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No Left Turns

Kristol at Earlham College

Bill Kristol spoke at Earlham College. "Neoconservative journalist and commentator William Kristol was about 30 minutes into his speech on international affairs when a slender young man crossed the stage of Goddard Auditorium and slung the ersatz pastry into his face.

Kristol appeared momentarily stunned, then wiped the brown and white goo from his eyes with a paper towel, stepped back to the podium and said, ’Let me just finish this point.’"

Discussions - 27 Comments

Kristol got a comparatively civil taste of "shock and awe". I’m sure the pie stains will come out of his clothes easier than blood would.

Yet another example of praising incivility. Keep ’em coming so we win the next election too! Yea!

We truly live in a cultural where rudeness is rewarded.

R Carson:

So any assault that doesn’t actually cause its victim to bleed is "comparatively civil"? (I love the "comparatively," BTW.) That’s quite a notion coming from somebody who appears to want to speak for the "peace" movement. To hear you tell it, I guess Kristol ought to feel grateful he wasn’t shot for being "an enemy of the people" or a "running dog of Rumsfeld" or whatever.

Typical conservative and Republican response to shocking behavior. Kristol should have gotten something out of this. These things should never be ignored.

According to the linked news story, "Earlham’s director of media relations, Kevin Burke, said the young man was recognized, and this morning the school said he has been suspended."

Suspended? If a student commits assault, why isn’t he simply expelled? He obviously has no business being at a liberal-arts college (though he may be in training to teach at some place like Colorado or Columbia).

Perhaps you fellows might have looked the other way with this prank if the student had later justified his behavior with some equivalent of this (substitute "throw/throwing" for "fight/brawling" and "throw pies at" for "shoot"):

"Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot . . . It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you. I like brawling." - Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis; Feb., 2005

Or would we still have read:
"Yet another example of praising incivility."

"We truly live in a cultural [sic] where rudeness is rewarded."

"Kristol should have gotten something out of this." What would you suggest, Mr. Frisk? A Purple Heart?

Maybe in your realm, where a pie in the face is a reprehensible "assault," (Kassel) but the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib is compared to fraternity pranks, I guess he SHOULD get some civilian equivalent of a Purple Heart.

Okay then, return fire with strained rationalizing and sophistry!

R Carson,

There is nothing "civil" about attempting to usurp another’s right to free speech. If you haven’t taken time to think about it, let me tell you that such actions are meant to silence opposing views rather than engage in open debate. Anyone who engages in such behavior, or endorses it, has already conceded the argument, and has fallen back on intimidation to advance that which they could not in the "civil" marketplace of ideas.

Finally, somebody with brains on this blog. Bravo, Craig Scanlon! IMHO, pies are more fun than shooting people but I may be liberally biased.

Gen. Mattis was talking about battling armed terrorists who respect no rules and glory in slaughter. We had abuses (not fraternity pranks) at Abu Ghraib and tied ourselves in knots over them (and with some reason); they had torture rooms in Fallujah and there’s no evidence of any consternation whatsoever on their side over those--indeed the rooms the Marines found in Fallujah appeared to have been set aside specifically for the purpose.

The punk at Earlham went after an unarmed man who was giving a talk. To lump Gen. Mattis in with this collegiate coward is itself a disgrace.

Eh, why bother with fools like this Scanlon or his ilk? All such ’protestors’ and the people who defend wussy actions like throwing pies at public speakers are cowards who hide behind the sacrifices of men like Mattis. They are spoiled brats, not fit for the company of true citizens.

Craig Scanlon,

Another tactic people use when they’ve run out of ideas is to attempt to change the course of an argument by making unrelated and inappropriate comparisons in the form of accusations -just as you’ve done here.


You are no doubt biased, but the liberals I know do not condone this kind of behavior either, so I would suggest that what makes you think throwing pies at conservative speakers is fun, is not your liberal ideology, but your immaturity.

Why are you all arguing over an obviously immature person who neither a liberal or conservative would want to associate with in the first place???

Andrew: it would appear that a few of these people on this particular blog would actually like to associate with this pie-slewing man. (Refer back to comments one, maybe five, eight, and nine.)

Thanks - you guys have exceeded my expectations!

