Dispatches from the Creation Wars

It has been astonishing to me how so many member of the two American insitutions that should most vociferously speak out in favor of the free exchange of ideas – the universities and the media – have shrunk in the face of violent extremism and refused to show the infamous 12 Danish caricatures. It’s one of the biggest stories in the world right now and it should be the subject of much discussion in both venues, yet most American news outlets have not bothered to show the caricatures so their readers or viewers can see what the controversy is about, and many universities have prohibited professors and student newspapers from displaying the caricatures.

The most recent is NYU, which has told the Objectivist Club that they may not display the caricatures at an on-campus panel discussion about the controversy, or they must not allow any off-campus visitors to attend the discussion:

However, on Monday afternoon, NYU Director of Student Activities Robert Butler sent an e-mail requesting a meeting with the leaders of the Objectivist Club the next day. He also informed them that NYU would now “require that this event be open only to members of the NYU community.” Butler cited “the campus climate and controversy surrounding the cartoons,” ordering the students to inform the “non-NYU people” who had already registered that they “should not plan on attending.” He concluded, “This is not negotiable.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is on the story and has contacted NYU to remind them that their own policies speak out against their demand:

FIRE was informed of NYU’s actions just yesterday. Hours later, Lukianoff called NYU President John Sexton to remind him that NYU’s own policies recognize student groups’ right to open events to the public and proclaim that “the use of physical force or other disruptive means to obstruct and restrain speakers” is “destructive of the pursuit of inquiry and learning in a free and democratic society.” FIRE has not yet received a response.

And I doubt they will. NYU is a private university, so they have every legal right to do this. But they should be condemned publicly for caving in to threats of violence. This entire controversy began because people were giving in to the twisted demands of psychopaths who think they have a right to kill people who disagree with them. The entire civilized world needs to stand up to this kind of thuggery, not shrink from it and sneak away in fear.