Tag Archives: the rice thresher

I already wrote about crazy racist things that Ron Paul allowed to be published under his name

The other day, Tim Faust posted to facebook an article from Vice Magazine about some new, old news. Did you know that Ron Paul used to have lots of various publications printed under his name? And did you know that these publications used to be filled with awful, racist screeds attacking Martin Luther King Jr and black people in general?

Well, you would totally know that if you had read the Rice Thresher Backpage in January 2008. Because I totally wrote about it then. (pdf: thresher backpage ron paul racist)

So many great quotes were published under Ron Paul’s name. One of my favorites was about how Dr. King was “not only a world-class adulterer” but “also seduced underage girls and boys.”

The Rev. Ralph David Abernathy revealed before his death that King had made a pass at him many years before.

And we are supposed to honor this “Christian minister” and lying socialist satyr with a holiday that puts him on par with George Washington?”

George Washington owned slaves.

But anyways, letting such (assumedly non-satirical) language be published in one’s own newsletter should probably disqualify someone from running for president for one of three reasons. As Mobutu Sese Seko states in “RON PAUL: REACTIONARY RACIST LEPRECHAUN

There’s no way Paul could have been ignorant of the content in an 8-12 page newsletters published under his name for over ten years. Paul supporters face three losing propositions:

-He lacks the competency to control content published under his own name for over a decade, and is thus unfit to lead a country.

-He doesn’t believe these things but considers them a useful political tool to motivate racist whites, which makes him fit to be a GOP candidate, but too obvious about it to win.

-He’s actually a racist, which makes him unfit to be a human being.

These are some pretty hard hits against Ron Paul, but Ron Paul supporters don’t fall easily.

For example, when I wrote about Ron Paul’s racist newsletters, I did so on the satirical Backpage. But that didn’t stop Ron Paul supporters from writing letters expressing their indignation about such awful reporting in the not-news section.

To the editor:

I was surprised when I found an entire page in the latest Thresher devoted to attacking my favorite presidential candidate (“Backpage,” Jan. 18). Published were some grainy photos intended to attack the character of Dr. Ron Paul, a ten-term congressman.

If the author spent more than two minutes researching the subject, he would know that someone else had written the texts in question, yet Paul still took moral responsibility for not keeping tabs over the content. This issue was discussed and buried as irrelevant over a decade ago, but is now being dug up as the only way to attack a man who has gained the grass-roots support of millions across the country.

I suppose I should be proud to support a candidate whose biggest flaw is what someone else wrote decades ago, who has the largest number of contributions from blacks among all the Republicans, who consistently has spoken against all forms of institutionalized discrimination.

The larger problem is the journalistic dishonesty on the part of the editors. Yellow journalism labeled as satire still serves to exploit and sensationalize. Knowingly publishing false statements using the name of Rice University is a violation of the trust placed in the editors by the student body. In addition, attacking the many students who support Paul, implicitly accusing them of “racism by proxy,” should not be allowed to stand.

If our newspaper editors want to print personal attacks, let them do it under their own names, not under the banner of the university.

Of course, it was irrelevant a decade ago because Ron Paul wasn’t running for president a decade ago. And, despite magically turning pointing out racism into a crime worse than actual racism… well… as Tim Faust responded to Alice Townes: “Gurrrrrl, you don’t *need* to be clever when the source material is so rich.”

If you want to see the real racist, look in the mirror!

One can at least try to respect the intellectual consistency if the articles were about Gerrymandering problems that arise out of the Voting Rights Act, or unintended consequences of legislating racial integration, or funny third thing. But when there is a pattern of ad hominem attacks on civil rights leaders, and black people in general, well, I don’t need to think of a way to end this sentence.

Then again, as the letter asserted, “I suppose I should be proud to support a candidate whose biggest flaw is what someone else wrote decades ago.” But as Seko asserts, this is the least of Paul’s issues. Paul may express some positions appealing to many voters, beyond the insanity of deflationary gold standard policies or entirely eliminating the Federal Reserve. But his justification for these positions  isn’t exactly the same as voters’.

Liberals cheer his opposition to America’s wars, but his isn’t a moral choice so much as it is an echo of George Washington’s injunction against “foreign entanglements.” Further, while Ronald isn’t down with wars that cost money and expand federal power, he’s totally fine with the government making a buck from other people’s wars: He was the only member of congress to vote against the Darfur Divestment Act, which proposed the radical idea of prohibiting the American government from investing in businesses fueling a fucking genocide.

