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anti-racism

Resist Hate Speech at UO, Tuesday, 7:45, Rogue Room

The Oregon Commentator (a UO student publication that recieves funding through
the ASUO) has established a record of printing material that directly hurts
women, people of color, queers, people with disabilities, transpeople, and
many other marginalized groups. In addition to a constant barrage of rape
jokes and other forms of oppressive ridicule, they have in recent months been
systematically targeting an individual for being trans- including printing
multiple pictures of hir and suggesting that cutting or shooting off hir
genitals would be amusing.
The Commentator's budget hearing is when the ASUO figures out whether the
Commentator is contributing positively to campus and whether and how much to
fund them for next year. It's very important right now that everybody attend
to silently show solidarity with people who the Commentator is hurting, so
that the ASUO understands that we (students, community, staff, everybody) are
watching to make sure that groups are held accountable for contributing to
hate and violence.

When: Tuesday, Feb. 1, 7:45
Where: EMU Rogue Room
(next to Andrew Smash, in the food court, at 13th and University)
Thanks everyone (and tell your friends),

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I'm confused 04.Feb.2005 13:55

A liberal against this crap

Didn't Hill-Meyer have hir picture printed in the Register Guard with details about Hill-Meyer's gender in the story surrounding it...along with Hill-Meyer's name? Didn't this come out before the OC allegedly outed Hill-Meyer? Wouldn't this mean that Hill-Meyer was already "out" seeing as how the Register Guard is distributed to a much wider audience than the small campus rag? Can you print the things that were allegedly said rather than add your own take or suggestions about what was printed? I'm simply asking you to try to take an unbiased look at the situtation and sit back for a moment. Since the OC has not been found guilty of ANYTHING in a court of law, and nothing has been taken to the court of law...then maybe you should think about holding back on your protest.

After all, if you were arrested for protesting, wouldn't you want to be found guilty in a court of law before being condemned?

Sophmoric and Hateful are not the same 04.Feb.2005 13:58

Joshua

I personally do not understand how this has blown up from a University of Oregon campus problem to one being covered in Portland. At any rate, the calls to crusade against the Oregon Commentator are ridiculous. Is this really the level that we have reached? One person makes a phone call, and suddenly there is a march to annihilate the free speech of students? Has anyone who is protesting actually read the material in question? The offensive material was posted in a section of satirical quotes called "The OC speaks out." This section of the magazine offers "quotes" from such illustrious members of the community as a former ASUO student president, to Robocop. My god, has even Robocop in his infinite wisdom turned against the progressive movement?! He must be silenced immediately!!! The "quote" was made by the former ASUO executive, and was quite obviously false. Though I haven't personally reached this student yet, I do not believe that he removed the student in question's genitalia, nor do I believe that he has ever removed anyone's genitalia (though I may be entirely wrong, in which case everyone should charge against the vile ASUO for ever allowing someone who may have removed the genitalia of another to hold public office.) This "quote" may have been in extremely poor taste, but many things are that are protected by the first ammendment. This is sub-sophmoric humor, not hate speech. There was no call to action in regards to the removal of this student's genitalia, nor the call to attack any other members of the transgendered community (the other thing to remember is that this student was satirized more on the basis of being an ASUO senator, and not a transgendered person...it is amazing how quickly an unrelated crime becomes a "hate crime" simply because that person is a member of a minority) Really though, is this where things are going? I was offended at a peace rally to see a satirization of President Bush with a Hitler-esque mustache on his picture. Does this mean I was threatened as a result? No...and to imply so is absolutely ridiculous.

i wrote this 04.Feb.2005 19:50

pira

ok, i am going to try to say this patiently and answer everyone's questions.

