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Archive for the 'Civil Liberties' Category

The Foresight of our Fathers

March 10th, 2010 by D

The First Amendment is a delicate subject — surprising given its nature, which is one that protects the opinions and speech of all. Such was the argument of a federal appeals court that dismissed a suit against a group of extremist Christians who picketed the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder in 2006.

The protesters (Baptists from Kansas) were holding signs that, “maintain that God hates homosexuality and that the death of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is God’s way of punishing the United States for its tolerance of it.”

I’m not going to enter the semantic realm of Christians arguing that God punishes evil; that seems an open invitation to interpretation and an unwanted diversion of attention. Instead, what I’d like to point out is the incredible irony that arises out of the situation considering the death was that of a serviceman.

Although I could never do it myself, the burden our military people put on themselves in the line of duty is something I admire in and of itself. Regardless of the conflict, the self-sacrifice–putting yourself in the line of danger for my safety–is something I will never understand, never experience. But I am damn grateful for it.

As a Marine, Lance Cpl. Snyder undoubtedly believed that he was helping to protect our citizens and therefore our Constitution, in some way or another. As such, he actively helped protect the same governing laws that allowed, rightfully, a handful of religious zealots to make light of his death and his sacrifice.

Do I believe the picketers were wrong to protest Lance Cpl. Snyder’s funeral? Yes, but only on moral grounds. Having such disrespect for another human’s life is to be despised, and the grief put upon his family is more than they should have to endure. But as I sit here, with a picture of my grandfather in full Naval uniform staring directly at me, I have to remember that my morals are not solid basis for the policy of this nation’s laws. During WWII, he fought to protect my right to protect myself, to protect my home and my right to speak my mind. There is no doubt that Lance Cpl. Snyder fought to protect those things as well.

That is why when the Supreme Court hears this trial, I hope they will find in favor of the protesters. Not for their sake, and not for their expressed views; those I can live without. Instead, I hope they find in favor of the First Amendment. For all of us. That way, Lance Cpl. Snyder’s service will not have been in vain.

Video Blog: Smoke-In and Cigarette Cleanup

March 4th, 2010 by D

Remembering Southworth…NOT!

March 3rd, 2010 by Ross Coyle

As though the issue of hate speech on campus hasn’t been covered enough.

ASUCSD president Utsav Gupta pulled funding to 33 campus media outlets on February 20, following coinciding with perfectly with the dying Pacifica Forum outrage.

Apparently, “Jigaboo Jones,” a local radio shock-jock, organized a party he called the “Compton Cookout” with the help of several fraternity members. Jones, in his own off-color way of celebrating Black History Month, used the ghetto for the party’s theme. The facebook ad encouraged attendees to dress ghetto style, telling men to roll with their “Jersey’s, stuntin’ up in ya White T” and  women to “have short, nappy hair.” No fraternity houses hosted the party, although several members of the UCSD Greek community helped organize it.

Days after the party, outrage of the offensive stereotypes swept UCSD. And in politics, you cry to state litigators instead of mom and dad. Legislative pressure prompted UCSD authorities to launch an “aggressive investigation” (Why hello, Joe McCarthy) of the students involved in promoting the party.

UCSD publication “The Koala,” known for patently racist and provocative content, aired a public statement on SRTV objecting to the investigations. The statement used the words the words “ungrateful n—-rs” among other racial slurs, according to Adam Kissel of FIRE.


I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.

March 2nd, 2010 by D

Apparently a few police officers in Clackamas have had their feelings hurt by a local man, Robert J. Ekas. According to an article by the Oregonian, Ekas has been arrested several times in the last few years for offering his middle finger to passing officers as a sign of civil protest.

Ekas gave the finger to a deputy in July 2007 while driving near Clackamas Town Center, according to the lawsuit. With the deputy in pursuit, Ekas said he opened his sunroof and again extended a middle finger. The deputy turned on his flashing lights. Ekas stopped and was cited for an illegal lane change and improper display of license plates. He was acquitted of the charges.

Apparently Ekas has filed a lawsuit in the matter, and I really hope he wins it. The purpose of the police force is to “protect and serve.” It is not an uncommon feeling among our citizens that often times they do not fulfill those duties.

What it boils down to is the fact that Ekas has a right to free speech, even if it is a daily bird-flipping to a sheriff. I’m glad to see that self-important traffic cops got their panties in a fuss. It might help them to understand the law next time.

Noise Complaints

February 16th, 2010 by Nick Ekblad

On Monday, February 15 a DPS officer responded to noise complaints and approached recorder player Misha Seymour, asking him to leave campus. Over the past three weeks or so, you might have seen Seymour on 13th Avenue or around the EMU playing a variety of music on his modest instrument. However, in light of recent noise complaints, his music will be heard no more as you stroll to class.

