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Archive for the 'Free Speech' Category

Eugene Receives National Press Over Pledge of Allegiance Decision

July 3rd, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

On June 6th, Eugene City Councilor Mike Clark proposed a relatively simple idea to the Council: schoolchildren are required to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day in class, so the Eugene City Council should be required to say it at the start of its meetings, too.

What ensued was a month of debate, controversy and notoriety, the likes of which most Eugenians were not prepared for.

Clark’s initial mention of the proposal, which was brought to the council officially on June 20, was met with minor support, but mostly skepticism from his fellow Councilors. The proposal would allow for the recitation of the Pledge at the Council’s regular meetings, where the eight councilmen could recite if they chose, and the audience would have an option to join in if they were so inclined. But those in attendance accused Clark of political posturing.

Clark, who represents north-central Eugene on the council, may run for the North Eugene seat on the Lane County Board of Commissioners next year, [Lane Community College Political Science Professor Steve] Candee said.

“That’s the beauty of what Mike is proposing,” Candee said. “Nobody wants to be against the American flag and apple pie.”

“My suspicion is that (Clark’s pledge idea) is more political than legislative or deliberative,” he said.

The next week, when the idea again came before the council, there were worries about the implications of a mandatory pledge — worries that were stated by Mayor Kitty Piercy. She believed that the pledge would be a divisive measure, making those who chose not to recite seem as though they were not patriotic. So she proposed a compromise.

[Piercy], along with Zelenka, suggested the council recite the pledge at the five meetings each year.

Piercy said she recalled a Lane County Board of Commissioners meeting last year where “an angry crowd” of residents upset with proposed land use regulations along the McKenzie River “took over the meeting and forced the (saying of the) Pledge of Allegiance.”

At last week’s council meeting, Piercy said, a resident “demanded that every patriotic person stand up and take the pledge. And the implication was clear that not saying it was supposed to mean one did not honor our country and our troops.

“We do not have a history of saying the pledge on our City Council,” Piercy said. “But we have all given our oath of office and, in doing so, our allegiance to this nation, state and city.”

And even at the next meeting, most Councilors seemed skeptical. Councilor George Brown even suggested to Clark that he should say the Pledge in ceremony in the privacy of his own home. Clark seemed disappointed.

“In my heart, I would like to pass my originally intended motion,” he said. “But I recognize that a majority of the council doesn’t agree with me. I also recognize that compromising will likely bring a majority of councilors to agreement.

“I think it’s a good first step toward us being willing to value those in our community who would like to celebrate more traditional things.”

The compromise that Mayor Piercy proposed at the June 13th meeting eventually made its way into law last week, passing by a vote of 6-2. The Pledge will be said at the four meetings closest to “patriotic holidays of Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Flag Day and the Fourth of July.”

But that’s not even the interesting part.

In hearing about the story, Fox News sent a crew down from Seattle to cover the story. And in their coverage, the meeting was characterized completely differently. From the Register-Guard:

By midafternoon, more than 200 e-mails and 140 phone calls had been received at City Hall. Such a response to a City Council decision in such a short period of time is unusual.

City spokeswoman Jan Bohman said 90 percent of the e-mails and 99 percent of the phone calls were from residents outside Oregon.

Bohman said many of the comments were generated by the Fox News reports, which she called misleading.

“We are hearing from people who think we are banning the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance,” Bohman said. “That’s not accurate or even close to the truth.”

To be fair, Fox’s coverage leaves much to be desired.

Jordan Sekulow, director of policy and international operations for the American Center for Law and Justice, sees the Eugene case as political correctness trumping American values.

“It vindicates all of us who say our Judeo-Christian heritage is under attack,” Sekulow says, “sometimes it’s in the courts, sometimes it’s elected officials and sometimes it’s the media.”

In Eugene, the opposition was less about religion than anti-establishment.

Resident Anita Sullivan summed up a common viewpoint: “So you say I pledge allegiance and right there I don’t care for that language,” Sullivan says. “It sort of means loyalty to your country; well, I feel loyalty to the entire world.”

What did the vote accomplish, really? And what would the harm have been in allowing those who wish to pledge allegiance to the United States of America that right at the beginning of a public, government meeting? One of the main oppositions to saying the Pledge was that Councilors already swore an oath to uphold the Constitution when they took office, as the Register Guard notes:

In the oath of office outlined in the city charter, elected officials “solemnly swear” to support the U.S. and state constitutions and to faithfully perform the duties of their office to the best of their ability. They have the option to conclude the oath with the words “so help me God” or to affirm their intentions “under the pains and penalties of perjury.”

Another is that saying the Pledge of Allegiance at meetings could be a divisive force — potentially, those who choose not to recite it could be deemed anti-American or some other such nonsense. This was Mayor Piercy’s main opposition, and a sentiment that seemed to echo throughout both the Council and the community.

By allowing Councilors and those attending City Council meetings the option to say the Pledge of Allegiance at a public meeting in which government employees are conducting official business would serve to both remind those in attendance and decision-makers why the processes in which we make community decisions are in place (hey, thanks for democracy, America) as well as — and this is arguably a more important point — allow legislators the choice to express their freedom of speech in a forum that is supposed to protect that right for the rest of the community (among doing other things, of course).

