Michael Bloomberg’s Commencement Address at Tufts, May 20, 2007
Excerpt from Bloomberg’s address:
…The fourth lesson is… in the words of Ali G… is “Respect.” Don’t worry, I’m not going to start quoting Borat. Respect is so important – especially in times of conflict. And I think a lot of you here know what I’m talking about.
This past December, The Primary Source – which is a campus magazine – printed some things that much of the community ardently disagreed with and many considered quite offensive. But instead of suppressing the publication (which might very well have happened on other campuses) and despite the emotion of the moment, I think the students and the faculty and all of Tufts University deserve an enormous amount of respect because you respected the rights of others to express themselves. You discussed the piece… you debated it… you picked it apart. It was a classic example of free speech versus free speech. And in that battle, I’ve always thought everybody wins.
This country – and other campuses around the nation – needs more of that. And I’ve always wondered if people who block each other from expressing their opinions do so because they have so little confidence in their own. To me, encountering an opposing point of view is a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the issues at stake… and develop my own point of view. But the first thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to let people speak and you’ve got to listen. And that’s what the first amendment is all about. That’s what really distinguishes this country from others.
In my generation, the one word of advice you gave to graduates was “plastics.” Your parents will have to explain that to you. But today, I think the one word of advice should be the word “respect.”…