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School of Hard Knocks Closed Due to Accusations of Bias

In case you didn’t know, this week was “National Coming Out Week”, leading up to “National Coming Out Day”, which falls on October 11 of every year. To commemorate National Coming Out Week, the University’s LGBTQA held a celebration in the EMU amphitheater on Tuesday, part of which was a balloon arch floating across the street in front of Collier House.

Unfortunately for the LGBTQA, some asshole decided to climb up the lamppost where the balloons were tied and cut them free, sending somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 balloons drifting off into the sky. No matter how you want to slice it, that was a pretty dick move.

I found the LGBTQA’s response to the incident to be pretty disappointing. Throwing around unfounded and unprovable charges of homophobia and bias seems to have been the first and only thing in their playbook:

LGBTESSP Program Assistant Cat McGraw, who stayed in the amphitheater for most of the morning and early-afternoon, said because of the nature of the climate on campus, she would consider the incident an act of bias.


McGraw said she believes the timing of the act was deliberate because other University organizations have had balloon arches in the same place. She said the person clearly ruined the arch to make a statement. 

I have to disagree with Ms. McGraw, here. The only thing that’s “clear” is that someone felt like cutting loose 300 balloons. Maybe that person was motivated by fear and disgust of gay people, maybe not. Unless she has supernatural powers, I’m reasonably sure Ms. McGraw has no idea whether a “statement” was intended or not.

[Homecoming Weekend Committee Member Amber] Garrison said that given the nature of the campus’ history, she believes this was an act of intolerance.

“It was hard for me not to believe it was a hate crime or an act of bias.”

First off, calling this a “hate crime” is patently absurd in any case. Secondly, no other possible explanation besides “bias” comes to mind? Not drugs or alcohol? Not stupid college kids acting like stupid college kids? Not just indiscriminate vandalism?

The predilection to denounce outright and in the strongest terms accomplishes little, I think, except to reinforce and perpetuate a victim mentality. It betrays a mindset that imagines the whole world to be engaged in a pernicious conspiracy and that every setback is the result of hatred and bias. In actuality, it might’ve be as simple as someone being an asshole.

The same dynamic is in play in the 2008 election. We’ve been assured, time and time again, that the only reason Barack Obama could possibly lose the election is because of racism. Criticism of Obama is routinely cast as being “racially tinged“, even when race has nothing to do with the matter at hand. “Racist subtexts” are found everywhere, and “coded racism” seems to be all over the place.

While wallowing in such paranoia might rally the faithful, it does little to draw support from third parties, who’re implicitly being told that if they engage in criticism of such-and-such candidate they’re motivated by racial prejudice. The same thing applies to gay rights. I’m a strong supporter of equality for homosexuals under the law, but I’m consistently turned off by the siege mentality of the LGBTQA.

Bad things happen to lots of people every day and most of the time those bad things aren’t motivated by bias or phobia. The person who wrecked the balloon arch might’ve been a homophobe. He could just as well have been high or drunk. Neither Cat McGraw or Amber Garrison — nor anyone else except for the person who did it — actually know what was going through his head.

Unfortunately, they chose to act like victims of persecution instead of standing up, saying “fuck you”, and getting on with life.

  1. Vincent says:

    Well, I just think that the “victim” posture is a byproduct of identity politics in general. That’s why Clinton supporters were called “racists”, Obama supporters tarred as “sexist”, and John McCain got compared to George Wallace by a member of Congress.

    Far from fostering “diversity”, the politics of identity segregate people into narrowly-defined groups and people outside those groups, fellow travelers aside, are assumed to be hostile and motivated by “hate”. The supposed necessity of those groups is thereby reinforced since the implication is that, since the rest of the country is actively or passively working against the identity group’s interests, only the group itself stands in the way of complete marginalization (or worse, as the rhetoric sometimes goes).

    I think this is why one sees such shock and disgust with gay Republicans, feminist Palin supporters, and so forth. Homosexuals who define themselves primarily on other traits of their personality – belief in free markets, a vigorous foreign policy, or any number of other beliefs that form political beliefs – are routinely savaged for being turncoats, being “off reservation”, as it were, and assumed to be acting under “false consciousness”. That is to say that the assumption is that they don’t really know what’s good for them because they’ve chosen different priorities than those ordained by the identity group – the “gay” identity is supposed to take priority. Reading some Andrew Sullivan with an eye toward this dynamic might be useful.

    To get back to your comment, I don’t think that what you’re seeing really has to do with the “reality on the ground” in Eugene or anywhere else. It’s the result of the politics of identity: us vs. them.

  2. Chris says:

    Well said.

    I wonder why, of all places, Eugene doesn’t stand out to the LGBTQ community in a more positive way. That is, if this general attitude is indeed representative of anyone (or the leadership quoted in the article). I always thought of ‘Berkeley North’ as being viewed as another ‘haven’ for the LGBTQ community.

    Perhaps a case study comparing, say, Springfield, Missouri and Eugene, Oregon is in order? Not to point out the obvious so much as to wonder why, in a place like Eugene, this whole balloonism gets any sort of traction.

  3. Vincent says:

    I find it interesting that the

  4. Gsim says:

    I have to give a bit of kudos to the perpetrators.

    It may have been a dick move to set 300 balloons free into the stratosphere, but it is undeniably ballsy to do something like that in broad daylight in front of hundreds of witnesses.

    /His balls are made of pure brass
    /when they bang together they play stormy weather
    /and lighting shoots out of his ass.

  5. Chris says:

    I find it interesting that the “climate on campus” here at the U of O is apparently homophobic. Isn’t this place supposed to be open-minded? I mean, which are we? Political, open-minded campus extraordinaire, or anti-gay, balloon hating conserva-campus?

    I don’t get it.

    Either way you look at it, this issue seems to be overblown.

  6. Sakaki says:

    Which part? The hamburger part, or the whiny little snots part?

  7. Vincent says:

    I think that’s overstating it a little, don’t you?

  8. Sakaki says:

    They would see someone eating a hamburger, and call it a “hate crime”. They are pathetic little whiny snots who need nothing more than to be exposed to the harsh environment known as “reality”.

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