‘Free Speech and Double Standards’

October 3, 2007

Be sure to check out Stuart Taylor’s hard-hitting piece in the National Journal on “Free Speech and Double Standards” in academia. With regards to Columbia’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Taylor points out:

It would be easier to stomach the free-speech grandstanding of Lee Bollinger, Columbia’s president and Ahmadinejad’s histrionically hostile host, and others of Bollinger’s ilk if they were a bit less selective in their devotion to the First Amendment. When a student group recently canceled an event featuring an anti-illegal-immigration speaker for fear of a hecklers’ veto by leftist students, for example, Bollinger had nothing to say.

Taylor also brings much-needed attention to the largely overlooked decision to rescind an invitation to a prominent academic figure

Those most recently censored include former Clinton Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, a mainstream Democrat whose invitation to speak to the University of California Board of Regents was derailed by the same sort of politically correct faculty mob that drove him from Harvard University’s presidency in February 2006

Taylor also shines the light on Columbia’s ongoing disrespect for individual rights:

Bollinger has never made a serious effort to use such episodes to reverse the censorial drift of Columbia’s campus politics. Other examples range from the suspension last fall (later revoked) of the men’s hockey club for posting recruiting flyers that said “Stop being a pussy”—a less-than-tasteful play on Columbia’s athletic “Lions”—to the ideological litmus tests used by Columbia’s Teachers College to evaluate student performance. Among these tests: “respect for diversity and commitment to social justice.” That terminology is a standing invitation for professors to penalize any student who criticizes racial preferences, openly votes Republican, or defends Larry Summers.

Hypocrisy on campus is sadly common, but Taylor understands that such abuses have a hard time surviving the light of day.

Schools:  Columbia University Harvard University University of California, Irvine