May 22, 2006

"At those times when you are absolutely sure you're right, go find someone who disagrees."

Said Condoleezza Rice to the graduating students at Boston College. Cue the Bush-hatin' jibes.

How much protesting was there?
About 50 students stood with their backs toward the stage as Rice was introduced to give her commencement speech, but they were quickly drowned out by a standing ovation.

A half-dozen signs that said "Not in my name" were held in the air by students, who sat down by the time Rice started to speak. One banner that said "BC honors lies and torture" was held on the side of the stadium, away from where the students were sitting.

Other students cheered Rice, and an Internet broadcast of the ceremony included a shot of a student, talking on his cell phone, with an "I Like Condi" button pinned to his graduation cap.

I wonder if the coverage of McCain's New School appearance convinced people to be a little more civil.

50 comments:

Sean said...

B.C. is probably a lot less liberal than New School. (Also it ranks a bit higher academically, I fancy, but I don't want to be snarky.)

PatCA said...

Or maybe it convinced the silent majority to be more vocal.

Palladian said...

More back-turning. As I mentioned in the first McCain speech topic here, President Bush spoke (briefly) at my graduation ceremony at Yale in 2001, several months before 9/11, and there was a lot of back-turning and a little jeering. The funny thing is that, because of the layout of Old Campus where he spoke, most of the parents/non-student audience was too far away to see him so a giant screen was provided for that part of the crowd. So if you were a student and turned your back, you were facing a much more legible, much larger close-up of Bush's face projected on the screen. I've often thought of that situation when I think about people who get particularly exercised about Bush; They turn away from him only to see a giant Bush-head floating in the air behind them, his amplified voice ringing in their ears. Out damn spot!

Yale's perhaps fairly interesting in that it does not usually have commencement speakers for the main ceremony. The only exceptions to that have been Presidents, like JFK, Clinton and GHW Bush. Everyone disperses from the main ceremony to their individual college/school ceremonies and a those there may be a speaker, more individually tailored to the interests of the particular school.

Dave said...

The more I hear about all these protest monkeys protesting those with whom they disagree, the happier I am with my decision to forgo my graduation ceremony in favor of traveling down the Rio Grande in a canoe.

Much more interesting to have seen the ATF try to find illegals in the desert than to have sat in DC and listened to some guy pontificate on the Ellipse.

altoids1306 said...

It's the central limit theorem! There's a strong normalizing force in numbers - and since BC is a pretty large school, it's hard for the extremes to hijack a large public event. Most people are decent and (shock) apolitical, and aren't about to let crazies ruin their graduation.

As for McCain, serves him right - give a graduation speech, not a campaign one. Have some perspective and realize that life doesn't revolve around politics and getting elected.

XWL said...

Partly this idiocy at graduations might be a consequence of these students having been through half a dozen or more in their lives.

People 'graduate' from pre-school, and early elementary, and grade school, and middle school, and high school, all with pomp and circumstance.

By the time they get to an undergrad degree, they can't possibly value this empty exercise anymore.

(here's a defense of the capping and gowning of students throughout their schooling)

Jennifer said...

Good point, XWL. My three year old is "graduating" from this year of preschool with a full ceremony catered by us parents. Very important to mark this milestone of moving from one year of preschool to the next. Sheez.

Pogo said...

I remember when I had my altoids removed, back when I was 10. That was less painful than slogging through the arrogance above.

Jennifer said...

I love how people throw in the "long story short" at the end of a ridiculously long story. Does that somehow make it short?

Dawn said...

Re: Long post above -

It burns! It burns!

Dawn said...

Jennifer - love your blog!

Craig Ranapia said...

Jacques:

In future please post pertinent links with a brief quote to give us the flavour - despite what you think, I don't melt into ash at the sight of an opinion I don't agree with. But it does annoy me having to slog through an extremely long comment with all the point of a blunt pencil. Oh, and do you think it's really polite to come on a blog and basically say the blogger is a moron who can't think for herself? Not only rude but stupid.

Jennifer:
WTF? I though it was a law of nature that if you can get a three year-old to sit still for two minutes they're asleep - or they've set fire to the house and are hoping you won't notice the smoke. :) I predict tears, tantrums and more squirming than a bucket of worms...

Bissage said...

"There is nothing wrong with holding an opinion and holding it passionately," Rice said, "but at those times when you are absolutely sure you're right, go find someone who disagrees."

On its face, this sounds like pretty crappy advice. Isn't the charge of higher education to inculcate the salutary habits of circumspection and deliberation?

Perhaps she meant to say it's a good thing to keep an open mind concerning matters of opinion.

Jacques Cuze said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jennifer said...

bunker: Thanks!

Craig: Yes! Looking forward to it.

PatCA said...

I think Condi's advice is apt. There should be more debate and less "expression" on politics on campus, and everywhere. Maybe campuses should emulate the debates at Oxford.

Elizabeth said...

Pat, you are right, I think. Rather than stepping away from political discourse, and being afraid of it, as too many colleges now do, they should provide structure and formality.

J said...

"That is excellent advice, sigh, she should be giving it El Presidente, who is famous for being the bubble boy"

Oh no...that would be the Moops.

