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Journalists should be held accountable like you and me: A response to Kevin Sullivan

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Due to it’s timely matter, The Commentator has decided to publish this piece online. It will also appear in our physical publication later this month. 

On Monday, January 6th columnist Kevin Sullivan published an opinion column in the Daily Emerald that left a rather sour taste in my mouth. Of course, I’m not much of one to read the Emerald regularly (because I already know how to have fun in the snow in Bend and find an instruction manual for this not necessary), but when I happened upon Kevin’s most recent opinion piece “Athletes should be held accountable like you and me” I knew a response from The Commentator would be necessary. Of course, here at The Commentator, we couldn’t agree more with Kevin’s notion that athletes are a favored bunch throughout our national universities (and especially here at UO). Kevin, we commend your effort to put these athletes in their place and ensure that everyone is held accountable for their actions.

The problem with Kevin’s piece is his insight into the Jameis Winston rape case that was closed a little over a month ago in December. Writes Kevin:

         Imagine a case of sexual assault. A 9-11 call surfaces after a month of the case being in the mainstream news but a year after the survivor first reported the rape. The survivor has already identified the man who had raped her and DNA evidence had proven that he indeed had sex with her.
        This guy was obviously convicted right?
        Wrong.

Now hold it right there, Kevin. Why should this guy obviously be convicted? Based on the story you just told, I reached the conclusion that the man should obviously not be convicted! We’re supposed to think that DNA evidence proving that two people had sex is evidence of rape? Because there’s no such thing as consensual sex, right Kev?

I’m not here to argue against the innocence of Winston [...] I’m here to state the truth writes Kevin right after conclusively referring to Winston as “the man who had raped her“. Welcome to America, where all are guilty until proven innocent… good thing our justice system doesn’t operate on the same rules that Kevin does.  All I’m saying is that we have words like “alleged” so that journalists can refer to the accused without definitively calling them, as Kevin does,  ”the assailant“. Throughout his piece, it is clear that Kevin has made his mind up about the Winston case. He repeatedly refers to the accuser as “the victim” and contextualizes the story in a way that makes it obvious to us all that the tenant of “innocent until proven guilty” is only applicable until an Ol’ Dirty Emerald columnist decides that it is not. And all this in a piece where Kevin calls out the media for not properly framing a story and for “poorly reported stories“. Kev, we’re all beginning to drown in the irony here.

Of course, I cannot disagree with your main point that the accuser received a lot of hate from FSU fans and the public alike. Yes, that happened, but it does not determine whether or not Winston is guilty or not. Let’s be honest this rape allegation will always be tied in with Jameis Winston’s name as well. The truth is, there just was not enough evidence to convict Jameis of anything. This doesn’t mean that he isn’t a rapist, but (without concrete evidence) we will never know what happened.  Of course, since Kevin is already sure of his verdict, we invite him to pour through the case evidence that the state attorney released.

The point is, while there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with our judicial system, it’s ethically wrong to debase the innocent until proven guilty that our justice system is based on. Kevin, until you’re ready to present concrete evidence that Jameis Winston is a rapist, we cannot refer to him as one. And when you do have that concrete evidence, we highly encourage you to fax it over to the Tampa police so the case can be reopened.

It was not only Kevin’s absurdly definitive reporting of Winston’s guilt that infuriates us here at The Commentator. It seems like it would also be relevant to point out here that the opinion piece misreported a couple things. Writes Kevin:

[O]ne insightful anchor on “Good Morning America” put it on Dec. 12, “I just want this one to go away.”
Let me repeat that.
One of the anchors from ‘Good Morning America,” the leading morning show in America, said that he wanted the story of the Winston case to “go away.”

Good thing you repeated this twice, Kevin. Does that mean we can charge you with two accounts of false reporting? Take a look at the video that is being referenced, and I think it will be as clear to you as it was to me- Stephanopoulos says “They just want this one to go away.” Of course, by changing this one critical word you completely change the intention of Stephanopoulos’ comment. I see what you did there. Clever, Kev. Very clever.

Of course, why stop here? Let’s also get a source for those statistics you’re referencing. Writes Kevin: “the percentage of women who falsely report rape is very low and not any higher than any other false reporting of other crimes” I’ll forget about how terribly phrased this sentence is for a minute, so I can present some statistics:

Since 1996 “unfounded” rape accusations are reported by the FBI to be around 8%, while other index crimes have been around 2%.  Of course, “unfounded” does not necessarily mean “false allegation”. It is almost impossible to discover the true percentage of false rape accusations, but many estimate that they are higher than index crimes. Of course, I’m guessing Kevin found his statistics in ”Against Our Will”. Nice. Very reliable source, Kev.

