Igor A. Birman is considered by many in ASUCD to be a sort of evil demigod, with super-human command of the legal system. Those in the ASUCD administration that loathe him still tremble in indescribable terror when Igor announces pending legal consequences upon them.
Once the president of Davis College Democrats, Igor went on to become a prominent member of Davis College Republicans, and having graduated from Davis has now ensconced himself in the national Republican Party. Most recently he was reportedly supervising vote-counting observers in Ohio during the 2004 election. The National Association of Parliamentarians certifies him as an expert in parliamentry law, and he hasn't even graduated Emory School of Law yet.
While still at Davis he successfully sued the California Aggie for improperly firing him. He was fired for "enraging members of the opposition" as the conservative columnist while John Green had advocated for a communist revolution as the liberal columnist. In 2004 he publicly advised the ASUCD government that it was not legal for them to endorse candidates, to which they foolishly responded that yes it was and continued to do so. Since then the IRS has gotten involved and informed the ASUCD government that "no really that's totally illegal" (paraphrased). This situation has come to be known as "Lamargate."
Though not necessarily in agreement with Igor's conservative tendencies, he is revered as the patron saint of legal uprightness in ASUCD by many at Davis. Last time he came on campus he was soon recognized and asked for his autograph. Its probably a good idea to get it, since Igor appears to be continuing to rise fast in national politics.
His most recent involvement in campus politics is that he advised SOSSS about the legal definition of "libel" for the SJA hearings against the Elections Committee about the Election Statement Controversy.
Igor's Letter to the Election Committee Regarding Rob Roy's Election Controversy
(email out at 11:30 PM PST 2/24/05)
Dear Ms. Schachter:
In regards to the Elections Committee's purported disqualification of Mr. Rob Roy, a duly qualified candidate for the office of ASUCD Senator, this notice is to inform you and other members of the Committee of the inherent illegality of such action.
As election officers of a taxpayer-funded and publicly-owned University, the actions of your Committee are governed by relevant U.S. and California State Constitutional provisions and statutes. Your actions to "disqualify" or otherwise penalize Mr. Roy without due process of law, and without an opportunity for Mr. Roy to confront and examine witnesses and evidence against him are in direct violation of the provisions contained within the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and applicable to state actors such as the Elections Committee.
Furthermore, your actions may result or possibly have already resulted in the disenfranchisement and civil and voting rights infringement of thousands of otherwise duly-qualified electors who lawfully chose to cast their votes for a duly-qualified candidate in an election conducted by a quasi-governmental body.
I urge you to reconsider your decision forthwith and take into account the severe consequences and substantial civil penalties that may follow as a result of federal civil rights litigation in connection with the above-referenced matter.
Sincerely, -Igor Birman
- My understanding of Igor Birman being fired from The Aggie was not that he was "too controversial" but that his columns were inflammatory and devoid of substance. To put it into context, the Editor in Chief at the time, Fitz Vo, had to let go of a few columnists due to overhiring, and all the columnists were warned that they had better keep with what they said they would write about as he would be cutting those who were not turning in quality work. The political columnists got an additional warning that they should be speaking from personal standpoints and not be just an extension of their political party. Nevertheless, Birman still wrote columns saying all conservatives rejected moral relativism and believed in a god, (false) Jewish people all believe that life begins at conception (false, as I informed him) and middle eastern culture could be reduced to clitorectomies. (Argued in two columns) So he got the axe, as Fitz Vo put it. Unfortunately for The Aggie, they had no termination clause in such a situation as a columnist turning in sub-standard work, or columns lost for budgetary reasons. So Birman won his suit on those grounds, while he accused The Aggie of firing him because he was conservative. The Aggie later hired a new conservative columnist who actually had "The Right Stuff" to be a journalist. -KarlMogel
Karl Mogel is a columnist for The California Aggie
-Karl Mogel should actually speak to Mr. Birman before making his own blanket statements. Igor Birman is biologically incapable of being devoid of substance. Mr. Vo's exact words to Birman in a letter stated, "too controversial." - ChrisMays
Chris Mays is a former Chairman of the Davis College Republicans
To be politically correct, chairman is not to be confused with chairwoman.
-Fitz Vo's exact wording to Birman also included: "I have told you several times that I would like to hear more of your voice in your columns, but that seems to be muddled in a lot of similarly versed right-wing rhetoric that I have heard before." He also cited the dryness of his column's tone. "Again, I would like a unique perspective, and you don't seem to provide it."
Chris, please, if you are going to make an argument that he was fired simply for being "too controversial," then why don't you produce the dismissal letter so that everyone can judge the context for themselves. You could at least give the sentence that it was in! Leave the quote-mining to the creationists.
