Friedman gets a pie in the face

Seems like it’s been ages since we’ve heard of crazed left-wing university students throwing pies at speakers, so I’m almost nostalgic about this:

Brown University is condemning the actions of two people — at least one of whom is a student — who threw a pie-like substance Tuesday night at Thomas Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times who was speaking on the campus. Friedman took a few minutes to clean himself up, but continued his talk. Michael Chapman, vice president for public affairs and university relations, issued a statement in which he said: “Freedom of speech is prized on a university campus. While Brown students are encouraged to express their opinions on any subject and in a variety of forums, the university does not tolerate such assaults against a speaker or disrupting the right of others to hear a speaker’s perspectives.” The statement said that one of those involved was apprehended and identified as a student. “The university will review this incident through its non-academic disciplinary system to determine the appropriate response.”

This is the same Thomas Friedman, by the way, who wrote The World is Flat, the seminal work for much of today’s edublogging. More: 

The Providence Journal reported that the incident involved paper plates with shamrock-colored whipped cream. After they were thrown at Friedman, one of those protesting threw in the air leaflets that criticized Friedman, saying: “Thomas Friedman deserves a pie in the face because of his sickeningly cheery applause for free market capitalism’s conquest of the planet, for telling the world that the free market and techno fixes can save us from climate change. From carbon trading to biofuels, these distractions are dangerous in and of themselves, while encouraging inaction with respect to the true problems at hand.”

These morons have just enough intellect and courage to hit somebody in the face with a pie and then run away, trailing badly-written quasi-philosophical leaflets in their wake; but not enough to actually write real books and give public lectures about the issues. Here’s hoping Brown acts with some toughness on this. 


Filed under Academic freedom, Free speech, Higher ed, Life in academia

3 responses to “Friedman gets a pie in the face

  1. KJ

    It gives me no pleasure to point this out: crazy left wing students attack anyone right of them, all the time. It doesn’t take much searching to find Anne Coulter, or Michael Savage getting pelted with pies.

    Of course I completely agree that the level of debate offered by the left equates to exactly what you see here. When emotion is in the drivers seat we’re all in for a ride.

  2. What struck me as odd about this episode was that it was Thomas Friedman — not exactly a right-wing icon. Most conservatives, I think, see Friedman as being left-of-center. But I guess it’s all relative.

  3. FC

    You’ve got it right in the beginning of the post, when you say you’re almost nostalgic. The last few lines of this post, plus your post about the Star poll, though, serve as wonderful examples of the attitude and culture that leads us college students to not give a damn.

    Robert, at our college, can you imagine any student caring enough about any lecture to even go as far as passing out literature about the subject of the lecture? Look, throwing a pie at Thomas Friedman was obviously stupid, but on some level you’ve gotta admire their moxy. At our college, the only thing anybody ever might get pied over involves Greek events.

    As stupid as the pie stunt might’ve been, at least the participants show some hints of the sense of the intellectual curiosity that has been killed in almost all of us students.

    You poke fun at the interns at the Star in a post from a few days back. It’s worth pointing out that, one, the Star doesn’t have interns now; its Pulliam Fellows work there for the summer. And two, a Pulliam Fellowship is a huge deal. At your college, journalism is the second-biggest major, and the Star is the nearest major newspaper. Yet even though many people apply every year, there’s only been one Pulliam Fellow here in the last ten years or so. Point is, those “interns” you poke fun at would be the among the very best students at your college.

    At our college, if a student bothered to pass out literature opposing a lecture being given on campus, that student would be considered an oddball, a cast-off. Nobody would ever even get around to bothering with the content of their pamphlets. That student would be ridiculed, just because he or she cared a little too much for it to be socially acceptable.

    What I’m saying is, at least whoever pied Thomas Friedman cares. Generally, that’s more than can be said about the student body at our school.

    It takes a lot to put yourself out there. If you pie Thomas Friedman, then I suppose you deserve to be ridiculed in a blog post. But if you pass out literature about a subject that’s important to you, or get an internship with a major media outlet, then you’d think that of all people, a professor would understand that it’s not you, but the people who sit idly by without bothering to push themselves, or bothering to engage themselves in issues, or bothering to think, that are the problem.