Thursday, March 31, 2005

More on Kristol and the Pie

The past couple of days have been rough on campus. No one's really wanted to talk about anything other than the pieing, although I have to admit that I'm about ready to move on. Not move on in the sense that I don't still think the entire incident was wrong, but in the sense that this campus tends to beat dead horses until their decomposing.

Basically, the entire faculty is absolutely aghast at the event. Many have made the leap from pie throwing to more violent attacks on speakers and all have certainly thought that the pie was an affront to the respect for persons which rank so high at Earlham and as a fundamental Quaker ideal. I have to say that an awful lot of the students agree with them and I'm one of them. I have lost some of my unquestioning enthusiasm for the ACLU over the years, but never fundamentally moved away from my beliefs in the primacy of civil rights. Over and over again I've been reminded of Voltaire's famous statement: "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Also a basic explanation of civil rights: "My right to punch ends where your nose begins." I don't care how rabid a conservative he is (and he had actually toned things down for us, I think), Kristol should never have been attacked for his views. Go ahead, write articles for the paper, ask him hard questions, bitch to your friends later, but give him the respect that he deserves as a person and one who has been invited to join in the intellectual discourse of the college. And, my sense from the all-student meeting is that I'm not alone.

There are those on campus who take a less serious view of the situation. Some are of the "it was just a pie, get over it camp." I can understand their view, but I worry about the short-sightedness of this opinion. As my professor pointed out this morning, the pie may have a chilling effect on our ability to bring diverse opinions to campus in the future. Finally, there are those who support the pie-thrower. Here's a section from an open letter that has been circulating around campus (anonymously, I might add):
Given this, it saddens us that so many people have expressed outrage at the pieing. Unlike Tuesday night’s speaker, who is able to conceal the murderous cause and effect of his actions by mediating them through his thinktank (the Project for a New American Century) and concealing them behind a number of immense governmental institutions, the pie-thrower appeared to act out his convictions and passions individually without any veil of official legitimacy. We do not feel that the extent to which his action was bold or inspiring is at all affected by his decision to avoid remaining in the auditorium to face an angry crowd. Furthermore, he chose to put himself at great personal risk in order to embarrass a figure central to the Iraq war and in order, perhaps, to communicate that the current drive towards outright war and domination is no more invincible than the puffed-up and overconfident warmonger who was humiliated on Tuesday."

Yeah, I don't get it either.

Finally, I have to admit that my favourite part of watching this whole story unfold in the media. Think:

  • just after it happened I used the wireless to IM a friend, probably being one of the first to tell the outside what had happened

  • that night, the Earlham LJ boards exploded with students (and a few outsiders, eventually) talking about the events

  • the next day, Google news picked it up when the Pal-Item did their noon update

  • an hour or so later the Indianapolis Star and Indy's ABC station picked it up

  • the AP story went out around 5:30

  • from there, it exploded around the world

I don't condone any of this, obviously, but LOOK! WE MADE THE GUARDIAN! I was so proud that I took a screen shot: