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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 OC is turning 30

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

This year the Oregon Commentator is turning thirty and we are looking for thoughts and memories from past Commentators.  Send those thoughts and memories to editor@oregoncommentator.com and publisher@oregoncommentator.com. In your emails please include the years you were at the OC and where you are now if possible.

Neil Killion

Publisher

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.

Prop 8 Problems

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

I would caution the cheering crowds that view the Supreme Court’s refusal to rule on Prop 8 to step back for a moment.  This ruling raises some red flags, and I hope that those opposing Prop 8 can understand that.

Prop 8 made same-sex marriage illegal in California.  It was voted on by the people and passed.  The Governor then refused to enforce it.  Whether or not you agree with same-sex marriage is irrelevant.  The process of direct democracy that so many on the left supposedly believe in was dealt a blow today.

If the governor does not agree with the people’s decision then he does not need to listen.  In the future, when the same people that are championing this decision are in the majority and the governor is on the opposing side, the governor will not have to listen to their votes.  That should raise major concerns for them because in getting a victory, they are also getting a defeat.

The court did not rule that same-sex marriage should be legal, only that the plaintiff did not have the standing to bring the case before the court.  If it had been brought up as a voters’ right issue it is possible it may have resulted in a different decision.

 

Neil Killion

DOMA Unconstitutional

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

While many of you may have been caught up in the joyous revelations that the Ducks will not be banned from the bowls this year, the court handed down a major decisions regarding gay marriage today.

The Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) was ruled unconstitutional in a 5-4 opinion.  The Supreme Court ruled that if you live in a state that recognizes gay marriage the federal government cannot deny federal benefits.  It does not rule whether or not gay marriage itself is legal, just that the federal government cannot discriminate against gay couples in those states that do recognize gay marriage.

Although this is a victory for same-sex couples, it is also a victory for states’ rights.  The state’s law held supremacy over the federal law in this case.  If the state recognizes same-sex marriage then the federal government cannot deny those couples benefits.  This may pave the way for other states’ rights issues in the future.

Neil Killion

Progressive probs’ bitches

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

 

Some news  about the ASUO reached our ears. Sure we were pretty drunk so it was barely audible.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             But apparently our dear friends in the ASUO are involved in some in/fighting. Frankly that’s awesome news to us at the OC.
We love watching those greedy, self-centered vultures fight amongst themselves. The reason for this infighting is a Tumblr page that contains memes and jokes made by the self-proclaimed “progressives” of the ASOU senate, mostly on the account of the conservatives in the senate and Taylor Allison.
Finally the ASUO is emulating congress! Fuck bi-partisanship and efficiency, let’s all just observe our differences instead of finding common ground. Because the ASUO senate isn’t already a rotten, bloated, ineffective, cesspool of waste, opportunism and stupidity right?

Link to the blog: Site

Eugene Public Meetings [week of Feb.24]

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Someone cares about the Oregon Commentator as much as they care about Eugene: they sent us the Public Meetings Calendar. Shout out to Chuck! How thoughtful!

Tyler’s 21st

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

11:13. Beer pong. My partner and I were up by seven. The other team miraculously got nine cups in one turn and won. Bullshit!

11:25. Snapchatting for dayyyyyyzzzzz

11:29. Ishwvekapzoxb

11:59. Is it twelve yet?

12:06. RENNIES LEMONADE

11:33. ” Gary Johnson sucks at running. That’s why he lost the election”

11:37. Fuzzy sound. Not boiling water. Just the radio. Dawson rocks. 104.7 FM

11:40. With backflips.

12:16 drunk. Awesome.

12:37 tots@@@ fox I love ranch

11:47. Jackets on, heading out!

12:43 what the duck is house of cards? I wanna watch Walking Dead

12:55 vodka and lemonade and taylors. Drunkkkkkkk and I have a midterm tomorrow ay ten, paper dye at 830. Fuck yeah

1:01 off to Max’s

1:08 Free popcorn !!!!!+! And apparently a peR cider. Yum I’m drunk

1:09 just ate a tree

1:17 on a scale of one to dry.I’m k Tailgating

1:20 mother fucking pears and popcorn

1:21 crying for America

1: 24 god Damn America Lizzy is the best

1:25 Eric Wiltshire for president

1:26 this is the beat 21st birthday everrrreee go commentator!

1:29 far Johnson for Americai don’t know what liveblog is.o Yeahbiddy

1,30 I am the Gary Johnson of liveblog

1:32 flip off my POS friends on a scale of 1 -2 I am Gary Johnson .

q:35 the golf of Mexico

1:37 Pooping at max’s. 1:38. God Damn I love America fuck yeah alcohol

1:40. Pulled the dry towel all the way out… Oops QQ

1:41 sousaphone, bitch

1:43 fuck yeah UO.

