Thursday, December 08, 2005

Suppressing Free Speech at UConn

I am not a fan of Ann Coulter. I believe she is an over the top bombthrower who detracts from the national discourse rather than adding to it. Still, I regard incidents like this one as inexcusable:

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter cut short a speech at the University of Connecticut amid boos and jeers, and decided to hold a question-and-answer session instead.

Keep in mind this was at a university, whose very raison d'etre is the free exchange of ideas. Unfortunately, such incidents are not uncommon when right of center speakers come to academia. A part of the academic left in this country is just as intolerant as they claim Ms. Coulter and others are. This quote from a UConn demonstrator is a case in point:

"We encourage diverse opinion at UConn, but this is blatant hate speech," said Eric Knudsen, a 19-year-old sophomore journalism and social welfare major who heads campus group Students Against Hate.

Translation: We stand for tolerance and diversity, and shut the hell up if you disagree with us.

There are numerous options when confronted with a speaker with whom you disagree. You can exercise your right to ignore them. You can challenge their ideas by asking tough but fair questions. You can picket outside the building, as some people did here. What you should not do is to deny that person the right to express their views, and deny others the right to listen to them, by acting like an infantile buffoon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of an incident while I was an undergrad at Brown University. The school newspaper published an ad expressing a view that many students on campus disagreed with. The morning that it was published, a group of students raided the newspaper dispensers on campus and throw away all the newspapers before people could read them. It was shameful. I think it's really hard for some idealistic students to really seperate what they believe from what feels good to believe. If you believe in tolerance and free speech, it means you have to let people speak, even if you hate what they're saying.

9:41 PM  

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