Sign-stealing prof resigns

  • Updated: November 4, 2008 - 5:33 PM

He got into trouble when he wrote about stealing McCain/Palin campaign signs from yards in Northfield.

A visiting St. Olaf instructor who wrote an online essay about stealing John McCain lawn signs -- "like a ninja under the cover of cloudy Minnesota night" -- has resigned, the Northfield college announced.

Philip Busse, a journalist and political activist from Portland, Ore. who taught a media studies course, also will be charged with misdemeanor theft. He could face up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to the Rice County Sheriff's Office.

After learning of Busse's essay, "Confessions of a Lawn Sign Stealer," St. Olaf denounced his actions, saying they "were in direct conflict with the college's values and mission."

On Monday, it issued a statement that "Mr. Busse has tendered his resignation and is no longer affiliated with St. Olaf College."

In Busse's essay, published on the political Huffington Post website last week, Busse used data, news articles and first-hand accounts to explore the impact of political lawn-sign theft, as well as its legal and ethical implications. He wrote:

"Sure, I understand that stealing a sign will not change anyone's mind, and, most likely, will only embolden McCain supporters' disdain for liberals. Even so, yanking out the signs and running like a scared rabbit back to my idling car was one of the single most exhilarating and empowering political acts that I have ever done."

Later, he writes: "Mature? No. Illegal? Yes. Satisfying? Definitely."

Busse said Saturday that "in this politically charged environment we all say and do stupid things." He noted that he had talked Friday with the Rice County sheriff and offered restitution for the signs.

He did not immediately return a phone call about his resignation.

JENNA ROSS

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