Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Here are some further details about Michael Moore's scheduled visit to Utah Valley State College, based on an AP story posted at KSL.com:
Apparently, Moore's fee is "somewhere between" $20,000 and $50,000, perhaps not the full $50,000. (If it were the whole enchilada, I wouldn't want to admit it, either.)
UVSC student body president Jim Bassi says the invitation's motive is film-related, not political. Everyone who believes that, stand on your head . . . He also reportedly said that a Republican speaker will be invited to speak the following week. Please, Mr. Bassi, think twice before you spin. If art, not politics, were really the point of all this, then the next speaker's most essential qualification would be his artistic credentials, not his political affiliation.
Some students, especially veterans, find Moore's flagrant disregard for truth offensive. So do I, though I am neither a student nor a veteran. Calling his films documentaries stretches that word beyond all reason - adding a linguistic offense, if you will. However, when they claim that Moore's visit will have no educational value, I have to disagree.
There is probably some educational merit simply in raising the level of political consciousness among UVSC students, and anyone who is seriously interested in filmmaking or the realities of American presidential politics may learn something, too. But the most educational value will likely be something else entirely. Officers in the UVSC student government, presumably young people with both aspirations to lead and the talent to get elected, are learning some valuable lessons for the future in a relatively harmless setting. For example, actions have consequences. And the people, on whom candidates fawn during campaigns and to whom they condescend after election, can be difficult to dismiss when they want to be. In fact, they, er, we, can be just flat-out difficult. And if some go to inappropriate and uncivil lengths in their opposition, well, leaders have to be able to deal gracefully with that, too.
Speaking of educational experiences, kudos to UVSC President William Sederburg for giving the student government the budget and the authority to choose speakers, and then letting them make their decisions without micro-management from above. I hope he will continue to defend their right to decide, within the limits of their authority, even if he doesn't always like their decisions. And I hope that he won't go to any great lengths to shelter them from the public outcry at their decision in this instance, at least insofar as the outcry itself stays more or less within the bounds of law and civility. They asked for it.
Copyright 2004 by David Rodeback.