“Football should not trump [...] our judicial system” writes Kevin in conclusion to his article. Let us remind you, Kev, that bad journalism should not trump our judicial system either.

Alright, kiddos, that’s all we’ve got until we hear back from Kevin. In the meantime let’s all remember that everyone accused of rape is guilty, especially if there isn’t enough evidence to prove it.

Thomas Tullis

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Zimmerman, Stand Your Ground, and the Racial Circus

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

A Neighborhood Watch leader follows a suspicious character in the neighborhood and after being assaulted, and having his skull repeatedly bashed into the concrete, shoots and kills the assailant.  Most people reading that would probably respond differently than the way some have responded to the media circus and lynching of George Zimmerman.  What about this situation is worthy of the hype and uproar that has been thrust upon us for the last year?  Nothing!  The same situation happened elsewhere only it was a black Neighborhood Watch person and white assailants and surprise surprise, no uproar.

The Stand Your Ground law has been paraded about as another villain in this event, yet it had nothing to do with the event.  Unfortunately, not even our supposed constitutional scholar president is able to understand a very simple law.  Stand Your Ground says that if you are legally allowed to be somewhere and someone threatens your life you are able to defend yourself without first retreating.  In other words if I pull a knife or gun on you while you are walking down the street you can use deadly force (read gun) to defend yourself.  You do not have to turn and run.  You can stand your ground, hence the name of the law.  Now in the Zimmerman case, his head was being bashed into concrete.  Retreating is not an option at that point.  This was purely self defense.  He was not able to retreat once his life became endangered.  Mr. Martin was not unarmed, he was using the concrete as a weapon.

The ugly part of this was the race baiting that went on by those in the media and the White House.  “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon.”  I seriously doubt that a child of a president would be thugged out, smoking weed, and getting suspended from school for criminal activity.  Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson just showed their ability to profit off a tragedy as usual.  Why is it that this was considered a white on black crime when Zimmerman is half Peruvian?  Oh but Barack Obama is black even though he is half white.  In the eyes of some race is the only issue and no matter what it must have played a role.  It was the fact that Martin was black, not that he looked like a thug in an area that had seen a spike in break ins, that got him followed.

Now onto the head shake aspect.  It is sad to see how many people suck at the teat of celebrities that they blindly accept and follow what ever their favorite celebrities spout.  Zimmerman is an evil bastard and Trayvon Martin was a poor innocent thug.  No one stopped to question why this case was being pushed over numerous other cases where a black youth was killed.  They just continued on with the talking points of the hypocrites who think it is wrong for you and I to defend ourselves while they have armed security guards to protect them.

Chief McDermed Contradicted by Community Icon Officer Randy Ellis

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

The arming of UOPD is problematic in a number of ways. As the Register Guard points out, the East 13th Avenue police substation of EPD is in danger of losing funding– something the businesses and residents of the area don’t want.

Wait, area businesses and residents are in favor of EPD’s presence on East 13th Avenue? Not necessarily. What they favor is the man behind the badge, officer Randy Ellis.

As the RG reports, EPD’s only remaining substation is run by Ellis. The experienced officer has been patrolling the area between Kincaid and High for about 20 years. Back in the early 1990s, 13th Avenue was a drug-addled, trick-turning, vagrant-fest. Ellis turned that all around with his intimate foot patrol.

Ellis, quoted by the RG:

“As far as I’m concerned, technology is overrated,” Ellis said. “I don’t like it. You don’t talk to people.”

This bears a striking contrast to the perspective of Interim Police Chief McDermed when asked about patrol time spent walking/biking versus driving: “Our cars are our offices.”

(more…)

Deja Vu at the Campbell Club

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

A little bit of deja vu as the UO looks at expanding the powers of our campus police force:

When a “telephonic search warrant” was issued by a municipal court judge to enter the Campbell Club after lack of compliance with police, residents then decided to cooperate.

As reported by the Ol’ Dirty:

After police finished their search, 14 residents were taken into custody and stayed the night in the Lane County Jail after being charged with prohibited noise — where six of those 14 were also cited for interfering with police in addition to one resident cited with resisting arrest. Another nine residents received citations in lieu of custody for prohibited noise, and eight minors received MIP citations.

See the old post by former Commentator CJ Ciaramella detailing a similar raid from about 5 years ago.