I always see people performing around 13th and University. Some play guitars, some sing songs, some even yell at the top of their lungs, “LTD can lick my sweaty, shaven nutsack!” I always admired the lively nature of random, voluntary performers, seeing them as an valuable addition to the University setting.

Seymour could sometimes be found around the EMU building, or even near the ASUO office. I can see how this might disturb some people. He probably would have been wiser in staying on the main sidewalks for the sake of not getting harassed or complained about. However, on the day he was asked to leave campus, he was standing on the sidewalk, innocently playing his recorder about twenty feet from the corner of 13th and University. There are no classrooms in the immediate area and, therefore, no reasonable cause for any noise complaint. It really is baffeling. That area is overflowing with the voices of students on their way class.

It’s not like he’s running up and down the hallways of Lillis, blowing off-key notes as loud as he can during classes and masturbating in the bathroom stalls. Misha Seymour should be able to play his recorder on the streets.

The Other Side of the Pacifica Forum Coin

February 11th, 2010 by D

For weeks now we’ve been debating back and forth about the Pacifica Forum, and the subsequent maneuvering its protesters have done to try to make the discussion about “student safety”. It came to a head last week when the ASUO Senate Rules Committee passed a resolution that politely asked the Pacifica Forum to fuck off.

It seems that through a highly convoluted series of events, the Student Insurgent has coincidentally “intercepted” a message from Billy Rojas, which has been denied as being a fake. Even if the e-mail is real, it’s long and boring and I don’t really need to go over its contents. The best part is that the Black Tea Society has decided to call on anti-Pacifica supporters from all over the state to protest the next Pacifica meeting on the 12th because of the e-mail.

Here’s where it gets juicy. The Black Tea Society intends to bring militants to the University of Oregon campus in order to protest the Pacifica Forum. That’s right… militants.

“Militants wishing to participate in this action should arrive in front of Agate Hall on the University of Oregon campus, this Friday February 12th at 4:30pm”


Obama’s Gun Laws

February 8th, 2010 by D

“Back up in yo ass with the resurrection”

There was a particularly ridiculous letter to the editor in last Wednesday’s Emerald, one in which the author of the letter, Curtis Taylor, made the claim that, “[Obama has] signed into law more repeals of good gun policies than President George W. Bush” whatever that means.

As November 2008 came near, many on the conservative side of things expressed great fear that Obama would pass some kind of sweeping legislation against guns, effectively changing gun ownership in America forever, and for the worst. Many on the left (as I assume Taylor is, given his opinion) felt this a compelling force behind myriad reasons why they voted for Obama. Yet not much has come in the way of mass gun control from Obama. Indeed, Taylor expressed his frustration that Obama has, “showed no signs of leadership on the issue.” Leadership, of course, being the backhanded term being used there for not “doing what I want.”


Learning from the Pacifica Forum

February 3rd, 2010 by Evan Patrick Thomas

Earlier this week I had the great fortune of sitting down with both Vice President Robin Holmes and President Richard Lariviere. At the time these meetings were scheduled two weeks ago, there remained an array of unanswered questions in regard to the Pacifica issue, including and not limited to: much misinformation about the stances of the University, misunderstanding regarding the legal rights and causality regarding the Forum, a multitude of smear tactics and intolerance displayed by both sides, misquotation and misrepresentation of our university administration.

Since two weeks ago, much has happened. A Student Senate resolution was declined, a protest was outraged, and a hideous act of vandalism was induced. I was worried, perhaps erroneously, that these events could have clouded the judgment of our institution like they have clouded judgment of many protesters and student body (much of the student body still thinks “Pacifica Forum” is a “Neo-Nazi Group,” hence the populace of the “Anti-Pacifica” Facebook group).

I am humbled and relieved at the remarkable objectivity and forward thinking of our administration. I now know that it was unfair of me to equate the mental capacity of our university officials with the riotous aggrandized assertions of some undergraduate protests; I irrationally feared that the UO would get swept away in the deep rooted emotion of many of the students, a very alluring mentality.

I may say with confidence now that my fear has been put to rest.


Read This

February 2nd, 2010 by D

An outsider’s view of the McDisasterfuck that is the PF.

FIRE Article

Saving Pacifica

February 2nd, 2010 by D

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to Drew’s editorial from the last issue lately, and the more I think about it, the more I think the premise of his argument is a viable, actionable plan. If you haven’t read it, the argument revolves around a plan that would involve students–including those protesting the Pacifica Forum–into the actual Forum as debaters.

