Kristol Pieing, Dialogue Redux

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One of my blog entries that is most often commented upon is The Pieing of William Kristol, about the incident in March where Earlham Student Josh Medlin hit conservative commentator Kristol with some sort of pie. As the paper reported yesterday, Medlin pled guilty and will be required to perform community service and pay court costs. Fellow blogger and local attorney E. Thomas Kemp defended Medlin in the case, and it's good to see that it's mostly resolved in the eyes of the judicial process. I don't know Medlin personally, but the incident as a whole would seem to put him in a unique position to reflect on or even talk about some interesting issues related to dialogue and debate, direct and indirect activism, the nature of unintended consequences, and related topics - perhaps his community service could be an opportunity to make use of that.

Speaking of dialogue, I also wanted to follow up on my post about the quality of public dialogue in Richmond with a note that the Palladium-Item has announced it will be expanding its online message boards to allow readers to sound off about "Palladium-Item stories, community events, and prep and pro sports." Currently they only have a forum for parents that they've been promoting heavily in their pullout circular about parenting. This *could* be a good thing in the sense that it might enlarge the feedback loop related to their news and editorial publications, but it could also further fragment or distill the effectiveness of such online forums already in the region. My personal prediction: from what I know about the nature of their readers who bother to editorialize, without significant moderation and oversight it will likely become a drowning pool of significant depth and peril.

This change comes as a part of their overall site redesign launched yesterday, which I will note (in my already cynical tone reserved for such things) seems to have been less about better journalism and more about creating additional space for paid advertisements and linkages to content that isn't produced locally. Nobody asked me, but I would have hoped that they would have at least had a RSS / content syndication feed for the site by now, and would have made it standards compliant.

But I digress significantly.

3 thoughts on “Kristol Pieing, Dialogue Redux

  1. Chris,

    Am I right in thinking that the PI gets its web design from Gannett central, and the template they get to use depends on their market size? If so, the redesign is probably tied to the recent remake of the Indianapolis Star's site (although they have RSS feed).

  2. Thomas: I do believe that the PI site is controlled largely by Gannett's web services offering as a whole, though I have seen them offer features that seemed specific enough to their activities that I understand there to be at least some level of local customization possible. All speculation, of course, and so I suppose my comments should be about the general trend of online news sites allowing more and more infiltration of advertising while not always paying attention to the possibilities that the medium offers in the first place.

    Liz Schwartz asks in a comment on my original blog entry about the pieing, "do you think this deserved a 60-day prison sentence for the student? that's what he got (tho he is doing community service instead)."

    Liz, I can't speculate about what is and isn't a fair punishment since I don't have firsthand knowledge of all the tangible and intangible damages caused by Medlin's actions. I suspect that any sentence rendered under our justice system would not fully address all of the issues - cultural, political, and legal - that this case brings up. In that sense, only those who feel they were harmed by Medlin's actions can say whether or not the sentence is truly deserved.

  3. As you know, we had both Bill Kristol and David Horowitz (struck with a pie at Butler University a couple days later) on our program immediately following the pie throwing incident.

    Why is it Liberals always cry "freedom of speech" until a Conservative speaks.....then they want to shut them up?

    All the poor little boy got was a slap on the wrist!

    It's about time someone was used as an example...we need to send a very clear message that these types of attacks from Marxist/Leninists will not be tolerated in country !!!

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