Monday, May 24, 2004

'Tis the season for intemperate graduation speakers 

Seems to happen every year. Last year it was Chris Hedges and Rockford. This year it's E. L. Doctorow who's told to pipe down by booing students and other attendees after giving a full-throated lambasting of the President. The president of the university told the crowd that they "value open discussion and debate" and that they should let Doctorow finish. All fine and good, but what is the purpose of inviting a graduation speaker? To give them a free speech zone to pontificate as they wish, or to give a speech that honors and motivates the graduates? (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

UPDATE (5/25): Peggy Noonan:
I want to explain to Ed Doctorow why he was booed. It was not, as he no doubt creamily recounted in a storytelling session over drinks that night in Sag Harbor, that those barbarians in Long Island's lesser ZIP codes don't want to hear the truth. It is not that they oppose free speech. It is not that the poor boobs of Long Island have an unaccountable affection for George W. Bush.

It is that they have class.

I am a conservative. I have spoken at three college commencements. Each time I spoke I talked about the students, and the life ahead of them, and the nature of their achievement. I spoke to them about them. I didn't tell them Jimmy Carter is a retard or Bill Clinton is a pig. It would have been wrong to do that. It would have been boorish. It would have deserved boos.

I'm glad that's what Eddy Doctorow got this Sunday from what appear to be his intellectual and moral superiors on Long Island. Go Hofstra.