He's put up two posts (Thing One and Thing Two) on l'affaire Ward Churchill, with attendant observations on the need to, er, make Bill O'Reilly uncomfortable with some audio equipment, that invite side-alley exploration.
When the recent study came out saying that more than a third of high school students think that "the First Amendment goes too far," we crossed some kind of line where the actual definition of America is on the line. These students don't understand the meaning of dissent because, really, there's very little means for disseminating dissent (beyond Left Blogsylvania). And when truly radical dissent surfaces, idiot fuckers with big microphones and little minds, like your O'Reillies, your Limbaughs, and your Coulters, do their goddamnedest to punish it and thus demonstrate that to dissent is to be punished, to lose your career if your words offend the power structure.Well, as one who has had his own brushes with the stuff, I think it's slightly disingenuous to blame student apathy on a lack of a means to disseminate dissent; back in my day we had xerox machines and telephones (and we wore an onion on our belt; it was the style at the time!)
Kids These Days have thousands of outlets to disseminate of whatever the hell they want, outlets in such multitude that the problem with them isn't their lack, it's their bewildering variety.
But what we hadn't understood yet at the time, but would quickly come to realize as our beloved punk rock turned from something that looked like it might actually accomplish something to musical wallpaper for runway fashion shows in approximately four seconds in 1978, is that expressing political dissent through the assumption of some kind of social posture, some kind of costume, is not only self-defeating -- it's exactly what The Man wants you to do.
I mean, where the hell do you go from that? Dissent, Kids These Days learn, is a consumable item, you can buy whatever kind of signifiers of dissent you like. Ward Churchill is learning what happens to those who actually dare to refuse to buy their prechewed subversion at the mall.
Actually, to judge from some of the quotes from Churchill Rudy cites, he already knew damned well what happens to Big-D Dissenters:
If you conduct your protest activities in a manner which is sanctioned by the state, the state understands that the protest will have no effect on anything. You can gauge the effectiveness—real or potential at least—of any line of activity by the degree of severity of repression visited upon it by the state."