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Three score and ten or more

Monday, September 24, 2007


This has been an interesting day for an old coot like me who has strong feelings about communication. I guess the first thing that hit me was all the fuss about Iran's President speaking at Columbia. I think Universities should give as much opportunity for as many points of view as possible. I spent much of my life working toward a PhD in Communication, and I am truly offended by the effort to prevent exposure to anyone's ideas.

I think back to my time at Southern Illinois University, and the invitation that was given to Hubert Humphrey, the Vice President of the U.S. and candidate for presidential nomination. The scholars of SIU hooted him off the stage and came close enough to a riot to really get the secret service types on the alert. I was ashamed of my university, my colleagues, and my students. You can only effectively work against clap trap (and I disagreed with Humphrey about almost everything) if you listen to it and give it the opportunity to shake it's nuts out of the tree.. For a conservative to object to universities giving speaking time to anyone is silly, conservatives are the one's whose ideas are most stifled by academia. (I know, we can scream that Columbia kicked out the ROTC, they ought to keep out the Iranians, but that stupid logic is the same kind that says because the law didn't come down hard on white guys who hung nooses in a tree, some black guys should be able to beat hell out of some other white guy and get a free pass, I'm sorry but no one, conservative or liberal should approve that. Most of our parents corrected us when we tried to justify our acts because "Look what Johnny did!" and our parents were right.

Of course some legal action against the authorities for what they didn't do about the nooses would also be a good idea)

The way it worked out at Columbia, I sadly fear that Columbia's presidential introduction/castigation played to Abidinijad's (or how ever you spell it, I'm and old man) audience in the Arab world beautifully. Think how much better it would have been with a courteous, brief introduction, then when "Abby" said "We have no homosexuals in Iran", the laughter would have been so much more appropriate to "Abby"'s audience in the middle east ( and here).

(I am glad that they didn't let the little creep go down an put a hypocritical wreath at Ground Zero)

Let everyone speak, let everyone listen, only then will the truth (whatever it is) come out of the cauldron of open ideas. (at the same time let's hope that groups like FIRE the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education will keep after the colleges to let both sides come out-- If you haven't looked at the FIRE blog--which I am too inept to link- you ought to.)

It has nothing to do with the topic above, but I just posted a long tale about my first experience with raccoons as a food group in the comment section of Born Again Redneck's blog that I may go back and steal to put in here. I'm still trying to steer clear of politics but once in awhile I have to anger my friends and confabulate my enemies


At 10:18 AM, Blogger Kathleen said...

Using a term from my youth ... the 60s ... RIGHT ON!!!!!

Glad you are back. I missed you.

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Richard, I completely agree. A-mad-jihadist made an utter foolof himself but Bollinger really acted wrongly.

I meant to tell you to post you comment on your blog. It was great.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Norma said...

Columbia's awfully one-sided about freedom of thought. And this is playing well in Iran--Columbia didn't give him a platform, they gave him respectability and made themselves look like idiots.

At 4:47 AM, Blogger decaturcomp said...

Well, the FIRE website is here:
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

And yes, free speech is precious. I remember it well.

I am saddend and disturbed by hate speech on the radio and elsewhere but I'll defend their right to say it...to a point. For example, isn't posting a fake terror alert akin to crying "fire" in a crowded theater?


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