The National Association of Scholars shares the township of Princeton, New Jersey with several other noteworthy institutions. The Princeton Cemetery, for example, holds the remains of President Grover Cleveland and First Lady Frances. Marksman and vice president Aaron Burr lies there too. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” theologian Jonathan Edwards awaits the next Great Awakening. John von Neumann has computed his last, and Kurt Gödel can be certain of something. George Gallup can no longer find a margin of error. The cemetery also bears the remains of John O’Hara, idly boasting in his self-composed epithet that, “Better than anyone else, he told the truth about his time.”
But Princeton is also known for more contemporary events. Last year, for example, part of the sequel to Transformers, the movie about alien robots who disguise themselves as cars, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, was filmed here. Megatron made a mess.
Oh, and there is a university. I had almost forgotten this until someone drew my attention to an article linked with a YouTube video in the The Daily Princetonian. The article concerns a lively demonstration yesterday put on by students who were alarmed at the prospect that the public at large might conflate the views of Professor Robert George with those of the whole of Princeton University. The Daily Princetonian headline on this is a bit misleading: “Students satirize NOM’s ‘Gathering Storm’ ad campaign.” It is true. They did. But mostly they vilified Professor Robert George, who is chairman of the board of directors of the Princeton-based National Organization of Marriage (NOM).
NOM has run a television ad, A Gathering Storm, which expresses opposition to gay marriage. The rather small-scale protest organized by a couple of undergraduate students featured about twenty or so students with umbrellas dancing to the tune of gay anthem, “It’s Raining Men.” Most of the protestors were wearing paper Robbie George masks.
The video also presents Princeton University president Shirley Tilghman, in sunglasses on Nassau Street, offering an impromptu defense of Professor George’s academic freedom and making it clear that her investigation has shown that there is no relationship between the University and NOM.
Several of the protestors claimed that they were concerned that the public at large might confuse Professor George’s views or those of NOM with the official stance of Princeton University. Senior Chris Simpson explained, “Because [George] is a Princeton professor, we are worried that his actions and the things he supports speak ill of all of us.” Event organizer, sophomore Emily Rutherford affirmed that, “We don’t want to cut off [Professor George’s] freedom of speech. He has the right and NOM has the right to be here. They have the right to say what they want to say but we want to indicate they are not the only view [sic] of Princeton.”
This seems like a good occasion to make clear that, despite anything you have heard to the contrary, Megatron speaks for the evil Decepticons, and not for the National Association of Scholars. Megatron has the right to be here; at least we can’t stop him. We are unsure of his relationship with Princeton University, though there is evidence of a financial arrangement between the University and Paramount Pictures. Make of that what you will.