Monday, September 21, 2009

Two years of Tom Paine's Ghost

By Kristopher Hite

I am writing today to celebrate two years passing since the seed of Tom Paine's Ghost was planted. Planted as my heart pounded reading the CNN coverage of a printed-word fiasco happening right here on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. If you want to read the origin story in its entirety I spewed it out here in almost unbearable detail the day after my involvement was over.

If you want the short version I'll lay it out here.

At exactly midnight September 21st 2007 the editorial board at the Collegian Newspaper decided to publish in large font "Taser this... FUCK BUSH" on the opinion page of their student run periodical. Instantly this set ablaze a national media firestorm. Was it a breech of decorum? Yes. Rude, asinine, immature? Yes. Justified. I think so! Now that we are all lounging in Obamaland we too easily forget how George W. Bush and his cronies really did rob the entire planet of so much and in so little time. 8 years beginning centuries of conflict and making any kind of climate remediation that much more difficult.

Even though the text was profane and literally absurd it accomplished something. Four words elicited a response both positive and negative out of an otherwise complacent student body of nearly 30,000. Colorado State University and Fort Collins, Colorado for too long had enjoyed a kind of happy delusion. Being named the top place to raise a family and the number one small city to live in the United States we were running the risk of becoming completely void of personality and submitting to the corporate developers and house farms that continue to propagate to the south. The "F... Bush" editorial fiasco was like a large turd sitting in the side walk at city park. Yes it was disgusting, but we couldn't pretend it wasn't there. We could not keep pretending everything was just dandy in our country when we had a tyrant at the helm. We needed to clean that up!

For pointing this out the Editor in Chief at the Collegian - J. David McSwane - was put in the hot seat. With a petition started by the college republicans he ran the risk of loosing his job at the hands of the "board of student communication." To combat this threat I began circulating a petition to save his job. We collected several hundred more signatures in 2 days than they had in 4.

In the end he kept his job and basically got a written slap on the wrist for his breech of professionalism. A typical bureaucratic handling of free speech/free press issues by the powers-that-be seen lately in our own congress regarding the Joe Wilson outburst.

McSwane will get upset with me for saying this but I felt obligated to lend a hand in this situation after learning how he had won a Peabody award for investigative journalism while in high school. He basically shut down all army recruiting in the entire country for a week so that recruiters could have a lesson in ethics. As my best friend was, at the time, stationed in Iraq and had been recruited before this intervention I felt connected to McSwane though I had never before met him. Through his student paper he was able to change one small part of the system. This reiterates my belief that single voices can and do change the world. In fact, they are the only instruments that can.

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