No mudslinging: Keep the political discourse clean
I've been disappointed with some of the recent political discourse on the Bowdoin campus. The College Republicans and Democrats have devoted far too much energy in a ridiculous fight over advertisement posters.
I think it began when the College Republicans literally covered the entire campus with their posters. "If you love your country, raise your hand...if you really love your country and you really wanna show it, vote for George W. Bush!" was my favorite.
The Democrats Club highlighted the liberal cause with a series of "one fine piece of ass" posters. It all seemed annoying even to the political junkie that I am, but I held my tongue. Besides, Bowdoin is often far too politically correct.
Then there was a second round of posters and things began to break down. One was an "independent" poster that compared youth supporting Bush to the Hitler Youth. Clearly this crossed a line. State Chairman of the Maine Chapter of the National College Republican Origination (or S.C.M.C.N.C.R.O.) Dan Schuberth '06 rightfully complained of a "hatred, malice, and disrespect" in how people expressed themselves on campus a letter to the editorslast issue. But formal Republican Club posters also defaced a picture of John Kerry and one alleged poster (I missed it) even compared Senator Hillary Clinton to dictator Fidel Castro.
This seems a far cry from what one Republican student leader described as "positive advertising" in the March 5 issue of the Orient. The Orient itself wrote how all of the posters showed "a careless lack of responsibility on the part of the advertisers." And this is all after the "Pub incident!"
Yes, politics is supposed to be fun. Yes, I have a very large sense of political humor and can take a political jibe for what it is. And I'm not easily offended. After studying with Professor Potholm for the last four years, I've had a blast developing a thick skin. But this type of political "discourse" is frankly out of place. It serves no function other than to offend and turn away interested students.
I've seen a lot of meaningful and effective political debate on this campus these past four years. Some of it was even quite emotional. I'll never forget when the entire campus came together on the steps of the art museum after the September 11 attacks. In the weeks that followed, there were countless student and professor teach-ins, forums and many heated debates. If this campus can come together under such emotional circumstances, discuss highly controversial issues, and still maintain respect, there is no excuse not to do so now.
There's been a lot of good this year: controversial Common Hours, a well-attended Republican Judicial Activism lecture, voter registration drives, John Baldacci and Tom Allen visits to the campus, and positive forums to discuss the events in the Pub. Events like these spark student interest, increase political involvement and fulfill all of the warm and fuzzy parts of the mission of the College. I hope we can keep the political discourse here on the campus appropriate for the last few months of the semester and maintain this sanctuary of smear-free political learning.
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