ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

The Year in Campus Activism

August 30, 2005 by ACTA

Mother Jones magazine has released its top ten episodes of campus activism during the past year. There are some good picks on the list--Princeton students received top honors for "Protest of the Year" with their theatrical filibuster against Senate filibustering--though the list itself is unsurprisingly stacked with examples of activism devoted to progressive causes. University of Michigan students are praised for "keeping Michigan in Kerry country" with their voter registration campaign last fall, students at Michigan's Calvin College are praised for protesting a commencement address delivered by George Bush, two Stanford students are mentioned for founding a "student-run think tank modeled after their campus' own Hoover Institution, but without all the right-wingers or buckets of cash", and so on.

Mother Jones's choices are predictable, and they are also the magazine's prerogative. At the same time, the one-sided list does cross the line. Weighing in at number nine:

Unjust Desserts This year witnessed a rash of on-campus pie-ings of notable conservatives. At the Quaker Earlham College, an unpacifistic religion major pied William Kristol and issued a manifesto, "Why I Threw the Pie." Pat Buchanan got gooped at Western Michigan University and David Horowitz was handed an excuse to decry "fascists" after he was splattered at Butler University. A University of Arizona student claiming membership in the tastelessly titled "Al Pieda" nearly hit Ann Coulter with a cream pie, making the half-baked claim that he was "throwing the pie at her ideas, not at her."

There is a difference between "protest" and "assault." Mother Jones neglects to mention that the salad dressing thrower was charged with a misdemeanor for disturbing the peace, and could have faced assault charges if Buchanan had wanted to press them. Neither does the magazine mention that the Earlham student who hit Kristol with the pie was suspended and faced a possible sanction of expulsion. Nor does the magazine mention that the student and local Tucson man who threw pie at Anne Coulter were arrested and charged with assault and misdemeanor, as well as a class 5 felony charge of criminal damage for ruining the muslin stage backdrop. Moreover, in chuckling over the incidents as if they were the charming and spirited acts of irrepressible activists, the magazine encourages student protestors to stoop to similar behavior in the future. Maybe as far as Mother Jones is concerned it's not assault--or even poor form--when the targets are conservative speakers.

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