1. no, the o.c. did not out hir. they targeted hir for being an out transperson. this is not about outing, it's about printing a joke about hir genitals being cut off followed up with the implication that shooting them off would be better. this is a problem because transpeople in eugene, and i think just about everywhere else, are targeted for A LOT of physical violence on the basis of gender identity. ze's courage in being out does not even remotely excuse distributing hir name and picture along with any statement (satirical or not) that suggests genital mutilation. in addition, ze was ridiculed for using gender neutral pronouns in 4 other instances in the space of 2 consecutive issues. the commentator seems to be backing off on the ridicule, since they know they're in trouble, although they are continuing to write about hir and showing complete disrespect for hir pronouns.
please feel free to look up the quotes yourself- ze's mentioned in volume 21, issue 14-15 and volume 22, issues 1-2 and 3. while you're at it, check out will cohen's article in which he explains how he wants to "hate-fuck some girl" while brutally murdering someone, as one example of the other lovely things the commentator prints.

2. i am not going to pretend to have an unbiased point of view, as i don't believe such a thing exists. however, i will say that i do not have a problem with the commentator printing conservative thought. i also don't care if they satirize my political beliefs. i do have a problem with them encouraging oppression and i definitely have a problem with them acting like a threat to a transperson is funny. i don't think this is unreasonable.

3. i'm not sure what your point is about the court. this event had nothing to do with legal condemnation; it was an issue of whether the school was going to fund them or not, and if yes, how they (and the school in general) were going to deal with accountability and such. you might notice also that this was not a call for a protest, but for a showing of support for people and opposition to hate, which in the context of a budget hearing does not translate to "protest". why this was pushed off into the pfc hearing instead of being dealt with by the school administration as a climate issue when it first came up is a longer conversation that's not practical to have here. despite everyone's apparent belief that those of us who are working on this have no idea what we're doing, the call for people to come to the hearing was actually the result of a process that's been given a lot of thought and has been going on for a long time.

4. i don't know exactly why this was reposted here, but i figure it was because we don't have a separate eugene indymedia and someone was helping get the word out, which i super appreciate. having said that, i wrote this announcement specifically not mentioning the person who was targeted because i don't think that hir life needs to be dragged through a public debate. obviously maintaining complete anonymity for hir is not a realistic goal in this situation and the first poster destroyed all possibility of it, but i would like people here to show the same respect to hir that anyone targeted for oppression deserves.

5. this is not about one person making a phone call. one person rightfully spoke out about feeling threatened, which in an environment of REAL free speech we would all be able to do without having people jump to the conclusion that we need to be screamed at. ze is by far not the only person who feels threatened by the commentator's material, just the first person with the skills and courage to start dealing with it. people have been complaining for years about the way the commentator reinforces oppression, it's just that there hasn't been a coherent attempt to deal with it before now. honestly, i'm not sure why people are complaining that it's happening now rather than asking why nothing was done before.

6. this isn't about free speech. free speech (in legal terms) is about criminalization and direct regulation, not funding. and this is not even a call for defunding, but rather a call for some way of dealing with what's going on.

7. yes, i think everyone read it, or nearly everyone. to speak for myself, i've read everything i refer to in this announcement and a lot more. it is not practical to retype it all, though. sorry.

8. i do not care if robocop turns against the progressive movement. i do care if people create a threatening environment for transpeople. i think i've explained that sufficiently already, up at the top of this.

9. actually, ze WAS being ridiculed on the basis of gender identity. notice that the material printed referred to hir gender identity, not hir politics, and that none of the other senators are being regularly ridiculed. you can also look at the commentator's blog on their website if you want to read more about their intent, since they're not exactly secretive about it.

10. yes, i was offended by the hitler-esque bush picture too. i think it co-opts the holocaust, which is definitely innapropriate and possibly dangerous in an anti-semitic climate. i'm not sure how to handle that particular group of people- i've tried talking with them, which is my preferred course of action, and it didn't work. i think the peace movement needs to do some serious work on internal anti-semitism, and i'm more than happy to discuss with other folks. i don't know if that's the angle you're approaching it from, or what, though.

Actually, this is a free speech issue 05.Feb.2005 09:49

Josh M.

