“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” — Oscar Wilde

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There is no such thing as bad publicity it is often said. Is this so? Personally, I think there is such a thing as bad publicity. Let me recount a recent incident by way of an illustration. A student at Carleton University, where I am employed, Arun Smith is his name, has generated a great deal of publicity for himself in pulling a truly stupid, petulant stunt on campus, basically an act of petty vandalism. A campus group, Carleton Students for Liberty, set up an installation in the University Centre, calling it the “Free Speech Wall” on Monday January 21st. Passersby were free to jot down their thoughts. Mr. Smith, a student politician seeking election to the Carleton University Students’ Association, took exception to the installation and destroyed it over night. He proudly confessed to doing so on his facebook page claiming free speech ““illusory concept” and that “not every opinion is valid, nor deserving of expression.” This has since been picked up by the press and blogosphere giving the previously obscure Mr. Smith considerable public attention. The bulk of this attention has been less than flattering to say the least, but this does not concern the erudite, ahem, (he has been studying as an undergraduate student seven years now), Mr. Smith. Presumably he thinks he stands to gain from his new found ignominy. He may well have increased his standing among the politically correct elements on the Carleton campus, but across the wider society both on and off the campus, judging by the comments left on the restored installation, he is seen as a fool.

Posted by Geoffrey

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