A few weeks ago, the administration felt it necessary to dispense its propaganda machinery to UR students in what was deftly dubbed “What part of ‘Jailhouse Rock’ don’t you understand?” It had been billed for weeks as the file-sharing debate that everyone should attend, but what occurred was more a file-sharing guilt-trip and “help us, our multimillion dollar industry is dying” therapy session.I had decided to go with the nave belief that a true debate would arise. But in the true nature of free speech and furthering our education, the administration made every means available to restrict speech and censor questions. Rather than allowing a true forum, where the audience could stand up and ask questions and thus ensure no controversial question could be simply ignored, the administration implemented a system of ushers and question cards. Questions were to be written on the cards and then passed to ushers. Ushers then brought the questions forward to President Thomas Jackson at which point chose the questions to be asked of the panel. I am sorry, Jackson, we are not blind. We can all see when you flip through the stacks of questions searching for just the right one to ask.Not that the answers to approved questions provided much insight. The chosen panel could just as well been a panel of one rather than a panel of five, considering the range of opinions. The only differences were in their age because in functionality there was no denying that they are all tools of the RIAA.Let us consider the biases of the panel. Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA. Hmm, he has no bias, we swear. The provost, who is on the national committee for finding a solution to file sharing, is also of the same obvious side. To his left was the Special Technical advisor to the ITS committee, read lawyer, who covers our arse. Without doubt, the administration realized having just those three people would be way too obvious to UR students that the debate was rigged, so they found two students they could bully into coming.One was Dave Marvin, the producer of the UR Yellowjackets CDs. He was used to present a human face to the artists that file-sharing students are hurting. But the administration continues to forget that the RIAA is a massive corporation that takes monumental amounts of money from big-name artists. The Yellowjackets are in no way affected whether the RIAA wins or loses its battle with file-sharers. If nothing else, the RIAA could learn a thing or two from the Yellowjackets. They price their CDs reasonably, so that people actually want to support them.Finally, we come to Peter Ordal, technical advisor to the Students’ Association. Ordal was the closest panel member to turning towards the “dark side” of file-sharing. Ordal continuously agreed with Sherman’s statements about the limits of curbing file sharing. However, when Ordal finally finished being the administration’s talking head and dared to ask a poignant question of Sherman, Sherman responded with a non-committal answer and Jackson hurriedly went on to the next approved question.So let us see how this fair and even-sided debate went. There were three people for the RIAA, one person for artists not in the RIAA and one person whose questions were never given serious thought. Well done. It kind of reminds me of puppet democracies, where elections are held but only one person is on the ballot. Guess who wins?Hopefully there are numerous students on campus who can still easily recognize propaganda when they see it. The administration has indeed educated through this debate. But the education has nothing to do with the topic of the debate, but rather the understanding that an administration that espouses the laurels of higher education on one hand is willing to pull dirty political tricks on the other.He can be reached at mhe@campustimes.org.



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