Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Better to feel good than to think well 

Back from their spring break, the campus newspaper at the Claremont Colleges has a spate of articles on the Dunn affair. A great wailing and gnashing of teeth, to be sure, and the usual "even if it's not a hoax, it's great how it brought us together" meme (hello? Reichstag?), but in the middle of it is someone who calls out the real shame of this even if it turned out Dunn really had had her car vandalized. The writer starts,
Regardless of whether she is guilty of vandalizing her own car, CMC Prof. Kerri Dunn has had a disturbing and disappointing impact on the Claremont Colleges. I write this in reference to Prof. Dunn's statements on the night of March 10 at the rally at CMC's Parents Field. In front of 3000 students and faculty members, Dunn unexpectedly took center stage and made an impromptu speech that was plagued by the very pathologies of ignorance and intolerance that the rally at Parents Field-and the other meetings and discussions held earlier in the day across the Claremont Colleges campuses-spoke out against.

Dunn told her audience: "This was a well planned out act of terrorism....I think there's a group here...that perpetuates this in all different kinds of ways." She added that this group is "not looking for open dialogue."

Unfortunately, it seems that neither was Kerri Dunn, for just a few moments later, Dunn urged the crowd to "get together, and say 'Our ideology is more popular than yours.'" Sadly, Dunn's words were met with cheers and applause.
Well, what do you expect? What she's after is a feeling, and the creation of emotion is what's vital, as the writers at No Left Turns noted a while back. I mean, only one kind of bumper sticker is allowed, and it's not this one.

The author comes to this:
The outcome of Prof. Dunn's speech on March 10th was to discredit many of the positive events that took place that day. While I didn't agree with even half of the speakers I heard that day, I respected them, at least until Prof. Dunn spoke. Other speakers were usually careful to note that freedom of speech and expression can be both wonderful and dangerous at the same time, and they must always be respected as essential to individuals' well being. Dunn's remarks swayed the crowd away from these two cornerstones of democracy. Referring to one's opponents as "those idiots" and commenting that "they can just go to hell"-which Dunn did-amounts to rabble rousing. So, too, does celebrating one group's ability to have control over another group because the former has the popular ideology.
It's all a matter of who's sensibilities are offended, as Mike Adams notes in another context.