Of course, this justification leads to crazy votes and policies about which casual Paul supporters don’t really know and serious supporters don’t really advertise.

Independents sick of the government’s invasions of privacy celebrate Paul’s veneration of the Constitution, but that veneration is as convenient as Bush and Obama’s. Paul has repeatedly submitted the “We the People Act” to Congress, whose provisions remove Supreme Court review of First Amendment cases. If a state chose to criminalize being Muslim, citizens would have no federal redress. If a state chose to criminalize birth control, the penumbras of individual protections of privacy as explicated by William O. Douglas would disappear.

But nobody wants to hear that stuff. Government non-interference is sexy when it’s sold to you as, “Ron Paul opposes the War on Drugs.” What isn’t mentioned is that he has no problem with the concept of 50 individual state wars on drugs, and deregulating evidently stops when it comes to uterine production—he’s OK withvoting for federal partial birth abortion bans, for instance.

The way to fix the 21st century is to return to the values and socioeconomic order of the 14th. After you gut the FDA, you can even literally bring back the plague, which shouldn’t affect the rich people in Congress. They’ll be able to afford all the colloidal silver they can drink.

 Now, the super Paul supporters will just claim that this is out of some severe adherence to the plain language of the Constitution, as if that justifies the effects. But Paul doesn’t even like the Constitution. He likes his own crazy imaginary version of the Constitution:

His Constitution would also be a lot slimmer. He subscribes to the notion that the FourteenthSixteenth, andSeventeenth amendments are invalid or must be repealed. So long, income tax, but also so long to voting for senators yourselves. And if you don’t like foreign brown people, Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act means you won’t have to share a dinner table with them for their last meal before they join 10 million other human beings in railcars, calling at all points south.

And in my view, the Constitution should have an extra amendment that forces the states to enforce the calling of “shotgun” when sitting in a car.

Of course, none of this is news. Ron Paul has had these political positions for a while. But opposing the drug war or supporting legalization of marijuana fit better into headlines than the underlying policies that lead to them.

But as the Republican primary continues, with primary voters more fickle than a gaggle of high school girls over the latest school hottie, Ron Paul has been the Justin Beiber with nearly religious support from a tight group of dedicated fans.

So these proclaimed buried issues are going to be readdressed on the national stage. And the world needs to know that I already did that in 2008 in the made-up joke section of a small college newspaper.

A self-reflection: farewell to student newspapers, again

We were going for a John Hughes style and I think we pulled it off. Finally, I'm not Ducky.

So I’ve finished my tenure with the Cardozo Jurist. I did not join my 1L year because I naively thought that I would instead concentrate on classes and get good grades and get on a law journal or externship or something instead of just write for what I viewed at the time as a rather mediocre student newspaper. As I said many times, working for a student newspaper in law school makes as much sense as working for a law journal in undergrad. But as my failures became more obvious, I decided to play towards my strengths and join the Jurist. Two years later, I regret not joining earlier.

I’m used to being outspoken in print, but the irrational fear of expressing opinion that infests law students makes my normal style seem even more outrageous. However, this was tempered by the fact that the Jurist only came out once a month, and lots of law students simply didn’t care about a student newspaper.

I would like to think that I had a positive influence on the paper, showing that there was a space for student voices, leading a much-needed redesign, encouraging a switch from QuarkXpress to InDesign, and pushing for the creation of and then leading the editorial board. Then again, we’ll see how long all this lasts.

These are some of the people who put up with me.

The Jurist was also where I made my law school friends. Despite my vocal volume, I’m not really that outgoing, and it usually takes some time for people to get used to me. The forced interactions of the closet that was the newspaper office helped me build some actual relationships. Maybe if I had joined my 1L year, I wouldn’t be so quick to leave NYC. (Then again, maybe I would have gotten some advice about classes and journals, and actually have a job opportunity.)

I'm making love to the camera. So is Rachel's foot.

Like the Thresher before it, the Jurist wrote a very nice parting farewell to alumni. Of course, as a departing alumnus, I was mentioned. The Thresher farewell was a bit tongue-in-cheek, jabbing at my habit of riling up campus and getting into trouble. I understood the lack of some lovely farewell. After all, I’m sure I got on their nerves after four years of the same old routine. It was time to move on. Plus, I was used to critique and displayed a pretty thick skin, so I’m sure they thought it was totally appropriate. Which it was.