Kidnapping on Villard this morning

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

We just received this news update from EPD:

Case # 13-1268

At about 2:30 this morning, two men left their apartment on Villard Street to pick up a friend. When they got into their car, a frightening surprise awaited them. Jeramey Ortega, 27 of Halsey, OR was in the backseat, and told both men that he would shoot them if they did not comply with his demands.

Following Ortega’s orders, the two men drive him to various locations, wherein each man had seized opportunities to flee the car at a convenience store and a Coburg Road shopping center, respectively. The first victim to flee was giving police a description of the kidnapper right around the time the remaining victim caught this aggressor slippin’ and punched him “at least 20 times before ordering him out of the car,” as the report states. Ortega then ran South where he was reported to be sleeping in a car on Centennial Loop about four hours later. The police arrested him without incident after noticing he matched the suspect description. Ortega was wanted for warrants in two other jurisdictions and  a Parole Violation.

Watch yourselves and be safe out there people! These victims were lucky to be unharmed.

Newtown, CT Shooting

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Our hearts go out to the grieving families in Newtown, Connecticut, in the aftermath of an elementary school shooting that killed 20 children and six adults. Shooter Adam Lanza killed himself soon after police were called.

This atrocity is unignorable. The Commentator is working on an article that addresses the gun control debate from all possible angles and from all possible perspectives. For now, our love and condolences are with Newtown.

The Address for donations is: SandyHook School Support Fund c/o Newtown Savings Bank 39 Main St Newtown, CT 06470

The address for the school is where cards, letters, teddy bears anything for the siblings can be sent for the families: Sandy Hook Elementary School 12 Dickinson Drive, Sandy Hook, CT 06482

Thanks to Swamp Fox Green for the donation information (the full post can be read here).

Prevalence of On-Campus Sexual Assault Highlights University Failures

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

As anyone with a working University email address already knows, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) recently sent out an email detailing two separates rapes that occurred near Autzen Stadium and Chase Village. The tentatively-worded email states that

“Police have learned from second and third hand sources that there may have been three separate rapes within a five-day period near Chase Village and Autzen Stadium, beginning Thursday, June 28. No female victims have come forward or wish to file a report, so the information is unverified…

In one incident on June 29, a woman was walking alone around 10 p.m. on the bike path near Autzen Stadium when she was raped by a man with a knife. The suspect is described as a black male, 6′ tall, 200 pounds, with muscular build, and shaved head.

A second-hand report EPD has received is that two additional female victims have been raped on unknown dates, but within the same week, also in the same general area. One of these two incidents involved a similar suspect: black male, 6′ tall, 200 pounds, with muscular build, and shaved head.”

Besides being a horrifying and disturbing event, the incidents described in the email also point out the relative ineffectiveness of DPS and the overbearing presence of a “rape culture” around the UO. These are big claims to make, but stick with me here.

Based on the amount of “Campus Crime Alerts” I receive in my inbox on a weekly basis, it’s fairly clear that DPS is unable to “provid[e] a safe, secure, and welcoming environment.” While the emergency call boxes that litter campus are a great idea, it’s DPS’ inability to do anything other than dole out prevention tips and “Campus Crime Alerts” that really calls their authority into question. Not to mention the subtle fostering of a rape culture, where women are seen as “victims” rather than “survivors” and are perceived as “asking for it” because of their clothing or body language.

Just look at the passive voice in the first description: “A woman was walking alone around 10 p.m. on the bike path near Autzen Stadium when she was raped by a man with a knife.” Not “a man raped her” or “a man assaulted her”: she was raped. While this may seem like a minor syntactical kvetch, this kind of passive voice fails to accurately highlight the criminal nature of the act. You wouldn’t say “A store was robbed by an escaped convict.” You would say “An escaped convict robbed a store.” Instead, the attacker is placed in the background, and thus escapes scrutiny.

But it’s not all bad. The groups listed at the bottom of the email — Womenspace, SASS, the White Bird Clinic, the Counseling Center, SafeRide, and SWAT — are all excellent resources for survivors. Yet this doesn’t seem to be enough to change the prevalence of the University’s rape culture. There are many places that foster this kind of misogyny, undercutting the excellent work done by the aforementioned groups. Greek Life is an especially obvious target for such criticism, but you can find signs of rape culture anywhere. From the shouted “bitches” and “whores” within Taylor’s to the intense consumption of pornography, this mindset is everywhere around Eugene.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love porn. But all these factors have combined together to create a strangely patriarchal cocktail, one that views women as objects to be seized or sold. Women don’t deserve to be treated that way. And before the snarky comments come pouring in, remember that this isn’t about some bullshit in Washington D.C. or a genocide in some faraway country. This happens to people you know and love every day: your friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and even your family.

