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Oregon Commentator Book Preview

The Oregon Commentator’s book is coming along swimmingly. I am now in the stage of “take a vacation while I demand that alumni turn in articles”. Let me tell you, it’s great. Anyways, I figured I’d give the plebes a little taste of glory with a selected piece by Scott Camp. Enjoy.

This fall marks the 26th Anniversary of our beloved Oregon Commentator, and my 18th year as a member of University of Oregon’s most controversial journalistic enclave. It is also arguably U of O’s most widely misunderstood group. Our history is colorful and checkered, including concerted attempts to cut our funding, receiving national accolades, death threats, unrivaled preferential treatment, and performing totally pointless and fantastic indulgences of every weakness in the human condition. There were days when I found being a member of the Commentator more of an immutable genetic predisposition than anything else. It turns out that I was correct. I was not just on the staff of the Commentator – I was a Commentator, and still am today. It is not about politics or policy or economics. It is not about academics or journalistic recognition. As in 1991, the Commentator is about freedom, and the bare knuckles defense of the original American spirit. It is about one person’s right to think critically, without approval from group-think cabals or the sensitivity police, and the desire to engage in the ongoing war of ideas. The Commentator is the media representation of what happens when you try to stifle and intimidate intelligent people with views that do not subscribe to the conventional wisdom of mass idiocy.

I know, I know, I can hear you groaning from here, but it’s true: The Commentator was quite possibly the last redoubt of intellectual freedom when I was dragged reluctantly into their 300 square foot spiritual abyss. I was probably pretty much like you at the time. I considered myself to be politically rational, never swaying too violently to one side or another on the whole, while having particularly strong views on select issues. I was not an overtly political person, and did not mind politicians so much just as long as they were back in their coffins before sunrise. The vocal minority at University of Oregon, and this included students, faculty, and a shadowy layer of nationally funded handlers, were partisan stilettos with all of the subtlety and reason of Mussolini. It was difficult to tell if there was any safe place on campus for rational debate, let alone dissent. Students were shouted down in class, professors advocated openly and pointedly for their personal political agenda and used their academic standing as leverage. It was becoming very clear to me by 1991 that there was plenty of room for divergent views, just as long as they agreed exactly with the dominant group of tenured revolutionaries and insufferable 20 year old dope smokers (who had somehow solved all of the world’s political issues in between playing Ultimate Frisbee and listening to Phish bootlegs). As Henry Ford once said, “You can have any color you want, just so long as it’s black”. I quickly realized that trying to participate in an informed debate would be as effective as trying to sweep sunshine off of a roof, so I began to look for Plan B.

Plan B came in the form of the Oregon Commentator . By the grace of the Great Gazoo, I was recruited out of a political science discussion group by the unquestioned visionary in Commentator lore, Owen Brennan. What followed was a journey of self-discovery and a new appreciation for what can happen when talented and determined people all cram into a broom closet to share ideas. The Commentator also served as a critical reminder of what will happen when political and social freedoms are pre-empted by groups that stomp all over the Bill of Rights in hobnailed boots. To many of us, we were fighting for our very right to be heard as individuals, and not as an appendage to the thoughtless, slogan driven Cultural Revolution of Greater Eugene, Oregon. The fight was already on, but it had been a one-sided affair up to that point. The extremists were not just cutting a swath of intellectual indifference, they were salting the earth so that nothing more would grow. And so, a group of young people, many with amusing personality failings, banded together in a windowless bunker to resurrect the greatest source of fairness, satire, and free speech to ever grace the manicured landscape of the University of Oregon. While it is true that none of us will ever be considered a candidate for Sainthood (except for possibly Ed Carson), we were also not rampaging lunatics, conjuring up political conspiracies while wearing tin-foil hats in a basement filled with hash smoke. Our agenda, if you can even call it that, was not contingent upon the removal of the 1st Amendment, and did not call for the abolition of entire groups and thought processes. That is precisely what we stand against, then and now.

