habitué and hilariously overpaid political campaign manager, has taken leave of Portland for a visiting professorship at St. Olaf College in Minnesota—a job that apparently allows him the time to cruise Highway 19, uprooting John McCain campaign signs.
Sure, I understand that stealing a sign will not change anyone's mind, and, most likely, will only embolden McCain supporters' disdain for liberals. Even so, yanking out the signs and running like a scared rabbit back to my idling car was one of the single-most exhilarating and empowering political acts that I have ever done.
But, when teaching, I try not to share my political beliefs. Earlier this term, I marked down a student's grade for wearing an Obama T-shirt when he gave a presentation about talk radio's impact on the current election. I told him that the T-shirt made his presentation look biased and detracted from his otherwise sincere analysis of Rush Limbaugh.
How could I forget, Phil? You made quite an impression on me with your flagrant disregard for free speech, especially coming from journalist, one whose livelihood is wholly and totally dependent on the protections of the first amendment. I don't mean to be bitter, but this irritates me as much as anyone. Displaying a McCain / Palin sign on one's own property and wearing a shirt supporting Barack Obama are both form of free expression that harm nobody. What is harmful is this sort of childish and whimsical caprice exhibited by Mr. Busse as a representative of St. Olaf College. Grading thoughtlessly based on my t-shirt rather than the informational content of the presentation and openly admitting to trespassing and thievery are not qualities to be associated with any fine academic institution, public or private. Maybe I'll follow Phil's lead. Maybe instead of just talking, I'll take action - like sending a copy of this article to the Dean of Students.