New York University: Suppression of Discussion of Mohammed Cartoons

Category: Free Speech
Schools: New York University

In violation of its own policies, New York University (NYU) refused to allow a student group to show the Danish cartoons of Mohammed at a public event. Even though the purpose of the event was to show and discuss the cartoons, an administrator suddenly ordered the students either not to display them or to exclude 150 off-campus guests from attending. The NYU Objectivist Club decided to hold a panel discussion entitled “Free Speech and the Danish Cartoons,” at which the cartoons would be displayed. The event, like previous Objectivist Club events, was open to the public. NYU Director of Student Activities Robert Butler informed the group that they had two choices: they must either not display the cartoons, or not allow anyone from off campus to attend the event. NYU President John Sexton refused to back down, despite FIRE’s protesting that the university’s actions blatantly violated the students’ rights to free speech and expression.

  • Speech on Campus After 9/11: Less Free than It Used to Be?

    May 25, 2006

    Universities have traditionally been places where debate and the free exchange of ideas have been welcomed. But after 9/11, that may be changing — as some recent, troubling incidents suggest. In this column, I’ll survey some recent incidents suggesting free speech on campus is in peril, and discuss the extent to which the First Amendment protects student and faculty speech Cracking Down on Student Demonstrators and Controversial Student Speech Recently, students at the University of Miami (a private school, but one with a stated policy of fostering free speech) demonstrated alongside striking maintenance workers to show solidarity. Now, they face […]

    » Read More

  • ‘Free speech’ cries ring hollow on college campuses and beyond

    April 19, 2006

    by Nat Hentoff USA Today   Karen Murdock is an adjunct professor of geography and earth science at Century College, a two-year community college in White Bear Lake, Minn.She often posts news articles and blank comment sheets on a faculty bulletin board that she says she hopes students read and argue about — and thereby think beyond White Bear Lake into the world.In February, she posted an array of the inflammatory cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that offended not only Muslim students but also college administrators. Murdock’s exercise of free speech was eventually silenced, yet her cause echoes well beyond […]

    » Read More

  • N.Y.U. bans Danish cartoons’ display at campus talk

    April 12, 2006

    Plans for a presentation at New York University about a Danish newspaper’s decision to publish cartoons considered blasphemous veered off course last Wednesday night, when university administrators prohibited students from displaying the cartoons at the heart of the debate. The decision touched off a dispute at the university about the limits of free speech. “This wasn’t just a knee-jerk reaction,” said James Devitt, an N.Y.U. spokesperson. “As a university and a community, we have a number of interests to protect and we must try and respect everyone’s sensitivities.” N.Y.U.’s chapter of the Objectivist Club sponsored the event, “Free Speech and […]

    » Read More

  • Admin caves on cartoons

    April 3, 2006

    The NYU administration was presented with a perfect chance to defend the integrity of the academic community about which President Sexton gushes so lovingly, and they failed. Last week, the Objectivist Club at NYU held a panel discussion about the cartoons published a few months ago in a prominent Danish daily newspaper and the violent reaction to them in parts of the Muslim world. They were planning to display the cartoons in the background at the discussion, but were in effect barred from doing so by the administration at the request of the NYU Islamic Center. I received two e-mails […]

    » Read More

  • NYU on Mohammed Cartoons: Discuss, but Don’t Look

    April 3, 2006

    by Nathan Burchfiel Cybercast News Service New York University administrators on March 29 banned the display of cartoons satirizing the Muslim prophet Mohammed but did so during a forum held to discuss the controversy over the cartoons. As a result, the president of a free speech advocacy group calls the decision to censor the cartoons “one of the most frustrating” arguments he has ever heard. Leaders of the university’s Objectivist Club organized the forum to discuss the Danish cartoons that had depicted Mohammed, for example, with a fuse in his turban. The cartoons offended Muslims because Islam forbids any depictions […]

    » Read More

  • NYU Knuckles

    April 2, 2006

    For all the charges by the left that the First Amendment is under siege in America, the far bigger threat to free expression today is what’s rightly been labeled “the heckler’s veto.” Meaning the thuggish tack of squelching speech with a violent threat – and a demonstration of the will to carry it out. The world saw the heckler’s veto at work in the worldwide protests over those Danish cartoons of the prophet Muhammad: People died because rampaging rent-a-mobs declared the drawings “offensive.” Around the world, governments and many publications blinked before the threats. Though the chanting and the protests […]

    » Read More

  • Cartoons Discussed But Not Shown At NYU Event

    March 30, 2006

    A student group at New York University last night bowed to what they said was pressure from administrators and decided not to display the controversial Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed at a panel discussion on the often-violent worldwide reaction to the cartoons. Four blank pedestals were left behind the speakers to symbolize what one member of NYU’s Objectivist Club, Ryan Puzycki, called “a hijab on free speech.” The Objectivist Club is devoted to the philosophy of the author Ayn Rand. The university denied the group’s allegation, saying it had asked the Objectivists to be sensitive to the NYU Muslim […]

    » Read More

  • NYU Continues to Defend Wrongdoing in Mohammed Cartoon Controversy

    August 29, 2006

    New York University President John Sexton has written FIRE to defend NYU’s decision to force its Objectivist Club not to show the controversial Danish Mohammed Cartoons at a discussion about those very cartoons. In response to FIRE’s letter to NYU’s Board of Trustees, Sexton claimed that the student organizers decided on their own not to show the cartoons. Sexton glosses over the fact that it was NYU’s administration that told the students that they could not show the cartoons if they opened the discussion to New Yorkers unaffiliated with NYU, dozens of whom had already registered to attend. FIRE is […]

    » Read More

  • Victory for Freedom of Speech at the University of Southern California

    April 10, 2006

    LOS ANGELES, April 10, 2006—The University of Southern California (USC) has publicly reaffirmed its commitment to freedom of speech and repudiated two instances of censorship. USC’s renewed embrace of liberty came after the intervention of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). “We are impressed with USC’s response,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “While we would prefer that universities not censor their students in the first place, a real willingness to address and repudiate censorship will go a long way toward restoring liberty on our campuses.” The trouble at USC began in January when George Weiss Vando performed his […]

    » Read More

  • NYU Surrenders to the Heckler’s Veto in Mohammed Cartoon Dispute

    March 29, 2006

    NEW YORK, March 29, 2006—In violation of its own policies, New York University (NYU) is refusing to allow a student group to show the Danish cartoons of Mohammed at a public event tonight. Even though the purpose of the event is to show and discuss the cartoons, an administrator has suddenly ordered the students either not to display them or to exclude 150 off-campus guests from attending. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is urging NYU’s president to reverse course and stand up for freedom of speech. “NYU’s actions are inexcusable,” declared FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, who is […]

    » Read More