I mostly wanted to see the cage. Turns out, it was worth the drive.The rest of the column, of course, does not bear this out.
It is a rickety concoction, a roughly 4-by-4 slab of plywood on wheels surrounded on three sides by sections of 6-foot chain-link fence topped by several strands of barbed wire.Not to mention stupid, hackneyed and pointless.
Every five minutes or so, a student would stride up, hike themselves atop the plywood box in the center of the cage and read something I'm fairly certain no one standing more than a foot away actually heard.
All of it, of course, was so counterintuitive. . . .
My gut tells me [the] "freedom cage" is little more than advertising for the Thursday rally. I saw no "university goons" beating the speech out of kids or hooking the cage to the back of their vehicles and dragging it off.So-called.
And, for heaven's sake, the university is allowing Ward Churchill, with whom it is in litigation, and so-called "domestic terrorist" Ayers to bad-mouth it center stage on the campus.
"But it fired professor Churchill for his speech," [Aaron] Smith, a political science-ethnic studies graduate, explained. The cage, he said, is a symbol to students not around when Churchill was fired in 2007.Which means, of course, that he gets nothing.
"In firing him," he said, "they sent a message to all critical thinkers, to either support the status quo or become the next target."
On that level, I get it.
I have written before that I believe the furor over Churchill's "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" essay, even with its "little Eichmanns" reference, was an overwrought, knee-jerk, post-9/11 super-patriotism reaction to something I found fairly benign.Benign?
Anytime a tenured university professor is run off for views deemed controversial by some, I think it ought to deeply chill each of us. His lawsuit against the university seeking his job back goes to trial in Denver on Monday, and should tell us more clearly where the classroom free-speech lines lay.It's "lie," and no it won't.
Smith says he got the idea for the cage from the Republican and Democratic national conventions, which set aside far-off patches of ground for demonstrators to let off steam. . . .That's a surprise. And actually, the Rethugs didn't have a "far-off patch of ground" for protesters.
"This is an extremely important case (Churchill's) because it will define academic freedom for years to come," Sam McFadyen, 21, a philosophy major, said after his turn in the cage.Bwahahahahah--hang on, got a call.
"It'd be great if more people were listening to the speakers," he said, pointing to the students sitting around talking on their cellphones.
"But having the right to do this is something we have to defend at all costs."Wonder if I could hire a second.
I sidled up to Kendall Flanagan, 19, a junior Spanish and Portuguese major from Louisville, the only non-participant who seemed to be listening.
"I've heard of the (Churchill) case, but I didn't really know what it was really about until now."
Will she go hear the former professor speak Thursday?
"Until this moment," Flanagan said, "I hadn't planned to, but I probably will. All of it sounds so interesting."
Update: The Gamera has a new Wart-page, dedicated to all things Warty and trial-related.
(via Leah at P & B)