In any community with one predominant viewpoint, regardless of attempts from individuals, a pervading idea is generally more highly respected than the ideas of the minority. The best decisions come from discussion of differing viewpoints, from individuals feeling empowered and inspired to express their opinions — even if that opinion is love of flag and love of country.

For example, for the first time since 1911, Oregon actually passed a redistricting bill that was signed by Governor Kitzhaber without major revisions or the need for the task to be handed to the Secretary of State. The bipartisan bill passed overwhelmingly in both the Oregon House and Senate — comprised of 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans, and 16 Democrats and 14 Republicans, respectively.

The conversations that occurred in the creation of what had the potential to be a highly political action actually helped to create a solution that has the ability to benefit all Oregonians. Being able to express opinions and share different beliefs can be beneficial to a society. Cities are birthplaces of innovation precisely for that reason — having your viewpoints challenged is inspiring.

The City of Eugene would do well to keep this in mind when deciding how to organize their meeting proceedings. A city that claims to be so tolerant and accepting of new ideas should probably start being tolerant and accepting of the old ones, too.

Oregon: Relatively Free

June 19th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

Oregon is the 8th freest state in the union, according to a recent study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The study, which ranks New Hampshire and South Dakota tied for #1 and New York #50, ranks states based on their social and personal freedoms, analyzing a number of public policies specific to each of the states and taking care to ensure that fiscal policies are analyzed based on cost to the taxpayer.

Oregon, specifically, is ranked #24 in economic freedom and #1 in personal freedom (believe it or not).

Despite the low taxes, government spending in Oregon remains much too high, resulting in relatively high state debt. Public safety, administration, and environment and housing look particularly ripe for cutting. Gun control laws are a bit better than average. Marijuana possession is decriminalized below a certain level, and there is medical marijuana (cultivation and sale are felonies, though). […]

The state’s cigarette taxes are higher than most, and its smoking bans were recently tightened. Oregon’s spirits tax is the highest in the country and quite extreme (though interestingly, its neighbor, Washington, is the only other state three standard deviations above the national average).

The study also outlines some policy recommendations for Oregon in order to reach an optimum freedom ranking:

  1. At the state level, spending on the inspection and regulation bureaucracy, natural resources, and government employees’ retirement is well above national norms. We recommend cutting spending in these areas and reducing public debt.
  2. Eliminate occupational licensing for massage therapists, funeral attendants, pest-control workers, elevator installers and repairmen, boilermakers, fishers and related fishing workers, agricultural product graders and sorters, farm-labor contractors, and other
  3. Maintain, if not reduce, the minimum wage, even in the face of future inflation.

Oregon’s storied history of high property/income taxes and nonexistent sales taxes probably also contribute to our relative ranking, but from where I’m sitting, we’re doing fairly well. The full study can be downloaded here.

(Hat tip to the Oregonian for pointing us to this study.)

This Week in News: Ass and Weiners. Is this really news?

June 15th, 2011 by Kayla Heffner

News is meant to inform its citizens about recent, important events and provide relevant information.  For example discussing the candidates running for the upcoming 2012 presidential election or in local news, Oregon had a chemical fire in Albany and U of O and OSU held commencement ceremonies for their 2011 graduates.   Recently however the news cycles seem to be dedicating its news time to more…. asinine stories.

Sir Mix- A-Lot likes big butts, and he along with the rest of America and the U.K.  observed the royal wedding, but talk circulating afterward was not about Kate but instead Pippa’s ass.  Within days sites and fan pages for the glorious bum popped up including Ass Appreciation Society, a Facebook page dedicated to nothing but, Pippa’s ass, with over 50,000 fans and more than 200,000 facebookers ‘like’ this page.  Yes there are more stupid facebook pages than this, but what is shocking to me is how many people actually want Pippa’s ass, some even going as far as having plastic surgery to obtain that Pippa’s-ass-s0-tight-you-could-bounce-a-quarter-off-it.

Linked to this article via Huffington Post, this site reports that since the royal wedding, British cosmetic surgeons have seen a 60% increase in butt-lifting surgeries, with one cosmetic clinic listing, “The Pip Package Perfect Posterior” as a treatment.  People wanting this type of cosmetic surgery are paying as much as $12,000, now that is what I call a priceless ass.  It is sad that women wish to look like someone else rather then accept who they are, rather than making a lifestyle change to achieve the sort of results and happiness they want, they look for an instant gratification solution to their problem, because, any other way is deemed  “too hard”.  A person can wish to have an ass like Pippa, JLO, Jessica Alba or Kim Kardashian, but they should also know A.) these people are celebrities which means they have money. B.) Since they are A, then they can afford C.) a personal trainer, gym membership, or surgery to give them that sculpted tush.  Having a good butt takes effort but everyone turns 50 eventually and the skin and muscles naturally start to lose collagen and elastin, then by 85 both genders look the same anyway, so really your are just wasting time and effort.  Get over it jiggly ass, at least you are not facing losing your career like Anthony Weiner.

Politicians, media outlets, and radio have all been a buzz about, well Weiner’s weiner,with Obama himself saying that if it were him, he would resign.  I understand that this man is in a position of power and that he has a duty to uphold his office and serve the people.  From what I can gather, aside from being slightly vouyeristic and a little creepy, I do not think this man deserves as much flack as he has been given.  He sent pictures of his penis to a women over twitter, this was stupid, but I do not think it should end his career.