Elizabeth said...

Did anyone notice that a Democrat who gave an anti-war speech at a commencement at Univ. of Missouri at St. Louis was booed the whole time, and escorted out by police? A quick google of "commencement speaker booed" brings up that and two other anti-war speakers (E.L. Doctorow and a reporter, Chris Hedges) booed for similar speeches at commencements in the past few years. Those entries filled the first page of the search. Booing commencement speakers doesn't come with a liberal copyright. If it's rude, it's rude for all. If it's understandable due to the inappropriateness of the speech, then that's true for any political viewpoint. I'm just a little weary of the fantasy that conservatives have anything to teach liberals about propriety. Human beings exhibit a wide range of behaviors, bad and good. They aren't determined by what we checked off on our voter registration cards.

Ann Althouse said...

Regular commenters: I know you mean well, but you've got to stop engaging with X over his nicknames and so forth. He makes the threads about him. This is the last time I'm going to explain this, because it's forcing me to do the same. Expect to see even clever comments deleted.

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elizabeth said...

Mary, then teeth would be lost, I fear.

P. Froward said...

Richard Feynman said a lot of good things; this is one of the best: "We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress."

I don't think you do that by fooling around with narcissistic theatrics like turning your back on a speaker you disagree with. But people have different goals, right? Feynman wanted to find things out. These theatrical narcissists want to star in a little melodrama about themselves, for reasons probably too depressing to contemplate.

It's intellectual vogueing. Strike a pose, kids! You know you can do it!

It's, like, totally fatuous and stuff to be all, like, "you've failed to engage in a reasoned dialog" when they actually set out to do something else entirely, and did it rather well. Just because you think it's stupid, so what? They think you're stupid.

Jennifer said...

Elizabeth: Your absolutely right that no one has a corner on the bad behavior market.

That said, I think you tend to see this type of reaction from those who are young more often than not. And young people tend to skew left. Perhaps that accounts for the imbalance.

Sean said...

Also, Elizabeth, I think careful reading will show that conservative speakers are frequently protested without regard to the content of their speech (as happened to McCain and to Pres. Bush when he spoke at Yale), whereas liberal speakers are booed because of what they are actually saying.

SippicanCottage said...

Ann- How exactly are we supposed to divine this? Which comments do we ignore, exactly? You leave half his comments up on your page. It's human nature to respond to other humans in a forum. It would be useful to the other commenters if you decided if he's welcome here or he's not.

The phone book's getting awful tiresome.

Elizabeth said...

Sean, why, of course. Conservatives boo liberals only after careful consideration of their ideas and liberals just hate conservatives for being there. I'm sure careful reading will support that. Why it's just obvious!

Squiggler said...

Earlier today I saw a TV report on the BC/Condi Rice speech and reaction. In that report, the back turners were few compared to the number cheering with a standing O, The other part of the report said that those who turned their back consisted mostly of professors/instructors more than students. Monkey see, monkey do, I guess.

David said...

I had an altoid removed once by an enthusiastic lady who was expressing her appreciation for my clean fresh breath.

Do you suppose she got an adenoid and tonsils too?

I want my money back!

Squiggler said...

My own opinion -- rude, boorish, insulting and selfish behavior designed to disrupt a ceremony of celebration and appreciation should not be tolerated. The motives for the behavior are irrelevant. It doesn't matter whether you agree or disagree with the why of the matter, the behavior is selfish in the extreme.

Bissage said...

P. Froward: Thank you for your comment. (If it's my place to say so.) It's what I would have said had I more courage and grace.

Ann: I truly appreciate what you're doing and maybe I have some sense of how difficult it all is. But SippicanCottage is on to something. I mean, I have no reason to think X is any more or less welcome than myself. Frankly, I see him as an insider and me as an outsider.

This is all a grand experiment, isn't it?

I mean, there are times when I suspect that X is your alter ego. Or at least an adoptive alter ego.

I'm not trying to make a point, here. I'm just reporting facts.

Sorry for the excess of earnestness.

Ann Althouse said...

Sippican: Stick to the substance and ignore the individual in this case. And really, email me if you want details. I don't want this subject in the comments anymore.

Jacques Cuze said...

At those times when you are absolutely sure you're right, go find someone who disagrees.

That is excellent advice, sigh, she should be giving it El Presidente, who is famous for being the bubble boy.

So many of his cabinet members, Powell, Whitman, O'Neill, DiIulio all have so much to say on how disengaged George is.

Surrounding himself by yes man, and refusing to learn more, or speak to those that disagree with him. Firing these people in fact.

It is no wonder that we have been led into one disaster after another by the Boy Wonder.

It is deeply troubling that a presidential candidate and former dean of Stanford can continue to associate herself with a political hack that spits on common sense, spits on dialogue, and spits on science, all in the name of cronyism and political maneuvering.

I am hopeful the American People will demonstrate in 06 and 08 what the implications are of ignoring and suppressing dissent is.

Dawn said...

In any event, generally people who behave such as these grads do manage to get their arms out of their sockets from patting themselves on the back so much (That'll show 'em!).

