year with him on Student Senate… I wonder if he had to say “Yes sir, may I have another?” to join the Axelrod cult. hmmm…

  11. The Ombudsman is a stupid name Jared says:

    Note to Nate: Remove mouth from Jared’s dick

  12. The Master says:

    PARODY! I love it. Where’s the Commentator meeting tonight?

  13. Nate says:

    Jared, God Bless you! …the real Jared that is. Not the “Dallas-loving” Commy that attempted to slander your name. Continue serving as the light amongst the darkness that is student government! Only with truely experinced leaders such as yourself in power will anything truly important to all students ever get taken care of. You are the ONLY person that can be “viewpoint neutral” because you are not in any program, and you have no ties to them.

    Long story short, fuck Dallas, imposters, and the insurgent… and long live Jared!

  14. Friend of the Staff says:

    Motion to add David Goward to that Resolution above….

  15. Andy says:

    Copy that jimbo – only fiscal irresponsibility is cause for decline in funding.

  16. The Ombudsman is a stupid name Jared says:

    I heard a resolution maintaining the lack of Bill O’Riley’s intelligence, whereas he is ignorant and hates Southworth… is going to be put on the agenda tonight. I think it could pass unanamiously

  17. Jimbo says:

    So Tim, what if … “a university determines that its mission is well served if students have the means to engage in dynamic discussion on a broad range of issues, it may impose a mandatory fee to sustain such dialogue.” then the university decides that a group’s mission is no longer fullfilling these objectives. Is is up to the University of Oregon to decide if a group deserves money? Or once a group gets money they can’t loose any unless they are fiscally irresponsible?

  18. The Master says:

    I have it on good knowledge that the resolution is NOT on the agenda for this evening.

  19. Timothy says:

    From Southworth:

    If a university determines that its mission is well served if students have the means to engage in dynamic discussion on a broad range of issues, it may impose a mandatory fee to sustain such dialogue. It must provide some protection to its students

  20. Timothy says:

    *sigh* Here goes.

    Southworth doesn’t confirm a right to have a mandatory incidental fee, but it does confirm that having such a fee is not unconstitutional, so long as distribution of that fee is done in a viewpoint-neutral manner. That is, without respect to the viewpoint of the group requesting funding. General requirements that apply across the board are okay, so long as those rules don’t address the viewpoint held by the group. Mostly this means complying with requirements for public money, and not having direct political affiliations. For example, the College Republicans and College Democrats cannot get incidental fee funding. Southworth also killed fee-funding via student ballot measure, as that obviously violates the principle of viewpoint neutrality. It did, however, leave the option of an opt-in fee, but as far as I know very few Universities have taken this route.

    As Heath noted above, Rosenberger established that a University could not use the opinions/position/viewpoint of a student group as reason to deny funding. This translates pretty easily into student publications not being subject to defunding due to their content.

    I don’t really get where you’re going with the ASUO…Southworth dealt with a student who did not feel he should be required to pay the incidental fee as it funded speech with which he disagreed. In essence his argument was that the fee constituted compelled speech and thereby violated his First Amendment right of free association. The ruling determined that the fee can be constitutionally collected, so long as it is distributed in a viewpoint-neutral manner. The ASUO is the mechanism by which the fee is distributed at the University of Oregon, so they are bound by viewpoint neutrality.

  21. Jimbo says:

    Someone clarify, maybe the ombudsman guy, you seem to know your shit… So this Supreme Court case says that students have the right to have a fee, give that fee to student groups, but as long as the student groups don’t break the law or rules they can do whatever they want? Is that really what the Supreme Court meant? Also, I was just reading the Sourthworth opinion, and it seems the issue there was regarding the general student who disagrees with what a group does. Isn’t this case different since this is the ASUO people not the general students?

  22. Timothy says:

    Just let ’em fight to the death.

  23. Andy says:

    quickly Jared, tell us the name of your mother’s first pet – then we shall know whom the imposter REALLY is!

  24. The Ombudsman says:

    That post by an imposter was not posted by Jared Axelrod, and I disagree with what that says. I do not agree with Dallas on this issue or with the resolution, especially with the fee reducing provision, as it is not viewpoint neutral. Its pretty simple, really, and the ASUO should be basing its decisions on law, not on personal opinions.

  25. Timothy says:

    Gotta protect the fee!

