A very good friend of mine, who is probably the smartest person I know, thinks that letting Ahmadinejad the President of Iran speak this past week at
My good friend a graduate of
1. First and for most there is NO RIGHT to be heard. There is a right to speak freely. But nowhere in the Constitution does it guarantee the right to make others listen or as an extension provide a forum so others can be heard. Over and over on the day of the “forum” I heard countless pseudo-intellectuals call for the “right to be heard”. Sorry. But our laws do not compel others to listen. It only compels them to let you speak if you so chose.
2. Apparently, according to my friend the genius (she also has a Masters degree in International Relations and is attending NYU law school), the constitution sometimes refers to citizens and sometimes to “people” and when it refers to “people” it could mean every person in the world. So, in that light, we try to behave towards others as we behave towards ourselves and extend our constitutional protections as a standard of treatment to the rest of the world. (Gitmo excluded!) So the
3. Another argument is that Mahmood’s appearance would lift the level of debate at
4. Finally, there is no value in anything Ahmadinejad has to say because he has proven himself either stupid or “provocative” as Lee Bollinger pointed out. Anyone who denies the existence of the Holocaust is not worthy of academic challenge. Perhaps laboratory study -but I am quite sure that this forum was not billed as a chance to see a monkey in a cage, rather it was billed as an academic exercise that gave Ahmadinejad some sense of equality or peer-status to the rest of
So sorry to Columbia University, you are not only wrong but you have actually worked to lessen the thing you have tried to protect (free speech) by letting a propagandist and by all accounts a terrorist have a venue to try to equivocate his countries deeds and rhetoric via obfuscation and pseudo-logic.
Having said all of this and having counseled with my before mentioned dear and wise friend one extraordinary thing did happen because of this incident. My friend, a liberal, gave “props” to our President for his magnanimous view of the Ahmadinejad/Columbia University situation. She also directed me to the US Supreme Court decision of the Texas v. Johnson flag-burning case in which Justice Louis Brandeis was quoted in a 1927 opinion:
"To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."
So here it is today that I expose the evil and invite each of you to do the same. Let your voices drown out the voice of Mahmood Ahmadinejad and all those like him.