Wednesday, October 06, 2004

STURGGLE FOR SPEECH AT CONCORDIA

The principles of free speech are under attack at Concordia University.

The administrators of Concordia are not allowing former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to accept an invitation to speak at that school's campus. The university is citing security concerns, with particular reference to the riot that occurred two years ago at the same school when another former Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu came to speak.

This is especially despairing because Barak is being barred from a university. The university, of all places in our society, should be open to the highest level of free expression and debate. The right to write, and speak freely on any topic has always been a fundamental principle of academia. It is the free flow of ideas that fuels scholarship. Time and again our universities have been the sites for introducing new and controversial opinions to the world.

By not allowing Barak to speak, Concordia is surrendering freedom to the threats of the lawless mob, and undermining the principles of academia.

As I say again and again, our rights are guaranteed only to the extent that we are willing to act as citizens.

Thankfully, there are students and residents of Montreal willing to excercise their responsibilities of citizenship. Dozens, although it should have been hundreds, demonstrated (peacefully) at Concordia yesterday against the university's decision.

McGill history professor Gil Troy donned his academic robes and spoke forcefully and passionately about academic freedom and the university's place in society.

Maderblog has the full text and a picture. I say this rarely, but I say it now, read the whole thing.

Posted by Matthew @ 2:28 AM