I coudn't even tell you who the speaker was at my commencement (both of them).

paulfrommpls said...

Elizabeth -

It's late, I know, but I noticed your mentioning the Chris Hedges commencement speech that was booed several years ago. General point: not all booing of commencement speakers is created equal. it isn't automatically a bad thing to do. Some speakers bring it on themselves.

I read that specific speech; it was deliberately provocative, which would have been fine had it not been the height of smug, condescending bullshit. I would have been eagerly booing myself, absolutely no doubt. I wouldn't have been able to help myself.

paulfrommpls said...

By the way, you ever see a picture of Chris Hedges? He should have played Wormtongue.

Elizabeth said...

Wormtongue! Then by all means, we should boo ugly leftist speakers.

SippicanCottage said...

In my experience, when underlings said I wasn't listening, what they really meant was I wasn't listening to them, thus proving my foolishness ipso facto.

It's the ultimate complaint of the whiner. "That's not how I would have done it" is the refuge of the person that has no idea how to proceed, but has very definite ideas on how you did --after it's safely over.

Ricardo said...

"This is the last time I'm going to explain this ...."

While I completely acknowledge your right (as the property-owner) to do what you want, there is something going on here that really disturbs me. I'm going to have to take awhile to think about what it is that really bothers me, but "the dynamics" relate to the following excerpts (from Wikipedia):

"Shunning is the act of deliberately avoiding association with, and habitually keeping away from an individual or group. It is a sanction against association commonly associated with religious groups following excommunication or dismembership. In some cases, the shunned person or group is considered as anathema, abominable, or spiritually diseased by the shunning group."

"A distinct practice sometimes confused with shunning involves the severing of ties between new members and those of their friends and family who disapprove of the faith. The Church of Scientology coined the word disconnection to refer to that practice."

"Shunning aims to exclude, punish, and shame a member who commits acts seen as wrong by the group, who questions what the member sees as wrongs the group commits, or who flees the group. Usually, shunning is done after formal excommunication or disfellowship and not before. Shunning is often intended to teach obedience and squelch disobedience or nonconformance by the shunned and to punish defiance from the shunned. Shunning can also be used to condemn and shame such members, to compel them back into conforming membership."

"Some, especially researchers of mind control, brainwashing and menticide groups, identify the practice with "cult-like" or totalitarian behaviour."

"Shunning contains aspects of what is known as relational aggression in the psychological literature. Extreme shunning often causes traumas to the shunned similar to what is studied in the psychology of torture."

Henry said...

How about an IP ban? For more effective shunning.

Ann Althouse said...

Ricardo: Shunning is obviously not effective in this context. Don't feed the troll. His goal is to make the thread about him. You are helping him. Stop.

Henry: I don't have a method of doing that. I can only delete comments.

paulfrommpls said...

Elizabegh -

He's not ugly; in fact neither was Wormtongue, inherently. it's all about attitude.

paulfrommpls said...

Anyway I think the neutral point is this: is it always, always improper to boo a speech? No. Obviously. And the fact that a speech is a commencement speech doesn’t give it any special dispensation, I don’t think.

What’s suspect is to automatically and en masse reject a speaker regardless of what the speech itself says. It may be alright if the speaker is in fact in the same league with Goebbels or Richard Speck or whoever; but in the current context, these left-based rejections are simply tantrum-throwing. I don’t find Senator McCain morally repugnant; far from it. These people do; therefore they find me that way is all I can conclude. Are they right?

I take comfort on the fact that (in spite of current polls) a solid majority of Americans agree with me on McCain's lack of moral repugnance; and also in the fact – I’m very confident of this – that I know way, way more about the issues enraging them than they do.

Elizabeth said...

paul, handsome or ugly, he's old news. Are you disturbed that the Representative in Missouri, who spoke against the war in his commencement speech, had to be escorted out by police for his own safety?

paulfrommpls said...

I don't know the details of the Missouri speech.

paulfrommpls said...

Checked into it. Sounds similar to the Hedges situation; I can't say specifically whether I personally would have found his comments as sanctimonious, dishonest and/or ignorant.

But it does share the attribute that differentiates it from the McCain situation: it was a spontaneus reaction by individuals as opposed to pre-speech (or unrelated-to-the-speech) "shunning."

Elizabeth said...

The spinning continues. When liberals boo conservatives, it's evidence of something wrong with the liberals. When conservatives boo liberals, it's evidence of something wrong with the liberals.

Ricardo said...

That was not the point, but it doesn't matter. I will certainly "stop".

Craig Ranapia said...

Elizabeth;

Really? Well, I've seen plenty of comments here and on the thread about the treatment handed out to McCain saying that a boor is a boor, and a (left)wing-nut is every bit as obnoxious as a (right)wing-nut. I just pity these poor college students and faculty members when they hit the outside world where functional adults regularly have to deal with disagreeable people and speech and ideas and circumstances without being a hysterical drama queen.

Elizabeth said...

Craig, let's not insult perfectly nice drama queens!

I have seen some evenhanded comments, too, but the Heads I win, Tails You Lose argument is too well-represented.