P.J. O’Rourke returns to UWF campus this fall
He’s not a college student, but writer and political satirist P.J. O’Rourke is returning to University of West Florida campus this fall to attend a few classes -- his own. He will serve as writer-in-residence between Sept. 6 and 10 as well as community lecturer Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in UWF Center for Fine and Performing Art Mainstage Theatre.
He’s not a college student, but writer and political satirist P.J. O’Rourke is returning to University of West Florida campus this fall to attend a few classes — his own. He will serve as writer-in-residence between Sept. 6 and 10 as well as community lecturer Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in UWF Center for Fine and Performing Art Mainstage Theatre.
O’Rourke obviously isn’t shy when it comes to discussing politics, as evidenced by the title of his newest book, “Don’t Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards,” which arrives in late September. The book even begins with a friendly apology about the vulgar verbiage to follow, and it’s a good thing, too, because one word in the three-word title of the first chapter is one never seen in the family newspaper.
The book’s title is not serious advice not to vote, he admitted this week, but it does express how everybody feels about politics today. In “Don’t Vote,” O’Rourke kicks around big government, voting and “committee brain.”
“The whole voting process is not about electing a great man, it always turns out they are not great. The important thing isn’t first vote, it’s the next vote or the vote against who you voted for the first time,” he said. “It’s like a safety valve, to protect our rights and freedoms, so we can get rid of the bastards.”
O’Rourke likens government to a juiced-up power drill which should be used with great restraint. He writes, “The American government is a huge tool, a formidable engine, mighty in its operation and nearly irresistible in its movement (never mind that it doesn’t know where it is going). The temptation is to use a tool like this when something needs fixing. Whether the tool suits the task isn’t a question we always ask ourselves, as those of us who received Home Depot gift certificates on Father’s Day can attest. Maybe we shouldn’t change the battery in our wrist watch with the electric drill. But what if it’s a cordless DeWalt with a 3/8-inch chuck and 50 different bits?”
The book’s underlying message is that Americans do not appreciate what they’ve got. “We live in a free society when most people in the world don’t, we should be careful with this tool and not over use it,” he said. “If you demand the government do everything, they are not going to do anything right.”
“Committee brain,” a term he tosses around while discussing the increased politicization in society, occurs when a person with common sense joins a committee and immediately becomes too enthusiastic, too pessimistic or too sold on one idea. “That’s what politics is, one big committee. You know what happens when you’re on a committee; you get committee brain, which turns people into idiots.”
O’Rourke said he looks forward to returning to UWF; he first visited a year ago and enjoyed working with its students – many of whom will be a first-generation college graduate, like himself. “I liked the attitude they had toward the college experience, they didn’t take it for granted, didn’t seem to regard it as a job ticket,” he said. While college offers lots of opportunities to do better in life, he said the biggest advantage it gives graduates is a broader point of view – a powerful weapon in today’s overly politicized world.
By Susie Forrester, University Communications