University of Oregon Senate Resolution Deploring the Pacifica Forum

    The Pacifica Forum website is publishing this resolution (below), passed in March 2010, which 'deplores' our 'pseudo-debates' and 'hateful messaging', partly because people who attend Pacifica meetings really are in favor of free speech, and partly because we find it a particularly good example of the danger of using feelings to judge what kind of speech is acceptable.

    Two months before this resolution, the university's Center for the Study of Women in Society had a conference on 'Hello Kitty'. Yet the Pacifica Forum is 'deplored' for 'pseudo-debates'. It's not that the Senate really thinks the Forum is less serious than Hello Kitty, it's that 'Women in Society' sounds progressive. It's political preference disguised as academic rigor.

    Another example of dishonesty is that the Resolution says that the Addendum cites individuals describing "their own experiences as the subjects of hateful speech and actions", but the Addendum says only "from what I've read, from what's been reported". Perhaps the authors of the Resolution didn't expect their claims to be scrutinized, hoping that 'inflaming emotions' would be enough. Naturally, that is what they accuse the Forum of.

    Furthermore, the Resolution supports a kind of racial discrimination.

    The comments about German guilt are revealing. They say a German today should feel ashamed about what happened before he was born. The Senate doesn't encourage American students to feel guilty about the bombing of Germany, Japan, Vietnam, etc.. Is it because they don't consider the victims of these crimes to be as important as the victims of German war crimes?

    The authors of the Resolution claim that "some of the conversations at the Pacifica Forum meetings made them feel vulnerable" but somehow miss mentioning that a student at the university was publically and falsely called a 'Nazi', that a group which supports the Resolution published the statement 'Kill a Nazi' on its website, and that this is just one example of Zionist harrassment, death threats, and violence against innocent people over the last few years. The Resolution doesn't mention these incidents as "antithetical to a welcoming, safe atmosphere".

    The Senate Resolution isn't really about student safety, it's about using dubious 'hate crimes' and unprovable statements about 'feeling vulnerable' to attack freedom of speech. If they are not against "the facade of intellectual inquiry afforded to us by the First Amendment", what's the point of 'deploring' it?

    The most significant threats to academic freedom come from powerful Jewish organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, which defames critics of Israel and its US supporters, with the same tried and tested smears. It has tried to get professors fired whose politics range from the far left to the far right. Instead of expressing solidarity with fellow academics, the University of Oregon Senate has done the opposite.

    The Pacifica Forum, in contrast, has stood up for freedom. It intends to continue to do so.

   University of Oregon Senate Resolution

Resolution US09/10-14 - regarding the Pacifica Forum. Mr. Bob Bussel, Labor Education and Research Center, and Dean Margie Paris, law, moved the following resolution:

    Resolved that,

    The University Senate denounces in the strongest possible terms the hateful speech that is frequently expressed at the Pacifica Forum and deplores the pseudo-debates that Pacifica Forum portrays as serious intellectual inquiry, and the University Senate will publicize this stand widely throughout the University community.

Mr. Bussel introduced the resolution by noting that students have been quite vocal in expressing their opinion that some of the conversations at the Pacifica Forum meetings made them feel vulnerable; the proposed resolution seeks to act in solidarity with students who feel such vulnerability. He said that the resolution is an effort to affirm the values and core beliefs that the university holds dear - it does not seek to deny free speech or to have a "closed" campus. The ASUO already has passed a similar resolution and both the SEIU and Graduate students also are considering passing a similar resolution. (See and for more background information.)

Mr. Frank Stahl suggested amending the resolution to provide examples of the types of speech and actions that are objectionable in order to give the resolution better emphasis. Dean Paris did not believe the resolution itself needed additional text since background information about the resolution was provided. She emphasized that resolution does not suggest that the campus should not be open to proponents of speech that we do not agree with, or that the free speech rights of the Pacifica Forum specifically should be interfered with. She said it is important to underline the principle of free speech rights, that more speech is better than less speech. That means, she continued, that it is important that we all speak out when speakers engaged in hateful messaging such as the Pacifica Forum has done.

During the discussion, a number of faculty, staff and students spoke eloquently in strong support of the resolution, in some cases providing their own experiences as the subjects of hateful speech and actions (see addendum A to these minutes). Mr. Bussel thanked all the speakers for their support of the motion and noted that students come the to the university believing it is a place where they can feel welcome and safe; the speech that often transpires from the Pacifica Forum is antithetical to a welcoming, safe atmosphere.

As the discussion wound down, President Tublitz brought Resolution US09/10-14 to vote and the resolution passed unanimously.

Addendum A -- Statement from Theodora Ko Thompson in support of Resolution US09/10-14
I was in Germany in the 1980s, in a pub in a small town called Boppard-am-Rhein, having a conversation with Frank Muller, a young man of 21, a student beginning to explore his individuality and freedom away from home. Upon hearing the sound of planes overhead every 10-15 minutes, I took the opportunity to ask him - in smattering German, French and English, that was how we communicated - how he and his peers viewed the Holocaust. His face muscles tightened, he said: "It was a very dark period in history. I am ashamed of this past in our history. Never again!" I felt inspired by what Frank said - there was the promise of Germany's youth taking on responsibility for its ugly past.

From what I've read, from what's been reported, it is sad that there are members of the Pacifica Forum who revere the Sieg Heil, and reject history's lessons. I value the principles of free speech, perhaps more so because I know what it means to have none. I am from Singapore, a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society where I was raised to appreciate the differences amongst us - a collective identity, if you will - of a people who value, respect and honor the differences that make each and every one of us unique.

There are over 1400 classified staff who provide vital services to the entire university community. I am proud that we senators represent staff of every race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender expression, physical ability and sexual orientation. There is rich history that unites us to celebrate and be proud of the diversity among us.

I am alarmed by the hateful and hurtful speech by members of Pacifica Forum denigrating members of our community - the pseudo debates that serve to flame emotions under the facade of intellectual inquiry afforded to us by the First Amendment. Their expressions of views are antithetical to the University's commitment to equal treatment, respect and diversity. For the Frank Mullers amongst us, and for the classified staff who we represent, I support this resolution.

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