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Book looks at Moore’s ’04 uproar

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OREM — The decision to invite "Fahrenheit 9/11" filmmaker Michael Moore to speak on the campus of Utah Valley State College was an attempt to raise the school's prestige.

And while student govern- ment leaders knew the decision was going to "raise eye-brows," former student body vice president Joseph Vogel was surprised by the uproar in and around campus over Moore's visit in October 2004.

Vogel, 24, promises with his new book, "Free Speech 101 — The Utah Valley Uproar Over Michael Moore," to provide an insider's view of the on-campus controversy.

The book, published by WindRiver Publishing, will be on shelves in October. However, Vogel will speak about his experience on Tuesday at the Park City Library and on Thursday at the Sunstone Symposium.

In the fall of 2004, the student government wanted to change its approach toward booking speakers to boost the school's image and help push it toward the administration's goal of becoming a university, according to the book.

Previous speakers had sometimes drawn as few as 20 students. The UVSC student government wanted well-known names to fill auditoriums.

"This was an important concept for a school that was developing rapidly and looking for more recognition and respect, especially since it was situated in the shadow of nearby Brigham Young University (BYU)," Vogel's book states in the 30 pages or so that have been made available for reviewing.

The book is 287 pages in length and includes the text from the speeches by Michael Moore and conservative radio host Sean Hannity, who was invited to campus to satisfy demands of conservatives who were demanding a balanced forum leading up to the November 2004 presidential election.

The student government selected Moore to speak at UVSC after receiving a brochure from a company that was promoting him and other public speakers.

Following the announcement that Moore was going to speak at UVSC, student body president Jim Bassi and Vogel — who describes his political leanings as independent — were inundated with phone calls and e-mails. Campus donors also threatened to withdraw financial gifts.

Vogel said many of the calls and e-mails were uncivil, including a threat that he would be "tarred, feathered and run out of the state on a rail."

The Deseret Morning News e-mailed Moore for comment on Friday. He has not responded.

Megan Laurie, a UVSC spokeswoman, said she has not read the book and could not comment.

While its been nearly two years since Moore's controversial visit to UVSC, Vogel believes the issues in the book remain relevant.

"The book is not about Michael Moore or his visit to campus," he said. "It's about issues about free speech (at colleges and) universities — which are supposed to be places for free exchange of ideas — being held to the strings by legislators and donors and things like that," he said.

"Probably about 70 percent of the audience (for the book) are going to be middle-aged liberally minded people, primarily Democrats and some Republicans," said JB Howick, president of the northern Idaho publishing company. "Our experience has been that the issue of Constitutional civil rights has tended to cross political boundaries."

Howick is hoping to sell 15,000-20,000 copies of "Free Speech 101."

"Please bear in mind that according to Publisher's Weekly, only about 500 titles a year make the 100,000 mark," he said.

Vogel stepped down from his student leadership position when he began the book. He graduated from UVSC in the spring of 2005 with a bachelor's degree in English and minor in Religious Studies.

Vogel wrote the book over the past year while working as a writing tutor at UVSC. He will begin a master's degree program at BYU in the fall.

E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com