The man is with child and married, but Bill Clinton was married and as I recall Kobe was engaged at the time of his scandal, but both of these men made it through their scandals and still went onto to have successful careers.  Despite how much backlash and disapproval these men received from the media and American people at the time of their scandal, overall it did not hurt their lasting reputation with the public.

I agree that if Weiner is mentally unfit to serve properly for his office he should resign, but it does not appear that he has done anything to show mental impairment.  He made a poor decision and he has made steps to atone for his actions, politicians want him to resign because that is less competition for them.  Honestly all of these politicos who give the scandal press time are just trying to smear more excrement across Weiner’s platform, they don’t care about justice, they care about having people voting for them for re-election.  This story is NOT news.  I think the other politicians are just jealous of Weiner’s package, as we all know, elections are nothing but a dick measuring contest  anyway.  Sorry if you don’t measure up boys, but talk about something else, like your own campaign. We at the Commentator are still waiting to hear back on the size and girth of Sarah Palin’s penis and will be reporting back to you with more information.  If you would like to learn more about Weiner’s penis photos or Pippa’s ass,  you can watch the Today show, for more relevant news follow the Commentator.  Cheers!

Christian preacher stirs up controversy in the EMU Amphitheater

May 24th, 2011 by C.W. Keating

“I have become a preaching machine!”

Thumping a well-worn blue Bible, Jed Smock – or Brother Jed, as he likes to be called – is one of the new faces generating controversy around the EMU Amphitheater for his confrontational preaching method. Sporting a bowtie, a sweater vest and a blue blazer, Brother Jed addresses individuals in the amphitheater audience and calls out to “wicked” and “promiscuous” students about how to “change their ways and follow Christ.”

A self-admitted “former hippie” who “found Jesus on a hippie commune in Africa,” Brother Jed is usually met with disdain, mockery and impassioned debate from students, groups such as the Alliance of Happy Atheists and random people walking by the amphitheater.

I had a chance to sit down with Brother Jed and talk about his presence on the University of Oregon.

Oregon Commentator: Why did you decide to preach in the University of Oregon amphitheater?
Brother Jed: I mean, you’re not going to get college students to get up and go to church early in the morning. So we need to go to them.
OC: Would you say you’ve made an impact [on campus]?
BJ: Oh, yes. I was just talking to someone who recently started reading the Bible. I get letters on my website,, letters I’ve received from student over the years. They go something like this: “Dear Brother Jed, Your preaching made me so mad that I started reading the Bible to prove you wrong.” And then they find the faith!
OC: So is provoking people the main way you get your message across? It seems very in-your-face, very uncomfortable.
BJ: Yes, you need to engage the audience. I call it confrontational evangelism. The radical left [in the 1960s] talked of “confrontational politics,” really challenging the establishment. Whether you agree with their position or not, it worked… So yes, I want to stir up controversy and dialogue and debate… all college students are thinking about is mundane. They’re not asking “What is our moral foundation?” They aren’t the true questions, the right questions. They’re just focused on “Oh, I’ve got a test today” and “I hope I get laid tonight.” You’re distracted from God.
OC: Let’s talk a bit about how you became a Christian. You mentioned that you lived on a hippie commune in Africa…?
BJ: Yes, I did. One day a man who was dressed in Arabic attires – you know, a turban, a robe, all that – came preaching Jesus to us on Christmas Day, 1971. And we all laughed at him! But as a historian I had to admit that the Bible has great literary qualities. I mean, I was the son of an English professor and some of the greatest works of literature have been inspired by the Bible. So I thought I should read it for academic and spiritual purposes. I was going to study under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India but I thought “Why don’t I study my religion instead?”
OC: So Judaism, Islam and Christianity all recognize Jesus as a prophet.
BJ: Well, the Jews don’t.
OC: Right. But still, all three religions come from the tree of Abraham. Would you say there’s kinship between Jews, Muslims and Christians?
BJ: Islam denies that Jesus died on the cross. The Qur’an says that “God had no son”… so really Islam is an attack on Christianity. They deny Jesus’ sacrifice. We’re different. No, we believe in the Trinity. We believe Jesus is God!
OC: Has being in academia informed how you preach?
BJ: Yes. I remember reading the Bible and wanting to tell the good news to people! But there’s only so much you can do inside a building, so I decided to go outside.
OC: Would you say you appeal to reason in your preaching?
BJ: It’s about preaching but it’s also about teaching. It’s an appeal to man’s conscience, recognizing this party lifestyle and trying to get them thinking about their life. Most students aren’t thinkers, they’re feelers. So I appeal to that emotion.
OC: Let’s talk about Satan. Do you believe in Satan, that there is an evil force out there?
BJ: I do believe in a fallen angel, Lucifer does mean “bringer of light.” He was perfect in all of his. But they found sin in him. So he rally one third of the angels to rebel against God. Now that took a long time, that’s not an overnight thing… I do believe Lucifer became frustrated with God because God governs the universe not by sheer force but by love. And love puts restraints on us all. It’s like our soldiers over in Afghanistan… if we didn’t have this Christian morality, we’d just wipe ‘em all out, get it over with, y’know? [Laughs] But God is about love, so we can’t do that. God is gonna demonstrate that love always wins. The Devil has all this experience in the realms of hate and power, but what looks stronger than Jesus hanging on the cross? Love defeated hate on the cross. Love will defeat evil.
OC: Would you say the devil is on college campuses? How do you reason that?
BJ: I do believe in demonic possession. I don’t think any students are possessed, but the Devil does influence us with temptations.
OC: What kind of temptations?
BJ: The drugs, the alcohol and the sex before marriage… they all make us morally weak. Drugs and alcohol puts our conscience to sleep. And the music! They’re listening to this decadent rock music, or hip-hop and this music is seductive!
OC: Thank you for your time, Brother Jed.