The Pacifica Forum was started in 1994 as a way to debate two sides (or three) of an issue. As the years have gone on, speakers at the Pacifica Forum have started to push the envelope of topics discussed. Here, we should make an important distinction: The Pacifica Forum has no members per se, but an open call for its organizers. Indeed, the premise of a Forum is just that–an open discussion or debate. Instead, its protesters have been acting as if the Pacifica Forum is one, solid group with a single mindset.

Contrary to what many may think, the Pacifica Forum is not all Nazis. Instead, the organizers of the Forum have invited Nazis and debated back and forth with them about certain topics–the swastika, the Sieg Heil etc. The problem lately, however, is that the two sides of the debate haven’t been far apart enough in their arguments. Instead of a debater that is far to one side and another that is far to the other, the debaters at the Pacifica Forum have been far to one side with the other somewhere in the middle.

This is where our beloved protesters come in. Although protests were initially meant to be “silent” they have strayed far and away from that premise. Effectively, the anti-Pacifica people want their voices heard. What Drew proposed–and what I think is an exceedingly good idea–is that those protesters join the debate on the other side of the table, as speakers. Instead of holding signs and shouting, or waiting for your turn to speak at the microphone, why not sit on the other end of the table as a third party, a third side to the debate about Nazism or what have you?

I find it harder and harder to find any support within myself for the anti-Pacifica protesters. The Forum itself is not perpetuating Nazism–idiots like Jimmy Marr and Anelauskas are. Why not stand up, take charge, and take back the Forum for yourselves?

Amidst this conflict, somebody told me, “The proper reaction to bad speech is not less speech. The proper reaction is more speech.”

If only this campus could grasp that concept.

That Which Springs from Ignorance

January 30th, 2010 by D

Today we were forwarded an e-mail correspondence between Phylicia Haggerty, a University of Oregon student, and ASUO Senator Tyler Griffin. I warn you, its contents are disturbing, for it shows the true nature of the misguidance many students have about the Pacifica Forum situation. I have my own opinions about the contents of this e-mail, but I dare not write them here, lest I take away from the incredibly intelligent, well-spoken and well-informed e-mail response Sen. Griffin replied to Haggerty with.

I hope Griffin doesn’t mind that I’ve posted this here, but I believe that such attacks on the members of the ASUO, who have been a highly deliberative body on the subject to this point, should not be subject to such ignorant attacks from members of our student body. I hope students can better inform themselves by better understanding the depth and consideration all members of the ASUO have taken on this point. All I can say is that I openly applaud Griffin for his expressed opinions within his reply. Good for you, Tyler.

From Phylicia Haggerty to Sen. Tyler Griffin:

To The Members of Our Student Senate,

I am a senior at the University of Oregon and I am very concerned for my safety. I am not understanding why the Pacifica Forum situation has not been resolved. I am getting ready to graduate in June with two degrees from this institution, which up until a week ago I was very proud to be a duck.

I have written a letter to Student affairs along with the president of this institution because I feel as though you all are clearly not responsible to make the right decision. I wish you could all sit back and take this situation personally, but you cant because your not the one being hated against. I know what you all look like and as far as I am concerned I believe there is only one person who looks like they would be hated against by this forum so I would not expect you to take this personally. I have already called the Oregonian and if you do not think this news will get out of the University of Oregon spot light you have another thing coming. If this hate group were a bunch of students of color you would have resolved this already.

Freedom of speech? Really is that all you can back your decision on. I bet that students will use their freedom of speech to take this higher than all of you. The first amendment is only applicable when it does no harm to others. Trust me, I have studied plenty of Supreme Court cases. I am very saddened that this has happened and nothing has been done about it. Being a person of color on this campus is already difficult and then to have a hate group promoting students to hate us is even worse. I hope this e-mail finds you well, but I am very frustrated and hurt that I do not feel safe to walk to class, and the fact that nothing has been done about it is beyond unbelievable. If you do not think that the diversity on this campus will decrease due to this decision you need to think again.

That is of course you probably have no concern to keep this “diverse” campus “diverse”. I urge you to sleep on your decision and attempt to take it personally before next weeks meeting. Thank you for your time.

Now, from Griffin back to Haggerty:


I am sorry you feel hurt, and unsafe, and think that we are morally bankrupt people for not voting for this resolution, but..

You make me feel unsafe. And, yes at this time, because of this email you sent, I feel ashamed to be a duck. Knowing that my peers at this university are so ignorant and naïve to make such accusations of our ASUO Senators, elected by student body.

And, how dare you say we on the body have not been discriminated against! You should truly be ashamed for saying this. You trivialize the nature hate, as you are using the same rhetoric that you wish to silence.

