I was scheduled to attend the Ayn Rand Institute's panel discussion tomorrow night on the Free Speech, Danish Cartoons controversy at New York University. I just received the missive from the institute. NYU is shutting down the innocuous toons. I can't go. Read it and weep. Needless to say, I am ................speechless;
NYU's Surrender Underscores Need to Display Danish Cartoons
Irvine, CA--"In a seemingly mundane decision, New York University has sacrificed the principle underlying its flourishing and the survival of civilization--free speech," said Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute. NYU is refusing to protect a student group's right to display the Danish cartoons of Mohammad at a panel discussion on free speech on March 29.
The group's event was to be open to the public, but at the last minute NYU retreated. Under the pretense of maintaining campus security, the administration contradicted its own stated policy on free speech by requiring that, if the cartoons are displayed, the event be limited only to "members of the NYU community." The student group now must turn away more than 150 members of the public who had planned to attend the panel.
"The university's shameful appeasement of Muslim and anti-free-speech groups--which have vowed to protest the event--underscores the urgent need to display the cartoons in defense of freedom of speech," said Dr. Brook.
"Free speech protects the rational mind: it is the freedom to think, to reach conclusions and express one's views without fear of coercion of any kind. And it must include the right to express unpopular and offensive views, including outright criticism of religion. NYU--which like other universities grants tenure to protect intellectual freedom--ought to recognize the crucial importance of this principle and defend it.
"If intimidation and threats are allowed to compel writers, cartoonists, thinkers and institutions of learning into self-censorship, the right to free speech is lost. If Muslims are allowed to pressure critics of Islam into silence, critics of religion will be next. And then everyone else."
Panel Discussion on the Danish Cartoons
Panelists: Peter Schwartz, former chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ayn Rand Institute and author of The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest: A Moral Ideal for America; Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education; Andrew Bostom, author of The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims; and Jonathan Leaf, New York Press editor who resigned over his paper's decision not to publish the Danish cartoons.
Moderator: Dr. Harry Binswanger, professor of philosophy and member of the Board of Directors of the Ayn Rand Institute.
What is planned: (1) A display of the controversial Danish cartoons depicting Mohammad. (2) A panel discussion and Q & A on the meaning of the worldwide reaction to the cartoons.
Where: New York University, 60 Washington Square South at NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner and Lubin Auditorium (4th Floor), NY, NY 10012
When: March 29, 2006, 7 to 10 PM
Summary: ARI's Peter Schwartz will participate in a panel discussion on the Mohammad cartoon controversy. He will explain: Why the eruption of violence and the issuance of death threats make completely irrelevant the question of whether the cartoons are in bad taste. Why the idea that freedom of the press must be "coupled with press responsibility" means that free speech is not a right, but a fleeting permission. Why every Western newspaper and media outlet should have immediately re-published or shown the cartoons in solidarity with the cartoonists. Why the cowardly and appeasing response of many Western governments--including our own--will only invite further aggression. Other panelists will present their own views.
So does this mean I can't go? This New York City damn it!
"I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body." Ayn Rand