I am embarrassed by the angst on campus at the University of Illinois concerning a presentation about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
Chancellor Robert Jones attempted to address the situation and was immediately attacked by pro-Palestinian sympathizers and congratulated by pro-Israeli supporters. It seems he cannot speak about it without becoming a subject of attack. Now, the University Senate and many other groups are having their say.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that government shall not abridge freedom of speech. The UI is “government” since it is a government-funded university. I wonder why the presenter of the speech concerning the Middle East conflict is not free to say almost anything she wants?
The remedy for those who disagree is more speech. Let them make their points in argument, and let those listening decide for themselves.
The statements by students and faculty that they are somehow unsafe because of a speech are ridiculous. One purpose of a university education is to challenge a student’s assumptions and prejudices with different and fresh ideas. The University of Chicago, recognizing this purpose, has published its Statement of Principles of Free Expression. It protects speech on campus that is thought “offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed.” The U of I should do likewise.
To quote George Orwell, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”