It apparently started with Timothy Leary (you remember him, don't you, dude?), who said: "Think for yourself and question authority."
Then people made buttons: "QUESTION AUTHORITY!" Then they made bumper stickers, t-shirts, signs, and who-knows-what-else. I learned from this site that the great statement, "QUESTION AUTHORITY," is a "liberal idea." No! Far out! Waaaaaaay cool! But is it a "liberal idea" to add to the original private revelation of Timothy Leary and say, "Question Authority Before They Question You"? And would it be accurate to say this is a "liberal idea" uttered by someone with a "liberal education" — as in liberal with the partying and light on the English classes?
A recent article in the student paper at Bowling Green is titled, "Students should question authority." Who brings us these glad tidings and words of joy? A liberal teacher!
After 30 years of teaching BGSU students constitutional law, Professor Steven Ludd said, “we’re in trouble." Today’s generation of students don’t question authority, he said. Ludd highlighted individual liberties and responsibilities, and focused on how the writers of the U.S. constitution sought to “balance two competing ideas: liberty and order and justice.”
A child of the sixties, Ludd said it wasn’t hard to become active in a decade where a president was assassinated and an undeclared war claimed the lives of over 50,000 Americans. Today there are several issues that once again question what the balance of liberties and order and justice should be, such as the Patriot Act, the War on Terrorism and the debate over abortion.
“To question authority is a patriotic act,” Ludd said.
Quick, I want a bumper sticker: "TO QUESTION AUTHORITY IS A PATRIOTIC ACT." Yessir! And keeping your kid from attemding Bowling Green is probably a sound financial decision.
It's a motto for all sorts of people, of course, not just ex-hippies slinging slogans at nineteen-year-old students. For example, there are theologians in the Catholic Church who essentially say: "QUESTION AUTHORITY!" Some of them even take jobs as "consultants" on movies that mock and attack the Church and her beliefs, then say: "According to the terms of my contract,
I'm not at liberty to discuss my role as a consultant to 'The Da Vinci
Code' film, other than to confirm that I am, in fact, a consultant and
that I have been in touch with [director] Ron Howard and others
involved in the production of the film." Why not just say: "QUESTION AUTHORITY (unless it's Ron Howard or Dan Brown)"?
Which brings me, at last, to my single, solitary question: By what authority do you tell me to question authority?
No, really, I'm serious, Professor Ludd (say, isn't a professor an authority of some sort? Then I question everything you teach. Everything!). I see your bumper sticker and your t-shirt and your ponytail and your worn out copy of Siddhartha and the tattoo of a peace symbol on your arm. So who are you to tell me to question authority? I'm waiting...hello?...hey, where you going? Don't you have another slogan or something for me to meditate on? Maybe a Buddhist prayer cloth to hang over my garage door? Okay, fine. Peace, my brother. Keep on with the deep questions; it's good stuff. It really is...