But the Thresher was very special to me and, well, I maybe would have wanted something that more honestly recognized my dedication to the paper rather than framing me as some cartoonish troublemaker. Then again, I didn’t do much to dispel that image.

When I started to read the Jurist’s farewell, I expected the same thing. Imagine my pleasant surprise to find a column that spoke without irony or hesitation about my work for the paper.  Graduating in the middle of the class from a second tier law school feels like no grand accomplishment. But this letter, even if for a fleeting moment, made it all worthwhile.

Furthermore, often I have a habit of being goofy, or a joker, or feigning ignorance. To paraphrase what I’ve heard from many people, “Evan’s here for everyone else’s entertainment.” I don’t mind being the jester, and in fact I usually relish the attention. But because of this, people often see me as some buffoonish clown, unserious and dimwitted. So when I read that one descriptive phrase, “Courageous, super-intelligent and undaunted by the consequences of speaking his mind,” well… it was more than I’ve gotten in a very long time and it is a compliment that feels really important.

I really appreciate it.

Anyways, enough of my cliche yet expected self-obsession. Here is the column:

(pdf: jurist farewell mintz)

Star Wars Day: May the 4th (be with you)

Apparently, today is Star Wars Day. This day comes from a pun on the pronunciation of the day. May 4th = May the fourth = May the force (be with you).

So clever.

Personally, I prefer to celebrate May 25th as Star Wars day, as declared by Los Angeles City Council, because Star Wars: A New Hope was first released on May 25, 1977. May 25 is also my birthday, so there you go.

Anyways, to help celebrate Star Wars Day, here is one of my earliest Backpages, one of many to use a Star Wars theme to discuss administrative policies. It was some of my earliest photoshopping work, and I was especially proud of the lacrosse lightsaber. I also think it was one of the first Backpages to get the attention of administrators. There were stories of RUPD officers having a bit of fun with stormtrooper helmets and lightsabers. And Ostdiek apparently had a good chuckle as well. Anyways, hopefully this will be a humorous little a tidbit for the day.

(pdf: star wars backpage)

Flashback Friday: Hey, an April Fools joke!

There is a long history of April Fools jokes in my repertoire, admittedly mostly in the form of satirical or joke issues of student newspapers. This is a habit dating back to high school.

I never received an editorship on the St. John’s Review, mostly because they thought I couldn’t deal well with people with whom I disagreed.

You throw one chair…

Anyways, instead of being opinion editor, they put me in charge of the yearly satire issue, mostly because all the other editors didn’t want to have to deal with it. So I just kinda did the whole thing myself. Whatever. I wish I had a pdf of it, I think there is a paper copy at home.

After that, there was the Trasher, I wasn’t really part of it freshman year. There was definitely contributions sophomore year. However, the icing on the top with junior year, when we made fun of the Rice Standard and made Alice Townes cry and threaten to sue us. It was The Best.

And then there was the senior year Trasher, which was never published because it had pictures of fetuses and potential libel.

Anyways, here is an April Fools column. An oldie, but a goodie. (pdf: Mintz april fools column)


When did Rice first try to sell KTRU?

The blanket tax vote helped cause the sale?

After the Houston Press first reported the KTRU sale (via a leak from a KUHF staffer), President David Leebron offered a litany of arguments explaining why the sale was necessary. One of his arguments, in very diplomatic terms, was that the two votes rejecting an increase in the KTRU blanket tax demonstrated that students did not care about the station, and thus helping initiate the sale. As the President stated in his e-mail explanation to the Rice community:

It is not irrelevant in this context that the students have voted down KTRU blanket tax increases.  These votes have indeed indicated the need to expand our resources for student opportunities in other areas.

One can offer the rebuttal that the blanket tax votes did not reflect an opinion that KTRU should be sold, but rather that it merely did not need any more money. This could even be interpreted as showing that students believed KTRU was already doing a magnificent job, and did not require a funding bump to be a an impressive station.

Furthermore, the second of the two votes garnered 55 percent of student vote, demonstrating a majority of student support. However, blanket tax increases require a supermajority.

But those arguments aside, Rice did state that the votes indicated a need to “expand resources,” meaning sell KTRU. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

But I use a logical fallacy for a reason. Did the votes actually cause the sale?

