Free Speech Rights Should Not Depend on the Content of the Speech

From the Washington Square News, campus paper of NYU:

American media outlets did not utilize their freedom of speech rights
after they chose not to reprint the George Bush cartoons that negatively
depicted the US President, panelists said last night at a
discussion held at the Kimmel Center.

The event, titled "Free Speech and the Bush Cartoons," displayed
easels with blank panels instead of the cartoons after NYU demanded
that the cartoons be removed from display if the public was admitted....

"Realistically, one can have a discussion on smallpox without actually
handing out the the live virus to the audience," university spokesman
John Beckman said. "Any institution has a responsibility that events on
its grounds go smoothly and without disruption."

The panelists expressed concern that all American publications, with
the exception of three, were unwilling to reprint the Bush cartoons....

Bostom said it is healthy to question a politicians, and Republicans should be
able to handle the publication of cartoons that parody them.

"The cartoons were a healthy dose of direct criticism [toward conservatives]," Bostom said.

Schwartz said fear was behind the media's motivation not to reprint the images.

"The New York Times claims not to run the pictures because of the
matter of taste," Schwartz said. "But, in fact, everyone knows they're
perfectly willing to offend people who they don't fear will have the NSA wiretap them."

NYU's decision to bar the public from seeing the cartoons illustrated
an apprehension towards free speech, and its actions were chilling and
absurd, Lukianoff said.

"If you want to talk about an image, you might want to show them," said
Lukianoff, who later pointed behind him at the blank easels and yelled,
"This is censorship!"

Lukianoff said people easily feel harassed by ideas contrary to their own.

"Nobody has a right not to be offended," Lukianoff said.

Midway through the discussion, Republican students who had gathered outside
to protest, unfurled a white banner with red letters that said,
"Freedom of Speech Does Not Equal Freedom to Hate."

Leaf said it is unhealthy for the academic community to avoid discussing sensitive issues.

"Part of being in a modern world and part of being in a university
means being able to talk about these subjects seriously," Leaf said.

People are afraid to talk and publish the cartoons, and we shouldn't
have to worry about dancing around sensitive issues, Leaf said.

During the discussion, Schwartz criticized conservatism, saying
that it forces its followers to imprison themselves in dogmatic

"The philosophy I subscribe to is objectivism, which believes reason is man's only knowledge," he said.

Schwartz said that the violent uprisings were motivated by partisanship and not reason.

"Partisanship is blind obedience in rejection of reason," Schwartz said. "If
you base your arguments on partisanship, then it leaves no room for your
argument. It leaves you with no other option but force."

Schwartz said the attacks were not just in defense of Conservatism. 

"This is an attack on the free, rational mind," he said.

CAS junior James Ferguson said it was unfair that so much time was spent on attacking conservatism.

"To demonize a political party is not going to help anything," Ferguson said.
"When did free speech turn into a hateful generalization of conservatism?"

CAS junior Muniba Hassan said the panel will provoke hatred of conservatives,
which has caused many of her Republican friends to be afraid to walk home
at night.

"They used free speech as a way to hide their partisan agenda," Hassan said.

OK, I may have substituted a few words to make a point about the bankruptcy of NYU's censorship, and the double standards they hold since they clearly would not have made the same decision with the alternate facts I have inserted.  Real article here.  Here is a hint to prospective college students:  Distrust any college whose administrators equate exercising first amendment rights to spreading a deadly virus.  More here at FIRE, which continues to do great work.

PS-  If you have not seen the Danish cartoons, spend 10 seconds clicking here.  You will not believe how bland they are.


  1. Chris:

    I want to know what George Bush is doing about the Epstein-Barr Virus

  2. Lenny:

    A harsh reality (to some) is that the whole idea behind free speech includes the right to not be forced to publish things that do not advance your own agenda.

    Publishing the "Bush cartoons" would obviously run counter to the agenda of the NYT (not wanting to insult "Bush supporters" among other things) but not feeling an imposed obligation to print them is as much true liberty as the other way around.

  3. Ryan Cupples:

    “Nobody has a right not to be offended,” Lukianoff said.

    Uh, what? I MUST be offended?

    While I agree with his stance on the matter, that's such a weird statement that it must be quoted incorrectly.