A few responses:

Mr. Stone - I can’t speak for the others, but I’m really NOT interested in associating with the Earlham student. Obviously his behavior was rude and uncivilized, and was not an intelligent response to Kristol’s ideas - duh. Also, pie-throwing won’t help any liberal or lefty causes, big or small - duh. A silly disclaimer: I don’t endorse or condone malicious pie-throwing.

Swede - What exactly WAS the "course of [the] argument" for this post? Schramm posted the link & excerpt, someone raised your collective hackles in the first response, and then we got some one-liners about how said response was "praising incivility" and indicative of a culture where "rudeness is rewarded." There appeared to be no clear "course of [the] argument." It was the standard back-and-forth sniping, nothing more.

I jumped into the fray because I found it humorous that everyone was writing about the thrown pie in such sinister terms - he hit "an unarmed man"! and such - yet (some) of the same bloggers and commenters were
-or still are- nonchalant to defensive when it came to the comments of Gen. Mattis, which really seem to "glory in slaughter" pretty plainly. Let alone the nonchalant to defensive postures taken in response to abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Yes, Swede, "usurp(ing) another’s right to free speech" with a pie is behavior calling for some punishment. What would fit the crme, I wonder? Whatever, I’m sure the student will be punished. But is Bill Kristol tying himself into knots (to use PJC’s highly questionable characterization of the conservative reaction - Rumsfeld remains, architect Gonzalez promoted to AG) over the rights of the untried, unconvicted prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo or elsewhere? Or the soldier shooting the unarmed Iraqi on video? I think not. Any public concern shown for the pretty paltry demonstration that, say, even HALF of those imprisoned are connected in any way with terrorism? The "usurping of rights" concern should be kept a bit more in perspective.

More often than not the bloggers and commenters here at NO LEFT TURNS praise - heck, they almost deify - Bush and his administration. And the tsk-tsking at the culture of "rudeness" and "incivility" is par for the course here, too. But let’s not forget that the Bush-Cheney duo made "major league a-hole" a household phrase, and Cheney contributed the eloquent debating phrase "Go f___ yourself" to the lexicon of political discourse.

Finally, let’s not forget that, despite the horrific assault committed against Kristol, "He finished his speech, took questions from the audience, then spent 30 minutes talking with a clump of students, faculty and others who gathered at the at the edge of the stage after the speech." Some students (who didn’t throw the pie) apologized, expressed shame, etc. All this at one of those LIBERAL arts colleges notorious for locking out conservative views.

Mr. Scanlon:

I don’t deify Bush, and in fact I’m mad at Kristol for calling for Rumsfeld’s ouster a couple of months back. Nonetheless, the pie-throwing violates the rules we live by in THIS country. On the other hand, I am really sick of hearing about Abu Ghraib and all the other faux "issues" the Leftist media has thrown into public discourse in the attempt to delegitimate the war in Iraq. Your attempt is no’s not honest criticism at all, but sniping to defeat the war effort. Please get this straight...the Iraqi insurgents have not signed the Geneva Convention, they have no rights, and what happened in Abu Ghraib was MINOR. Gee, you’d think we’d beheaded somebody given all the fuss!

As far as comparing Kristol’s hypothetical reaction to the pie-throwing vs. all these "abuses" by our military, why is it the Leftists put terrorists and murders on the same moral footing as our own citizens? Well, Mr. Scanlon, got an answer for that? Why is it that American actions have to be pure, while everyone else’s (really, EVERYONE else’s) is forgiven regardless of the level of brutality or moral bankruptcy?

Dain - Based on your first comment to this post, I’m surprised that you have bothered to address a "fool" like myself. The insurgents may not have signed the Geneva Conventions, but the U.S. did. Your logic justifying why they have no rights points to a downward spiral of behavior leading to the lowest common denominator. If our own citizens are involved in torturing and killing untried prisoners (even if sensational beheadings aren’t part of that package), why should we continue to pretend that they exist on a higher moral plane to which you allude? And the "Leftst" media complaint (Do the news corporations know of all the anti-capitalists in their midst?!!??) has just become a convenient method for conservative people to dismiss any news that might make them question their own viewpoints.

You’ve called me a fool. When you directly insult someone you should consider yourself lucky when they bother to respond to anything you have to say after that. I’m done here.

