No mere question of taste

Political pieing is meant to humiliate rather than convince

I’m appalled that Gerry Byrne would consider invoking terror law to squash one of those practitioners of the sandbox-anarchist “political pieing” fad. But the man does have a point. Pieing is a form of “political activity” meant to achieve its aim, not through reason, but by means of coercion. It is meant to humiliate rather than convince, and to warn other politicians that they too may be humiliated. In other words, it’s a deliberate, if puerile, attempt to manipulate the political process by spreading fear.

And it’s not a wholly trivial fear, either. It has never occurred to the phony radical wankers who fling pies (or to those who dismiss them as cute pranksters) that a pie tin could conceivably contain poison or acid. But eventually some more earnest kook will figure it out, with the help of many dry runs by useful idiots. And when that day comes, the joke really will be over. This is a possibility that security officials and politicians already have to train for and rehearse mentally. I do hate it when people in public life put on airs about their personal sacrifices, but no one should dismiss the perceived danger of being in such a position until they’ve spent a week reading a politician’s mail, or a judge’s, or a celebrity’s. Vicarious sangfroid comes easily to the anonymous.

A pieing is not an argument; it is, indisputably, an assault with intent to intimidate. In this sense, it is obviously correct to describe pieing as a minor species of terrorism. From the standpoint of the relevant principle—i.e., the distinction between debate and violence—hitting a legislator with a pie is no different than beating one with a sack of doorknobs. Indeed, a lot of legislators would probably choose to be confronted with a species of assault that gave them a fair chance to fight back. A pieing doesn’t; it just makes a mess.

Which is why leftist Edible Ballot-type dorks like it. It’s a “statement” that allows for no answer—a pure display of the power to assert, along the lines of a tantrum from a toddler or a drunkard. I don’t have much time for Freud, but when you see a pie-er and recall what the doctor said about the anal-expulsive character, you can’t help thinking he may have been onto something.

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