The president of , Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was recently invited to speak at
What would happen if
Kathy Uradnik, a professor of political science at St. Cloud State, said, “The real issue is not whether there is or should be free speech as required by the First Amendment, but rather when a university should support and promote the underlying ideal (presented by John Stuart Mill and others) that more speech leads to truth and, it follows, to freedom.”
Columbia Dean John Coatsworth appears to follow Mill’s philosophy. On Fox News, Coatsworth argued that Adolf Hitler would have been invited to speak at the university “if he were willing to engage in a debate and a discussion, to be challenged by
Speech is not an unrestricted right. Speech is restricted in many places based on safety concerns. For example, there are free speech zones at
Let’s assume a speech by Ahmadinejad was consistent with
What was the educational reason to bring Ahmadinejad to campus? Maybe it was to create some kind of rogues’ display: “Hey, look at the terrorist!” But that hardly seems educational.
I would hope that they would be brought to engage in actual debate. Unfortunately, they did no such thing. The format of his talk provided no opportunity for real dialogue.
Columbia President Lee Bollinger made statements about Ahmadinejad’s history and then departed the stage, leaving it to the audience to engage in dialogue. The only time Ahmadinejad was confronted was when he said there were no homosexuals in . Nothing about terrorism or treatment of minorities or nuclear bombs. Nothing about his professed desire to annihilate or his country’s military presence in or southern . They asked, he answered, they moved on, having no basis to challenge his words.
It would be convenient to blame the students, but because the university invited them, you have to ask how it thought its students were prepared to engage in a dialogue with Ahmadinejad. What does it take to prepare a student to talk to a dictator?
This is the opinion of Barbara Banaian, a professional pianist who lives in the