I don't think you understand how the PFC and student publication funding work, nor do you understand the various rules and, yes, laws that are in place regarding said funding. In "Board of Regents v. Southworth," the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that regarding student funds, "[t]he process for reviewing and approving allocations for funding is administered in a viewpoint-neutral fashion" and that the fee program can not be used for "advocating a particular point of view." This means that as long as the Commentator's speech is legally protected by the First Amendment, it doesn't really matter what you, the aforementioned ASUO Senator, or any of the "esteemed" PFC members think of their speech. It is legal, and therefore, protected, as is their portion of the incidental fee.
"Board of Regents v. Southworth" Supreme Court Decision

actually... 07.Feb.2005 04:15

pira

A close reading of the Southworth case reveals many things, but nothing concrete enough to prove that the PFC is required to fund the Commentator. However, that is not particularly relevant. If I had been asking for defunding, I would have said so. I have explained at least once on this page that defunding was not the point, but if nobody's going to bother reading what I write then you all may as well stop trying to argue with me about it. Considering that we're dealing with some major issues of oppression (like that trans folks can't feel safe expressing their gender identity- incidentally, free speech is supposed to apply to everyone, even people who are threatened by more than just government regulations), I don't know why people are devoting all this energy to whining about tangential issues rather than spending some time figuring out ways to support people engaged in liberation struggles.

liberation struggle? 07.Feb.2005 22:20

Helioach

Working to silence a publication that supports gay marriage is a strange way to be "engaged in liberation struggles." I'm pretty sure there aren't any transgendered people locked up in the OC offices. Funny that on IndyMedia, of all places, people are pushing for censorship. And if you aren't pushing for defunding, then what are you pushing for? Perhaps I'm unaware of the benefits of "solidarity."

Equality means many things, one of which is the ability to be a target for satire. I suggest if Hill-Meyer cannot take a low-brow joke at hir expense, ze should not step into the public spotlight. Plenty of heterosexual people with a traditional gender-identity have been lampooned for their legal sexual or gender-specific behavior. Britney Spears, Wilt Chaimberlain, Boy George, Madonna, etc., etc.. If some transgendered people refuse to be subject to this same sort of ribbing, then what type of "equality" are they seeking? If the Commentator has written something illegal, then prove it in a court of law.

Also, I agree that "free speech is supposed to apply to everyone." That's the point. Hill-Meyer has been offered unedited space within the Commentator (which of course you've failed to mention.) How is hir speech being anything but amplified?

The Commentator is a moderate conservative humor publication. On the issue of gay marriage it is far closer to GLAAD's positions than the Republican Party's. By trying to silence it, the OC's opponents are only antagonizing the conservatives that are the most sympathetic to their own (social) causes.

Lastly, you wondering aloud why people "are devoting all this energy to whining" made me laugh. Heartily.

Uh, Pira... 09.Feb.2005 17:34

OC supporter and LGBTQA Ally

Pira, you say the issue is not about defunding, but about the legality of the speech and the hate inferred in it. Is that a somewhat correct assumption of your posts? If so, then the PFC is not the place for this argument. According to Southworth, as well as non-federal documentation (such as state and campus rules), the PFC must remain VIEWPOINT NEUTRAL. By bringing something like Toby's personal case with the Commentator into this, no one is giving the PFC any room to remain viewpoint neutral. If Toby wants to fight the commentator based on their "hateful" speech against Toby, then fine. Talk to Chris Loschavio and everyone in the jucicial office. They, or whichever UO office told Toby to take Toby's case with the OC to the PFC, were blatantly wrong for that. Any issues Toby has with the OC should have action taken on them through other routes.

