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Friday, January 28, 2005

Duck! It's Stupidity!

Posted by: Hammer / 3:16 PM

Yellow ribbons are just ducky
My view from the left Mainstream Media says Views from the right
The story of the poor guy that the University of Oregon heinously discriminated against by barring him from affix the political message of his choice on state property has seen his sad tale of woe bounce from right-wing blog to right-wing radio to right-wing blogs and now into the mainstream press.

Which proves, of course, that the mainstream media has a liberal bias.

Actually, I'm pretty sure more right wing columnists would have covered this story, if their contracts with the federal government didn't require them to promote other administration policies this week.

A truly liberal press would've run this story A1, above the fold, but only to demonstrate how inane our discourse has become. "Look at us, world! We're dumber than ever!" Catchy headline, don't you think?

Living in a country where uniformly applying a state regulation forbidding the display of personal decorations on state-owned vehicles is considered discrimination makes my head hurt. You know why such a regulation exists? A couple reasons. One, to protect the resale value of the vehicle. Saving tax dollars: something many conservatives only care about when it means they get to take away health care benefits. Two, because the state may not regulate speech based on content. It's one of the amendments to the Constitution. I'm not sure which one; start with the first and keep reading until you find it. If Oregon is going to allow "Support our troops" stickers, then it has to allow "Joey Harrington rules" stickers. Ask Detroit residents how that sentiment will harm our children.

It doesn't stop with stickers on a truck, of course. Seems to me that the right to put whatever message any person wants on any piece of publicly owned property would quickly become problematic. Don't stand up for "support our troops" unless you want to read "support our pot growers" and "make abortions for teens free and secret" etched into dormitory walls.

Freedom of speech gives Baker the right to put that sticker on his car, in his yard, on his house, and to bore every friend he has with his impassioned defense of the war in Iraq without fear of government reprisal. It also gives students at the University the right to put up posters of Mao, Hitler, or Stalin. Charlie Manson or Ted Danson. Whomever. Just not on the truck of a state vehicle.

A couple of corollaries. First, if Kevin McCullough really supports the troops, he should buy the magnets himself, rather than waiting on charity. What's the matter, Kevin? Afraid to work hard? Why are you waiting for a hand out? Second, "support our troops" should be a fairly neutral message, but it's not. Before the shooting started in Iraq, the lawn signs started to appear: Support our troops. The signs were a response to peace demonstrations across the nation and the world, with the very clear message that opposing the war was opposing the men and women would fight it. The sign could have said "I support our troops" or "we support our troops", but it didn't. Instead, the sign was a command to stop supporting other troops by seeking peace and to start supporting our troops by clamoring for war. The right wing perverted an earnest message of support for the Americans who will fight and die this war and turned it into invective against the people who cared enough about those soldiers to believe they should not be put into harm's way on this failed fool's errand of imposing democracy under threat of death.

From Oregon Daily Emerald, January 28, 2005

Policy vs. patriotism

A "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon magnetic decal has generated national media attention and angered citizens across the country.

Last week, the University asked delivery truck driver Pete Baker to remove the magnet from his car to comply with an Oregon state administrative policy that prohibits "unauthorized stickers" on state-owned vehicles after another employee complained. The only decals permitted, according to the policy, are those that identify the state agency that owns the vehicle.

KEZI-TV, Channel 9, Eugene, picked up the story, but Andrew Padula reported that Baker was forced to remove the decal because it may constitute "a political message."

"I don't know how they think they're political," Baker said in the news program. "I think they're patriotic."

After the show aired, news of Baker's magnet spread like wildfire across political Weblogs. Many Webloggers construed the story as an egregious violation of Baker's rights.

"Since when did the Bill of Rights have to undergo perusal and permission of the administration of the University of Oregon?" asked Kevin McCullough on his Weblog at news/weblogs /kmc/ on Monday. McCullough is a radio talk show host and syndicated columnist based in New York City, and he brought up the story on his show.

..Hubin reaffirmed that the state's policy that prohibits the magnetic decals has nothing to do with the actual decal's content, citing an instance in which a fire marshal was prohibited from putting a "Check Your Fire Alarm" bumper sticker on his truck because of the administrative rule.

"The question of whether the decal is political or not really has no bearing," he said.

But McCullough's assault on the University has not ceased. Following his initial post on Monday, McCullough hypothesized that the person who filed the complaint was actually a donor to the University that was "anti-war/anti-American."

McCullough said he wants to continue the campaign until "the point where they actually put the magnetic ribbons on the university trucks," he wrote in his Weblog on Wednesday. He is currently searching for someone to donate 500 magnetic decals.

World Net Daily Oregon's yellow streak

This week brought about a hideous public-relations embarrassment for the University of Oregon. New media blew a relatively obscure story about the university into an all-out image war that exposed the overt bias and direct deception that has become operative norms at the "Berkley of the North."

One week ago today, Peter Baker was hauled before the administration and told that he would no longer be allowed to have a "Support the Troops" yellow magnetic ribbon attached to the university maintenance vehicle he drives on campus to carry out his duties. Evidently some employee had reported the ribbon, and it offended him.

The employee -- the tolerant soul that he is -- made clear that the only solution to the offense was the immediate removal of the magnetic ribbon. According to my sources, the ribbon had actually been attached to the vehicle for at least of four months.

One can only imagine Baker being brought into a cold dark room, seated under a lone light bulb hanging from the ceiling and asked heated questions like "did he vote for Bush," "carry a Bible," "love his country" or, horror of horrors, "actually serve in the U.S. military."

...On Monday the blogs took over. I was the first to post it, but quickly Captain's Quarters and Michelle Malkin pinged me on it. Cheese & Cracker's Jordan Golson contributed a captured screen flash animation that bragged of the university's "diverse" approach. (Diversity in their minds seems to be welcoming everyone who agrees with them.)

What followed was a blog flood that got echoed on both my radio show, Hugh Hewitt's and Lars Larson. The Instapundit even weighed in on the legal aspects -- and in the full interest of disclosure, he didn't see any First Amendment issues attached. But bloggers of all stripes, small to large, kept pushing the story forward. WizBANG, the readers of Little Green Footballs, BlogsForBush, GOPBloggers, MyPetJawa, Outside the Beltway, and others commented and linked and smaller blogs followed their lead.

...The university also admitted the situation had created a public-relations problem (as was cited in the New York Times) but believed it to be based on less-than-factual accounts being reported by said talk-radio shows and blogs. (This was complete nonsense as even a minimal reading of the blog coverage proves.) Additionally, the university said "someone" had "yellow ribboned" the trees encircling the administration building. And when asked what would happen to the ribbons on those trees the university said plainly that they did not break the rules so they would be allowed to remain up.

...Today, you have a chance to tell the University of Oregon what you think of how they despise hard-working veterans who work faithfully in the service of the public at this public university. You can let them know what you believe of their managing of their "politically correct" image for the purposes of not offending potentially "significant visionary supporters."

Agape weighs in:

"These liberals [on campus] are not really liberals -- they're facists [sic]," [Peter Baker] adds. "They're into free speech, as long as you say what they want to hear. And if it's something that the liberals don't want to hear, [they think] that's bad."

The UO employee says he is offended that the university permits the display of a Muslim star and crescent, a Communist flag, and newspaper pictures of President Bush with a Hitler mustache -- but not a "Support Our Troops" sticker.


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