The blanket tax vote only encouraged an ongoing sale?

After he sent out that first KTRU sale e-mail, President Leebron changed his language. In a Thresher interview, he stated that the votes did not cause or influence the sale, but merely reaffirmed an already ongoing sale process:

“Leebron said that rather than informing the decision to sell the station, however, this merely confirmed the impressions of the individuals dealing with the sale.”

In an e-mail to the public, Rice blames the students’ votes as one of the originating causes of the sale. In an interview with the students, Rice states that the sale was already ongoing when the votes were happening.

So which is it? Did the votes confirm previous suspicions or did they inform new ones? Why the change in rhetoric?

With the release of the Open Records Requests by Texas Watchdog and KTRU, one would think that sale opponents (and other interested parties) would be able to pinpoint when Rice first contemplated selling KTRU. But it is more difficult than you would think.

Rice initiated the sale before both votes?

According to Texas Watchdog, Rice contemplated selling KTRU in 2008, before the first vote:

“E-mails show the purchase of KTRU and its transmitter had been considered at least since early 2009. Rice had wanted to put the radio station up for sale in 2008, but it was delayed, according to the missives.”

By Texas Watchdog’s reporting, Rice’s first attempts to sell the radio station came before the KTRU votes. This would mean that one of Rice’s first justifications for selling KTRU, in the form of President Leebron’s mass e-mail, was inherently misleading. The votes did not influence the sale. The sale was already happening and most likely would continue. Would Rice have changed course if the votes had passed?

One could argue that if Rice had been straightforward about its KTRU schemes, then students would have recognized the importance of the vote. With these hypothetical circumstances, Rice could point to the votes as a true referendum on KTRU. But, under this timeline, Rice kept the sale plans secret from students.

Rice initiated the sale after the first vote?

However, the earliest e-mail that I can find in either the KTRU or Texas Watchdog files only dates to May 29, 2009.

PRC, which was paid by Rice to facilitate the sale, confirming the confidentiality agreement

This date still places the sale between the 2009 KTRU vote and the 2010 KTRU vote. If this records the first serious attempt of Rice selling KTRU, then Rice’s first explanation is perhaps justifiable. The failed first vote encouraged the sale.

However, given the amount of time it takes to arrange the sale of a radio station, how university bureaucracy works, Texas Watchdog’s own conclusions, and President Leebron’s explanation in the Thresher interview, one can fairly assume that Rice began the sale process before both blanket tax votes.

Rice is not subject to Open Record Requests

Then why did Rice blame the votes in that first e-mail? Was it attempting to blame the students? Was Rice just throwing out every argument it could think of to justify the sale? Why the change in rhetoric?

Rice knows when it first contemplated selling KTRU, but you most likely will not. The open record requests from KTRU and Texas Watchdog can only reach records held by the University of Houston, because it is a public university. Rice is a private university, and its own records and communications can be kept private. Plans to sell KTRU may have been going on for years.

Throughout KTRU Outdoor Shows and Battles of the Bands, awards and celebrations and concerts, the offices of the Allen Center may have already been riddled with schemes to sell KTRU in complete secrecy.

And among those records and e-mails are probably the real reasons why Rice is selling KTRU. At least I hope so. It would be very sad if Rice were selling KTRU without a proper vetting and cost-benefit analysis. But so far, none has been made available to the public.

Rice should take the higher ground and release all of its information about the KTRU sale. If the sale is truly justified, then the facts should speak for themselves. Let Rice justify this sale, just as Rice students must justify their arguments in classes. If the university cannot do that, then this course of events will be tainted through Rice’s history as one of its lowest hours, unable to even meet the same standards it holds for its students.

Flashback Friday: Cardozo sex and Rice masturbation

In this month’s Cardozo Jurist, [edit: let’s just say her name is Shmara Shmliss and she doesn’t want her name to show up in a google search] who wrote a column about how the stress and pressure of law school inherently leads to sexytime thoughts and a desire to hook up. I always argue that Libraries are supersexy, but because they are filled with books, and books have knowledge and knowledge is power and power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Also, libraries are filled with smart, youthful students. And sexy librarians!

In reality, librarians are almost never sexy librarians.

Anyways, her column reminded me a good deal of something that I had written for the Rice Thresher. (pdf: Mintz thresher column)

Here are the columns.

