Monday, September 24, 2007

Would you let Osama speak?

An e-mailer to Fox News in NYC at 5:56 PM today asked "Would you let Osama bin Laden speak?" Of course he was referring to the brouhaha surrounding allowing Mamoud Ahmadinejad to speak today at Columbia University.

Allowing Osama bin Laden to speak at Columbia or anywhere here in the U.S. is a different situation altogether. He and al Qaeda were responsible for 9/11. Ahmadinejad was not responsible for 9/11.

Ahmadinejad is, as the President of Columbia University said, an uneducated man but he's a head of state.

I say he's a stupid man who denies history, who wants to destroy a country, Israel, who would like to live in peace with him and its neighbors. But, as I said, he is a head of state and the group at Columbia that sponsored Ahmadinejad was the SIPA-World Leaders Forum.

Here's some of the brilliant stuff President Lee Bollinger (see photo) said in his introductory remarks:
Since 2003, the World Leaders Forum has advanced Columbia’s longstanding tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate, especially on global issues. It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas. It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices. To hold otherwise would make vigorous debate impossible.

I want to say, however, as forcefully as I can, that this is the right thing to do and, indeed, it is required by existing norms of free speech, the American university, and Columbia itself.

To be clear on another matter - this event has nothing whatsoever to do with any “rights” of the speaker but only with our rights to listen and speak. We do it for ourselves.

Lastly, in universities, we have a deep and almost single-minded commitment to pursue the truth. We do not have access to the levers of power. We cannot make war or peace. We can only make minds. And to do this we must have the most full freedom of inquiry.
President Bollinger went on to point out all the human rights violations Iran has been accused of, as well as Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust and his desire for Israel's destruction.
Read the president's opening remarks. Ahmadinejad should have been invited if only to have Bollinger's statement go down in history.

And I'm sorry I got off the topic of having Osama bin Laden speak here. Osama bin Laden COULDN'T speak here in the U.S. because the minute he put his dainty little foot on our soil he'd be arrested for taking the lives of 2700+ people in the World Trade Center.



AnimeFreak40K said...

Lee Bollinger is full of win and awesome! It is like both just magically manifested themselves together to create utter coolness.

I like what he had to say, how he said it and those very questions he asked. I am very much interested in what President Ahmadinejad had to say in rebuttal - however, I have caught some soundbites of his replys stating "we do not have homosexuals in Iran" (note: I am raising the Bullshit flag on this one).

I want to hear the rest of what he has to say though. I am always interested in hearing things from the other side.

That said, I would also allow Osama bin Laden a chance to speak as well. I want to know why he has done what he has, why he hates us, the sources of his grievences, etc. Of course I am more interested in his honest opinions and thoughts. I do not want to hear some zealous hyperbole or fundementalist nonsese.

I know this may sound like I am being far too kind to a man that is quite possibly the most hated man in the world since Adolf Hitler...but what sort of nation or community that is based on the free expression of ideas, speech and thought would deny it to someone else?

So yes...if it were possible to have a similar forum (that he would attend), I would allow him to speak his mind to the world.

...right before I put a bullet in him.

Look, I said I would give him the opportunity to speak. I never said anything about ensuring his safety afterwards!

the teach said...

You sounded so reasonable, so sensible and then, and then, you blew his head off! LOL!

No I know you mean you'd let him speak but you know when we listen to these guys what the hell are they saying? Anything sensible? I bet if you listen to Ahmadinejad or "Ahmadinnerjacket" as I've heard him called, there's nothing you can get your teeth around, nothing valuable for the world to learn.

AnimeFreak40K said...

I like to see myself as a reasonable guy.

But I also do not have much tolerance for intolerance (intolerant intolerance - Does that even make sense?). I also think that Osama should pay for his crimes against humanity as well. It is not just for 9-11, but for all the things that he has done too.

But just because I feel that way does not automatically mean that he is suddenly not allowed to speak his mind.

Scott said...

There is a satire article about exactly this.. If you read it as satire you'll notice some great references to events surrounding Ahmenijad's visit.

the teach said...

Thanks Scott! Funny article indeed!