Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"Exhilarating and empowering political acts"

Some people just don't belong on a college campus.

Phil Busse, a visiting professor at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, blogged on the Huffington Post, bragging about his exploits stealing McCain/Palin campaign signs. He wrote, "Yanking out the signs and running like a scared rabbit back to my idling car was one of the single-most exhilarating and empowering political acts that I have ever done."

He acknowledges that his actions were illegal but adds the weasel words that "because campaign laws regulate that candidates cannot give out gifts or anything beyond 'de minimis' value, a political lawn sign, by its very definition, has no value." He goes on to (falsely) equate his actions with free speech; regarding one large sign that he had stolen, he wrote, "I had said my piece."

Destroying property and interfering with people's political expression are the polar opposites of supporting free speech. As an academic, Busse had a responsibility to promote ideas, expression and discussion, not tear them down.

Upon hearing of Busse's antics, St. Olaf College forced his resignation, according to the Northfield News. The college officials got it exactly right.

Busse's moral confusion, however, remains. The Northfield News article quotes him, "Writing the essay was an opportunity to explore and talk about political speech and the desire that most of us have to express our politics — both in mature and immature ways, and sometimes a mix of the two... I’m disappointed that most readers seem to have focused on the thefts, and not on the larger thoughts."

Larger thoughts, right.