Also, I did not say that Birman himself was devoid of substance, I would think it physically unfeasible for him to exist and yet not contain anything of substance. But you should be cautious about defending a horrible writer just because you agree with him politically, or like him as a person. I know him only from his truncated writing stint in The Aggie. -KarlMogel
Jewish people all believe <insert moral value>? That's hilarious! Perhaps he should have been a humor columnist. —BrentLaabs
All religious people will share at least one belief with all of their fellow believers. That's what makes it a religion. It's what defines religion. —DomenicSantangelo
Maybe it defines religion, but perhaps this is accidental. "Only a Sith deals in absolutes." — RobertBaron
It is clearly not accidental. In the context of institutionalized religion - for example, Judaism - association with the religion is defined by the sharing of certain core beliefs. You cannot claim to be an Orthodox Jew, for example, while also claiming that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Thus, logically, it is true to say, "Orthodox Jewish people all believe that Christ is not the son of God." Do not take this to mean I defend what Igor said, I am simply pointing out that the statement "<religion> people all believe <moral value>" is not intrinsically flawed. —DomenicSantangelo
The reason it's intrinsically flawed is because you can be jewish because of your race or your religion. You can't just insert any religion in that statement because the word has a double meaning, in this case especially. Incidentally, I heard a Rabbi talking about what Jews believe: "If you put six jews in a room to discuss religion, you'll come out with seven different opinions." —BrentLaabs
Every different sect of Judaism believes entirely different things. A person could always claim to be an orthodox Jew and believe that Jesus Christ was the son of G-D, but your claim to any such religious identity might not be shared by others of that sect. I would add that seven is too liberal an estimate for the number of opinions. For every two Jewish persons there are at least three opinions, so in his scenario suggested by the Rabbi that would make a minimum of 9 opinions, with each set of 2 Jews having approximately three opinions, times three Jews, equaling nine Jewish opinions (this is assuming all of the opinions are additive and not duplicated). Whew, throw me a bagel. Some food for thought, I hope it's kosher. — RobertBaron
There were many Democrats who were really disappointed when Birman 'defected' to the dark side. However, the Republican Party seems to ironically have benefited from this flip-flopper. Why do I have purchase my flip-flops while they get theirs for free? — RobertBaron
There is a qualitative difference between two different kinds of people that switch their positions on an issue. There are people who will switch their positions on issues, even multiple times, but they do it for subtle logical reasons that they progressively become aware of. (It might be argued that John Kerry was an example of this with the War in Iraq issue.) It seems that Birman is, however, an example of the "Born Again" effect. It takes its meaning from religion, however, it can apply to politics, dietary regimes, etc. That is, he is someone who abandoned some ideology for another, only to take the new one to the extreme. The latter seems to do it for emotional reasons. — KarlMogel
Actually Birman was the only Aggie writer fired at the time, a fact which Vo affirmed under oath during the case. I know most people here would find Birman's opinions to be odious, but the fact is the Court found in his favour and I have faith in the system. If the Court says that Birman was in the right and Vo was in the wrong, I'd say they are much more competent to decide that than we are. Also it turns out he wasn't fired for being "too controvercial," he was actually fired for "enraging members of the opposition." -KrisFricke
Kris, where might we be able to check on whether Birman was the only columnist fired? Because I remember several columns that were discontinued. Perhaps the other columns were written by Aggie employees that were doing other things, so they weren't technically fired. Did anyone remember Grisborne A. Thornhill III? That column got the axe too. Maybe both Green and Birman should have been cut together so we could have kept Grisborne. -KarlMogel
I suppose I should chime in on this, for the record, since I replaced Igor that winter. Fitz had told me he was dissatisfied with Birman during one of our regular editing sessions of my Friday column, Post No Bills. I told him about my conservative credentials and gave several sample political columns, which he liked. Fitz's main grievance was that Birman too often regurgitated the GOP party line. He wanted original ideas, not a mouthpiece for Ed Gillespie and Limbaugh. And I strove to present thoughtful conservative views. I was then for Iraqi liberation, against abortion and the death penalty (emphasis on 'was'). Igor seemed to resent being dethroned, but really he was fired for being an abysmal writer. His ego kept him from seeing it that way. He probably still thinks he was the victim of leftist discrimination. But it got us on the evening news, Fitz and Igor and I. And I never apologized for diverging from Birman and the DCR. Their conservatism was militant, not mainstream. I was proud that they blacklisted me. It was never my wish to be affiliated with an inflexibly archane political group. - ZacharyAmendt
* Yep, that's the bloke that wrote it well, and I read them. -KJM