So the vice president returned to his native state to address graduates at the University of Notre Dame commencement, and some students walked out.
It’s early yet – it happened this morning – and I expect the blowback is coming. It won’t be the full rank exhalation of Troll Twitter, but enough people will say enough stupid things that it’ll qualify as a skirmish. So here we are again, where an administration whose representatives admit to considering changing libel laws isn’t considered a threat to free speech, but college students protesting or declining to listen to a handful of troll speakers is.
I’ll state my bias right here: I think most speakers should be allowed to speak. I think protesting them short of shutting them down is fine. And I say that knowing the speakers we’re talking about here do not come in good faith; they’re trolls, basically, and if you don’t believe me, Google “milo on women” or “ann coulter book titles” and get back to me.
Early on in this administration, there was a certain both-sides harrumphing about “respect for the office,” i.e., that certain niceties were due to the person behind the Resolute Desk, because s/he occupies the highest elective office of the most powerful nation on the planet. This was offered as explanation for seemingly decent people taking jobs in that administration; they were Serving Their Country, not toiling for Trump. Show some respect.
Only respect wasn’t shown by the person who actually held the office. He continued to treat the place like the set of “The Apprentice” between shots, a place to be tolerated, barely, between trips to Palm Beach. In which case I think the average citizen is absolved of any need to tug his or her forelock, don’t you?
The great American value of listening respectfully to all sides is rooted in the idea that all sides approach the marketplace of ideas in the same spirit. And that’s clearly not the case with speakers like Ann Coulter or Milo Whatshisname. It might not even be the case with Charles Murray. Some opinions are expressed merely because to do so is lucrative for the speaker, or because it gives others the chance to mau-mau an authority figure.
A couple-three years ago, one of the young Republicans groups at a local high school got someone to pay Rick Santorum’s speaking fee to give a talk at the school. But, they said when they made this request of the administration, he needed to speak during school hours, because he’s such an important national figure. Single-celled organisms have more savvy and spine than the superintendent in the job at the time, and at first he said yes, then no.
Of course the No opened the floodgates of Free Speech Suppression, etc. So he had to reverse himself again, and now you can’t google the incident without wading through half a dozen pages of right-wing websites that waved that bloody flag to tatters. (And the thing is, the supe had the perfect response right in front of him – a policy that said individuals brought in by private clubs, etc., could speak all they wanted, after school. He should have said, “Sure, kids! Bring him in. I have to coach soccer practice that day, but take lots of pictures and let me know how it turns out. Oh, and turn out the lights on your way out, OK?” The guy let himself by played by a couple of 17-year-olds.
So. Change of subject: Pippa’s wedding! Love to look at the Brits in their upper-class native habitats, funny hats and all. I thought Kate looked awful, but the real revelation was the nanny, who looked like she was wearing a grown-up version of the Brownie uniform. Turns out she was, sorta. The uniform identifies her as a graduate of the prestigious (yes, really) Norland nannies’ school:
But today’s graduates are also trained in martial arts, kidnap evasion by using the pram, self-defense, and advance driving techniques; they are in all regards thoroughly modern Mary Poppins.
To answer the obvious question, i.e., why hasn’t this been in a James Bond film yet, well, I don’t know the answer.
The week ahead will be a grind. Expect light posting, unless catastrophe explodes on Air Force One, in which case, well, carry on.