Rape is wrong no matter what your political beliefs. The failures of the University and DPS only stand as a testament to the kind of incompetence our school is slowly (and sadly) becoming known for.

“The Ironing is Delicious.” And Fucked Up.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

In reading The Daily Caller this morning, I couldn’t help but notice a pair of ironically “punny” events. It’s like we’re living in a crappy movie. It’s too perfect. Don’t deny they don’t get you thinking about the apocalypse. It’s a chilling trend we see– indeed less severe than the recent outbreak of cannibalism, these events are  all too coincidental:

Lady Gaga gets “Poked-in-her-face”, suffers concussion.

‘Kindness of America’ author hospitalized after ‘random’ drive-by shooting.

Wrinkle-free in a post-apocalyptic world

 

KEZI9 Covers ASUO Phishing Scam

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

So, we’ve all heard about the ASUO phishing scam, but just in case you were too lazy, busy or hungover to read anything about this fucked up shit, here is the story via this KEZI9 Youtube video to save you some time.

Former ASUO President and current UO Law Student Sam Dotters-Katz in the video: “I think that we’ve gone beyond student government at this point, when you have federal crimes being implicated against members of the student government.”

Word up, Sam! Indeed, this kind of shit simply doesn’t fly. This is what is wrong with America. My only further comments are, “YES THIS GOES BEYOND STUDENT GOVERNMENT,” as well as “HOW SELF-RIGHTEOUS DO YOU HAVE TO BE IN ORDER TO ATTEMPT TO RIG A COLLEGE ELECTION???”

Furthermore, “FUCK YOU, YOU HYPOCRITICAL PIECE OF SHIT, SUPPOSEDLY FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY. THE RULES APPLY TO YOU AS MUCH AS ANYONE ELSE, NO MATTER HOW ENTITLED YOU THINK YOU ARE!”

Face-palm. Goddamn.

Ol’ Dirty’s Attempt to Save Trees Deemed Outragiously Racist

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

On March 6, during an intramural basketball game, a fight broke out between opponents from each team. Becky Metrick covered the story the next day in Daily Emerald, which can be found here. Today, the Emerald‘s front page features an article by Josephine Woolington covering the meeting organized by Kendaris Hill (former president of the Black Student Union). According to the concerned students of the Black Student Union, the Ol’ Dirty‘s placement of the photo (probably the first or third one in the series here) of Amin Tufa being taken into custody by DPS officers was inappropriate. The picture was placed on the front page next to an unrelated headline regarding crime in the West University neighborhood.

Let me just say a few things:

1. Black people have been on the front page of newspapers before! It’s not a new thing.

2. Crime happens. And if it happens next to or on campus, perhaps it should be covered in the campus newspaper, no?

3. I sure as hell did not immediately pin all of the crime conducted West of campus on Tufa when reading the headline. That would be racial profiling.

4. Finally, Black Student Union… You do know that the editor-in-chief of the Emerald is black himself, right?

Editor-in-chief Tyree Harris as quoted by Woolington in today’s Ol’ Dirty: “The story was clearly questioning everything involved in the situation. [...] Nobody in the newsroom was trying to portray this story in a stereotypical way.” I agree with Harris’s assertion that the stories were indeed questioning the situation.

Apparently, the Ol’ Dirty better think twice before putting a picture of a black man next to the word “crime” in a cramped newspaper– lest they hurt somebody’s feelings. Ol’ Dirty, why must you be so environmentally conscious so as to save space by putting your stories so close together! Haha, I kid, but basically, these complaints translate to: “It confuses people when the word ‘crime’ and a picture of a black man appear together but do not relate nor coincide!”

So, perhaps the next step is to start giving each story a 1.5 inch border between it and any other story, making the newspaper a more safe and pleasant thing to read. However, complications may arise with the Climate Justice League. Seems like Ol’ Dirty is in some hot water! The links to the ODE stories are above– Your thoughts?

Spreading some Holiday Cheer!

Friday, December 16th, 2011

If you weren’t already proud to live in Eugene, you certainly will be. In what can only be described as a triumph in seasonal greediness, two residents attempted to pillage a 91-year old man.

 

Two years ago, Joseph Dinwiddie stole and crashed a 1991 Thunderbird from then 89-year old George Hinnenkamp while Hinnenkamp was on vacation. I watch the news, I’m bombarded and jaded by media, and I could dismiss that as being a pretty average and not overly ridiculous crime. Steal a car, get drunk and crash it–Saturday night.

