Oh, Soupy Sales! (A Last Word on Pies)
Pompous? Overbearing? Smug?
You are? Well, a pie in your face will quickly bring you down to a human level—and will tell the rest of us a great deal about you. If you smile and lick meringue off your finger, you’re one of us—one of the people (and probably don’t deserve the adjectives above). If you don’t, why then, you get what you deserve.
Reaction to a pie-ing separates the good from the bad and the ugly.
And that, I’ve decided, is what keeps pie-ings from being as dumb as I thought they were, just weeks ago.
That, and the fact (which I did not want to face) that they are funny.
Admit it: you laugh, too, when you see a picture of someone with pie on their kisser.
Of course, all of us deserve a pie-ing now and again. John Sebastian, in his Lovin’ Spoonful song “Daydream,” even sees a pie in his own face as a wake-up, an event brining him back to a world of work and responsibility. And, yes, in that respect, life itself throws pies at us quite frequently.
If all we get is pies, however, we are lucky.
Because, as Marc Maron of Air America Radio’s Morning Sedition yells:
“It’s a pie!”
It’s not a rock, nor a bomb, not even a false fire alarm. It’s not meant to shut anyone up.
“It’s a pie!”
As anyone who remembers Soup Sales’ TV shows in the 1950s can tell you, a pie in the face is not an act of violence. Nor is it a sign of intolerance.
It’s supposed to be funny. Though, today, it’s often humor with a political slant.
Though not everyone sees it that way.
In the May 2, edition of his commentary “The Point” for Sinclair Boradcasting, Mark Hyman called pie-ings “physical assaults” and claimed they result when “one side of the ideological divide loses the war of ideas and resorts to violence to try to maintain its monopoly.” Later, he speaks without the gobbledegook, maintaining that pie-ings are an “attempt to silence someone they just don’t like.”
Come on, Mark, lighten up!
Pie-ings have never silenced anyone. Nor have they been used in any attempt to do so.
Now, as BooMan of the blog BooMan Tribune pointed out to me, there’s a difference between throwing a pie and throwing just about anything else—even a shoe, for example (as happened to Richard Perle in February, 2005). There are even pies that don’t count: they have to be soft and edible. The pies thrown at the Dutch political activist Pim Fortuyn a week before he was assassinated contained urine. There’s no humor there, just anger, inappropriately expressed.
The “victim” of a “legitimate” pie-ing has a choice: smile and go on with what they were doing or frown and rant—or even attack the pie-er. It’s a measure of character. Fortuyn, because of the inedible (and disgusting) nature of the filling, was denied that choice. He had to stop what he was doing and, at the very least, wash himself off before he could do anything else. Humor was missing; that one was an attempt to shut someone up.
So in that case, perhaps, even more than in the one of the shoe thrower, perhaps there’s a grain of truth in Hyman’s comment (though just a grain). But for “real” pie-ings?
“It’s a pie!”
It’s a measure of the person how they react to a pie-ing. “Brother Jed” Smock was pie-ed at the University of Iowa in the early 1980s, while I was a student there. In the middle of an impromptu sermon. Smock kept preaching, turning the incident to his advantage. Just so, Pat Buchanan, who was doused with salad dressing earlier this year, told his audience to “Take it easy.” He did not react with anger, saying instead, “Listen, I want to thank you all for coming, but I’m gonna have to get my hair washed…. I don’t even like ranch dressing.” Later, he refused to press charges. Also William Kristol, who proved himself through a pie-ing at Earlham College in Indiana in March, 2005. He simply wiped off the pie and continued—to applause—saying “Just let me finish this point.” He went on to complete his talk and even to take questions.
Although I oppose almost any idea that might come from the mouth of Smock, of Buchanan, or of Kristol, their reactions improved my opinions of them as people. They rose to the challenge.
For that’s what pie-ing really is, a challenge. The pie-er is saying to the pie-ee, “I suspect that you are a small individual, unable to take a joke or an insult with equanimity. By pie-ing you, I expect to bring out the worst in you—and it’s up to you to prove me wrong.”
That is not violence; it is not censorship.
Pie-ing is no “act of terrorism” as Ann Coulter claims.
Coulter, not surprisingly, was not one of those to react to a pie-ing with dignity. As she recounts it, “a couple of alleged males attempted to sucker punch a 100-pound woman and missed. And they ended up with their faces smashed.”
During the October, 2004 incident, Coulter, who was merely splattered with pie, taunted, “From that far away they can’t even hit me?” The pie-ers, who call themselves “Al Pieda,” defended their action as one “in the spirit of humor and political satire.”
“It’s a pie!”
Like Coulter, David Horowitz relied on others to attack his pie-ers when he was hit in April, 2005. Also like Coulter, he reacted with belligerence:
Horowitz’s supporters followed the assailants out of the hall, and confronted them with what a witness called “pushing and shoving.” However, the attackers got away.
“There’s a wave of violence on college campuses, committed by what I’d call fascists opposing conservatives,” Horowitz said. “It’s one step from that to injury.”
In a fundraising letter published by his frontpagemagazine.com, Horowitz asserted that he had been “physically assaulted” and that he would “not be intimidated by student thugs or radical professors,” tying his current bete noir into the incident. He went on to claim that the “assault was one in an increasing string of violence against conservative speakers.”
Oh, come on:
It’s a pie!”
Coulter, not surprisingly, blames the Arizona authorities who did not prosecute her “attackers” for the spate of pie-ings since:
In interviews with NewsMax.com, Buchanan, who characteristically declined to press felony charges against his assailant, took the attack on him philosophically, seeing copy-cat behavior in the series of attacks; Coulter barely suppressed her anger over Arizona’s failure to prosecute her attackers, which she says egged other thugs on; and Horowitz saw in the assaults an organized effort by the left to squelch criticism with violence.
Come on, people, follow Buchanan’s example (and Smock’s, and Kristol’s): the pie-ers are not thugs! They may be misguided, but they have done nothing more than attack your dignity and cost you a bit in dry-cleaning.
Their actions are not signs of an increasingly-violent left, as you, Coulter and Horowitz, would like to make people believe. The pie-ers have nothing in common even with the eco-terrorists who scrupulously avoid violence against people, concentrating on things. They have absolutely nothing in common with the Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, with Tim McVeigh, or with “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski, the most notorious domestic terrorists of the last quarter century (none of them leftists—quite the contrary).
They are out to make people like you look stupid, not to shut them up. And they have succeeded in two of the recent cases, yours, Coulter and Horowitz. So bound are you in trying to make political hay of the incidents that you can’t see the simple truth:
“It’s a pie!”