Politician: John Silber
John Silber is a homophobic patriarch whose dorm-guest policy made it hard for thousands of Boston University students to have overnight trysts (regardless of orientation) during their hormone-charged college years. For that alone, he is hated — and that’s not accounting for his role in disbanding BU’s football team and in alienating high-profile faculty members during his years as BU president. And it’s not just on Comm Ave that Silber’s maligned. When the hard-charging Texan ran for governor of Massachusetts as an über-conservative “Democrat” in 1990, he managed to estrange women, welfare recipients, and immigrants. (He lost.) Recently, the curmudgeon branched out to bash a whole different demographic — architects — in Architecture of the Absurd: How “Genius” Disfigured a Practical Art (Quantuck Lane Press), published in November.

But Silber is a different kind of bigot: a smart one. He’s the kind of enemy we’re not used to these day — one that commands respect, if grudgingly. If you want to go up against this Kant scholar, be intellectually prepared. Silber suffers no politically correct mindless regurgitation. “I think before you protest you ought to know what you’re doing,” he told the Daily Free Press, BU’s independent student newspaper, in 2003. “I think it’s strange when somebody can be an activist on an issue on which he’s totally uninformed.” Whether he’s championing a cause you support (such as education), or spewing offensive vitriol (against gays, for example), you can be sure Silber has studied the issue, and come to what he believes is a reasoned position — and shouldn’t we demand at least that from our opponents? He makes us work harder to defend our positions, and by doing so, he forces rigorous reflection. Silber may have ruined our sex lives, but along the way, he asked a school, a city, and a state to think, hard. If only all adversaries were so inspiring.

 —Deirdre Fulton

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  | 
Related: On the national affront, Cribs, the despot edition, Homeland insecurity, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Books, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   MICHAUD FOR GOVERNOR  |  November 03, 2014
    However you’ve been following the race for Governor this election season, you’ve been hearing it from all sides, so we’ll make this one brief. We urge you to vote for Michael Michaud.
  •   ADVANCED BEAUTY LESSONS  |  November 03, 2014
    Described as a “body-positive visibility project,” Portland’s Jack Tar 207 is all about representation. Models are encouraged to bring their own clothing and personal belongings to the shoot, which owner-designer LK Weiss says brings out “a level of confidence that many people don’t feel in front of a camera.”
  •   LITERALLY LGBT  |  October 31, 2014
    A community-compiled list of important GBLTQ works through the years.  
  •   DEAR PROVIDENCE PHOENIX...  |  October 15, 2014
    Some made us chuckle, others made us choke up.
  •   BACK TO REALITY  |  September 18, 2014
    If you’re a student in southern Maine and are at all interested in arts and humanities, and have a budget of exactly $10 to spend on any one event, there’s a lot in your favor.

 See all articles by: PHOENIX STAFF