It’s been more than two months since our campus experienced a sudden wave of passion during a Dec. 11 meeting of the Pacifica Forum and actually decided to give it some attention; a stark contrast to last year when this very magazine was covering the Forum and no one cared.
What has ensued is a disaster of epic proportions. It began with protesters meeting and shouting down speaker for their “pro-Nazi” views. The issue then became about safety, with an attack directed toward a student group directly after. Finally, it has evolved into something so hideous, so disgusting it’s almost unbearable to write about. Yes, the Pacifica Forum has become a soap opera.
From all sides, the characters fill their Jungian archetypes as if they felt the ever-present frame of a soft lens and a dimly backlit stage. An e-mail from Billy Rojas surfaced recently that suggested that there was some kind of co-dependant love triangle between several Pacifica Forum members, resulting with the Forum’s host, Orval Etter, becoming open to persuasion for upcoming topics.
But we have seen the drama crest fall as well, hitting a low when two weeks ago the National Socialist Movement – a group of neo-Nazis – failed to show up at Forum. Just when the hippies had called in their “militants” to protest them, we miss out on a skin-head/freegan battle royale.
We’ve even seen the drama unfold on our own blog. Dawn Coslow, an active participant in the Pacifica Forum, went back-and-forth with other readers in the comment sections for weeks. Students seem to have taken issue with us, needlessly, as well. When we published a series of e-mails between an ASUO Senator and a student, the hammer somehow came down on the Commentator, despite both parties having willingly sent us the e-mails. “It was,” they said, “a mistake.”
Yet despite our own student’s poor understanding of journalism law, that is what this whole debate has been. A mistake. It’s been a mistake on the part of the public, who have come to assume that the Pacifica Forum is a “Nazi group.” It’s been a mistake on the part of the anti-Pacifica protesters, who lodged their complaints in the realm of free speech, then quickly changed it to “safety.”
But mostly, it’s been a mistake on the part of all of us, equally, for giving the Pacifica Forum it’s due attention when clearly they are undeserving. The Forum hosts debates about highly controversial topics, but continually fails to offer a complete point/counterpoint discussion from equally opposite sides. What the Forum is, essentially, is a series of crackpots – Nazis, holocaust deniers etc. – and a few speakers who unenthusiastically try to refute their insane claims.
What we’ve done, essentially, is give weight to the words of a room full of Dale Gribbles. Stroking their ego, they no doubt meticulously checked this blog, the Emerald and the Insurgent for precious mentions of their forum during the last two months. But the whole thing has come crashing down lately. With the “who is giving who the business?” talk in Billy Rojas’ recent e-mail, we have undoubtedly finished the final scene of Act III. The Pacifica Forum has climaxed, and sweet Jesus I’m glad the curtain has closed.