A story on the controversy surrounding Brother Jed will be available in the forthcoming Commentator.

The Student Insurgent: Sex trafficking is greater than or equal to hate speech.

May 22nd, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

The Student Insurgent, in a surprising turn of events, is actually doing something. I would be proud, if their actions weren’t entirely asinine.

First, they hosted a guest speaker last week who advocated sex trafficking. No joke. From their blog:

War on Terror & War on Trafficking:
Why Irrational Panic over ‘Modern Day Slavery’ Harms Women

Thursday May 19th, from 6-730pm in Condon 104, University of Oregon.

Presented by Emi Koyama, War on Terror & War on Trafficking examines “facts” promoted by the anti-trafficking groups and “experts,” and exposes how they have distorted our conversations about sex trafficking and prostitution and harmed women, sex workers, immigrants, and others.

The presentation also explores many ways in which the new War on Trafficking resembles the so-called War on Terror in its worldview, approach, and devastating impact on vulnerable communities. […]

Come to find out why:

• Average age of entry into prostitution is not 12-14 year old
• 300,000 children are not at risk of being trafficked
• A third of runaway youth are not trafficked within first 48 hours
• Super Bowl and World Cup did not contribute to human trafficking
• Portland is not “Pornland, Oregon”
• “End Demand” approach targeting “johns” harms women
• Anti-trafficking “experts” should not be trusted (remember Bill Hillar?)
• Trafficking is often the State’s excuse to raid immigrants and communities of color
• Anti-trafficking movement distorts reality and misleads public policy

Clearly, the Student Insurgent advocates sex trafficking. The Commentator will be looking more into this story, including whether or not the Student Insurgent is housing underage, trafficked prostitutes in their office. Look for that next week.

Additionally, as I was walking by the Commentator distribution rack outside McKenzie Hall this afternoon, I saw this flier sitting on top of our HATE issues in the rack:

You know the Commentator. Constantly committing acts of ableism (which, and I’ve looked through our archives, I can’t find), objectifying women AND men, and generally slandering our fellow students.

Any responses to this flier should not only be directed to Dr. Shang (who, by the way, won the Professional Baller Tater Award last year) but also to us at Best response receives a Sudsy t-shirt and a hug from me and Sophie — AT THE SAME TIME. How can you say no?

On a more serious note: free speech, bitches. Deal with it.

EDIT: I can’t be sure this flier was indeed placed by the Insurgent, but based on the conversations I’ve had the last week, I can only guess.

UO ASL Professor Fired For In-Class Comment

May 17th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

The Oregon Daily Emerald is reporting that University of Oregon American Sign Language Professor Peter Quint has been fired for a comment he made to a student in his ASL 203 course on May 4th. From the article:

Quint began the class Wednesday with a personal story about being confronted by a group of men with guns while traveling in Pakistan with a group of friends. According to students, Quint, who is deaf, explained he was able to get out of the situation safely because he could communicate to the men that he was not a threat.

The story was intended to highlight the importance of communication, students said. It came about after several students repeatedly ignored Quint’s requests to only sign conversation. Quint lost his hearing due to meningitis when he was two and insisted students only sign during his classes so everyone could participate.

According to students present, later in Wednesday’s class, Quint noticed that a student spoke rather than signed, got upset and asked the student, “Do you want me to shoot you?”

“He wasn’t saying he was actually going to shoot anyone,” Claire Johnson, who is in several of Quint’s classes this term, said of the comment, adding that it was intended to relate back to the story and was taken out of context. “I didn’t find it threatening.”

While an inappropriate comment, certainly, was Quint entirely out of line? I’ve never taken an American Sign Language class, but I have taken the 200-level Spanish sequence, and in those classes we were required to speak Spanish. Indeed, in 201, if you spoke English at all the professor would not acknowledge your question or comment.

It doesn’t seem like this situation should be any different, especially since ASL now counts for language requirements in preparation for a Bachelor of Arts degree. And especially since Quint could not hear his students, whereas most if not all Spanish profs at the UO can speak English, the need to sign was even more immediate.

According to the rest of the article, the students in Quint’s classes were not given much if any say in the process of his termination. Who made the decision to fire him, and what was their motivation? Did Quint have tenure, and did that contribute to his firing?

This story, needless to say, is developing. We’ll provide more information as it comes available.

The University Zoo: The animals run wise and free–as you and I should be.

