Wednesday, May 21, 2003

NYT reporter makes an anti-war commencement speech and gets booed off-stage. This is the latest "Dixie Chicks"-inspired news making a stir this week. Not that I condone this sort of behavior, but I'd like to know why the AP, Reuters and practically every other news service is promoting this story so heavily when dozens of similar incidents occur on college campuses each year. The difference? The lesser publicized cases involved audiences shouting down and intimidating conservative, rather than liberal speakers.

Observing the squelching of dissent on campus is nothing new to me, either. I remember my days as an undergrad in Cuba North during the rise of the Reform Party, the newest conservative alternative to emerge onto the political landscape at the time. The traditional conservative party, the Tories, had adopted a liberal "tax and spend" ethos, and thus made itself indistinguishable from the rival socialist parties. Reform's platform, on the other hand, was distinctly conservative, with the primary focus on lowering taxes, ending wasteful pork-barrel spending and cronyism, and capping out of control immigration flows at fixed rates, much like the US does with its green card lottery. Of course, to naturally inclined campus lefties, the platform read "feed the rich, starve the poor, and kill the chinks". To my recollection, only one Reform Party representative successfully made a speech anywhere near campus. Unable to convince the university administrators to ax the event, as they did with previous attempts, the malcontents made sure the speech was accompanied by a nearly unprecedented protest gathering. Did this incident make the national news? As if.

So much for the university as a center of free and open thoughts and ideas.


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