Some issues are so clearly unacceptable that they usually don’t have to be argued against. No one plays street hockey on Interstate 76 because almost everyone realizes the consequences. No one swims in the Schuylkill River with lead flippers – voluntarily, anyway – and no one does chin ups on electrical wires.
But some people have an insatiable determination to defy conventional wisdom. Some people must act so outrageously in order to gain attention. And some idiotic moves come in clusters.
Such was the case, or cases, with a recent rash of pie throwing incidents involving mostly liberal students and mostly conservative columnists. Last October the venomous Ann Coulter was invited to the University of Arizona by campus College Republicans. The Associated Press reported that Coulter was bent on trashing presidential nominee John Kerry and “derided liberals and Democrats” in general, which for Coulter is par for the course.
Two 24-year-olds, obviously not pleased with Coulter’s remarks, popped onstage and threw pies at her, which according to police ricocheted off of her shoulder.
Other AP reports said the two were charged with disorderly conduct, assault and a felony charge of criminal damage. Damages were estimated to be $3,000.
Though the incident initially seemed isolated, copycats later caught on, grabbed perishables of their own and began hurling. Just over a week ago William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard and Fox News contributor, was hit in the face with a pie during a speech at Earlham College in Indiana. The student was suspended and could face expulsion, according to AP reports.
Two days later, conservative politician Pat Buchanan was drenched with salad dressing during a speech at Western Michigan University by a 24-year-old student from another college. The student was arrested and could have faced a felony assault charge, but according to University spokesman Matt Kurz, who spoke to the AP, Buchanan did not press charges.
Though the incidents were all fueled by politics, the stupidity of the acts transcends any party affiliation and is completely counterintuitive. The Earlham student who whaled Kristol with a pie attends a small liberal arts college that, according to reports, is known for its peace studies program. How attacking a notable political figure with a pie solves a policy debate and promotes peace is beyond reason.
The same goes for the other students who illogically chucked food at keynote speakers in order to draw attention to their causes. Buchanan’s assailant reportedly yelled, “Stop the bigotry!” before attacking and apparently figured that throwing salad dressing at a presenter who was advocating opposing viewpoints was an open-minded and tolerant action.
The argument against this type of stuff is self-evident. The acts were fanatical and accomplished nothing except creating adverse reactions to whatever messages the students were attempting to support. College students are supposed to be those who are voluntarily enrolled in institutions that promote academic inquisitiveness and social consciousness. But the recent actions of some pie throwing students indicate that the ideal of respectful debate may only be a pie in the sky.