 

The icing on that cake, however, is that Hinnenkamp had previously hired Dinwiddie for various “odd jobs,” which I can only assume to be various adorable things old people need done for them, like painting fences or making tuna sandwiches and watching the Price is Right.

 

In my mind they had quite the relationship, and Hinnenkamp eventually filled the place of the father that left Dinwiddie when he was young, which is why this second addition to the story infuriates me, but the real kicker has yet to be revealed, stay tuned audience…

 

Two years after this debacle (think present day) the two people (Nicole Annette Cunningham and Delano Oscar) who were in the car with Dinwiddie when he drunkenly crashed it have decided to sue Hinnenkamp for almost $200,000. They are making the claim that he allowed Dinwiddie to use his car, and therefore their injuries are his fiscal responsibility.

 

Here’s a newsflash they must have gotten: Dinwiddie has already been prosecuted for stealing the car! He’s in jail right this very moment working off his sentence!

 

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the two greediest people to ever have existed. I understand that times are tough, prostitution and drug peddling probably don’t bring in enough income to support both of Cunningham and Oscar, but there are other moneymaking options kids! I for one am shaking my head in shame to know that we share a state with these people. I say we start a letter writing campaign to have them burned at the stake.

(Source:http://www.registerguard.com/web/updates/26975019-41/hinnenkamp-dinwiddie-car-crash-cunningham.html.csp)

Black Friday

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

This is a public service announcement:  With all this riffraff about the 1%, don’t forget the true meaning of Thanksgiving: standing in line outside a chain-store at 1 a.m. the morning after, eating left-overs and looking like Rudolph because it’s freezing.

Just please don’t have as many Red Bull and Eggnog’s as these guys:

State might not give Cliff Harris special treatment… Gasp!

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Oregon Ducks cornerback Cliff Harris has apparently learned absolutely nothing from an 18-month suspension from driving, as evidenced by getting caught driving without a seat-belt, insurance, or a valid Oregon drivers license. While most people in this situation would be facing serious legal problems, one of our star athletes merely “could” lose his license for another 30 days.

Considering this is the 4th suspension in a 24 month period, can we just take away this retard’s license for a little longer than a month? I enjoyed the part where his family said they would contest the citations even though he was caught completely red handed. Coach Chip Kelley said that he would remain suspended from football play while they “gathered information”, a suspension which shouldn’t last much longer than when they need to field one of their star players. I realized that the majority of college football players are probably well rounded individuals, but the ones we tend to hear about are pampered racehorses who would only get suspended a few games for burning down city hall.

I realize that throwing a ball for a living is really really hard, but if you can’t balance that with your studies (without free breaks) and without breaking the law flagrantly (Jeremiah Masoli, anyone?) you shouldn’t remain on the team, even if you can run across a field really fast (Hey, LaMichael’s girlfriend!). Hell, I wish I could get a scholarship for playing Xbox. I could play Madden while not doing my homework, because my teachers totally understand bro. And, you know, maybe I accidentally commit a hate crime, but I was really sorry about it so it’s all good.

http://www.registerguard.com/web/updates/27084951-55/harris-oregon-suspension-driving-suspended.html.csp

Party Patrol: Cashing in on your kegger

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Starting February 4th, a “social host” ordinance will be going into effect. This means that if the police are called to a party, the owners or renters of the house will be fined if there are people under 21 attending. The first time it is a fine of $250 and a warning. If it happens again within three years the fine is raised to $500 plus the cost of the law enforcement officers that were called. The third time it happens within 3 years, the fine will reach $1,000.

The Lane County Board of Commissioners, due to concerned homeowners, drew up this ordinance. It appears that community members who live near campus are being greatly affected by underage parties. The committee responsible for putting the “social host” ordinance into motion calls themselves “party patrols.” This group consists of residents of homes near campus.

The whole idea behind “party patrols” is to cut down on student binge drinking. Along with a host fine, the fine for noise ordinances and minors in possession will be increased starting January 4th. Michael Kinnison, neighborhood services program manager, brought these and 14 other ideas to the Lane County Board of Commissioners.

“There need to be significant consequences for negative behavior,” he said. “And law enforcement needs to be part of the solution.”

According to the “party patrols,” these laws are not meant to target all student residents, just repeat offenders.

Dead Gaddafi for Halloween

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

I am thinking of dressing as dead Muammar Gaddafi for Halloween. But I want your opinion. Would it be too soon? What about dressing as slutty dead Muammar Gaddafi?