Friday, September 21, 2007

Free Speech

MSNBC.COM -- The president of The "Members Only Jacket" Fan Club and President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speak Monday at Columbia University in New York in a question & answer session.

There are a lot of people ticked off about this and demanding the school cancel the engagement. But I think that's ridiculous. Let him speak. And if he's willing to actually do Q&A, let him do that, too. (He even asked for permission to place a wreath at ground zero while he was in town but was turned down for "security concerns.")

He's been quoted as saying some pretty outrageous things, but so have many people who live in this country. I think his being allowed to speak celebrates our freedom of speech. The protests, too, celebrate that freedom. But if they prevailed, somehow their freedom of speech (and in some instances, opinion) then end up counting for more than his. (Or should his be less because he's not an American citizen? I could respect that opinion as well.)

By allowing him to speak, I think it speaks volumes to the world about our commitment to our ideals and our freedoms. Our ability to allow you to voice an opinion, even if it's different from our own -- even offensive. (Or in some cases, downright blatently and factually false.) I hope it will also serve as an example to other countries, a chance for us to do something "right" in the world's eyes for once.

The White House, which I've criticized regularly for its failure to be savvy in its marketing/public relations finally nailed it and I'm proud/impressed...
“This is a country where people can come and speak their minds,” said [a White House spokesman], adding, “It would be wonderful if some of the countries that take advantage of that here allowed it for their own citizens there.”
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