The society's president, Luke Tryl, told The Guardian he had also invited British National party chairman Nick Griffin and Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukoshenko to speak. He added that the group has not yet formalized its invitation list.Tryl and friends have forgotten what debate is all about. Check out this account of a debate between biologist Richard Dawkins and mathematician John Lennox on the existence of G_d:,
"The Oxford Union is famous for is commitment to free speech and although I do think these people have awful and abhorrent views I do think Oxford students are intelligent enough to challenge and ridicule them" Tryl said. [emphasis added]
Over the course of 90 minutes, Mr. Dawkins, 66, the infamous author of "The God Delusion," squared off with Mr. Lennox, 63, on such propositions as: "Faith is blind; science is evidence based," "Design is dead, otherwise one must explain who designed the designer" and "Christianity is dangerous." The two Oxford professors, who had never met before this evening, both displayed rhetorical skills in the best British tradition.By Naomi Schaefer Riley's account, the debate demonstrated the validity of both sides of the issue and made people think. By Tryl's own admission, he agrees that Irving's position--and those of the other invitees--is untenable. The debate is not so much enrichment of the mind as titillation and intellectual entertainment, by giving a opportunity to "challenge and ridicule" the speaker. Is the cheapening of the op-eds by giving a podium to terrorists so different?
...Their smart exchanges occasionally went outside of the debate format, despite the best efforts of their distinguished moderator, Judge William Pryor of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Dawkins's words sometimes veered into the provocative, as when he referred to "creationist lunacy," but for the most part the evening was remarkable for its civility. Each scholar received a round of applause after a few of his smarter remarks. But there was no hooting or hollering. Indeed, not one stray comment could be heard from the audience. I didn't make out a single sarcastic whisper from the college students sitting to my left or the middle-aged couples to my right.
Perhaps Tryl can defend that kind of entertainment, but its value is debatable.
[See also James Kirchik: Cheapening Free Speech]