So the next time that you see a group of angry 20 somethings, demanding that the University, or the state or federal legislature, mandate a four hour workday, or that students take courses to better “integrate mindfulness” into their spirituality, or that the U of O should adopt a new mascot (a smiling little sheepdog named Jerry), just remember that it is the Commentator that will offer the opposing view. It will readily fill the void with tongue in cheek wisdom, fact-based reporting, or possibly even blistering rebuttal, but it will never rest idly while an intellectual and civic vacuum sucks all of the air out of the virtual debate hall. Nothing is more insidious than campus movements that bludgeon pedestrian student discourse, or hang like the Sword of Damocles over any faculty member that dare demur from the partisan ideology. Their crypto-fascist cure is worse than the original disease, and the Commentator jumps into the void as Doctors of the Absurd. The Commentator fights to make freedom actually free again. It is something more than hubris, something more than courage, and something more than intellect. In my era, it was a mad rush into a melee where we were outgunned, overmatched, and underfunded. It seemed like a suicide mission, yet we all agreed to fight to the very last person. 26 years later, with the battle still raging, the Commentator is bloodied yet unbowed. And to all of those that have stood in my place long after my departure, I humbly salute you.

Scott Camp graduated from the University of Oregon in 1994 with a BA in Political Science. He went on to receive a law degree from SMU in 2007. He lives with his cat and 26 year old girlfriend and plays golf non-stop when not eating hot dogs and iced tea. Scott now works as a business and finance consultant, occasionally working as a freelance writer. Scott would also like you to know that Casablanca is the greatest movie ever made.

  1. Gsim says:

    Troglodyte: a term used to describe people who reside in caves.

    These days it is used as an insult to describe stupid/uneducated people.

    The more you know!

  2. Ryan McCarrel says:

    Also, I don’t know what a “troglodyte” is.

  3. Ryan McCarrel says:

    Oregon Commentator,

    Considering I was camping at Timothy Lake during the time of the post (that I had to google because you didn’t give me the link), it’s not only impossible that I wrote it, but unfortunate that you think I would. So hear this: I feel no need to defend the infractions of another. I am sorry your blog has degenerates willing to defame others.

    Ryan McCarrel

    “A chief is a man who assumes responsibility. He says ‘I was beaten,’ he does not say ‘My men were beaten’ ” – ed.

  4. Gsim says:

    Question: Is it narcissism if you are as good as you say/think you are?

    I think you need some pretty big balls to be willing to write a 26 year history of the OC.

    Don’t be hating. Dane is just rolling dirty. Holla.

  5. Timothy says:

    I was driving this place into the ground when you kids were still suckling on your mommas’ teets.

  6. Thunderlove says:

    Talk about anti social troglodytes, faking like an OC alum when you are part of the college democrat. At least we don’t have to stop by their office when their door is open and act like we auctually care about what they have to say.

    Flag football is so on vs. these fatasses

  7. Vincent says:

    I wonder, does the head of the College Democrats coming on our blog purporting to be an OC alum count as “astroturf” or “sock-puppetry”?

    Or just “douche-baggery”?

  8. CJ Ciaramella says:

    The OC is somehow continually worse than it used to be, according to our illustrious blog commenters.

    But seriously, I thought I was the one driving it into the ground. I demand credit!

  9. Vincent says:

    Which articles did you pen, by the way?

    I only ask because you couldn’t have been writing so long ago, since you’re posting from a computer on the UO campus.

  10. OC ALUM says:

    I used to write for the Oregon Commentator, I have to say that it has become pretty disappointing watching it, in my humble opinion, really go down in quality. This Dane seems to be very narcissistic, and more interested in himself than the OC. Everyone over there just seems to be bitter anti-social troglodytes, who have nothing better to do then bitch and moan. When I was at the OC, sure we were irreverent and, but we stood for something. We fought for conservatism and against the special interests, these kids only care about themselves.
    It’s just sad…

    [Actually you never wrote for the Commentator, seeing as how this comment came from the computer of Ryan McCarrel, President of the College Democrats. -ed]

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