Addressing the trans issue 11.Feb.2005 11:04

Braden Allison-Hall xoedipusx@gmail.com

It seems to me that the issue the Commentator is taking with Hill-Meyer is not the fact that he is transgender but that he went on a crusade to obtain special pronouns with which to be referred to as. The Commentator is fully within its rights to belittle someone's desire to have seperate words used to describe them. Furthermore the idea is ridiculous & grossly anti-feminist. If an article was being written about race & I was interviewed it would be unreasonable, and even laughable, for me to insist that I be referred to as Asain instead of white because, depite my biological make-up, I felt more like an Asian on the inside. Gender is a biological fact not a mind set, to act otherwise (as Hill-Meyer is doing in refusing biologically correct terms) is to present the idea that their is a male & female character beyond simple, physical reality and this does far more to divide our society & create inequality then any immature ribbing from a college paper will do.

Gender and pronouns 11.Feb.2005 18:44

Timbo

Mammals are possessed of two genders. Being mammals, humans inherit this trait. In English, we use 'he' and 'him' to refer to males, 'she' and 'her' to refer to females, and 'it' and 'its' to refer to genderless objects like furniture and hermaphroditic entities like slugs and certain kinds of plants.

I have zero problems with someone who decides to change gender. But that's the thing - it's a switch from one gender to another, with a possible hermaphrodite stage during the process. At no point has a *new* gender been created. Thus an M->F tranny goes from 'him' to 'her' and an F->M goes from 'her' to 'him'. Both might have an 'it' stage in the middle.

As far as I can see, there are two issues at work behind the ze/hir movement: a) "Look at me, I'm special and different!" b) "Poor me, 'it' is so demeaning."

My responses:
a) Good for you, we're each special and different. Now sit down, you don't get to change the English language.
b) When you're hurt physically, you can blame someone else. When you're hurt by words, you can only blame yourself. You do have the power to ignore those words. You are special and different and amazing. Now sit down, you don't get to change the English language.

Incidentally, how does one pronounce 'hir'? I've only ever seen it in print (I don't hang out with any trannies who insist on a new pronoun). To my tongue and ears, it sounds the same as 'her'. And what's the point of that?

OK, trying again 19.Feb.2005 00:21

Pira

Hi everyone, I tried to answer what each of you said, hope I didn't miss anything.

to Helioach:

Yes, it's great that the Commentator supports gay marriage, although I consider their recent article on the subject pretty condescending. As a queer person, I think it would be irresponsible and disgusting for me to applaud a publication that encourages violence against transpeople simply because it also says that I deserve a right that shouldn't have been questioned in the first place. Solidarity means, among other things, that people help eachother out when we're fighting oppression, even if we're not oppressed in the same ways- like when gay men show up to help straight women fight sexism and straight women show up to help gay men fight homophobia. This means that there's less divisiveness and everyone can accomplish more- plus it works out well for those of us who run into multiple oppressions.
Many people who attended the budget hearing did want the Commentator defunded, but there were many others (possibly more) explicitly did not want them defunded but did want to demonstrate their opposition to what they have been printing. When I made this announcement, I wanted to include anyone who opposed what the Commentator was printing whether they wanted them defunded, chastised, or handled in some other way. If I just wanted them defunded, I could have said "show up to try and defund the Commentator," which organizing-wise would have been a much easier message to work with but was not the message I was going for. Personally I don't see much reason to fund them, but I also think it's a waste of energy to try to defund them when presumably both they and hate speech are going to carry on regardless. I have noticed that the Commentator keeps bringing the argument back to this every time an event about dealing with hate and fear on campus is organized, which as far as I can tell does more to encourage the idea that they're completely responsible for creating the hostile environment on campus than anything anyone else is doing.

Please stop conflating sexual orientation with gender identity. I know it's probably an honest mistake, but it's something trans rights activists have been talking about for a long time, and those of us who want to be allies need to pay attention.
It's inappropriate to ridicule a transpeople's gender identities because transpeople are at serious risk of gender identity-based violence in a way that people who are not trans are not. It's threatening to joke about genitally mutilating transpeople because physical and sexual violence are frequently used against transpeople for specifically transphobic reasons. It's kind of like joking about date rape in satire about a woman, if that helps you put it into perspective.

