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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It’s Just Lunch!

Something really big is coming to this blog!  But not today.  Later this week, probably.

Besides, I haven’t got time for the post I was planning today, because I’ve got to haul my sorry butt to New York tonight and I’ve got two or three bizarrely important things to do this afternoon before I hop in the car and drive frantically to Morristown, NJ in the hopes of catching the last train to New York so that I don’t have to drive all the way to Brooklyn.  Remember, my one and only NYC appearance in support of What’s Liberal? is tomorrow night at The Tank, at 7:30 with Bill Scher and Eric Boehlert!  And after the panel is over, I’ll be happy to hang out and have a few I’ll be heading back up to Penn Station to catch a New Jersey Transit train that might get me back out to Morristown by 11:45 so that I can pick up the car and drive another three and a half hours to State College so that I can teach my Thursday morning class.  What I won’t do for publicity these days!  And to meet Bill Scher and Eric Boehlert and everyone, too.

So if you’re in the metro area and have nothing to do tomorrow evening, stop by and say hello.

In the meantime, I suppose I should post something on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s version of My Lunch with Horowitz. Look!  It’s free!  The Chronicle took it out from behind the subscription wall! But that’s not to say that they got everything exactly right.

For one thing, about that caricature:  I was not drinking grape juice with my eyes closed the whole time.  Nor do I have crinkly withered ears.  Otherwise it’s pretty accurate.

For another thing, the transcript makes it look as if I was interrupting poor He. Who. at every turn.  And sometimes, dear readers, I did interrupt him.  It had to be done, I tell you!  There’s only so much nonsense that a man should be allowed to spew at any one time, and when someone tries to blame tuition increases on Cornel West’s speaking fees, that person needs to be interrupted and given a double minor for unsportsmanlike bullshit.  But the funny thing is that if you listen to the Chronicle‘s audio excerpt from the interview [UPDATE:  that’s free too!], you’ll find that Horowitz jumps in every time I pause for breath, without fail.  I can barely finish a clause, let alone a sentence.  And it’s not like I talk slowly or anything.

For a third thing, although the Chronicle very helpfully provided footnotes for some of my more telegraphic allusions, like my hailing the imminent election of President Hillary Clinton as a glorious triumph for The Shadow Party, they failed to note that when Horowitz said, “I spoke at Bowling Green, where professors came with the revolutionary communist party,” and I said, “Who is the revolutionary communist party now?”, I was of course referring to Life of Brian, scene seven:

LORETTA:  The People’s Front of Judea. Splitters.

REG: We’re the People’s Front of Judea!

LORETTA:  Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.

REG:  People’s Front!

FRANCIS:  Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?

REG:  He’s over there.

P.F.J.:  Splitter!

For a fourth thing, Chronicle reporter Tom Bartlett writes:

Mr. Bérubé is a bit of a fidgeter. He places his chin on his hands, pinches at his eyebrows, leans back then lurches forward suddenly, crosses and uncrosses his legs, fiddles with the sugar packets.

I think this requires an apology.  First of all, I did not do all these things at the same time—placing my chin on my hands, pinching my eyebrows, and playing with the sugar packets.  That would require three or four hands right there.  Rather, I did all these things over the course of ninety minutes.  Second, the term “fidgeter” is demeaning and dehumanizing to those of us who are often mocked as mere “fidgets.” We prefer “Dexterous-Americans.”

Bartlett also sneaks an editorial aside into a footnote:

Mr. Horowitz is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity’s Fox television show. Mr. Hannity is the author of Deliver Us From Evil, which seems to equate terrorism and liberalism. Mr. Bérubé expressed his desire to appear on the show, but, as is often the case with the Penn State professor, it was not entirely clear that he was serious.

Not entirely clear that I was serious? Good lord, when in my life have I ever been facetious or ironic?  Look, let’s get this much straight right now: I would be happy to appear on Sean Hannity’s show.  Why, this Thursday (after I get back to State College to teach my class) I’m scheduled for an hour-long interview on Dennis Prager’s radio show!  2 to 3 pm, Eastern!  (Don’t worry—I’ll have my right hand on a Koran for divine protection the entire time!) Please.  Does anyone seriously think I would turn down an actual guest spot on National Tele-Vision, where I have never been (very possibly because TV Land is, for reasons that escape me, infinitely more welcoming to David Horowitz than to me)?  Just tell me what I have to do to get myself and my damn book on TV, folks.  As long as it doesn’t involve eating bugs.

Besides, I would so love the chance to sing the auto-da-fé song to Sean Hannity.

Last but not least, one word about an exchange that wound up on the cutting-room floor.  As Horowitz was nattering on about women’s studies and feminism and indoctrination, I got kind of impatient.  So I noted that back in 2000, a year before I came to Penn State, the campus got into all kinds of trouble with the local wingnuts because the students had themselves a “Sex Faire” which included, among other things, a (shudder) Tent of Consent.  Indeed, in some quarters around here, they still haven’t gotten over the damn Tent of Consent.  “You would think,” I said, with some heat, “that people were doin’ it like mammals in there from the way these wingnuts talk.  But what the hell was the issue with the Tent of Consent?  What’s really going on with exhibits like that?  It’s about goddamn date rape, for Chrissake.  It’s a wild ‘n’ wacky way of addressing something that’s really quite serious on practically every damn campus in the country, and every wingnut who goes after things like that ought to be ashamed of himself.  Tell me, David, that you have a problem with programs that try to educate people about date rape.”

“OK, calm down, Michael,” David said. 

“No, really,” I replied.  “I am sick and tired of this shit.”

“Very well,” he said, “I can be your ally on this.  I have nothing against date-rape education programs.”

“Great,” I shot back.  “We can have a Tent of Consent.”

So, then.  To those of you who want to accuse me of getting into bed with Horowitz, all I have to say is, you don’t know the half of it.

Posted by Michael on 12/05 at 12:30 PM
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