Monday, May 12, 2014

It's Their Loss

First Ayaan Hirsi Ali is disinvited from speaking at Brandeis University and the honorary degree that was to be conferred on her is revoked; then Condoleezza Rice voluntarily disinvites herself from giving the commencement speech at Rutger's University; and now Dr. Ben Carson has also said he will not address the graduating class at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Students at Brandeis protested that Ali was anti-Islamic and therefore offensive to a certain segment of the student population; Rice was called a war criminal by a small group of student protestors; and Carson has met with objections because he supports the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

So who will these colleges invite to be their honoured guests at graduation?  Those will be hard shoes to fill in all those cases; and it is to their loss that they have made this decision. The student bodies in all these schools of higher learning have been deprived of hearing people who have something remarkable to say, even if they don't agree with them.

As a personal aside, I recall going to an evening of poetry at York University in Toronto in the early 70's. The guest for the evening was Allen Ginsburg; he had just been appointed the poet laureate for the year. I was revulsed as I listened to him recite in detail his experience of homosexual anal sex. So tell me why was it considered okay that I should have to listen to this crap? Yet people like Ali, Rice and Carson are not allowed to speak. I doubt they would say anything as gross as Ginsburg did; yet their speech is censored, while the gross details of someone's deviant sex life are fully permitted. People consider themselves to be progressive, but their actions of silencing speech they don't agree with prove otherwise.

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