You’re done? Is that a promise?

War is war, and morality always takes a backseat to winning. In every war we’ve ever fought we’ve treated some prisoner in a barbarous way (and of course our enemies have done the same).
As a civilizing power (which we are), the goal is to hold such behavior to a minimum (which I believe we have done...Abu Ghraib and other incidents were under investigation long before the media started paying attention to it). And FYI, it takes at least two signatories to make a treaty meaningful -- following rules when your adversary doesn’t means YOU LOSE. And if you don’t realize that, you are a fool.

Dain, I think you are falling into a trap by going off onto diversions. Mr. Scanlon claims he believes in free speech, so that’s good. Not all leftists do, and when we find one who does, we should be deeply grateful.

Mr. Scanlon speculates how people would have reacted had the facts been different, but doesn’t provide any evidence to back it up. I guess the point is how do we dare complain about Bill Kristol being attacked for speaking, ,when the guy is a conservative. and had it coming to him because some things happened in Iraq or some things were said about Iraq that some people deplore. The point is apparently that until everything that conservatives do works out ideally, and everything they say is acceptable to liberals, no conservative should complain about a "prank" such as having a pie thrown in his face. That seems to me to be the core of the argument.

Perhaps Sandy Burglar could explain Mr. Scanlon’s "argument" for us: "You see, the terrorist beheaders and the US Marines who defend against them are really morally equivalent, just as there’s no real difference between absentmindedly discarding a document and painstakingly cutting it into strips with a pair of scissors."

"Strained rationalizing and sophistry," indeed. In both cases--Sandy’s and Scanlon’s, I mean--we see the moral idiocy and shamelessness of the contemporary left on full parade, big as day and bold as brass. It’s the living legacy of the 1968 generation, of the San Francisco Democrats (they always blame America first), and of BJ Clinton. Let us keep all this in mind--and recall our fellow voters to it at every opportunity--as we move forward toward the ’06 and ’08 elections.

As opposed to the PJCs and Dains, who take the position that Republican governments can do no wrong, and anything at all ordered by the Defense Dept. and/or carried out by the U.S. military is automatically beyond reproach - the U.S. can never be to blame for anything at all.

"BJ" Clinton - oh, that’s clever! Either you copped it from Limbaugh, Coulter or O’Reilly, or you spent a few hours (days?) coming up with it yourself...

I believe we should hold ourselves to the highest possible standards of conduct in time of war, and I think, by-in-large, we do. To do that we have to be critical and questioning. But moral equivalence carried too far is tantamount to suicide. At some point the practitioner will not be able to justify self-defense in any contingency. Or even be able to define it. When that happens all that remains is to offer your throat to the enemy.

On the contrary, M.E.S., I noted that we as a country have shown serious concern over the undoubted abuses that went on at Abu Ghraib and have systematically acted to investigate and correct these. Time for you to go stuff another straw man, I guess. Scanlon’s caricature of Gen. Mattis as a vicious brute is belied by the reporting of no less a journalist than Robert Kaplan, who spent time in and around Fallujah with Mattis and his Marine division during the April ’04 fighting, and reported that both the general and the Marines whom he led placed a strong and systematic emphasis on sparing noncombatants from harm.

While the whole thing is not available online to nonsubscribers, you can find Kaplan’s article at

PS: Bill Clinton’s middle name is Jefferson.

Some of the comments of our friends from the left on this thread are typical of their approach: If you can’t refute the message try to silence the messenger.
I guess that’s why they rip Bush-Cheney signs out of the hands of little girls, steal newspapers, enact speech codes, forge documents, steal documents from the National Archives, etc., etc.

...and his first name is William. Don’t be obtuse; you were attempting a pun, just as you were with Sandy "Burglar." Your assignment for today - come up with funny names for the participants in Watergate.

Well, at least Kristol got invited to speak by a college where his views are in the minority. David Corn, on the other hand, had the carpet pulled out from under him (a speaking engagement cancelled) by Arkansas State Univ. Mountain Home. Because some administrators there didn’t like some ADS that were on his site!! There’s one that David Horowitz won’t be publicizing or frothing at the mouth about at FrontPage.

I think David Corn is a conspiratorial-minded nutcase, but I agree, it is wrong to "disinvite" someone based on their politics alone.

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