May 16th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is one of the most unique and powerful organizations of the right now. Its mission is to “defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities,” and it is extremely successful in this regard. Indeed, a few years back when the Oregon Commentator was defunded by the Programs Finance Committee for our content, FIRE came in with a letter to then-President Dave Frohnmayer and our funding was restored. FIRE also publishes guides to student rights on university campuses, including a particularly interesting one on student fees and funding (hint hint ASUO folks hint hint).

Basically, FIRE is hella awesome, as are the people who work there.

One of those people, Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel, is an Oregon Commentator fan as well as an excellent writer. And in 2008, he was published by the National Association of Scholars as part of a post on Dr. Seuss’s 1950 fable If I Ran The Zoo. First, some of Peter Wood’s comments:

Dr. Seuss’s protagonist, young Gerald McGrew, suffers none of his sophisticated contemporaries’s deadly contempt for life as it is, or for his social surroundings. His opening words are, “It’s a pretty good zoo, and the fellow who runs it seems proud of it too.” But McGrew imagines he could do better. He would release the current animals and acquire creatures such as a ten-footed lion and a family of Lunks in a bucket from the wilds of Nantucket. He dreams of zookeeper glory, when “the whole world will say, ‘Young McGrews’s made his mark. / He’s built a zoo better than Noah’s whole Ark!’”

McGrew’s bestiary comes from Linneas-knows-not-where, but surely Dr. Seuss has posed a good question. If you ran the zoo, could you outdo McGrew?

This being the National Association of Scholars, we are interested in one particular zoo, American higher education. Of course, we mean this metaphor in the most benign way. We are not conjuring Animal House fraternities, or epithets like “Zoo Mass” for the University of Massachusetts. We are sober critics here at NAS and do not engage in petty satire. Rather we pose the question in the spirit of Dr. Seuss. We have sometimes doubted that it’s a pretty good zoo. But, say that it is. It still could be better.

And, of course, Kissel’s contribution:

(1) Adam Kissel
If I Ran the University Zoo

If I ran the university zoo,
The number of administrators would be divided by two,
And two, and two, and two, and two,
Leaving more resources available for me and for you.

And maybe I’d do something about peer review.
The sociologist will learn how to speak with the entomologist
And the psychologist and the geologist
And the philologist and the astronomist and the economist
So that the Faculty Club will again serve discussion
And not only the gastronomist.

The faculty will know the difference
Between liberal education and general education,
Between liberal education and liberalism,
Between liberal education and illiberal policies,
Between liberal education and secondary education,
Between liberal education and research,
Between liberal education and Division I athletics.

The faculty will enjoy thinking about these differences,
Talking and debating about these differences,
Teaching about these differences,
And assessing students to make sure they understand

What they are doing in the zoo,
This zoo rather than some other zoo,
Where the administration has been cut by twos,
And the teams are at most in Division Two.

Sure, I believe in the unity of knowledge
But some kinds of studies are not for college,
At least not for degrees.
The world needs plumbers and clowns,
Horse-trainers and dog-trainers,
Athletes and acrobats and accordionists,
And advocates for or against this or that.
But college is the place to get up on philosophy
And science and math and religion and thinking
And writing and the other liberal arts.
College is not for jobs but for smarts.

If I got to run the zoo
And someone stood accused
Of something he maybe didn’t do
(Or maybe he did), he would get the process he is due.

The rules would be clear and applied equally to all.
Rule #1 would be a zero-tolerance policy
For speech codes and “free speech zones.”
Let academic freedom reign—

But this is where peer review
Comes into transdisciplinary purview.
Let each professor defend his work before his peers,
Across the university, and in the public sphere
So that honor may accrue where it is due—
And ridicule for those more than a few
Who cannot quite justify what it is that they do.

“The books stand open and the gates unbarred,”
Spoke Seamus Heaney at Harvard Yard.

At the university zoo, as I would do,
The animals run wise and free—as you and I should be.

Absolutely brilliant. Indeed, I believe my exact word to him was, “Heroic.”

Follow Adam on Twitter (and FIRE while you’re at it). We have a Twitter account, too: you can follow us here.

AB-InBev Serves $38.8 Million, Goose Island Binges On Profit

April 21st, 2011 by Kayla Heffner

For those of you in the beer world who keep tabs on the  Brewers Association or the craft beer scene, you may have heard: Goose Island, a craft beer brewery, has just been bought by Anheuser-Busch (newly acquired by InBev).  What this means is that Goose Island beer could turn into the same watered down piss that AB already brews and bottles.  Typically the bigger company will sacrifice good ingredients like real hops, malt and barely to replace it with cost effective extracts and artificial flavors.  Speaking of beer tasting like piss, the Brewmaster  Greg Hall himself brewed his own concoction of beer the other night. Huffington Post reports:

It’s been a real up-and-down couple of weeks for Greg Hall.

The brewmaster at Goose Island announced in late March that he’d be leaving that role, as the Chicago-based craft brewer was bought up by Anheuser-Busch for a hefty $39 million. He’ll be leaving for an undisclosed new project, according to statements at the time.

And last Friday night, Hall celebrated his 45th birthday at Bangers and Lace, a self-described craft beer and sausage bar that Time Out Chicago recently named its Best New Bar.

Unfortunately, according to the Chicago Tribune, the celebration got a bit out of hand. In a conversation with the Tribune on Monday, Hall didn’t deny accusations made by the Bangers staff that he urinated in two beer glasses and left them at the bar.

