Mar 092004
Authors: Kevin Foskin

How funny that the ‘excessively liberal’ re-defining of the word

graffiti should come from our industrious College Republicans and

their latest quixotic campus project (e.g., Operation Campus

Insanity), which strives to clean up not only our shamefully,

disfigured campus-but, apparently, free speech as well.

Indeed, yet another stellar example of low comedy presented to

us by our very own CR, moonlighting once again as a comedic troupe.

Of course comedy oftentimes can be instructive.

Aren’t we now being given the chance to watch a favored tactic

of both Republicans and Democrats at work, one thoughtfully

promoted by our ever-vigilant campus watchdog (e.g.,


Being politically successful these days requires that you

actually do something – or, rather, that you appear to be doing

something, all the while doing either absolutely nothing that

matters or something you’d just as well keep quiet about. And,

apparently, our dutiful CR’s are finally doing something about

campus vandalism.

But such a cleaning detail isn’t about keeping our campus

beautiful; it’s about targeting only that graffiti which our CR’s

declare liberal. Yes, they have taken it upon themselves to

reclassify as lawless anti-conservatism the many creative (albeit

irregular) gestures of self-expression we’re so blessed with these

days. And, surely, it grieves them so.

And here’s the rub! One proven method for neutralizing one’s

political rivals in the minds of others is to subtly defame one’s

opponent by linguistic association. Let me explain. You associate

any opinion that contests yours with a word or phrase that harbors

negative connotations (e.g., graffiti, scribble, vandalism, etc.)

and then you employ such words to discredit your enemy without ever

having to confront any actual issue-and in our case-all the while

declaring you’re only concerned with the re-beautification of our

lovely campus.

Of course, thinking in terms of instant association (e.g.,

liberalism equals vandalism) is always much easier than actually

confronting whatever issue is being raised by such unsightly and

unorthodox methods as obviously are those silly, chalked opinions

out on the plaza.

Presumably, given our CR’s efforts here, one no longer needs to

bother with confronting the actual content of a contrary position

by building a sound argument to refute it. One conveniently places

it in the same category as campus vandalism or ideologically biased

political affronts taped to one’s door, thus dismissing as shear

insanity the numerous opportunities that such gestures (allegedly

now littering our campus) might provoke.

Are not our industrious CR’s now re-defining the words offensive

and insane to mean any and all views that disagree with

theirs-simply because such views adopt a less attractive form than

their rhetoric (e.g., newspaper headlines) takes?

Obviously, one of the quiet, unexamined assumptions underwriting

Operation Campus Insanity is the conviction that CR doesn’t creep

about at night defacing our lovely campus with unsightly

politically-charged graffiti.

And, really, proclaiming Bush is a liar isn’t necessarily by

default an anti-conservative slur. In fact, it’s not even

addressing conservatism or its governing principles; rather, it’s

addressing a single individual and a specific historical

circumstance, albeit in a somewhat reductive manner. Besides, given

what we now know, the facts do indicate that Bush is indeed just


College Republicans have the right to oppose any sort of

thinking (competent or foolish) that contradicts theirs. Of course,

doing so requires they face an issue head on and that they mount an

intelligent counter argument, one that adequately deals with both

the merits and flaws of any given position. But, gosh, that demands

a substantial (and substantiated) effort, doesn’t it?

Kevin Foskin

Adjunct Professor, English

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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