  26. Ian says:

    Oh good, I was afraid for a moment that everyone on Senate had come to their senses and ended this nonsense.

  27. Jared says:

    Actually Nate you are incorrect. I am tempted to agree with Dallas on this one as long as we remove the final fee reducing provision. Southworth does give some limitation to the use of fee money and we can’t let the fee turn into a blank check that can be used in direct contradiction to the mission of the group, of the fee, and of the university.

  28. Nate says:

    Jared will set Dallas straight tonight! No worries!

  29. Pat says:

    JESUS H KABAL OF ASSHOLES WHAT IS GOING ON HERE.

  30. Niedermeyer says:

    Dallas:
    Save it for tonights meeting. We are all curious to see how this pans out, but untill concrete action is taken tonight, talk is cheap.

  31. Timothy says:

    One would hope that wealthy donors would take the law and not emotion into consideration when deciding what to do with their money.

    They give their money to a back-water state school, I don’t think this is particularly likely.

  32. Dallas says:

    Well this will be the second and final retraction. I cannot justify my arguements to the extent legally that I originally assumed. I’m going to pretend it never happened and see if anybody notices…I admit it, I fucked up on this one.

  33. Dallas says:

    Well this will be the second and final retraction. I

  34. Heath says:

    Certainly, this man’s resolution has little merit or sense.

    My problem with the Insurgent and with the Oregon Voice has always been that they’re lousy–and I don’t see any reason that they couldn’t be defunded based on a criterion of quality if that requirement were instituted in the future.

    Rosenberger notes that “The quality and creative power of student intellectual life to this day remains a vital measure of a school’s influence and attainment. For the University, by regulation, to cast disapproval on particular viewpoints of its students risks the suppression of free speech and creative inquiry in one of the vital centers for the nation’s intellectual life, its college and university campuses,” clearly indicating that a university may be legitimately concerned for the quality of its intellectual life. A requirement that fee-funded publications produce coherent material of a professional level would allow a multitude of viewpoints and content– it would permit publications such as H-Bomb or Vita Excolatur because of the quality of their photography, even if they might be classified as pornography, and it would allow publications such as Lampoon or the Virginia Advocate, which espouse clear and sometimes disagreeable viewpoints.

    Certainly, a standard of quality might not be easily administrable, but, as long as it was implemented in a manner that did not unduly target the proponents of any particular viewpoint, I see no constitutional objection to it. All of the cites at the beginning of Rosenberger make clear that the Nine Wise Souls are mainly concerned with decisions made based on substantive content, not on form or quality: It is axiomatic that the government may not regulate speech based on its substantive content or the message it conveys. Police Dept. of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92, 96 (1972). Other principles follow from this precept. In the realm of private speech or expression, government regulation may not favor one speaker over another. City Council of Los Angeles v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789, 804 (1984). Discrimination against speech because of its message is presumed to be unconstitutional. See Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC, 512 U. S. __, __ (1994) (slip op., at 16-19). These rules informed our determination that the government offends the First Amendment when it imposes financial burdens on certain speakers based on the content of their expression. Simon & Schuster, Inc. v. Members of N. Y. State Crime Victims Bd., 502 U.S. 105, 115 (1991). When the government targets not subject matter but particular views taken by speakers on a subject, the violation of the First Amendment is all the more blatant. See R. A. V. v. St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377, 391 (1992). Viewpoint discrimination is thus an egregious form of content discrimination. The government must abstain from regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the opinion or perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction. See Perry Ed. Assn. v. Perry Local Educators’ Assn., 460 U.S. 37, 46 (1983).

    In short, Justice Breyer asked in the orals for Rosenberger (rather plaintively) “But what they say that they’re doing is, they’re funding educational activities by students, and they don’t want to fund noneducational activities. Why can’t they do that? Do they have to fund every activity? I mean, why can’t they?” The Insurgent isn’t any worse or more offensive than it used to be–it’s just a badly-written rag filled with poorly-argued tripe. Implementing a funding calculus that required all fee-funded publications to produce work of some sense and professionalism seems rather more useful to me than trying to pass silly condemnations against a publication run by halfwits.

  35. Andy says:

    Welcome to the hypocrisy of government ladies and gentlemen.
    As the supreme court has stated – it’s all or nothing. This is democracy in action! All of you statist voter-touters meet the insurgent – the antithesis of your beloved false idol, democracy.

