JUST LISTEN: Know your enemy before lobbing a pie · 27 November 2006

By Chris Flook
Filed under: Press Coverage
When Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation came to speak on campus a few years ago, the opposition passed out cheeseburgers in protest. When the speaking event concluded, they met with the author to discuss their differences. No one chucked a cheeseburger in his face.

Conservative activist David Horowitz came to Ball State to speak and faced excessive protest. The litany of responses to his visit covered many issues of his politics but failed to contradict what he said with facts.

Horowitz's message is that of academic freedom in the classroom. He considers many universities as encompassing a liberal bias.

His solution calls for students to lobby their respective universities for an academic bill of rights. He alleged many ideas on the subject; however, I found one comment especially note worthy. He believed that the people receiving the worst education in this kind of environment are not the conservatives, but the liberals.

If a left-leaning bias does exist in universities, then conservatives have their beliefs tested and challenged all the time.

They understand the other side because it is taught to them in the classroom, in Horowitz's view. More importantly, conservatives learn how to defend themselves.

Liberals do not have this opportunity and never wholly learn how to stand up for their values because they do not completely comprehend their opponents.

This kind of ignorance prompted the problems during Horowitz's visit. A lack of knowledge to specifically challenge Horowitz created an intellectual vacuum that filled with hate.

Instead of debating with Horowitz on his viewpoints, those who disagreed threw pies and made a little light show in dissent.

They had no idea how to defend their ideals on as even keel as Horowitz.

Horowitz, who spent his early life as a radical leftist, understands his opponents' views.

He originally planned to debate professor George Wolfe, whom he claimed as a dangerous academic in his book "The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America." According to the organizers of the event, Wolfe declined the invitation.

I do not believe that anyone needs to refute ridiculous claims. If someone came to me and accused me of being an alien, I wouldn't bother with a response. Not only is it an absurd conviction to make, but I know I am not an alien.

So it goes with Wolfe. If Wolfe believes Horowitz's comments to be absurd and completely out of line with how he conducts his classroom, he does not have to honor it by responding.

The same goes with the student opposition. If you do not agree with silly statements, why bother protesting?

However, Horowitz was not ignored - so much so that the university made an official response.

I am suggesting that if Horowitz receives such a great deal of attention, his ideas might be worth looking into.

He raised a question that no one seems to refute with evidence, only pies.

As academics, it is imperative to study such things as partiality.

We study media prejudice all the time - that's why evidence exists showing Fox News and NPR as polar opposites.

Why can't we turn some attention to examine the classroom?

In the very least, there would be empirical evidence to refute Horowitz's claims.

Chris Flook is a second year graduate student and writes 'Just Listen' for the Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper.

Write to Chris at caflook@bsu.edu.

© Copyright 2006 Ball State Daily News postamble();