NYU's Surrender Underscores Need to Display Danish Cartoons
March 29, 2006
Irvine, CA--"In a seemingly mundane decision, New York University has sacrificed the principle underlying its flourishing and the survival of civilization--free speech," said Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute. NYU is refusing to protect a student group's right to display the Danish cartoons of Mohammad at a panel discussion on free speech on March 29.
The group's event was to be open to the public, but at the last minute NYU retreated. Under the pretense of maintaining campus security, the administration contradicted its own stated policy on free speech by requiring that, if the cartoons are displayed, the event be limited only to "members of the NYU community." The student group now must turn away more than 150 members of the public who had planned to attend the panel.
"The university's shameful appeasement of Muslim and anti-free-speech groups--which have vowed to protest the event--underscores the urgent need to display the cartoons in defense of freedom of speech," said Dr. Brook.
"Free speech protects the rational mind: it is the freedom to think, to reach conclusions and express one's views without fear of coercion of any kind. And it must include the right to express unpopular and offensive views, including outright criticism of religion. NYU--which like other universities grants tenure to protect intellectual freedom--ought to recognize the crucial importance of this principle and defend it.
"If intimidation and threats are allowed to compel writers, cartoonists, thinkers and institutions of learning into self-censorship, the right to free speech is lost. If Muslims are allowed to pressure critics of Islam into silence, critics of religion will be next. And then everyone else."
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