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O'Reilly vs. the American way

The UO newspaper was wrong, but Frohnmayer was right

Commentator Bill O'Reilly has labeled University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer "a coward" and "a disgrace." Frohnmayer's offense: failing to ignore the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of freedom of expression.

O'Reilly's fixed one of his usual rants on Frohnmayer last week, saying the UO president should be fired for not taking action over publication of anti-Christian cartoons in a student newspaper. The cartoons appeared in The Insurgent, an alternative paper that is funded by student fees at the university.

No question, the cartoon topics were intended to be offensive, with one showing Jesus sexually aroused on the cross and another showing him kissing a man. The students who run the publication said they printed the cartoons in response to the uproar over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that were published in a Danish paper.

Frohnmayer was among the many who criticized the cartoons, agreeing they were offensive. But he also correctly noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that funding provided to such student publications cannot depend on the content of the publications and that such publications are independent of oversight by school officials.

It's the kind of argument that doesn't fit in O'Reilly's neat little world, where there are only good guys and bad guys &

8212; and if you're not on his side, guess how you'll be labeled. Frohnmayer, to his credit, was unfazed by O'Reilly's remarks, recognizing that you can be proud of who your enemies are. The students' decision to run the cartoons was a poor choice, as was the decision by the Danish newspaper. There was no news value, only shock value, in publishing the images. They damage the future of free speech and a free press by their actions.

But it is not the government's place nor the American way to crack down on unpopular opinions &

8212; even when those opinions are offensive. Perhaps that's a good thing for Mr. O'Reilly

No brain drain hereThe answer to a myriad of problems facing America lies within the minds of our brightest and most innovative citizens. It is reassuring to know that competitions to find and reward the best brains of our upcoming generations are in play.

Medford is fortunate to have a group of students who stand out in the game of academics. South Medford High's Brain Bowl team has distinguished itself by winning the Southern Oregon University Youth Program regional playoff and on June 2-4 is headed for Chicago to battle with 127 other teams in the eighth annual National Academic Quiz Tournament.

With the level of enthusiasm matching any found on the athletic fields, coach Stephen Jensen and his team are preparing for their competition with practice sessions on subjects ranging from mythology to economics.

Finding answers for issues like alternatives to fossil fuel, solutions for feeding the world or how to get along in the global community will be solved by those who can think outside the box. Success in a Brain Bowl competition is a victory worthy of praise, and we suspect these students will go on to record even more notable victories as they put their brains to work tackling the issues of our world.