1:44. Fu,k yeah wTer. Heading home

OAB Budget Hearing

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Thursday night, the ASUO had a budget hearing for the Oregon Athletic Bands. There has been a phenomenal amount of drama surrounding this, so here’s a quick recap:

In November, they had proposed a total defund of the bands, with no reason given. As our budget hearing got closer and closer, we still had no reason and our cause started gaining more and more support. Feeling the pressure from the students, our families, and many members of other Pac-12 marching bands, the ASUO released their “reason” for defunding. They stated it was a scare tactic, trying to get either the Athletic Department or the Administration Office to pick up their portion of the funding.

Last night at our budget hearing, the ASUO reiterated over and over how the bands are appreciated, they just didn’t think we were receiving our funding from the appropriate departments. They felt that we should be less reliant on student incidental fees, and receive a larger amount of our budget from the departments that “actually utilize the bands”. The Oregon Athletic Band representatives, with included Loren Clupny, Melinda McConnel, Abbie Ortman, Dr. Eric Wiltshire, and Sarah Dodson, were attempting to convince the Department Finance Committee that the bands are utilized by all of the university students, and so we should keep receiving our ASUO funding. They represented the bands with outstanding pride, respect, and professionalism.

Many other people spoke on behalf of the band, including current students, band alumni, music GTF’s and even a National Officer of Kappa Kappa Psi, the honorary band fraternity. Heartfelt stories of people’s time in the Oregon Athletic Bands were recounted, arguments made regarding our connection to the students and ASUO, and statements explaining how the arts are a vital part of any educational institution. As a three year member of the Oregon Marching Band, I felt that we were well represented by a wide variety of speakers. In the end, our speeches made no difference. To me, it was apparent the DFC had their plan before the meeting had even begun.

The final result of the budget hearing was surprisingly positive for the bands, though it left an uneasy feeling in some of our stomachs. They ended up granting the band about 124,000 dollars, a cut of 13.5%. The DFC and ASUO President Laura Hinman guaranteed to work with the Oregon Athletic Bands to secure funding from the Administration, and if they can’t get that funding, the ASUO will step in and grant our full budget request. Basically, the Oregon Athletic Bands should receive their full funding for the 2013-2014 year, but at this point it is unclear where it will be coming from. Their proposal also includes plans for a phase-out of the ASUO budget, with the cuts being picked up by Athletics and the Administration.

At the meeting, I felt that the ASUO Executives and the DFC were trying really hard to say things that made us happy, while proposing a deal that seems somewhat risky. Only time will tell whether or not this will work out well for the Oregon Athletic Bands in the long run.

I want to make a personal shout out to few people who I feel had an outstanding impact on the result of this budget hearing. Dr. Eric Wiltshire, for his continued work with the Oregon Athletic Bands. He works countless hours outside of his academic schedule to ensure the success of the bands. Loren Clupny, for his dedication to the Oregon Athletic Bands Council, and phenomenal speech at the budget hearing. Abbie Ortman, President of the Mu Pi chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, who has devoted 6 years to the Oregon Athletic Bands, and continues to fight for the*m in many ways. Melinda McConnel, Oregon Athletic Bands Council President, for her loyalty and commitment to the bands. She worked her butt of this week to secure our budget, and I know she will continue to work hard to make sure the success of the Oregon Athletic Bands is ensured for years to come.

This last person is a truly outstanding, phenomenal, one of a kind individual. Sarah Dodson, our Administrative Coordinator for four years. Sarah has put in hours upon hours of overtime to make sure things run smoothly for the Oregon Athletic Bands. Without her striving work ethic and exceptional commitment, the bands could not do what we do. My compliments towards Sarah come at a very unique time. This evening, Sarah announced she is resigning from her position. For four years, she has dedicated a huge portion of her life to the continued success of the Oregon Athletic Bands, and my personal experiences with her have been amazing. When I had problems that needed solving, Sarah worked tirelessly with me to fix the issue, and I know she would do the same for anyone involved in the Oregon Athletic Bands I want to wish her luck in her future endeavors, and I know that she will be incredibly successful in whatever she puts her mind to. Sarah is a truly exceptional individual.

Senate Jan. 30th

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Goin  live at 7pm!

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The Buzz Has Been Killed

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Overpriced campus area housing and beer should be the only costs of partying (not including physical costs like hangovers and those damn mystery bruises), but Eugene City Council doesn’t see it that way. Yesterday they approved the Social Host Ordinance, legislation that raises fines for party goers, in an attempt to cut down on underage drinking and rowdiness.

Apparently the council wasn’t swayed by student’s enthusiastic turnout against the bill.

We’ll see how the stats look in a few years, but it’s safe to assume that college kids will be college kids, and bigger fines will do nothing but give more money to the city of Eugene. Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad, but paying to party certainly does.

More about the ordinance can be seen in this previous blog post and in our November issue.

Cough it up!

ASUO President Yanked From Office

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

ASUO president Laura Hinman has been removed from office for nonfullfilment. To be candid, the reasons behind the removal are disappointing, considering the bar set by ASUO scandals in recent years.

