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January 24, 2005
University Of Oregon: No Support For Troops On Campus

One of the most tepid and meaningless phrases that has sprung up during the war on terror has been "Support The Troops". Both sides of the partisan divide claim to "support the troops," even while some on one side continually denigrate their mission and demand a retreat. The phrase itself has enough generality to be imbued with almost any meaning desired.

Now, however, even that thin cheer for our men and women on the front has come under attack at the University of Oregon. After a single complaint, the university's administration ordered all school vehicles freed of the magnetic "Support The Troops" ribbons that have enjoyed popularity among a wide swath of the public (via Kevin McCullough, ellipses in original):

A yellow ribbon sticker that says "Support The Troops" has created a big stir at the University of Oregon.

A day after a campus employee was told to remove the sticker from his maintenance vehicle -- people on campus are reacting.

It all started after a university employee complained.

Some think the university may have gone too far. But for now... all the stickers are gone.

It's hard to know how seriously to take this report, which easily qualifies as the worst-written story I've ever seen in the mainstream media. KEZI is the local ABC affiliate in Oregon, and the article looks more like a bad blog post than anything written by a professional reporter. The article goes on to report that Oregon state law prohibits the use of state resources by public employees for political purposes, but gives no citation or background on the law itself.

If the University of Oregon thinks that asserting support for men and women who defend this country constitutes political activism, especially given the vanilla texture assigned to this particular phrase over the past two years, then Oregonian academia has truly lost its soul. If anyone has more or better information, please send it to me.

UPDATE: Much more on this from Myopic Zeal and Cheese and Crackers. The Univeristy's policy statement makes pretty clear what is considered political activity:

Title: Prohibited Political Activities

Purpose: To describe limits and prohibited political activity on the University of Oregon campus


In compliance with ORS 260.432, the following notice required by statute is published:

"The restrictions imposed by the law of the State of Oregon on your political activities are that 'No public employee shall solicit any money, influence, service or other thing of value or otherwise promote any political committee or promote or oppose the nomination or election of a candidate, the adoption of a measure or the recall of a public office holder while on the job during working hours. However, this section does not restrict the right of a public employee to express personal political views."

"It is therefore the policy of the state and of your public employer that you may engage in political activity except to the extent prohibited by state law when on the job during working hours."

Since the magnetic stickers proclaiming support for men and women in our armed services hardly promote a political committee, a candidate for political office or a recall, or an adoption of a measure, the stickers should have remained on the vehicles. At the very least, restrictions on political activity by public employees would not cause the university to ban them, by their own policy statement.

It's true that the trucks belong to the university, and that they can determine what should and should not be placed on them. However, they can't use the law as an excuse. They don't want the stickers on the trucks because they don't like the idea of supporting the military at the University of Oregon. Too bad they don't have the guts to just come out and say it. Of course, if they had any intestinal fortitude at all, they'd appreciate the sacrifices made by the "troops" and would have seen the pettiness of the original complaint. Cowards will never appreciate heroes; heroes remind cowards of their own failings.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 24, 2005 9:56 AM

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» University of Oregon: No "Support our Troops" Stickers from Outside The Beltway
"Support our Troop" Stickers...Creates a Stir at U of O (KEZI9) A yellow ribbon sticker that says "Support The Troops" has created a big stir at the University of Oregon. A day after a campus employee was told to remove the sticker from his ma... [Read More]

Tracked on January 24, 2005 12:23 PM

» Diversity on Campus. from Myopic Zeal
The University of Oregon has ordered a campus employee to remove the yellow ribbon saying "Support our Troops" from his maintenance vehicle, claiming it was a political statement. The question then is... what constitutes a political statement. "... [Read More]

Tracked on January 24, 2005 2:05 PM

» bunk from
So, I hear that my alma mater has again done what it does best, make silly decisions to avoid offending someone with a stick up his or her ass. Far be it from me to actually defend the cowardly bureaucrats of the University, but the reaction of the co... [Read More]

Tracked on January 25, 2005 11:00 AM

» No Support for Our Troops at Oregon University from Prince Pundit
I hope someone complains about the typical anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-American and anti-God posters you so often see in university professors' offices. I would think that scotch taping such posters to their walls is no different that sticking a yellow... [Read More]

Tracked on January 26, 2005 8:43 AM

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