Looks like someone partied a little too hard.  The intoxicated Brewmaster made his father’s brewery (of 23 years) become known for more than just beer the other night while celebrating his 45th Birthday at Wicker Parks Bangers & Lace.  Folks, this is quite the drunken tale.

Hall unveiled a brew all his own: pissing in two pint glasses. After throwing a few back Hall proceeded to go behind the counter of the bar and proceeded to urinate in two glasses, leaving them on the bar.  At this point Hall probably should have discreetly left, but he had to be escorted from the premises by staff to his car (hopefully he wasn’t driving).

Yes we can all laugh at the silly over-the-top drunken escapades of a man threw one too many back, but there is a bitter note to this story.  What beer lover might not realize is that Hall’s company has just sold out to a corporate giant which has a monopoly on almost half of the beer industry.  As Huffington Post points out though, craft breweries like Goose Island are doing well, but I guess if I was offered that much money I would probably allow myself to be bought too.

John Hall, the head of Goose Island, said that the company was quickly outgrowing its capacities, having to limit production of some of its most popular beers, and that the deal with Anheuser-Busch would help the company continue to expand. “This agreement helps us achieve our goals with an ideal partner who helped fuel our growth, appreciates our products and supports their success,” Hall said, in a statement on the buyout.

Looking at the real numbers, small breweries are popping up all across the country, the BA lists 85 breweries just in Oregon. Understandably Goose Island was growing but as the rest of the HP article points out, small breweries are gaining attention while bigger companies are losing it.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, craft brewing has been an exceptionally solid performer in an otherwise unexceptional beer market in recent years. Craft beer sales were up 11 percent last year, while the broader industry was down one percent.

I do not disagree with smaller breweries expanding, but typically with these sorts of expansions in the beer industry, it leads to a more generic product using lower quality ingredients just to cut costs.  It also moves the flow of money from within a state economy into the wider commercial economy, which results in states losing money to outside sources.  Whether it is sourcing ingredients for the product from farther away or giving jobs to workers who are out-of-state, it hurts the local economy.

When a consumer buys beer from a small or local brewery they are more likely to receive a fresher, higher quality product because the ingredients used in the beer were sourced locally (fresh is good). Sourcing ingredients locally means that brewers are supporting local farmers, creating a co-op effect within the community.  Radical thoughts: local people stimulating local economy by buying products that are made locally.  I am sorry for the locavore commotion train, but the dollar signs make sense.

To All The Haters, Keep on Hating

April 13th, 2011 by Kayla Heffner

With the ever-popular HATE Issue coming up, I felt it would be appropriate to address some of the haters that have spoken out against the magazine, its staff, byline and mission statement.  The most recent form of hate being vandalism: dumping issues of the magazine outside the EMU as well as stealing one of the distribution boxes at 14th and Kincaid.  This has not happened to any other student ran publication on this campus, but according to the Student Press Law Center in 2009 Oregon State University’s Liberty had some of its distribution boxes removed in a similar fashion, claiming censorship as the cause:

The staff of an independent publication at Oregon State University says they are being censored by not being permitted to distribute across campus.

Will Rogers, executive editor of the Liberty, said campus officials removed the paper’s distribution bins during the winter 2009 term without warning, damaging some of them. Officials later told Rogers his staff does not have the same distribution rights as the Daily Barometer, OSU’s official campus paper.

“Basically, the school is setting up a state-sponsored form of communication that if you don’t play by their rules then you’re not allowed to distribute the message, which is censorship,” Rogers said. “They’re stifling our ability to communicate.”

The Liberty was also regarded as the campus conservative publication and Rogers commented on the fact that the other publication, the Daily Barometer had none of its distribution boxes removed.

According to e-mails in late April and early May between Rogers and Joe Majeski, a Facilities Services employee, university officials removed the bins — which involved cutting locks and chains for some — and stored them near a dumpster.

When Rogers retrieved them, he said some had been damaged. He noted the university gave Liberty editors in 2006 permission to place eight bins on campus. After one was stolen, the paper’s staff chained the rest in place.

A collection of e-mails between Rogers and university employees show the dispute is centered on Liberty not being the campus’ official paper. Several officials noted the Daily Barometer has been publishing for over 100 years. Officials also claimed they were controlling distribution to keep campus attractive for visiting parents.

An OSU spokesperson said that the boxes were removed in an effort to help with foot traffic and maintenance and yet again, none of the Barometer‘s bins or boxes were removed.  It is approximated that 150 copies of the publication were damaged along with the damages to boxes themselves.  Since then, the Liberty has had its distribution rights restored to the same rights as the Barometer.

In our case, reports have been filed with Eugene Police Department as well as the Department of Public Safety. All I can say is that if we’ve been striking nerves with people, good. Haters, keep up the hate. [Ed. note: But stop being a dick about it.] The OC does not sacrifice ideas or content for anyone. It is and always has been an alternative journal of opinion that does not curtail its content to vandalism or insults. The campus is indeed a battleground for the war of ideas; the war is raging and we are not stopping.

Alexandra Wallace: the three minute mistake that wasn’t related to sex….(I know, odd right?)