The UO Constitutional Court ruled in favor of a grievance filed against Hinman, stating that she failed to appoint an elections board by a specified deadline. The ruling can be seen here. The grievance was filed by Joanna Stewart, manager for the notorious Katie Taylor and Alex Sylvester campaign.

Vice President Nick McCain will take over the position, though a petition to reinstate Hinman began shortly after the court decision.

The ASUO executive has not yet made a statement on the matter.

The Con Court doesn’t look anything like this…why?

Edit (2/18/13): An update on this issue can be seen here.

“Perceived” Rights and Smoker Ethics

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

After getting off of work in the dungeon that is the Knight Library basement, I stepped into the afternoon rain. I pulled a pre-rolled cigarette from my pocket (Bugler brand – mangy, disgusting Bugler) and lit it. Standing off to the side so as not to spread smoke, an elderly woman shot me the evil eye before stopping in front of me: “There’s no smoking on campus. Go smoke across the street.”

I stared at her until she left.

This kind of situation has become all-too-common since the Healthy Campus Initiative, in partnership with the UO Health Center and the administration (with a special guest funding appearance from the ASUO), implemented a campus-wide smoking ban at the beginning of the Fall. The idea of a smoking ban isn’t anything new; the Smoke Free Campus Task Force (SFTF) issued a report in 2008 that sought to

tak[e] up the matter of campus smoking policy with the understanding that the issue is fueled by strong personal convictions for perceived personal rights, both the right to be free from the effects of secondhand smoke and the right to choose to smoke cigarettes (STFT Report, emphasis mine)

The rest of the report either references student support from polls drawn from other universities, or flat-out neglects student responses in order to reference various studies, policies, and polls from other universities. Under “Synthesis of Survey Findings of UO Faculty, Staff, and Students,” the report states that

Many survey respondents are ready to support the move to a smoke free campus… [and] also were confident that this could be accomplished with designated smoking areas… (Ibid.)

Oh, hey, there’s a reasonable point. But no! The STFT simply cannot concede, because “enforcement becomes very difficult and compliance suffers as a result.” You don’t say.

No matter what the administration does, what programs it implements, what funding it pulls or pushes, students will push against it. Lord knows the Commentator will. The Healthy Campus Initiative tried to remedy this student disconnect with the “STFU” posters, a internet-conscious campaign that seemed to confuse people more than encourage quitting (check out this post about the issue from our very own Editor Emeritus Sophia Lawhead).

Another argument is that it unfairly targets lower-income UO workers. Even those filthy hipsters at the OV agree with us on this point. Making workers go off campus for a 15 minute smoke break is not only inconsiderate, but damaging to already-strained labor relationships.

“All I wanted was a non-fat, cream-jizzed latte with peasant tears in it!”

So why bring up this almost-5-year-old report, you may ask? Because Frances Dyke and company never really cared about what students thought. The UO has become a brand, and it needs to sell itself in order to keep flagging state funding and private donor contributions steady. The publicity surrounding the ban has relentlessly focused on the “progressive” aspects of the program without attending to the opinions of students or faculty – and if so, only through narrow data samples used to prop up their point.

But the effects of secondhand smoke are serious. I completely understand the goal behind the smoking ban. Cigarette butt litter continues to be a problem, and has only been exacerbated by the ban — take a look at the 13th and Kincaid entrance to campus if you don’t believe me. Families with young children and people with respiratory problems are also rightfully concerned.

The only way to fight this ban, then, is to implement a personal smoker code of ethics to demonstrate smoker commitment to a healthy campus and personal freedoms. Here’s mine:

  1. Always smoke away from buildings and large groups of people, and/or areas of great traffic.
  2. Stop inhaling and pull the cigarette as far away from passing families with children.
  3. If someone asks you to smoke off campus, politely decline or simply don’t say anything at all. You’ll be finished if and when they call DPS.
  4. Put butts out and make sure they’re extinguished before throwing them away.
  5. Throw butts in the trash.
  6. If an officer asks you to put your cigarette out, assess the situation. Fines suck, but so do the deprivation of “perceived personal rights.”
  7. Overall, recognize that your activity is looked down upon. Take pride in this.

It’s not perfect, but it works for me. The Commentator will continue to fight this arbitrary ban with articles, letters, appeals, and upcoming events like Tobacco Appreciation Day. But the ball is in smokers’ courts. We at the Commentator will do our best to point out the massive cavalcades of bullshit directed at students who make the choice to smoke. This smoking ban is just another attempt at nannying the student populace; the administration never does anything without direct benefit to them, and they’ve fucked smokers to bolster their public image under the pretense of “knowing what’s best.”

The whole campaign feels like yet another pat on the head, another assumption about our intelligence, actions, and responsibilities. But we’re not kids anymore. We’re adults, students, workers, and yes, smokers. So smoke ’em if ya got ’em. It’s going to be a long, long battle.

Vol. 30 Issue 2, Online Now

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

You can read online before it hits the rack.  Have a belligerent Thanksgiving!

College Democrats Vs. College Republicans at McKenzie Hall

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Order of questioning has been decided by rock, paper, scissors. Click below for more.

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