Back in April 2005 on my former blog (now offline), I wrote about an incident at Butler University where masked students attacked speaker/author David Horowitz with a cream pie. It’s a year and a half later, and guess what? The same thing has happened again, right here in Indiana again, this time at Ball State University:
Two people are under arrested after one, clad in a black mask and hooded sweatshirt, attempted to throw a cream pie at David Horowitz, University Police Department Sgt. John Foster said. Police Chief Gene Burton stepped between the two, Foster said.
Later, four students who wished to remain unnamed projected “Horowitz not Welcome” onto the south side of Teachers College.
This incident — along with the earlier one at Butler and other recent ones in the same vein — is an appalling breach of the values of free inquiry and substantive debate that supposedly undergird the very idea of higher education. Disagree with Horowitz and others if you want; vehemently, even, if that’s the way you feel. But when you substitute intimidation and humiliation for dialogue, you have exited the world of academic and entered the world of thugs and savages. And there is simply no place for that sort of mob rule in academia.
It’s certainly not a joke, as the sad defenders of this kind of behavior try to make it out to be. The only thing proven to be a joke by this incident are the values held by the attackers.
Those attackers were arrested, and it’s my (possibly naive) hope that the administration at BSU will do the right thing and bring the hammer down on them, academically speaking, if they are students or employees of the university. The university exists according to certain time-honored rules of engagement that allow for free discussion and unrestricted disagreement on important issues. If you’re not willing to abide by those rules, you ought to be removed from the university until you can figure out how to do so. Bobby Fong at Butler certainly showed some integrity when the incident last April happened, so here’s to the hope that BSU president Jo Ann Gora will too.