Magic: Dave Barry Turns Philosopher into Idiot

In the tradition-encrusted Coughlin Hall of Marquette University, on the door of room 132F, graduate student Stuart Ditsler had posted the following quote:

As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.
That sentiment was a bit too hot for the department chair, James B. South, who marched over from his office (room 132) and ripped it down.

The author of the quote that shocked the philosopher into censorious action: that dangerous radical, Dave Barry.

In explanation, Chairman South sent an e-mail missive to the inhabitants of room 132F:

I had several complaints today about a quotation that was on the door of CH 132F. I've taken the quotation down. While I am a strong supporter of academic freedom, I'm afraid that hallways and office doors are not 'free-speech zones.' If material is patently offensive and has no obvious academic import or university sanction, I have little choice but to take note.
The story, from which the above quotes are taken, is from a "Viewpoint" column in the Marquette Tribune, written by John McAdams, a political science professor at Marquette. Professor McAdams also has a blog, bless him, and more can be read on the story here and here. Other relevant points alleged by Professor McAdams (and, as near as I can tell, undisputed by anyone):
  • Political cartoons (anti-Bush, anti-"values voter") had been posted on office doors without Chairman South ripping them down.

  • The "office doors are not free-speech zones" was a policy invented for this occasion by Chairman South. Nobody had heard of it before, and nobody's found an official version.

  • Chairman South has declined to answer questions on the matter.

Chaiman South's personal web page is here. You can find out a whole bunch of neat stuff about him; his top five favorite Terry Pratchett novels, for example. And apparently a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What he leaves out: he's a buffoon, prone to wielding power in petty and arbitrary fashion when encountering humorously overstated political opinions.

Last Modified 2006-10-19 7:36 AM EDT