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“Z-poppers and genocide” 40th anniversary

Photo of Dr. Conspiracy“Z-poppers and genocide” is the title I gave a letter I wrote to my university student newspaper around 1972. It’s probably my first opinion piece and a preview of opinion writing I would do on bulletin boards, Internet news groups and finally on my own web sites and blogs – culminating here at Obama Conspiracy Theories.  I don’t have a copy of that letter now, but the subject was the misrepresentation of the views of the Zero Population Growth group (derisively called “z-poppers” by opponents).  “No, Zero Population Growth doesn’t advocate ‘zero population.’”

The other student letter I wrote as an undergraduate was titled “The Calley Rally,”  an observation on how people on different sides of the Vietnam War controversy rallied around Lt. William Calley (who was eventually convicted of murder in the killing of Vietnamese civilians) in support or opposition to the War. For some Calley was a symbol of all that is wrong with war and for others he was a symbol of what one sometimes has to do to win a war. While I wasn’t ready to condone what Calley did, I acknowledged that war does things to people.

Those two letters showed my interest at debunking misrepresentations, my interest in looking at both sides of issues, and my fascination with how people’s perception of events is colored by their personal biases.

The Vietnam War was a major division in American Society in the 1970’s. While I was trying to understand those who disagreed with me, Jerome Corsi was asking whether we should shut them up. 1972 was also the year Corsi wrote his PhD thesis in Political Science at Harvard, titled: PRIOR RESTRAINT, PRIOR PUNISHMENT, AND POLITICAL DISSENT: A MORAL AND LEGAL EVALUATION.

While I wouldn’t want to suggest that Jerome Corsi couldn’t have changed in 40 years (I certainly have!), I still find it interesting that he was questioning things like academic freedom back then when it went against public policy. One bit that caught my eye was a quote (deliciously ironic from today’s perspective) of Professor Meiklejohn who Corsi cites, I think,  approvingly (Corsi cites 4 works by Meilkejohn, more than any other author) on page 108 of his thesis:

The radio as it now operates among us is not free nor is it entitled to the protection of the First Amendment. It is not engaged in the task of enlarging and enriching human communication. It is engaged in making money. And the First Amendment does not intend to guarantee men freedom to say what some private interest pays them to say for its own advantage. It intends only to make men free to say what, as citizens, they think, what they believed, about the general welfare.

…The radio, as we have it now, is not cultivating those qualities of taste, of reasoned judgment, of integrity of loyalty, of mutual understanding upon which the enterprise of self-government depends. On the contrary, it is a mighty force for breaking them down. It corrupts both our morals and our intelligence.

Alexander Meiklejohn, Free Speech and Its Relation to Self-Government (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948). Ellipsis in Corsi’s paper.

And yes, several irony meters were harmed in the writing of this article.

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7 Responses to “Z-poppers and genocide” 40th anniversary

  1. avatar
    JPotter February 13, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    This is the first I’ve heard/thought about Corsi’s PhD in a long time. I haven’t read it, but all commentary I have seen suggested there was a fairly straight line from his doctoral thesis and his later writings. As if instead of changing over the years, he has instead metastasized. Started right of the mainstream, and staying there.

    Doc, would you say his thesis is rational, reasonable … or does it hint at a penchant for questionable assertions as he has since become famous for?

    ___________

    FLASH! Corsi has another new one! How does he repackage his columns so quickly?!?

    Saul Alinsky:The Evil Genius Behind Obama

    Once again, Kindle only. Seems the WND publishing budget still hasn’t recovered!

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    I haven’t read it all (around 250 pages) yet. I bought a microfilm copy from Harvard back in 2004, but only now have the hardware to read it conveniently. I’m not going to try to characterized the thesis without having read the entire work and frankly I don’t have much background in reading academic political science literature with which to compare it.

    In 2008, Harvard Magazine called Corsi (based on his thesis) a “nuanced writer,” then added:

    Somehow, in the years since, Corsi has segued from political science to a different kind of political art, and has found different purposes for his prolific writings—and a much different tone for them. As author of Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, he led the 2004 attempt to destroy the character and reputation of the Democratic presidential candidate. His current bestseller, the slyly titled The Obama Nation, aiming at Barack Obama, J.D. ’91, the 2008 Democratic nominee, furthers Corsi’s reputation of aiming for the jugular with an axe.

    JPotter: This is the first I’ve heard/thought about Corsi’s PhD in a long time. I haven’t read it, but all commentary I have seen suggested there was a fairly straight line from his doctoral thesis and his later writings. As if instead of changing over the years, he has instead metastasized. Started right of the mainstream, and staying there

  3. avatar
    JPotter February 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I’m not going to try to characterized the thesis without having read the entire work

    Thanks, Doc, look forward to any updates you may have time for. Always interesting to know more about where people came from, how their ideas developed.

  4. avatar
    misha February 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: His current bestseller, the slyly titled The Obama Nation, aiming at Barack Obama, J.D. ’91, the 2008 Democratic nominee, furthers Corsi’s reputation of aiming for the jugular with an axe.

    Corsi, Roy Cohn, Breitbart: The common thread is that they all made careers out of destroying the careers of others.

  5. avatar
    JPotter February 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    misha: The common thread is that they all made careers out of destroying the careers of others.

    Attempting to destroy, misha, attempting. Their actual accomplishments are more along the lines of peeing in the public pool, so to speak.

    At least McCarthy was Irish. I think.

  6. avatar
    misha February 14, 2012 at 2:32 am #

    misha: The common thread is that they all made careers out of destroying the careers of others.

    JPotter: Attempting to destroy, misha, attempting. Their actual accomplishments are more along the lines of peeing in the public pool, so to speak. At least McCarthy was Irish. I think.

    Andrew Breitbart – Shirley Sherrod – Mission accomplished
    McCarthy’s lieutenant was Roy Cohn. They did more than attempt:

    From Andy Rooney: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=110&dat=19860915&id=SZtQAAAAIBAJ&sjid=01UDAAAAIBAJ&pg=2214,1090215

    Roy Cohn made a career out of destroying the careers of others. Breitbart is carrying on that fine tradition.

    LBJ – “Joe McCarthy’s just a loudmouthed drunk. Hell, he’s the sorriest senator up here. Can’t tie his goddamn shoes. But he’s riding high now, he’s got people scared to death some Communist will strangle ’em in their sleep, and anybody who takes him on before the fevers cool – well, you don’t get in a pissin’ contest with a polecat.”

  7. avatar
    John Potter February 14, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    misha: From Andy Rooney:

    Misha, well, I and my optimism* stand corrected. Thanks for the link to the Rooney piece, he was the best! Hadn’t read that in a looooong time.

    * I never believe people are capable of being so flawed. See my blurb on Stupefying Ignorance in the Open Thread for more of my precious underestimations. Hope springs eternal … for some stupid reason 🙁