No, I didn't mention the offer of editorial space. I didn't think it was a particularly relevent piece of information, although obviously since indymedia is an open publishing space other people can bring it up. This was an announcement, not an exhaustive report.
Official restrictions on expression by government bodies are far from being the only threat to freedom of expression. For example, I am often not free to challenge sexism because I know that by doing so I put myself at risk for retribution from men (even if the state will probably not be directly involved). Encouraging violence against transpeople - even if it is not necessarily intentional - creates a threatening environment that restricts people's freedom to come out as trans by means of very real physical danger. Incidentally, the first amendment (while it does confine itself to actions of the state, as far as I know) is concerned with punishment for expressions, not funding of them, which means that a kid who gets beaten up for coming out has more grounds to complain about violation of free speech than the Commentator does, in my opinion.

I really don't care if you laugh at me, but I there are considerably more constructive uses of your time. For example, you could read some of the books and websites I list farther down this post.


To OC Supporter and LGBTQA Ally:

The issue is definitely about hate, although I'm not arguing that the Commentator has necessarily broken a law. Several administrators said that they couldn't do anything until after the PFC process happened, which for sure was incredibly irresponsible. Perhaps you will be happy to know that since the hearing my and just about everyone else's focus has shifted to the administration and their responsibility for keeping people safe in the broader context (although the Commentator still seems to think it's all about them and their funding). Anyway, we had to deal with the hearing first because the administration pushed the whole issue into it, and now we can move on to other avenues. It is significant that so many people are criticizing me and others now for not having come up with a flawless way of dealing with this, considering the lack of assistance before the hearing.

It is not that hard to use ze/hir pronouns correctly, and as long as you're really trying nobody is going to get mad at you if you make a mistake. Here's how I would chart proper usage:
ze she he
hir her him/his
hirs hers his

Incidentally, self-appointed allies usually are not, although I know you probably mean well.


To Braden Allison-Hall:

Gender is not a biological fact. Sex is, but gender is social rather than biological. As a feminist, I try to respect people's self-identification, and I think that plenty of people have demonstrated that there are more than two genders (at great physical and emotional risk), so pretending that everyone fits into one of two pre-assigned boxes is not realistic or respectful. I'm not sure how long the ze/hir pronoun set has been around, but it's definitely been in use by a lot of people for way longer than this particular controversy has been going on.
I'm noticing a lot of transphobia going down here, both in this post and on indymedia in general. However, I don't feel like it's my place to speak for transpeople or trans activism, so instead I'm going to recommend some sources that other people have recommended to me:
Gender Outlaw and My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein
Boys Like Her by Anna Camilleri, Ivan E. Coyote, Zoe Eakle and Lyndell Montgomery
www,venusenvy.keenspace.com
www.gender.org/resources/files.html
www.epud.net/~bears/steffi.html
www.rememberingourdead.org



To Timbo:

I think I've responded to most of what you wrote already, but here's a few more points.
Changing sex is different from changing gender, and expressing one's gender is something else again. But it'd be better for you to read the books and websites listed above than count on my explanations.
The English language is living and changing, despite people's attempts to kill it and stuff it into grammar books. Credible linguists recognize that words come in and out of the lexicon and that this is healthy and interesting.
"It" IS demeaning. Using "it" implies that the person you are referring to is less than a person. There is already considerable evidence that many people think of transpeople as less than human and therefore ok targets for violence. Using dehumanizing language does not help fix this.
Hir is pronounced like "hear." I don't know anyone who insists on (rather than reasonably requests) ze and hir- although I wouldn't have a problem with someone insisting on other people using correct pronouns to refer to hir (or her, or him, or co), for goodness sakes. If you want to choose your friends based on their pronouns, I guess that's up to you- I'd rather choose friends based on other qualities, like their inclination to respect other people's self-expressed identities.

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