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Popcorn! or How Ashcroft and the ACS provide good reality TV show entertainment

For sheer entertainment value, Ashcroft's visit is paying off in spades droves before he even gets here. Just watching the lathered hysteria of the pre-arrival protest preparations is worth the price of admission. Speaking of such prices, it's worth looking at the Columbia Chapter of the ACS blog:

Next week, former US Attorney General John Ashcroft is speaking here at Columbia. Ashcroft — the guest of the Columbia Federalist Society, College Conservative Club, College Republicans and Young Americans Foundation — is delivering a speech entitled, "Law, Liberty and Security."

Naturally, questions at the event will be pre-screened, so send yours in to questionsforashcroft@gmail.com.

In case you can't pony up $275 for the student rate(!) to attend the event, here's an Ashcroft gem for you to enjoy[. . . .]

(emphasis added, and you can go to the ACS blog to see the clip)

Cash-strapped as I am, I immediately worried that those pernicious folks at FedSoc were going to hand me my event ticket and hit me for a $275 bill they'd not advertised. Heart aflutter with worries of impending fiscal disaster, I pulled up the general message that went to the whole student body.

The invite lists two events: the speech (no fee mentioned) and a drinks-before dinner-after reception which has rates going from the aforementioned $275 to $1,000. (It also includes front-row seats at the speech itself.) As I'd not signed up for the personal experience, I remain free to spend my money on study aids for bankruptcy rather than filing for it.*

Perhaps I'm being unfair, but take a look at the CACS blog, and then consider what you know about the invite. Don't you think it was a wee bit deceptive to mention the existence of only the speech but the price of the dinner?

UPDATE: Now how's this for an Orwellian correction! The CACS Blog has not only changed the post,** but its update seems curiously stubborn. What can one make of this?

The entry fee and/or attendee qualifications for the speech are not specified in the Federalist Society email.

Few groups hosting a free event bother to "specify" that there is no entry fee. Nor has an entry fee been mentioned on any of the several emails, the innumerable posters, or the weekly event list sent around Columbia. It seems a safe assumption that it doesn't exist: why not just say that, instead of suggesting that there's some nebulous but unknown charge?

And what is this dark muttering about attendee qualifications? I'd not be surprised to find the hosting societies favor their members in choosing who attends, but if one wants to suggest there are "qualifications" that aren't being specified, why not make that accusation instead of hinting that the FedSoc hasn't stopped beating its wife yet?

There is something about Ashcroft. Perhaps together with Rumsfeld and Bush he forms some kind of right-wing Dirae, whose mere presence maddens otherwise sober men. This treatment of another student group's guest is singular in my experience.

*My understanding is that such dinners aren't uncommon among the political set, and that such ACS darlings as Bill Clinton have been known to have the odd $500/plate rubber-chicken dinner or two. For that matter, I once paid upwards of $200 for entrance into a charity poker game with a few of my professors. The organizers of this nefarious evening were none other than Columbia's Public Interest Law Foundation.

Whatever. Perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe there are no fundraising dinners in the land of progressives and public-interest faithful, and reports to the contrary are just viscious rumors.

**It's notable that they don't follow standard blog practice of leaving the incorrect text in strike tags, either. A later reader will simply wonder what the fuss was about. Attention Will Baude!


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Whoops. I've corrected the information in the ACS post. Thanks for pointing out the mistake.
Andy, you're correct in presuming there is no "entry fee and/or attendee qualifications." Actually, on second thought, there are several attendee qualifications. Those w/pies or any hand held items will not be allowed into the event. As for pre-screened questions--considering that those who are setting up the event want these questions to actually fall within the bounds of serious academic discourse, it makes sense to screen out any crassly juvenile questions regarding sodomy, etc.
Not that anyone would ever ask such a question. . . .

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