“I only had a couple beers, officer. I think. Where am I?”

1 04 2010

Photo courtesy of the Chico Enterprise-Record

Ah, the holidays.  A time for revelry and merriment.

If you’re a Chico State student, apparently it also means fighting, public intoxication, and interfering with a police dog or horse.

Luckily, that last one isn’t a repeat from Clerks 2; it means that some idiot, during the Cesar Chavez holiday, struck a patrol horse.

Maybe the horse had it coming.  I wasn’t there.

There’s a Facebook page now called Against the offensive way Cesar Chavez Day is “celebrated” at Chico, Ca. It seems to be a reaction to the partying on Wednesday, saying “Unfortunately, Chico State students celebrate this day by getting drunk and making a mockery of the Mexican culture by wearing sombreros, mustaches, stereotypical `immigrant, Mexican’ attire..”  But these people are missing the bigger picture.

This is the way EVERY holiday gets celebrated in Chico. The only time it DOESN’T happen is when students aren’t in town.

This isn’t a surprise. This type of behavior would happen on Christmas too if most everyone wasn’t home with their families. There would be Santas with 40s and naughty elves with red cups filled with “good cheer” all through downtown, with the occasional Jesus staggering through with Jagermeister in one hand and Mary Magdalene in the other.  That’s the way Chico rolls.

Students complain that everybody calls Chico State a “party school”.  Well, this time it’s not the media.  It’s not the townsfolk.  It’s the arrest statistics from Chico PD.

Nothing like living up to stereotypes.

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Free speech survives at UCSD–but not without a fight

20 03 2010

Funding for student media organizations at UC San Diego has been restored…for now.

In a meeting Mar. 11, the Associated Students council let lapse the student media funding freeze initiated by A.S. President Utsav Gupta Feb. 19.

They then rejected an amendment by A.S. Vice President of Finance and Resources Peter Benesch which would have moved funding to a government-speech model.

“Essentially, this idea supposes that we will close the open forum where everyone can come and ask for money and we have to distribute in a viewpoint-neutral manner, and move to a model where the A.S. will have to provide a large amount of funding through advertising initiatives,” Benesch said.

Apparently, the whole viewpoint-neutral concept is appalling, even to UC Student Regent Jesse Cheng.

“We stand for this protocol because this issue is an issue of diversity and not really an issue of free speech and even less an issue of the Constitution,” Cheng said. “If it does come down to legality, it’s the Supreme Court’s responsibility to constitutionality — you don’t have to worry about that here.”

Methinks you’re missing the point.

Gupta says that it was a safe amendment because the council is moderate and would continue to fund student media.  But what if you end up with a liberal (or progressive, if you prefer) council?  Would they fund conservative student media?

By the same token, would a hard right-wing council want to fund radical publications?

There’s a reason the selection process is viewpoint-neutral.  It’s to allow those–even those whose opinions might be offensive–to be heard.

Democracy demands no less.





We had to destroy the media in order to save it, sir.

25 02 2010

If you haven’t heard of the “Compton Cookout”, you probably haven’t been near the Internet in the past week.

The event’s invitation down by UC San Diego urged male party-goers to dress in white T-shirts and “urban” clothes, with women encouraged to wear gold teeth, cheap weaves, nappy hair, use a “very limited vocabulary” and “start fights and drama.”

But the controversy didn’t stop there.

The editor-in-chief of the student newspaper The Koala (NSFW), Kris Gregorian, used a racial slur during a live television program about the event which triggered a quick response by Associated Students of UC San Diego President Utsav Gupta.

He froze all student media funding. Not just for The Koala—he froze it for all 33 student media organizations on campus.

According to him, the current system is hurting students, and doesn’t serve the collective interest.

We’ve tried, throughout this year, to redo [the media guidelines], and essentially not fund [the Koala],” he said at an impromptu meeting, according to the UC San Diego student newspaper the Guardian. “I don’t know if it’ll get rid of them, but on the part of A.S., we can defund them — we absolutely can defund them, and I believe we must defund them.”

The idea, of course, is that it’s legal to freeze the funding because it’s not singling out The Koala.

Which, of course, is like taking a flamethrower to your garden to get rid of pests.

I won’t apologize for The Koala. It’s juvenile and quite frankly, it isn’t funny. The writers seem to be angling for their shot at writing American Pie…whatever number it is now.

That doesn’t give Gupta an excuse to kill off all the funding for organizations that had nothing to do with the incident. While he says it’s a temporary freeze, it doesn’t look like the money will be restored this semester, essentially killing the programs for the rest of the year.

I wonder if that wasn’t his intention.

It’s easy to suppress dissent when you control your critics’ purse strings.





White supremacy, sexual napalm, and Twitter apologies

12 02 2010

There’s nothing like apologizing for something which hasn’t been printed yet.

In an interview that made its way onto the World Wide Web before it came out in Playboy’s March 2010 issue, John Mayer managed to simultaneously dig a hole for himself while putting his foot in his mouth.

In the issue, he refers to his former love Jessica Simpson as “sexual napalm,” and states that having sex with black women was out, describing his penis as “sort of like a white supremacist.”  I won’t even go into his use of the N-word.

Whoops. But never fear, ladies and gentlemen. There’s a way out.

It’s called Twitter.

Mayer took to his Twitter account to apologize for the interview, although it took him six posts to do so.

“I am sorry that I used the (‘N’) word. And it’s such a shame that I did because the point I was trying to make was in the exact opposite spirit of the word itself,” Mayer said.

Is it just me, or are the apologies getting shorter?

Former president Bill Clinton’s apology for the Monica Lewinsky affair was aired on television and lasted more than four minutes; Michael Richards’ mea culpa on David Letterman’s show for his racist remarks in a comedy club clocked in at over seven minutes.

Yet now, when celebrities make a mistake, an apology posted on MySpace, or Facebook, or Twitter seems to be all that we  require—or expect.

When did we lower our standards this far?