Monday, September 24, 2007

Columbia University's Free Speech

I know this is old news, but it's still interesting to see the hypocrisy at Columbia University, which is hosting Iran's Ahmadinejad today. (Here's a cute/funny site, too.) Here's how Columbia's student body allows free speech that they don't like:

Sad. Meanwhile, I agree with that speaker who felt that Columbia should allow Ahmadinejad to speak, though I think it was a poor choice to invite him in the first place. Or, to understand it better, just read Irina's post. Excerpts:
One major argument in favor of his presence there thus far has been "freedom of speech". That we live in a free country (unlike Iran), and we should encourage "vigorous debate, even with people we find absolutely vile. Although in general I would agree with such a statement, there are a few key issues that many people seem to be missing.

1. This doesn't really have anything to do with free speech. Private institutions, such as Columbia University, can do pretty much what they want. In this case, they've voluntarily chosen to extend an invitation to Ahmadinejad. Was it their legal right? Sure. Did they HAVE to invite him? No. Failing to invite him would not intrude on anyone's free speech right. It's just like failing to invite someone over to your house.

2. Vigorous debate and constructive dialogue. We're being extremely naive if we honestly believe anything constructive is going to come out of giving Ahmadinejad, a dictator and a criminal, extra forum for his vile rhetoric.

3. Columbia University has the temerity to speak about "vigorous debate"... when in reality it only seems to invite speakers from the radical left/anti-Semitic/anti-Zionist part of the spectrum. Catering to its left-leaning faculty and majority student population no doubt... which is all fine and good... if only it had also been inviting people with opposing points of view for real discussion - I'm talking about members of the current administration, and others with similar POVs. The recent Minutemen event ended in disruption. It's not about providing all possible points of views, no matter how radical. It's about presenting one side of controversy, even at its worst, and getting as much publicity as possible.

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