Ovid (publius_ovidius) wrote,
Ovid
publius_ovidius

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First Amendment, RIP

I was absolutely disgusted at the blatant politicizing of Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) when he introduced a bill to withhold all federal funds to Columbia University. Why did he do this? Because they support the First Amendment. Hunter is upset that the University invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak there. While I'm hardly a fan of this man, the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech means nothing without the freedom to be heard. It also means that we can't pick and choose who gets to speak. If we only allow the people we agree with to speak, what's the point?

The text of the bill has several interesting points in it.

Section 2.1: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of the State of Israel, a critical ally of the United States.

This is a blatant lie. Ahmadinejad said he wanted the Israeli regime wiped off the map. The US didn't call for the destruction of Iraq. We called for the destruction of the Iraqi regime. How is that different from what Ahmadinejad called for regarding Israel? Unfortunately, newspapers keep reporting the "wipe Israel off the map" lie, so people just assume it's true.

Section 2.4: Despite Iran's support for terrorism, Columbia University extended an invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to address students and faculty from the University campus.

What about long-standing US support for Luis Posada? He's an anti-Cuban terrorist happily living in Florida and he's allegedly killed many people in Cuba, including assassination attempts, bombing airplanes and hotels. There are plenty of others we protect and support, but he's the poster boy. If we're going to deny funding to a University allowing alleged terrorist supporters to speak, how can the government justify supporting alleged terrorists?

Section 2.5: Columbia University dissolved its long-standing Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program on campus because of disagreement with United States military policy, and for nearly four decades has not invited the return of any ROTC program to the University campus.

What? Now we're going to punish them for something which happened almost 40 years ago? Universities are now going to be required to support the US military?

Section 2.7: Through their invitation, Columbia University provided a public, prestigious platform on United States soil from which on September 24, 2007, President Ahmadinejad spoke and defended his wide-ranging support for terrorist activities.

Was it really that prestigious and did Ahmadinejad really defend his support for terrorism? read the transcript and decide for yourself. Ahmadinejad was ripped to shreds by the President of Columbia University before Ahmadinajed could even open his mouth. It was vicious (it may have been accurate, but that's another issue). However, in reading Ahmadinejad's remarks, he didn't defend terrorism, despite what Representative Hunter claims.

What's interesting about the Iranian President's remarks is that he raised some excellent points, evaded some questions (particularly regarding whether he supported the destruction of Israel), was blatantly disingenuous about many topics including women's rights and he made a right howler when he claimed that Iran didn't have any gay people (being gay in Iran is punishable by death. How would you respond in a survey?)

By the time that speech was done, this merely helped to solidify my opinion that Ahadinejad is a bad person and supports patriarchal, bigoted values. However, there's a reason he has these beliefs and it's not the case that all of what he believes is wrong. Only by having open, honest dialog like this can we even begin to understand the viewpoint of those who oppose us. Isn't that what free speech is about?

Or would you rather have our corporate news media tell you what they think you should hear?

This bill to deny funding to Columbia is a disgrace and Representative Hunter should be ashamed of his assault on the very freedoms which make this country great.
Tags: politics
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