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October 25, 2007

Newsbusters Interview With "Indoctrinate U." Writer/Director Evan Coyne Maloney

Definitely worth a read.

NewsBusters: Have you run into any people of any ideology who say that I just don't believe these kinds of things are happening?

MALONEY: Yeah, oh yeah. And actually, your choice of words is fortuitous because there is a quote from a guy in the film from a guy who describes himself as a liberal Democrat he is now the president of the organization called FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and they actually defend people whose rights have been trampled on campus. And they are very successful and primarily their task is just to get the stories out. So they're an example of how shedding light on the problem can be effective.

Now they, the gentleman who is the president of it now his name is Greg Luganov [ph], I interviewed him for the film when he was their head litigant and I asked him that very question. And he said, I didn't really believe it was happening myself until I became the guy who got the FIRE cases.

So here's the guy who was a First Amendment specialist, who joined this organization believing there is a problem--I mean obviously he wouldn't have joined the organization if he didn't--but he really had no idea how vast the situation was until he became, as he put it, became the guy who got the FIRE cases. You basically phrased it exactly as he did in the film and I think it's an interesting coincidence because a lot of people don't believe it until they see the cases. And the cases that we hear about, that's the tip of the iceberg. We never hear about the cases where people don't fight back. We never hear about the cases where people go away quietly. I don't know what percentage of overall cases this represents, the cases that we do hear about, but either way, it means there's a lot more happening that never hit the media.

NewsBusters: You think, speaking of the media, do you think that part of the reasons that there hasn't been a lot of coverage is that the media are liberal?

MALONEY: Well, I think people's point of view definitely colors how they perceive some of these cases and I'll give you an example.

A gentleman from the New York Times wrote an article about our film and ostensibly, the article is to talk about the film and the cases in the film and the issues that we raised, he actually spent 75 percent of his article or something around there talking about one case that was not in the film. And the case that he selected seemed to be an odd choice because he chose to talk about a case up at Cornell where a student newspaper was unable to publish for an entire year, I believe because they had violated someone's sense of decorum. And if I remember it right, what this writer said in the New York Times was that this proves there is not a problem of free speech on campus because the paper was allowed to publish again after a year.

And I couldn't believe that. What if the National Security Agency had shut down the NYT for an entire year after they exposed how we were tracking terrorist financing because if that had happened, if they were shut down for a year, I certainly don't think they would be citing that as an example of they're being no problem if they were once again allowed to publish after a year. So I think that is an example of why the media doesn't see that as being a problem. Because with a guy, they don't care if his paper is shut down for a year, they just say, well as long as it's able to publish again eventually, it doesn't matter. But let's be honest with ourselves. I know that their viewpoint would be different had it been their paper that got shut down.

So yeah, I think that the media's perspective on things definitely leads to a lot less coverage of these problems; because they don't see them as being problems.

That's very similar to a claim made by Stanley Fish in reviewing the movie. Fish looked at a case documented by Maloney and concluded it was no big deal, the system worked.

The case involved a kid who had put up a flier for a black conservative speaker whose book was titled "Leaving the Plantation" or the like. He was arrested for putting up fliers, and then subject to an eighteen month campaign of investigations and harassments, mostly involving the university threatening to expel him if he did not sign a statement saying he was a racist in need of counseling. Finally this guy called a lawyer -- FIRE, in fact, if memory serves -- and took the school to federal court.

With a large judgment against them now in the offing, the university finally relented and claimed, oddly, that justice had been served and that the university had achieved its goals in the long, long persecution.

And at this point Stanley Fish says, "What's the big deal? The kid got off, didn't he?" Uh, yeah, Stanley. The kid got off. With only a year and a half of his college career spent fending off official university investigators and threats of expulsion.

Perhaps one can say it was a character-building exercise and that the university really did him a favor, while we're at it.

Any interest in seeing it? Well, it's tricky -- exhibitors will show the film in your area, but only if you sign up (naming your city) so that Maloney can take that list to theater owners to prove consumer interest for a showing. Well worth it.

I have to admit at this point that Maloney sent me the DVD at my request a while ago for a review, but I've been slow to do so. But it's damn good. Definitely worth signing up on the internet for and then paying eight-fifty to see.


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posted by Ace at 01:41 PM

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