I just knew one of these stories would pop up again this year. Another self-important speaker decides to treat a commencement address like a lecture series and spews a strictly partisan and divisive political rant to satify their own personal agenda . These students have just graduated from four(ish) years of studies which included world events, have attended classes discussing the pro and con of issues such as the current Iraq situation, and have encountered guest speakers who have been invited to specifically address issues of the day, such as the war. In other words, they already have, and will continue to be, engaged in meaningful dialogue about important issues affecting their lives. Commencement speeches are either boring, entertaining, or occasionally, enlightening, but are meant to focus on the actual event, by congratulating the graduates and giving some form of wisdom or advise to carry with them for the future. And as much as it is a day to symbolize the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of the graduates, it is also a day for the families of those graduates who often made sacrifices in their own lives to allow their children to obtain this accomplishment. They too should be able to bask in the reflected glow of their family members’ achievement.
Then along come the Chris Hedges’s of the world, who feel it is beneath them to give a speech that is fitting to the occasion and, instead, decide that a political lecture is in order, and effectively ignore their audience and the purpose of the day.
Some may say that they are fine with the message, and are, convieniently, in agreement with what was said. I frankly wouldn’t care if a speaker for such an event gave a strictly political speech supporting either the right-wing view or the left. Both would be insensitive and inappropriate for the occasion.