Regarding the Continued Rightness of Pogo

In my recent review of Greg Lukianoff's new book "Unlearning Liberty," I noted that Greg's theme is not just that American university students are being censored, but that they are being taught to accept and even welcome censorship of unpopular ideas — that universities are making censorship their norm. The war is not just against administrators with the power of censorship, the war is for hearts and minds.

How goes the war? Well, consider this recent useful, fascinating, and thoroughly disheartening tool from the Student Press Law Center — an interactive map showing all the places that people have stolen or destroyed student newspapers across America since 2000, almost always out of disagreement with their contents. Sometimes people in position of authority are at fault — as in the case recently before the Ninth Circuit, in which Oregon State University trashed a conservative student paper, abruptly applying an otherwise-ignored rule against newsbins on campus. But often, as the SPLC's map shows, it is students themselves who lash out at speech they don't like by attempting to prevent anyone else from reading it.

As I said before — we have met the enemy, and he is us.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. bja009 says

    When I was news editor for my campus paper, a fraternity stole all but about 100 copies of an issue in which we covered the death of one of their members. See, they didn't think anyone needed to know that he was drunk when he drove into that tree.

    Thankfully they didn't immediately destroy the stolen copies, and with the help of the campus administration (!) and the campus cops (!!!) we recovered most of them.

    We never even contacted the SPLC – campus newspaper theft is probably much more common than their map indicates. Which is scary.

  2. C. S. P. Schofield says

    There are two comic strips from that general era – Pogo and Li'l Abner – that cultural historians, intellectuals, and so on simply FAWN over … and I Just. Don't. Get. It.

    It's just those two, and that short era. I like most of the other strips that get laudable mention when that art form is being discussed. I like Krazy Kat, with its weird desolate landscape. I think that Thimble Theatre was about ten times better than the Popeye cartoons that were based on it. I chuckle over Gasoline Alley and Toonerville Trolley.

    It's just those two.

  3. Rob says

    When I was news editor for my campus paper, a fraternity stole all but about 100 copies of an issue in which we covered the death of one of their members. See, they didn't think anyone needed to know that he was drunk when he drove into that tree.

    Something similar happened at my campus. A year or two before I started working for the student newspaper, they published a story about a student athlete who was accused of rape. His friends really didn't like that, and after accusing the writer and editors of being racist (the student in question was African American) they stole every copy they could get their hands on. Ever since then the paper has had a notice that while they are free, taking large numbers of them without consent of the editorial staff will be considered theft. I doubt that would have stopped them, but it may have made it easier to prosecute if they were caught.

  4. Rob says

    I should note that that incident, which happened somewhere around 2005 or 2006, didn't show up on that map either. So there are definitely many more incidents than are accounted for.

  5. Christoph says

    Ken, I'm surprised you haven't written a post about Tyrone Woods' father's claim that Secretary Clinton assured him that the person who produced the video would be prosecuted.

    I agreed with you that prosecution was warranted on the theory that they can't just look the other way about parole violations because he drew attention to himself. (Although only to a point. Clearly the President and Secretary of State drew a target on his back, as did Susan Rice, etc.)

    However, given what Clinton is very credibly alleged to have said, and considering that the day after she said this several officers swooped down and arrested him in the middle of the night, and he remains in jail to this day with his first hearing not even occurring until after the election … and in light of your post which persuaded me and others that his arrest was proper …

    … don't you think a new post talking about Clinton's promise to Woods' father would be in order?

    Because I find it disturbing. I can no longer hold to my original position agreeing with you about his arrest.

    It would appear to be tyranny. It would appear that he is — in fact — a political prisoner.

  6. Steve says

    I have no doubt that many of the reports of paper theft are legitimate. But unlike many of the other commentators, I suspect that such thefts are over-reported. I have seen three cases at a major state university where such theft was reported but where the more likely explanation was ignored.
    Most campus papers are picked up by a tiny percentage of the campus population. On the rare occasions when a campus newspaper contains a controversial or even widely interesting story, demand for the paper can easily go up by a factor of ten or more (and still represent a minority of the campus population). When one day you see everyone sitting in the cafeteria with a copy of the paper (and you go grab a copy for yourself to see what everyone else is so interested in), and a few days later theft is alleged on no more evidence than the emptiness of the newspaper racks, it's far more likely that the newspaper staff is simply caught off guard by a rise in readership.