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May 21, 2003

CHRIS HEDGES UPDATE: Here's a story on his response, which seems rather far from the "why do they hate us?" that he's been urging on the United States.

The story also notes that he was paid $5000 for his 18-minute diatribe. That's roughly $278 / minute. You can listen to the audio yourself and see if you think it was worth it.

Was it uncivilized and improper of the students to shout him down? Yeah. But it was uncivilized and improper of him to subject a captive audience to such bile. He's lucky they didn't throw rotten fruit.

But one thing's clear -- thanks to Hedges, the spirit of Abbie Hoffman lives on:

George Kehoe, a 66-year-old father from rural Boone County does not view his reaction as closed-minded. He approached the front of the stage in protest.

He was disturbed, too. Veterans who sacrificed their health were in attendance, Kehoe said.

Kehoe spent more than an hour reading Hedgesí book at a store on Monday night. He didnít walk out with a purchase.

It's not quite "steal this book," but it's close.

UPDATE: Williams College reader Julianne Shelby emails:

It was rude and uncivilized for the students to shout down Hedges? You must be joking.

I listened to that 18 minute, stale, anti-intellectual heap of contradictory crap. If part of *my* tuition had gone to pay for that smarmy SOB to irrationally rant about the country I love at *my* commencement, without a word about the fact that I was, erm, graduating, I would have considered it a duty to drown him out with insults. The nerve of that man.

As I said, the times, they are a'changin'.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Brian Miller emails:

I have to disagree with your statement that it was uncivilized and improper for the students to shout him down. We're not talking about a typical situation where a speaker is scheduled to talk about a topic of his/her choosing to an audience that has chosen to attend specifically to hear the ideas being discussed. Rather the situation is almost the reverse... the speaker in this case was invited to attend and speak at an occasion that held special meaning to the audience. To me at least, that is an important distinction.

When people attend an open forum specifically for the purpose of trying to shout down a speaker with whom they disagree, a case might be made for that being uncivilized and/or improper. But in this instance, we have a speaker who appears to have gone out of his way to indulge in baiting his audience on their, not his, special occasion. The notion that people should simply keep their mouths shut and permit others to taint an occasion that holds special significance for them shows just how deeply PCism has rooted itself in our society.

I'm getting a lot of mail like this, especially from students.