Wednesday, April 13, 2005

It's not free. It's priceless!

Today's Vermilion is a treasure trove of good stuff. If you aren't fortunate enough to have access to a copy of my university's newspaper, you can read it all online. The April 13 issue is particularly good, from its consistently excellent columns (a rarity) to its news and sports coverage (when even the track team nets an article and photo, you KNOW everyone's on the ball).

But being that I don't know how to report on positive news (I am a liberal living in Louisiana in 2005, after all), I dedicate this space to the major exception to this week's copious goodery: conservative columnist John Hinson.

Hinson leads off this week with what apparently was a challenging topic to bring up to 600 words:

Let me state up front that each week I have the responsibility to this column space to fill it with something of my choosing that is narrow enough for me to address. This space being only 600 words per issue forces me to narrow down the topic itself or address a profound issue by using examples to illustrate the point. Constraints are a necessary part of any writing project, and this one is no exception.

And indeed, Hinson is apparently so good at boiling down his topic that he can afford to spend 75 words of his precious column space on why he doesn't have enough words to do justice to his topics.

Hinson doesn't mention specifically what his point is in this column, preferring instead to jump straight into it (his biggest problem week after week). But the gist of this column is that he and a professor at our school are locked in an ongoing letter-column debate. I'd get into it here, but the particular issue is so dry that my blog would probably crack into fissures.

Hinson gets ridiculously personal, almost along the lines of any random comment thread at Zac Attack these days. The teacher in question is Rick Swanson, a pre-law professor whose class I took in Spring 2002. Swanson is a very politically astute (and progressive) instructor. He is not afraid to call things as he sees them, and thus is a popular panelist for university lectures. Probably the only reason Hinson messes with Swanson at all is because he apparently is not aware of this.

People have accused Hinson in the recent past of not being true to the conservative cause. This week he debunks that accusation by upholding one of the core GOP tenets, demanding that everyone disagreeing with him just shut up:

Your place as a professor is to educate in the classroom, not to inject your positions onto the student body and a student paper. I see no gain you can win by addressing me, unless of course you enjoy seeing your name in the paper [as if all of us don't do the same thing!]. I did note that this go around [sic] he made reference to his "status" as assistant professor in political science. Wouldn't it make sense to leave the contributions of the student paper to...I don't know, the students?

Hinson's call for professors to stop involving themselves in the student paper seems to be a new development, as he never complained when math professor Henry Heatherly praised him and said he believed in all the same things (1/21/04). Or at any other time that I can remember.

Anytime your entire column is a point-by-point rebuttal of someone's letter, you're either desperate or sad. Or both.

Two more goodies of questionable taste:

1) Someone wrote in and complained about last week's April Fool's issue, arguing that the issue should have come before April Fool's Day (possibly) and that it deceived a lot of people (probably not, but so what?):

Do you think everyone reads the entire paper all the time? What if a person had just enough time to read the first two pages? [...] Rumors get started because of inaccurate information like you have provided. [...] If you wanted people to laugh, you could have written jokes or even ways to have a better sense of humor [sic].

First off, the jokes are only on the first six pages. Second, the stories involve such things as the failure of a big-name concert on campus and the staff getting busted at a porn shoot. Come on now; when has a major recording act EVER been here? Seriously. The porn-shoot bust, though, I understand.

2) Rob Guillory's Gallows (?) comic. Rob, you're my bud and all, so I offer you this advice on a constructive level: there's such a thing as too alternative, man. I did dig your political cartoon, which was very good as always.

Thanks to all of you who made it this far! From what I hear, most people don't read past the first two pages.


donzelion said...

What is happening at today's university campuses? At Aardvaark Law School (which thinks it's rather prestigious), conservatives/Federalists took over and transformed it into a France/liberal bashing tool.

I made the mistake of thinking common sense might trump blind rage and the "shut up" instinct.

But the liberals merely sat back, watched it happen, and did nothing. Didn't even start blogging about it...

Flamingo Jones said...

I picked up a copy of my alma mater's paper the last time I was on campus. They're busted to printing drink recipes and columns about whether pineapple rings are better than pineapple chunks.

So, count your blessings, I guess.