David Rodeback's Blog

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Michael Moore at UVSC

I heard last week from a source at UVSC that the student government there is bringing in Michael Moore as a speaker this fall. Now the story has gone public, and KSL is reporting that the student government spent its entire $50,000 speakers budget to bring in the controversial filmmaker, who has the historical conscientiousness of Oliver Stone and the honesty of Bill Clinton.

As usual, I have some questions:

First, isn't some of that $50,000 my tax money? I'm pretty sure it is, which gives me standing for the rest of my questions, at least.

Second, since Michael Moore is clearly a close, aggressive ally of the John Kerry campaign, engaging in campaign activity, and since UVSC is a public institution, isn't the school obligated (morally if not legally) to bring in a speaker of equal prominence to take the President's side before the election, in the interest of equal time? Perhaps, since the budget is gone, someone might be found to do it free of charge. UVSC might struggle to find a prominent conservative speaker who is as malevolent and whacked-out as Moore, but they could at least try. Better still, they could find a credible conservative. (How about Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas or General Tommy Franks?) Which brings me to another question . . .

Third, if the UVSC student council's motive is to swing votes to the left, do they hold their fellow students in such low intellectual esteem that they think Moore will be more effective at that than a dignified, serious speaker making intelligent arguments? From a purely partisan perspective, I think Moore ought to speak wherever there are people willing to offer him an audience, because the more he talks, the more bitter and irrational his case appears, except to those who already hate President Bush.

Finally, does Utah or UVSC itself have any law or policy banning hate speech? Someone might want to check before October 20, since it's possible that in Utah, at least, there are people who realize that hate speech can come from the Left, not just the Right (among other possibilities). It might be embarrassing to some if a speaker of national prominence were to be indicted for engaging in hate speech at UVSC, or if the folks who invited him were charged (if it's possible) with "conspiracy to commit hate speech" or something like that.

I'm not saying Moore shouldn't speak, and I certainly think that any related protests should be civil and respectful. I'm the conservative who once wrote, in a Student Review op/ed piece at another large Utah County campus, that I had no objections to Marxists (among other philosophical minorities) speaking on that campus, as long as they were billed as such. Among other things, I think it's crucial for intelligent people to understand - and to learn to act civilly - in the face of passionate arguments with which they disagree.

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