Friday, May 10, 2013

The Guerrilla Skirmishes of the Sexual Revolution

Fifty years ago this week, panty-seeking college boys lit the fuse on the 1960s.

The front page of the The Daily Princetonian  

The Spring Riot of 1963 flashed across cultural history like a pyrotechnic burst of wanton Americana. It lit on the campus of Princeton University on the first Monday in May and blazed up the Northeast Corridor, peaking in intensity on May 10 at New Haven where the boys exchanged beatings with the cops. 

For months thereafter, its smoldering wreckage filled sensational space in the national press as tens of millions of adults opened their morning papers to confront a generation gap and a moral panic. Old schools shivered in a cold sweat of spring fever—a case of student protest gone viral.  Viewed in retrospect 50 years on, the Spring Riot of 1963 is a pivotal event, a violent insurrection, a preview of coming destructions. But the men and women who in later years occupied Hamilton Hall or picketed Dow Chemical in Madison or died at Kent State were bona fide student demonstrators. The boys who in 1963 roughed up some pretty campuses were rebels with a cause unmentionable in polite company. The student rioters of ’63 demonstrated the temper of the times, unconsciously fighting a guerilla skirmish in the sexual revolution.

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