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.


  1. That's frightening! Most college kids at Columbia are probably not even personally touched by most of the issues they are protesting or supporting. Ignorance abounds....

  2. Good points, although I think the first point misses the mark. No one is claiming he should be allowed to speak because otherwise his free speech rights would be violated. Basically the people in charge of Columbia feel it is valuable to hear the leader (even if he isn't really in charge) of a very important country in the Middle East. That's not a bad point, but as Irina correctly notes, it must cut both ways. I wonder when Avigdor Lieberman is going to get his invite in the mail.

  3. wow! That guy who spoke in that video has a good point but i really don't care about the crazy protest. Go for it because they paid for high amount of tution so they have right what to do with that speaker who students paid for it. Also i personally like that immature acts at there bc i kinda want to do that. BS to freedom speech bec nobody have a clear rule about freedom speech and nobody knows what is the limit on it. So BS on it and who cares bc nobody cares about it bec we, american are very invovled in individualism so they think they could do whatever they want and it is true. Go for it if u strongly believe it bc american govt will agree with you but same time they granted to visa to criminail which they wouldn't do thier own criminals to different country. So American govt is full of crap and the system is falling down and willing to die in the future. Mark my word for it.

  4. Nepthuli: Well, the freedom of speech part mostly refers to the academic freedom and the freedom to hear and presents all POVs. And I've even heard some people make the remarks about his rights... though mostly the first one.