I would encourage you to think, in more depth, what are the possible implications of your extremely false accusations.

Feel free to contact me at any point.

Senator Tyler Griffin (seat six)
EMU Board
Rules Committee Chair.

Sens. Schultz, Whitecalf to propose new resolution for Pacifica Forum

January 28th, 2010 by D

As last night’s resolution failed to pass the Rules Committee, Senate Vice-President has drafted a new resolution for next week’s Senate meeting.

In general, the premise behind the new resolution is a questioning of the rules that allow non-student groups like the Pacifica Forum to be held on campus, free of charge, when hosted by emeritus alumni (as is the case with the PF).

Section II.
2.1  Be it resolved that, the ASUO Senate stands in solidarity with a large segment of the student body in asking that the University Administration review the policies that grant non-student groups access to University rooms and resources, free of charge.
2.2  Be it further resolved that, the ASUO supports the Administration’s recent decision to move the Pacifica Forum to a campus location outside of the EMU.
2.3    Be it further resolved that, the ASUO Student Senate encourages the University Administration to mediate the situation and ensure that students feel safe on campus.

Basically, if the UO Administration decides to make the Pacifica Forum a contracted group (making them pay for their space) they would fall under the University of Oregon’s anti-hate policies. In fact, the resolution makes mention of this fact (sort of).

1.5  Whereas, the ASUO supports the Affirmation of Community Standards of the University of Oregon which seeks to “Reject bigotry, discrimination, violence, or intimidation of any kind.”

For anti-Pacifica protesters, this is the proper avenue to explore as a means of removing the Pacifica Forum off campus. You know, instead yelling asinine things like, “Fuck free speech!”

What the Pacifica Forum Issue is Really About

January 26th, 2010 by Evan Patrick Thomas

This is a guest piece submitted to the Oregon Commentator by a student. Unfortunately, by the time we received it we did not have space for it. We have instead chose to post it to our blog as the content is time sensitive. Be advised that the student is not a member of the Oregon Commentator and their views do not represent the editorial position of the Oregon Commentator.

*Note: I am not representing the interest of either opposing faction in terms of this issue: the Pacifica Forum, or its protestors. I represent the legal system applicable to all persons of this country as defined by the institution of the UO’s Code of Conduct, the Oregon State Constitution and the Federal Constitution. I am a realist; I hope I can convince readers to be realists with me.

There seems to be a general misunderstanding by the Pacifica Forum protesters about the causality and validity of their protest.  The Pacifica Forum has become notorious for housing uncommon, extremist ideological perspectives that few of us share or respect. Speakers at Pacifica have denounced Judaism, preached hate, and lashed out at community members: they have been specifically praised and acknowledged by neo-Nazi organizations and the NSM (though it is important to point out that the Anti-Hate Task Force, the group leading the protest against PF, has been praised and acknowledged by neo-Communist organizations).  But, in order to objectively and dispassionately review the behavior of the Pacifica Forum, as is necessary for legal dispute like banning them from government property, it is important to translate and apply our laws to this organization, not just attack them on morality and personal emotion before litigation is announced. Unfortunately for many protesters, our laws protect this organization.


Pacifica Forum resolution to set precedent

January 26th, 2010 by D

As you may be aware of, since last week’s Senate meeting, the debate over the Forum has turned to a matter of “student safety”. Several people spoke at the Senate meeting about how they felt threatened by members of the Forum’s choice of words, specifically with comments regarding rape etc. Even ASUO President Emma Kallaway has received an e-mail with pictures of her taken by Pacifica members with her comments written below.

Now, although our detractors would beg to differ, the Commentator prides itself on giving fair judgment to situations, especially ones that are sensitive to civil rights. Since the efforts of protesters last week to turn the issue towards student safety, the Commentator has been feverishly trying to uncover examples from students who feel they have been violently attacked–indeed, if such an event had happened, that would call for a serious discussion on the Forum effecting student safety.

Unfortunately, as you can read in Ross’ article, there have been no explicit threats or acts of violence by members of the Pacifica Forum to our student body. Rather, I should say, that if there has been explicit threats, we have not been able to find evidence of it. We have contacted both DPS and the EPD and neither of them have any reports filed about a member of the Pacifica Forum making an explicit threat of violence. Further, those making the claims of violence or threats from the Pacifica Forum have been unwilling to provide evidence or documentation of these events.


ASUO Senate Proposed Pacifica Resolution

January 26th, 2010 by D

You can preview the ASUO Senate resolution on the Pacifica Forum here before it goes to the Rules Committee on Wednesday.

ASUO Pacifica Forum Resolution