Battlepanda: Don't feed the trolls: campus edition


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Don't feed the trolls: campus edition

Remember the admonition offered more often than followed in comment boards: "don't feed the trolls"? This is what I feel about those affirmative action bake sales which are apparently becoming a recurring tactic for right-wing idiots on campus. Follow Morbo's advice instead:

The Allentown Morning Call reported that 100 protestors held a march on campus and demanded that Kutztown President F. Javier Cevallos take action. Cevallos met with the protestors but pointed out that the principle of free speech means campus groups have the right to do offensive things. Reported the Call:

He asserted students' rights to freedom of speech on both sides of the issue, even if some find it offensive. Cavallos promised to have a forum on the issue next week.

Akeesha Washington, one of the students organizing the protest, insisted that more be done. "College Republicans and other conservative groups have held these bake sales all over the country and other schools have shut them down," Washington said. "We won't stop until the university takes some action on this."

It's frustrating to read stories like this. The College Republicans set a trap, and the protestors walked right into it. Now the College Republicans can scream and whine that their free-speech rights are being violated, which is what they wanted to do all along. I can guarantee you the bake sale idea came from the playbook of a national conservative group. The fact that these sales have taken place at colleges all over the country proves it.

If I could say one thing to the students at Kutztown, it would be this: I don't blame you for being offended. But there is a better way to respond. Ignore the stupid bake sale and deny the College Republicans the free publicity they seek. Better yet, hold a counter-event debunking right-wing claims about affirmative action. Use the event to expose the hypocrisy of the GOP, which seeks black votes yet tolerates these subtle forms of racism. Do something positive, proactive. In other words, stop letting the right-wing set the agenda and forcing you to react to it.

Be creative. Setting up a table a few yards away offering free cookies along with fliers about affirmative action and/or Black History Month would have been a nifty way to put the College Republicans on the defensive.

The proper response to stupid speech is not to shut it down. It's to offer better speech. Right-wing groups are great at using cheap stunts to provoke confrontations. Progressives don't always have to take the bait — even when it comes in the form of a tasty cookie.