Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Using Free Speech To Stifle...Free Speech

In When Free Speech Died, Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., director of Boston University’s Program in Publishing, writes about how these days the place where you would most expect to find free speech and the exchange of ideas is having none of it:
Of the many intellectual perversions currently taking root on college campuses, perhaps none is more contradictory to what should be one of higher education’s core values than the suppression of free speech. With alarming regularity, speakers are shouted down, booed, jeered, and barrage with vitriol, all at the hands of groups who give lip service the notion of academic free speech, and who demand it when their speech is at issue, but have no interest in listening to, or letting others listen to, ideas that contradict their own world view.

...It is, of course, the MSU[Muslim Student Union]’s choice to hear whatever opinions they wish from whichever speakers to whom they choose to listen. What is not their choice, however, is to be able to prevent other views from being heard on campus, particularly the complex and thorny Israeli/Palestinian conversation, merely because pro-Palestinian students have decided that they will not recognize the very existence or legitimacy of a sovereign nation, Israel, nor hear that ideas of individuals who are able to defend it and explain the Israeli side of the argument. University officials must repeatedly make clear that campuses must allow many different views and perspectives, and should not try to exclude unpopular thought from being heard in the proverbial marketplace of ideas.
It seems that here we have one more contribution from the West--free speech--which, like democracy itself, is neither being absorbed nor utilized the way that many expected.

Then again, this is hardly a purely Muslim phenomenon.

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