April 5th, 2011 by Melissa Haskin

Several weeks ago, UCLA poli sci student Alexandra Wallace created a youtube video voicing her opinions on Asians in the library. The video, which very obviously crossed the line into racism went viral and in days, Wallace had created a mistake that she couldn’t undo.

After the incident, Wallace took responsibility for her actions and released the following statement to the UCLA student newspaper, The Daily Bruin

Clearly the original video posted by me was inappropriate. I cannot explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did, and if I could undo it, I would. I’d like to offer my apology to the entire UCLA campus. For those who cannot find it within them to accept my apology, I understand.

In the days following, the UCLA administration conducted an investigation concluding that imposing academic consequences was outside of their scope

As a public university, UCLA protects free expression. While I and most on campus were appalled by the sentiments expressed in a recent YouTube video, we have uncovered no facts that lead us to believe that the Student Code of Conduct was violated. We have no intention of pursuing a disciplinary matter. Statement by Janina Montero, vice chancellor for student affairs

However, this investigation was not the only fallout from the video. Reactions reached the point of death threats (because fighting racism with violence is always the best answer [yes, that was sarcasm]) and Wallace’s interactions with the University quickly turned from investigation to protection. In fact, Wallace has decided to no longer attend UCLA as noted in a letter she wrote to The Daily Bruin (more…)

Tic Tac, Sir? State Sobriety Checkpoints Pending Vote

March 6th, 2011 by Kayla Heffner

Peter Wong of the Statesman-Journal writes about possible amendments being made to the state constitution allowing law enforcement officials to set up roadblocks and the measure that would call checkpoints to a vote :

It was law enforcement against civil libertarians Monday on the issue of whether voters should be asked to change the Oregon Constitution to enable police to set up checkpoints to deter drunken drivers.

Along with Washington and Idaho, Oregon is among the dozen states that do not allow such roadblocks. The state Supreme Court, by a 5-2 vote in 1987, disallowed them as a violation of the state constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures without “probable cause.” The other 38 states do allow them.

House Joint Resolution 25, sponsored by Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany — a retired state police lieutenant — and others, would put the issue to the voters. Previous attempts to do so have not made it past the Legislature.

Drivers in Oregon wanting to drink on the road may have to become more clever than popping breath mints to evade DUII citation and arrest.  State voters have not wanted checkpoints in the past, but the latest bill announcement of House Joint 25 not only calls personal liberty into question but also driver protection.  Rep. Andy Olson is presenting the proposal  along with House Bill 3133 (HJ’s sister bill), which would change Oregon constitution to allow sobriety checkpoints throughout the state.


Gordon Smith, NAB attempt to thwart community radio projects

December 27th, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

Jeff Mapes at the Oregonian writes about the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 and how the National Association of Broadcasters and former U.S. Senator from Oregon Gordon Smith are trying to halt its passage in Senate:

Smith is now president of the National Association Broadcasters, which is fighting legislation that would allow the creation of hundreds of low-power, non-commercial radio stations around the country.

The Local Community Radio Act passed the House and has strong support in the Senate, thanks in part to the unusual coalition behind it ranging from the Christian Coalition to the Prometheus Radio Project (which says it is devoted to “freeing the airwaves from corporate control”).

In part, the community radio movement has been driven by the sweeping consolidation of the radio industry, which in many cases has led smaller communities to lose local programming.

Not surprising, the National Association of Broadcasters opposes the bill, saying it’s concerned the bill would lead to interference with with stations owned by commercial broadcasters.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought the National Association of Broadcasters was supposed to be “the voice for the nation’s radio and television broadcasters.” I didn’t know that meant only commercial stations. Indeed, I know many non-commercial and low-power radio people, including the general manager at KWVA (UO campus radio), who are NAB members.

Radio is one of the premier mediums for dissemination of information around the world. In many places, it’s the only medium. There are multiple organizations — Radio Free Europe, for one — that work to provide unbiased information to individuals living in nations without free media. And it’s no coincidence that one of the things you’re supposed to have with you in an emergency situation is a battery-powered radio.

And I’m not the only one who feels this way.

“Gordon Smith is silencing voices across the country by opposing the expansion of community radio,” said Pete Tridish of the Prometheus Project, which had demonstrators juggling and whirling hula hoops.” So we’re here to say: Gordon Smith, don’t make a circus of our democracy – stop making us jump through hoops; work with Congress to pass this bill.”

Non-commercial radio, in addition to its immediate importance in emergency situations, provides opportunities that commercial radio does not — for example, the ability to play or talk about whatever you damn well please. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be fighting for? A free and independent media is guaranteed to Americans, and the best way to do it is to fucking do it. So let them fucking do it.

Why we need net neutrality, and can’t trust the FCC to do it

December 23rd, 2010 by Ben Maras

Net neutrality has reared its head again in the passed couple weeks, thanks both to a new piece of legislation (which isn’t all it’s cracked up to be) and a lot of shotty interpretation of what net neutrality is and why we need it.

Basically, net neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers, like Comcast and Time Warner, are not allowed to differentiate between types of Internet data even though it’s delivered via wires and tubes that they own. This means subscribers get the “whole” Internet, without discrimination based on format or content. Doing this prevents ISPs from charging more for certain sites, blocking sites of their choice, or throttling traffic speeds based on content, pay, or the amount of data used.

