Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I will steal from PIRG.

Participating in the undergraduates' ASUA election at the University of Arizona leaves one with a dirty feeling, even though doctoral students are eligible to vote in that tawdry Miss Congeniality pageant. This time around, I did so, for self-defense.

As reported on the Desert Lamp, the Arizona PIRG, a strange combination of Naderite think-tank and multilevel marketing scheme, is attempting to secure for itself compelled contributions from the University of Arizona's students. If tying a compulsory contributions to any organization to one's completion of one's degree at a university, or to attendance at a public (tax-subsidized) university does not strike you as clearly wrong, you are probably a defective of some sort.

But the issue isn't being framed that way, and many of the ill-prepared students the University of Arizona is required to admit aren't yet to the level of critical thinking where they'd ask that question. This may very well pass due to naive or stupid sorts saying to themselves "Clean air? Global Warming? Count me in!", even more so because PIRG apparently was allowed to write the ballot line itself!

If the measure passes, a few responses are in order:
  1. Even the most whiggish Republicans in the legislature see the University as a place where the left-wing, feeling entitled to it due to its obvious moral and intellectual superiority, feeds itself the taxpayers' and studentry's money. Hence their disdain for the organization, usually manifested in passive-aggressive fashion. Seeing PIRG get $2 for every student at an institution set up and subsidized for the pubic benefit will only aggravate this further. And I'll call them to let them know about it.
  2. I will defend my dissertation sometime between December and May; I have one to two semesters left at the U. I will steal at least $2 worth of something from PIRG. By "Steal" I mean "Take back what's rightfully mine."
  3. The U.S. Supreme Court has indicated that this sort of fee is unlawful, in Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819 (1995), and again in Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth, 529 U.S. 217 (2000), as it is not allocated in a viewpoint-neutral fashion. I will be immediately on the phone with Alessandra up at the ACLU, and if they cannot provide representation, I will turn to Foundation for Individual Rights in Education who can then refer me to counsel. Do not think that I will not find co-plaintiffs or pro bono representation. According to FIRE, given Southworth, the case is just about a sure win.

That simple. Want to compel me to financially support a political point of view in order to finish my doctorate? Want to compel others to support it to attend a university they have subsidized through their taxes? War's on.

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