Following up on some previous posts

Not really too much Stephen-centric news out there today, but I wanted to follow up on a couple of stories we blogged about in the past week.

First up: Remember the story about Karl Rove’s being tapped as Choate’s graduation speaker (and the countervailing effort to bring Stephen to campus, too)? Well, it looks like Mr. Rove won’t be addressing the graduating class at commencement, after all. I’m telling myself it was the mere thought of facing Stephen’s truthiness that scared Mr. Rove off; it makes me smile. From The Hartford Courant:

Rove Grad Speech Canceled
By ARIELLE LEVIN BECKER | The Hartford Courant
1:59 PM EST, January 28, 2008

Karl Rove won’t be speaking at Choate Rosemary Hall’s graduation after all. Instead, the former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to President George W. Bush will visit the private school’s Wallingford campus next month to speak with students.

Headmaster Edward J. Shanahan announced the change of plans in an e-mail to students and staff members Monday afternoon, quoting Rove as saying, “I would not want 12 minutes of remarks to be used as an excuse by a small group to mar what should be a wonderful day of celebration for the members of the 2008 graduating class and their families, so I am delighted to instead accept Choate’s invitation to speak on campus February 11.”

Full text of article

In other news, you may recall that we blogged about the criticism Cornell University’s labor relations expert Ron Seeber had received following his decision to appear on the inaugural episode of A The Daily Show. It seemed only fitting to include a response, from an alumnus of Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, defending Prof. Seeber’s decision. From The Cornell Daily Sun:

Picket Sense
Saturdays Excepted
January 28, 2008 – 12:00am
By Eric Finkelstein

On the night of January 7, when, I would assume, more people than usual watched The Daily Show because it was coming back from its strike-related hiatus, one of Cornell’s own, Industrial and Labor Relations Professor Ron Seeber, was Jon Stewart’s guest on the show.

Unfortunately, Seeber’s appearance created a backlash of epic proportions — opponents are angry because he crossed a picket line when he entered the studio.

I spent three-and-a-half years in the School of Industrial Labor Relations. I took classes on labor history, collective bargaining, labor law, labor economics and arbitration. I’m pro-union. I support the writers in their strike.

But I also support Professor Seeber.

I support his decision because I believe that the labor movement, like any political or social movement, needs to be understood and supported widely if it is to prosper.

The ILR School only educates around 800 students at a time. The rest of the world has to learn about these issues in order to understand them. What better place to start than America’s favorite fake-news show? A show from which, some studies have shown, a substantial — and maybe alarming — number of young people get their news.

For one night, Professor Seeber made the entire audience of The Daily Show, inside and outside of the studio, his classroom. He helped to give viewers a better idea of what was going on and why the strike was occurring in the first place.

. . .

My ILR education taught me that a strike is a negotiating tactic that is only performed when necessary for the good of the union and its workers. And yes, this strike by the Writers Guild is, in my opinion, a good strike for a good cause.

However, I was always under the impression that a strike shouldn’t be instituted in a manner where it could actually hurt the workers, or keep them from advancing their cause. I always assumed that, given the opportunity, a union should try to end a strike as quickly as possible. I always assumed that, given the opportunity, unions would want to spread their message far and wide.

. . .

The Sun’s editorial board said it best last week, so I’ll just let them say it again:

“[Seeber] went on The Daily Show . . . to present a pro-union point of view to a pro-union host with a pro-union audience. In the face of controversy, silence is more damnable than speaking out. Seeber’s appearance was in keeping with the notion that you can’t make a case for change by keeping yourself on the bench. When all’s said and done, we share Seeber’s faith in the values of openness, inquiry and the free exchange of ideas.”

. . .

Full text of article


  1. Bravo, Finkelstein. You hit the nail right on the head — and I wholeheartedly applaud Professor Seeber’s appearance on the show most especially for bringing clarity and attention to the issues of the strike.

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