It isn’t what’s espoused by some of my colleagues, that “local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Time Warner Cable must treat [one’s] illicit video with just as much urgency as [another’s] life-saving medical data.”

It’s also about a lot more than protecting music and software pirates from legal action. The term may be new to a lot of people, but net neutrality itself isn’t a new idea. It’s a new name that’s been tacked on to describe something that’s been the norm since the dawn of the Internet until pretty recently; one that stands at the core of the Internet as the cultural driving force it has become.

Why we need an open Internet

In the early days of the Internet, it wasn’t so much an issue because the technology that allows “deep-packet inspections” – intercepting and analyzing data on that large a scale – just didn’t really exist yet. Besides, there wasn’t enough on the Internet to be worth regulating.

So all of the content that was put on the Internet was free, and open for anyone to access. All you needed was a phone line and an ISP subscription, and the entire Internet was at your disposal: a virtual wild west for information junkies.

And then there was porn. And porn meant money. Whether a good or bad thing, it drove the expansion of the Internet since the very beginning, and helped spur new advances in images and video on the Internet. Soon people were sending pictures and video to their friends, and more and more people were getting online. (Random cool fact: Even before it was possible to send images, people were sending text-generated ASCII porn to their friends. It goes that far back.)

Fast forward 15 years or so. Now we have Wikipedia, YouTube, Google, iTunes, Google Earth, and the entire peer-to-peer file-sharing universe, which with the help of others comprise the biggest library in all of human history. You can read a 2,000 word entry about the use of the umlaut in heavy metal on Wikipedia, watch old videos of Jack Kerouac on YouTube, and then download every book Mark Twain ever wrote and the entire Clash discography in as few mouse clicks to count on one hand. Am I the only one who thinks that, from a cultural standpoint, that’s pretty freaking cool?

The best part? So can anybody else with open access to the Internet. Regardless of nationality, social strata, race, religion, or any other divider, as long as one has access to an Internet terminal, they can experience just about any event they want, even if it happened ages ago and they’d previously only read about it in a dry history book.


Public records law.

December 21st, 2010 by Lyzi Diamond

Our favorite anonymous professor over at UO Matters has a breakdown on proposed changes in public records legislation for the state of Oregon to be addressed in the new legislative session. The first provides some clarity on fees and deadlines for filling public records requests, and the second requires certain public bodies to digitally record their meetings and make those recordings available. Interestingly, the second also requires the Attorney General to create trainings for public employees on public meetings law. Our anonymous professor’s comments:

Delays and fees are a common strategy of UO Public Records Officer Liz Denecke, as they were for her predecessor Melinda Grier. The OUS board, meantime, has not prepared written minutes of its meetings since Dec, 2006. So I think both these laws will have an immediate and positive effect for transparency at UO.

Thoughts on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

November 15th, 2010 by Ben Maras

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” will remain in effect pending a Federal Appeals Court review, thanks to a Supreme Court decision (or lack thereof) and a little gentle pressure from President Obama. Yes, the same one who vowed to end the policy on his watch is now advocating for its extension.

But why? You might expect him to be happy about last month’s ruling by district court Judge Virginia Phillips that the 17-year-old policy challenged by the Log Cabin Republicans (a gay Republican group) was in violation of the First Amendment rights of the hundreds of thousands of American soldiers. But instead he claimed that lifting the ban now could hurt his own efforts to study the effect of lifting the ban, and future attempts to do it.

The White House appealed, and asked Phillips for a stay in the order to lift the ban. When the reasoning wasn’t good enough for Phillips, the Obama administration took it to the Appeals Court who decided that the policy could remain in place for now. The White House also urged the Supreme Court not to get involved.

He’s swearing to push the issue on his “lame-duck” Congress, which began its session this week, before the newly elected take their seats and the GOP regains control. This puts him in a strange position of advocating a policy he is against until enough research and planning has been done to lift it responsibly.

Obama wants to give the military time and resources to prepare for the open service of gay people, such as through of providing programs for soldiers to “out” themselves to their comrades.

The military says it will comply if asked to stop enforcing DADT, but some are still worried about unforeseen consequences. Some military officials have warned that lifting the policy could disrupt operations, troop morale and recruiting, and “irreparably harm the public interest in a strong and effective military.”

Mirroring the sentiment of Obama (or is it the other way around), Sen. John McCain came out against it, saying that “Once we get this study, we need to have hearings. And we need to examine it. And we need to look at whether it’s the kind of study that we wanted.” Debate about studying a study isn’t just the bane of student government reporters; it’s also one of the pitfalls of conservative politics in this country.

It’s good to be weary of radical political change, and even better to study and flush out details of the changes before they happen – but it can also lead to stagnation, which is especially dangerous when we’re talking about the First Amendment rights of a group being systematically repressed.

Hopefully Obama is dragging his feet on making this happen because he is just concerned about doing it in the most responsible and sustainable way possible for all parties involved. Hopefully it doesn’t turn in to “I tried to stay true to my campaign promises but THEY wouldn’t let me” political fodder for elections to come. Hopefully it isn’t because lifting the ban wasn’t going to have his name attached to it if it were allowed to pass last month. Hopefully we finally get around to fixing this mess, and restoring rights to Americans who fight for them.