Moore Or Less…

This morning the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that, responding to a complaint about Michael Moore,

the Federal Election Commission is investigating whether colleges violated a ban on corporate donations to political campaigns by allowing the controversial and partisan filmmaker to appear on their campuses during this fall’s presidential-election campaign and by paying him a speaker’s fee.

Normally, and probably here as well, I would reflexively support the point made by Pamela Bernard, vice president and general counsel at the University of Florida:

The FEC is very justifiable in ensuring that universities and others are not promoting, endorsing, or supporting a particular candidate for an election. But there is a difference between supporting a particular viewpoint and exposing members of the university community to that viewpoint. I don’t think Michael Moore was an inappropriate speaker.

But is there always such a clear distinction between “supporting a particular viewpoint and exposing members” of an academic community to it? What if Moore were a paid (say by the DNC) instead of just a partisan hack? Would that have made a difference? I don’t know. Or to take another example, whenever public bodies expose citizens/students to religion it is usually regarded as supporting.

Perhaps relevant, at least on come campuses, is this vignette from the pseudonomenous (?) article I discussed here:

I sat through 50 minutes of my first faculty meeting on the campus with nary a mention of politics…. Then, in the final few minutes of the meeting, a senior faculty member arose to make an announcement: A faculty panel would discuss the impact of September 11 on the United States, with the dean of the college offering summary remarks.

There was no hint of a leftward lean — until, that is, the senior faculty member added, “And just in case the students don’t get our message on how to vote in November, we have arranged for a showing of Fahrenheit 9/11 directly after the panel.”

Some commenters on my previous post thought the article was too good to be true, i.e., a fraud on the model of Sokal on post-modern science or, even better, a David Lodge satire. I will try to have more to say about this.

Say What?