Chomsky Came to Gainesville

by Joe Courter

After months of anticipation, and a lot of waiting for other entities to pick up the ball and run with it, the return to Gainesville of Noam Chomsky went forward at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for Performing Arts on Tuesday evening, Oct. 15. With the Civic Media Center as the presenter of the event, it meant a lot of very short notice fundraising had to take place to secure the Phillips Center and to cover the travel and other expenses to make it happen. It is with great thanks that the Civic Media Center thanks Alachua Conservation Trust, Veterans for Peace, National Women’s Liberation, Graduate Assistants United, Alachua County Labor Party, Samuel Proctor Oral History Project, Sweetwater Branch Inn, Alta Systems, Target Copy for printing the programs, and all the other individuals and groups who jumped on board at short notice for making the event happen. Expenses were covered, but any gift/donations/memberships to the CMC would be greatly appreciated to help mark the CMC’s 20th anniversary.

It was a full house of over 1,700 people, about equally divided between the campus and community, that heard Prof. Chomsky address the topic “Policy and the Media Prism.” In a wide-ranging lecture, he covered what’s reported, what’s not reported, and what’s reported in ways that distort or mislead as to the true importance of events. Drawing on history as well as headlines from the day’s papers, it was both wide ranging and continually circling back to the central theme. His closing comments were an example of this. How is it, with all the coverage of drones and drone warfare by the U.S., that the future of drone proliferation is not addressed? It was but one example of misleading, incomplete, a-historic or anti-scientific representations by the media and policy makers.

The question period, which followed the hour-long talk, was wide-ranging, covering 9/11 Building 7 speculation, historic power grabbing of Middle East energy resources, U.S. militarization in Africa, the divisive political split in U.S. politics, and the role of the Federal Reserve bank. It was classic Chomsky; droll, witty, deep, and able to flow through an amazing amount of information seamlessly.

If you missed it, or if you want to see and hear it again, as part of the CMC arrangement with the Phillips Center the event was both live streamed and is available on demand. If you go to the CMC’s website at, there is the link posted at the top of the page for the full hour and 49 minutes, in- cluding the intros by Robbie Czopek and Candy Herrera (0:00–0:10), the talk (0:10–1:10) and the Q&A (1:10–1:49).

Great thanks to the Phillips Center staff, who were great to work with and fantastically competent.

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