Brûle Complètement Bun B (and Rice University)

The Facebook posts were a twitter (a contradictory statement if I ever heard one) the other day upon news that Bun B would be teaching a class at Rice. Apparently, Bun B is some sort of hip-hop rapper guy, so this is a big deal.

I perused his discography a bit, and I’m not entirely sure how well it meshes with the Spring 2011 class on Hip Hop and Religion. But considering that this is the same religion department that has a tenured professor who spends his 3-hour seminars scrolling through Wikipedia articles while reading them out loud, and must plan his class schedule around his bi-weekly ingrown eyelash removal, I suppose its par for the course.

(Maybe he’ll be a better teacher if you buy his book)

But the real benefit of this class is not its educational merit within the Reli department, which is yet to be seen, though can be judged from the future professor’s discussion of the class’ “reading list, and that dumb shit.” Rather the benefit is two-fold.

1. PR

Hey, everyone is talking about Rice! Isn’t that awesome! We’re all the news and people are posting stuff about the university on Facebook. I bet the school may even get some feature pieces in national papers or magazines talking about this class. Huffington Post will probably write something about it. Or if the Thresher folks are on the ball and write about it first, the HuffPost will just include an article from the Daily Tresher in a slideshow of “The 10 Best College Courses that Also Look Like Boobies,” or something like that.

And then Rice will finally be good enough, well known across the nation, and lose its Napoleon Complex. And Hanszen will sweep Beer Bike.

2. Racism

Rice has had a problem with race relations in the past, for a variety of reasons. And certainly no one person is to blame. Sept. 15 2006 Rice Thresher Backpage

Ah, memories

But the problems at Rice go beyond spoiled douchebags who think that the name of their stupid party or O-Week group is more important than a history of institutionalized racism. (timeline of racism at Rice) It comes down to sheer demographics.

At least when I was at Rice, there were about 100 black men there. About half of them were varsity athletes, so they were largely focused on that rather than college social events. This leaves about 50 black men. Divide that by four, for the four years in college, and you have a little more than 12 non-athlete black men per class. Divide that by nine, for the nine colleges at the time, and you have one, maybe two, black men per year at each college. The same college system that supposedly unites students distinctly divides them in this case. This cannot be a comforting scene for black students during O-Week, let alone the rest of the year.

This is not to say that people only hang out with the same race, or that they should, or that race is a complete predetermination of life experience and preference. However, there is something distinctly off-putting about looking into the crowd of peers with whom you’re supposed to spend the next four years and seeing no one who looks like you.

I do not have a link, but in a 1990 issue of the Thresher, former Rice student and current professor Alex Byrd (Sid ’90) talked about how he spent a semester (I think) at the traditionally black Howard University (if I recall correctly), and just the sense of comfort of looking and feeling like you fit in. And from personal experience, I know that I felt somewhat lost at Rice until I moved into a room of three other cynical liberal Jews.

With this demographic basis, no matter how many diversity forums Rice has, no matter how many times ADVANCE meets to discuss racism, no matter how many people attend Soul Night (I’d link to the rtv5 video but the website is down), black men will be outsiders at Rice University.

However, by bringing in the prominent face of Bun B to the head of a class, Rice sends a message that black men belong and are welcomed.

So why do I not agree with this move?

I don’t necessarily disagree with it. However, I am somewhat distraught that we are spending money (I assume Rice is paying him some to some degree. And if not, at least expending effort) for a singer to teach a class on Religion when Rice JUST ELIMINATED ITS ENTIRE FRENCH STUDIES GRADUATE PROGRAM.

Hip-hop culture has an important role in contemporary society, with vast influences and meaning, and should be studied deeply. However, French Studies is the groundwork for study of the Enlightenment, the very basis for this contemporary society in which hip-hop exists. We must study the French Revolution. We must study Humanism. Our nation was founded by Humanists and Francophiles. We cannot and should not ignore the eruption, testing, and successes and failures of Enlightenment Ideology. Especially at a time when Enlightenment ideals, and the Enlightenment itself, are being stripped from and perverted in Texas children’s textbooks. This means something. This is important.

It’s great that Rice is getting Bun B. It will be good for PR and Race Relations. But it would be even better if Rice’s aims were what is best for the nation and humanity, and not simply its Princeton Review rankings.

To quote someone I am loath to quote: This nation was created by humanists, and it will be saved by humanists.