    The entire ASUO staff can directly be linked to democratic votes of the student body, and the insurgent exists because it is funded by the student body. The insurgent represents the student body’s choices – which is something Dallas’ head is going double takes upon. Also at the same time, he realizes that he actually has principles he wishes to follow regarding free speech.

    Hey Dallas, you can have your cake and eat it too – but it’s not going to feel right.

    By proclaiming your self as as Anarchist, we can see the likes of the insurgent go the way of the dodo, while also having free speech – due to the free market. \
    You should have joined my campaign and helped dismantle the ASUO, so only wanted publications are produced on campus. It is SO personally enriching for me to see this battle in everyones minds – it must be ripping you statists to shreds on the inside!!!

    You want chaos?? How about when O’Reily and the Catholic League made the UO of a national scandal! How about when the Oregonian, RG, WND, and a plethora of other news media reach out the the alumni all across this country and they are slapped in the face with this news? That is chaos, Dallas.

    How would it make you feel if donations were dramatically less because of this – that education suffered for the hapless student body – and it is all because of YOU!!!

    You see Dallas, we paying the Fee don’t have much of a choice, but YOU do. You were at least elected, and while I fought to prevent something like this happening months ago, you encouraged it in your campaign, and now where there is crisis, you write a baseless threat weeks after the controversy started.

    It is your fault Dallas, and everyone else at the ASUO, and the Frohn too. You created this feast of chaos, and the insurgent is going to make you eat it all.

  36. Olly says:

    “I… have a wet dream!”

    I laughed at that. I am a bad person. Anyway, didn’t the Onion do a “Martin Luther King Had This Really Weird Dream Last Night” spoof? (I know, I know, they’re professionals.)

    Although I think it’s a waste of time, there’s nothing technically wrong with the Senate formally condemning the Insurgent; I suppose it’s marginally less stupid than having them formally condemn Iran’s nuclear program. (And hey, we’ve been formally, although more often informally, condemning the Insurgent since way before it was cool.) But this naive presumption that you can get out of viewpoint neutrality in funding by citing the “cultural and physical development” line – we keep knocking it down, and it keeps springing back up. It’s not going to play, and it makes my head hurt from being beaten against things.

  37. Bruce says:

    Re: “What is so incredibly galling about efforts to defund the Insurgent is that it is playing into exactly what they allege in their pages: that the U.S. is not tolerant of free speech when negativity is directed towards its dominant religion. As Don Goldman states,

  38. Niedermeyer says:

    Ians phrasing of “genuinely torn both ways” could almost be an understatement. In circumstances which somewhat mirror the predicament of John McCain, Dallas seems to feel forced to appear “responsible” to make up for his typically inconvenient independent streak. Like with McCain, it calls into question the authenticity of the qualities which attracted voters to him in the first place, or at least won him some sympathy around the Commentator campfire. Let me say this: I had laughed off the “Christian Hegemony” claims that the Insurgent issue made (as I laugh off nearly every claim the Insurgent makes), untill today. If Dallas Brown is playing bagman for the lunatic fringe of the christian right, then there is such thing as a Christian Hegemony, and I’m frightened.

  39. Jeff says:

    Where is Mason Quiroz when you need him?
    Olly’s post pretty much sums it up, and I hope most people who read this blog understand the basic fundamentals behind viewpoint neutrality (although probably not everyone, but if you want to learn, click on one of the Southworth links in earlier posts). Dallas is digging himself in a deep hole here, and will be interesting to see himself try and get out. The senate meeting where this is heard, Im guessing, will be eerily similar to last years debacle in the Walnut Room (the OC staff know what Im talking about). I hope the senate laughs this out of the room.

  40. Ian says:

    After re-reading the post I realize that I didn’t mention something which was fairly important: Brown appears genuinely torn both ways on this issue. He ultimately feels the way in which I described his thoughts in the post, but he clearly has reservations proposing the resolution. I certainly did not get the impression that he personally was terribly offended by the Insurgent’s content. Instead, I think his ultimate concern is the health of the University– by taking a stand against the Insurgent he hopes that our image won’t suffer as badly in the eyes of outsiders and alumni.

    Personally, I’ll take our image suffering if it’s through an ignoramus’ lens. The UO is observing established law, it’s as simple as that.

  41. Olly says:

    Like for instance, the University of Oregon is very clear throughout the Green Tape Notebook

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