Saturday, June 21, 2014

It was just a prank; let it go

 By now you’ve no doubt heard about the banner-towing airplane that repeatedly buzzed Oregon State University’s commencement Saturday with a “Go Ducks!” message.

The single-engine plane that an unidentified University of Oregon fan hired belongs to an Albany company, Cascade Aero Banner, owned by Oregon State graduate Pete Brawn.

Brawn, a West Albany High alumnus, is a former Marine fighter pilot who was badly injured in August 2011 when he lost control of an F/A-18 Hornet and ditched off the California coast. The force of the harrowing nighttime ejection shattered the humerus bone in each of his arms, also broke a bone in his right leg and forced his discharge from the Marines.

A May 2012 story about the incident and his recovery talked about his desire to own a private flying company in Albany, which he obviously now does.

The pro-Duck gag that he signed on to carry out went over like a lead balloon at his alma mater, where faculty, students and well-wishers considered the act to be insulting, disruptive and generally tasteless. As the level of discontent soared, Brawn realized the error of his ways and posted a long apology on his company’s Facebook page, which read in part:

“I want to apologize to all those whom we have offended. I especially want to apologize to Dr. (Ann) Kiessling for stepping on her speech and the disruption we caused. It is my understanding that she handled the annoyance with remarkable grace and poise. We are very sorry for any annoyance or disruption that impacted those in the stadium ... .”

In a separate post, Brawn pledged the $500 in proceeds from the “regrettable banner job” to the Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation, of which Kiessling is the director.

If you’re an OSU person and still steaming over what happened at graduation, that’s understandable. By the same token, if you’re affiliated with the UO and feeling some embarrassment over the episode, that’s understandable too.

But at this point it would be good for everyone to start letting the whole thing go, as Kiessling, the speaker, has already done.

Did Brawn show spectacularly poor judgment? Yes. He knows as much.

However, how about we keep things in perspective? It’s not like he dropped a bomb on Reser Stadium — he’s a guy who hired on as a prankster, and he’s admitted his mistake and apologized.

Even if he hadn’t served our country, we should let him turn the page. But especially since he has, let’s not forever judge what seems to be a good man by one dumb and minimally harmful act.


No comments:

Post a Comment