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May 26, 2013

Overnight Open Thread (5-26-2013)

Due a long busy day and a major Jamba Juice accident that necessitated completely wiping down both front seats tonight's ONT will only be 40%-assed.

James Taranto: My Anti-Mentor

Where James Taranto of the WSJ's Best of the Web recalls how a cartoon and associated story published in the Cal State Northridge Paper, The Sundial, in 1987 led to political correctness run amok, his suspension, lies and hypocrisy, education about actual journalism, a successful lawsuit against the university, and ultimately a happy and successful career. It's too good to excerpt so read the whole thing.

The vice provost of California State University, Northridge, retires today. Ordinarily that would be unworthy of a national newspaper's notice, but Cynthia Rawitch was a formative figure in your humble columnist's professional and intellectual development.

...That's where we came in. The journalism department at Northridge had a subscription to the Bruin, and early one evening, while waiting to put the next day's Sundial to bed, we started browsing recent issues of the UCLA paper and learned of the rooster kerfuffle. What a story! Months earlier we'd read a disturbing piece in National Review about left-wing censorship on college campuses, mostly in the Ivy League. Here was a real live case right in our front yard.

We drove the half hour to UCLA and did some reporting. While there, we picked up a copy of Nommo, the black paper. We were astonished to find a viciously racist rant against "the possessive and greedy Europeans"--meaning persons of pallor--who "suffer under the mistaken belief that a man can secure himself in an insecure world best by ownership of great personal, private wealth" and whose "abstract theories and philosophy concerning government and economics has [sic] an underlying tone of selfishness, possessiveness and greediness because their character is made up of these things."

...We wrote the story up into a 1,200-word op-ed, which we ran with the cartoon and a Nommo excerpt. It filled the Sundial's opinion page. We finished on March 4, so that the article would appear the same day the Comm Board was to make its final decision on Bell's punishment.
That is, we were not looking to create a controversy at Northridge when we wrote about the one at UCLA. We did not expect one, for two reasons. First, Northridge was a sleepy, third-tier commuter school with nothing like the pressure-cooker politics of its elite neighbor. Second, our student newspaper was overseen by journalism professors, who inculcated their students with inspiring pieties about the ideal of free expression.

As to the first point, our judgment proved reliable. Beyond a few letters to the editor, the op-ed provoked no controversy on our campus--except in the journalism department. Faculty publisher Cynthia Rawitch was not in the newsroom the day the piece ran, a Thursday. But we were there when the editor, ashen-faced, took a phone call from her that was obviously a dressing down. Rawitch ordered all the editors to gather for a Monday meeting.

And then Taranto entered the world of PC hell.

Oh and here's the rather mild cartoon that kicked the whole imbroglio off:OB-XP204_botwt0_F_20130523203224

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Tonight's post brought to you by flying over Giza, 1943:


Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to Ace.

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posted by Maetenloch at 10:23 PM

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