As soon as you arrive at college, you'll be assailed with come-ons from all sorts of political and activist organizations. Most are legit. Some, however, are outright loony. While we'd never discourage any young person from political involvement (hell, we'd encourage anything that would get more than 31 percent of you to vote), here's a primer to steer you past the freak shows.

The LaRouchies

Number one on our list of campus crazies is the Lyndon LaRouche Youth Movement, which targets kids who feel like they "don't fit in." LaRouche's literature suggests that he's totally against Dick Cheney and fascism and the Man, but really, LaRouche exists to perpetuate LaRouche. "Recruiters" for the LaRouche Youth Movement will try to convince you to drop out of school and work for "the movement" full-time; in exchange, they'll offer room, board, and spending money. Along with your new life, new friends, and new apartment, you'll get a lunatic conspiracy-theory-based ideology that has been variously described as "fascist demagoguery," anti-Semitic, and deranged. Tell them to fuck off.


If the environment is your thing, then by all means join an environmental group. There are tons of environmental organizations doing great work on college campuses; they span the spectrum from Sierra Club to Greenpeace. But getting involved with a truly radical group, like the Earth Liberation Front or the Animal Liberation Front, is a really bad idea, especially now. Currently, the Bush administration is using the "war on terror" to crack down on "environmental terrorists"—which means that burning down a research facility, for example, (a recent case in Eugene, Oregon, involved allegations that the accused ELF members had torched several U.S. Forest Service ranger stations), means the federal government will treat you like terrorist, not an idealistic college student. There are better ways to save the earth.


For all its bluster, this militant animal-rights group hasn't done much to change policies regarding the treatment of animals in the U.S. Throwing paint on women wearing furs doesn't exactly raise the level of the debate. (And when is the last time you read a news story about the war on leather?) For another thing, its views are... well, kind of nuts. One activist told a reporter that "what Jews and others went through in the Holocaust is what animals go through every day in factory farms"; his comments were part of a campaign that claimed that leather bags and shoes were the moral equivalent of lampshades made of the skin of murdered human beings. PETA's director, meanwhile, once said that, "Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses," the implication being that eating chicken was the moral equivalent of torturing and killing Jews. I'm a former vegan, but that's just cuckoo.


Stay away from Scientology, also known as Dianetics, also known as the crazy "religion" created by the schizophrenic science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. (Hubbard reportedly once claimed that he had visited heaven twice, and that it had a bank, newspapers, and a restaurant.) Scientologists, who set up tents on campus offering "stress" or "personality" tests, believe that 75 million years ago, an alien ruler named Xenu killed everyone on 76 planets to deal with interplanetary overpopulation. Then he froze their bodies and transplanted them to volcanoes, which he exploded with bombs. Their souls were blown out of the volcanoes and left to wander around looking for new bodies to inhabit. Every time one of these spirits moves into a new person it brings memories of previous lifetimes. "Auditors" test the quality of Scientologists' thoughts by hooking them up to lie detectors and interrogating them. Scientology also involves hypnosis, repetitive exercises (reading things to the wall until you have them memorized), and writing big checks as a way of moving up the Scientology ladder. Fun, right? Scientologists say critics unfairly take all the stuff about Xenu out of context. Which raises the question: In what context would this crap make sense?

College Republicans

This is a fact: Join the College Republicans and you'll never get laid again. Trust me.