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  • Discerning the Right (and Wrong) Targets for your Activism

    2/24/2010 2:03:19 PM Posted by Roger Custer

    Guest blog by David French

    Few things are more tasty, more wonderfully delicious, than low-hanging fruit.  It’s just right there.  In front of you.  It’s ripe . . . oh so ripe, and – here’s the great news – it’s abundant.  There’s more low-hanging fruit out there than you can pluck in a lifetime of activism.  French

    What is low-hanging fruit?  In this context, it represents organizations or institutions that have enjoyed two historical advantages: (1) largely unchecked power within their communities; and (2) immunity from media scrutiny and accountability.  This combination of power and lack of accountability inevitably leads to abuse – sometimes grotesque abuse.  Exposing that abuse can yield immediate, real-world results.

    Think for a moment about the stunning success of the now-famous ACORN sting.  Despite a string of vote fraud scandals, ACORN had enjoyed sterling media coverage and a great deal of power influence in urban communities.  This made them arrogant; this made them reckless.  They were ripe for a fall.

    ACORN isn’t the first.  Lila Rose has been exposing Planned Parenthood for years.  Planned Parenthood is the ACORN of the abortion industry: powerful, well-funded, and protected by the media.

    But you don’t have to don an outrageous outfit and wear a hidden camera to make a difference.  Your own campus is an orchard of low-hanging fruit: the home of speech codes that have never survived a court challenge; student fee policies that systematically discriminate against conservative organizations; and absurd “speech zones” that confine campus speech to places and times where it is least effective.  In fact, challenging these policies will not only create significant changes on campus, it can be an excellent training ground for a lifetime of effective activism.  At the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, we constantly challenge unconstitutional university policies.  And so far, every time we’ve challenged a university that university has made substantial policy changes.  Every time.

    However, just as there’s low-hanging fruit; there is also the fruit that’s (justifiably) out of reach.  Don’t be too ambitious.  Lefty protestors are often known for their absurd demands.  You should have reasonable, attainable objectives.  Also, don’t try to get professors fired -- not even the most outrageous, idiotic professors in the country.  You no only run the risk of violating their legitimate rights to free speech and academic freedom, you’ll make them a martyr.  The reality is that they’re much more useful exactly where they are – existing as living symbols of the university world’s moral and intellectual bankruptcy.  Advocate for better hiring standards, but don’t advocate that anyone lose their job – unless their misconduct is crystal clear and unrelated to the viewpoint of their speech.

    Pick your target carefully, make sure that they’re engaged in real misconduct, and pursue attainable objectives.  Then go out and defeat that target – in a court of law or in the court of public opinion.  And that’s the step I’ll address tomorrow.

     

    • Readers' Comments

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