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Minuteman Founder to Speak at Columbia University

According to the Columbia Spectator, a student newspaper at Columbia University, Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist is slated to return to Columbia’s campus for a speaking engagement after last year’s speech was ended by a disruptive protest that turned violent. The incident last year was a real black eye for Columbia that garnered national media attention and condemnation from figures like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Unfortunately, at least one of the students censured by Columbia for his role in the disruptive protest seems not to have gotten the message that silencing those he disagrees with is not the way to engage in debate about the issues:

The University later filed charges against a number of the protesters, ending in warnings and censures against eight students, including Lucha President Karina Garcia, CC ’07, and International Socialist Organization President David Judd, SEAS ’08.

“Of course I imagine there will be a protest, a large and potentially disruptive one—though I don’t know about that—and certainly I will be helping to organize it,” Judd, reached by phone Monday afternoon, said of the invitation.

“I would really like to know what the hell he [Eisenbach] [the Columbia lecturer who is organizing the appearance--ed] thinks he’s doing,” Judd added.

Maybe he thinks he’s trying to restore Columbia as a place where different views are discussed and debated, not subjected to a “heckler’s veto.” Even a member of the group that invited Gilchrist the first time, the Columbia University College Republicans (CUCRs), doesn’t seem that interested in giving Gilchrist a fair hearing:

Lauren Steinberg, CC ’09 and CUCR’s director of operations, said she hadn’t heard of the invitation before today.

“Personally, I really hope he’s not coming,” Steinberg said. “I mean, it was a fun time last year, but I don’t need it to happen again.”

Maybe Steinberg doesn’t, but Columbia certainly does. Considering Columbia’s shameful history on free speech issues, its students can use all the help they can get when it comes to understanding our First Amendment freedoms.

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