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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Left-wing Free Speech Hypocrisy

The following is an editorial/article from
New York Post that I have reprinted without permission. It's quite pertinent.

COLUMBIA'S SPEECH THUGS

October 6, 2006 -- New generation, same ugly tactics.

Nearly 40 years after activist stu dents trashed the executive offices of Columbia University (all in the name of "peace," don't you know), another crowd of young hooligans Wednesday violently broke up a speech at the Ivy League campus - physically attacking the speaker, forcing him to flee and sparking a brawl.

This time, the cause is "free speech."

No kidding.

Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, which takes an aggressive role in opposing illegal immigration, had been invited to speak by the campus Republican organization.

But he barely got in a few words before protesters - who had heckled a previous speaker with racially offensive slogans - rushed the stage and prevented him from finishing. (Video of the melee is available at columbiaspectator.org.)

"It was fundamentally a part of free speech," one protester told The Columbia Daily Spectator. "The Minutemen are not a legitimate part of the debate on immigration."

Can it be true that free speech at Columbia applies only to those who are deemed "legitimate" by a self-proclaimed group of political purists?

So it would seem. And, sad to say, Wednesday night's fracas was no isolated incident.

And, even more sad, it's not just students who have made Columbia so inhospitable to the First Amendment.

Conservatives, supporters of Israel and others who want to win the War on Terror routinely see their First Amendment rights trashed - while the university throws open its doors to tyrants like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (the latter invitation being withdrawn under extreme public pressure).

On a seemingly more mundane level - though the principle is important - the university recently suspended an ice-hockey club after supporters passed out recruitment flyers that contained a mildly offensive gender reference.

It was a misdemeanor if ever there was one - but Columbia dropped the hammer on the hockey club anyway, citing "an egregious violation of the rights of the students involved."

Well, if a sophomoric jibe on a piece of paper constitutes an "egregious violation," what does the violent, racially charged disruption of an appearance by a university-sanctioned guest represent?

What about the students whose right to hear the Minutemen was violated by a gaggle of left-wing louts?

They don't count?

Apparently not. University officials haven't denounced what happened, though they've launched an "investigation." (Of course they have.)

Let's be clear here.

Columbia has a long and proud relationship with New York City. Until lately, it has been a champion of the principles and values that make the city a beacon of freedom to the world.

Again, until lately.

Now Columbia is in the midst of a long-overdue refurbishment and expansion of its northern Manhattan campus. And university President Lee Bollinger is asking much forbearance of the institution's neighbors - and of City Hall - in order to make it happen.

Incidents like Wednesday's outburst - if not swiftly punished by Bollinger and his administrators - make us wonder whether helping Columbia is worth the effort.

Thuggery of the sort that occurred Wednesday is unacceptable anywhere - least of all at a great university.



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