Pie-Throwing Conspiracies

The pie thrown at Rupert Murdoch in his parliamentary appearance on Tuesday provided an opportunity for commentators, including The Washington Post, to reflect on the history of pie-throwing. It recounted an episode in 1977 in which Phyllis Schlafly received a pie in the face, courtesy of an activist named Aron Kay.

According to a 2007 New York Times blog post about the 2004 Republican National Convention in that city, Kay was also responsible for throwing pies at conservative pundit William F. Buckley, former national security adviser McGeorge Bundy, U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, Watergate figures G. Gordon Liddy, Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis, California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr., New York Mayor Abraham Beame, and former CIA director William E. Colby. In other words, he had a reputation for throwing pies in the faces of a lot of people who were  establishment figures of a variety of political establishments.

Contacted by The Post on Tuesday, Schlafly contended that Aron “was out for hire. Obviously, he was backed by the feminists.”

I suspect that Elly Peterson may have wanted to throw a pie in the face of Phyllis Schlafly on more than one occasion, and particularly in 1977 when they were going head-to-head against each other over ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. But considering the wide range of Kay’s victims, and his reputation as “the Yippie pie-man,” it seems a stretch to still be blaming unnamed “feminists” 34 years later.

But then again, as noted here before, “feminist” is on its way to becoming a new “f” word, alongside the new “m” word, “Moderate.”




Filed under Women in Politics

3 responses to “Pie-Throwing Conspiracies

  1. Susan Foster, MSW

    This is fascinating . . . Sara Fitzgerald writes so well, and her recollections helped trigger mine. Thank you, Lillian Cox, for highlighting Sara’s contribution. I’m from Michigan, also the Lansing area, and the name Elly Peterson had such a familiar ring that I started reading and could not stop. Her name came up at the dinner table discussions many years ago. A biography like this reminds us of how far we have come in the world of possibilities that lay before us. Elly was a true pioneer, and Sara delivers her story as if we are sitting at the same table sipping coffee. I will close with another memory trigger by Sara’s story. I was also a young teenager during the 1964 convention. The only difference? I was watching the Democratic National Convention, and grieving for the loss of Robert Kennedy. Thank you, Lillian. Keep the stories coming! Susan Foster

    • Thanks for your kind comment, Susan.

      One small point of historical correction, if you were watching the 1964 Democratic convention, you were probably grieving the lost of JFK. RFK was shot shortly before the 1968 convention. I spent 1968 as an exchange student in Australia, so my perspective on the terrible events of that year was colored by being halfway around the world.

      I was just back in Michigan (more on that to come), and made a speech about Peterson’s career at the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in Lansing. Peterson was inducted there in its second class of inductees.

  2. Susan Foster, MSW

    Oh, you are so right. That was ’68 and The Chicago Seven & Humphrey. I still grieve the loss of RFK. I can’t help but wonder how different the political landscape might have been. Of course as a good Democrat I still ended up working for a great Republican on the Hill (Bill Keating) and attending Nixon’s (2nd) Inaugural Ball. After all — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But then Lillian performed an even greater oxymoron; she left the White House to live in a commune in San Francisco!

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