free speech violation? or finally marginalizing those who should be marginalized

It has been reported that Fordham University has canceled an event at which Ann Coulter was scheduled to speak. You can read the whole article here.

There is a great deal of debate over whether it is better, (and “more” legal), to allow such voices to be heard so that the rest of us can protest or argue or speak back. Or whether such people should be marginalized and ignored. In this case, I’m with the 2nd — her statements aren’t helpful in raising difficult questions or shaping important debates. She is merely hateful, racist, prejudiced, and extreme.

I’m curious, though, what YOU think? Go.

4 Responses to “free speech violation? or finally marginalizing those who should be marginalized”

  1. 1 guardo
    November 12, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Listened to or ignored, it’s all the same to me when it comes to an idiot like Coulter–just as long as it’s not censorship you’re advocating. I am convinced by the arguments presented in three of the classic texts on this matter: Milton’s Areopagitica, Thomas Paine’s Introduction to the Age of Reason, and John Stuart Mill’s essay on liberty. To be very summary, they conclude that the right to free speech not only allows a person to be heard, but–even more important–allows everyone else to hear. That is, whenever society silences someone, it makes itself prisoner of its own action, because it denies itself the right to hear, and prevents what is being thought from being exposed. If Coulter is going to refer to President Obama as a “retard,” I would like that to be heard by everyone. Best to shine a strong light on such people and their ideas, and make them rise or fall on their merits.

  2. November 12, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I think the question with people like her is whether they are there to inform and enlighten or to perform for a narrow audience and I think she and Rush, et al. are peformers rather than informers. The problem is that not everyone knows that.

  3. November 12, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I am very much against censorship, especially political censorship. I would therefore agree with the official Fordham position, that they believe she is not a good person to invite to speak, but they would not prohibit a campus group from inviting her. Clearly she makes a living from being provocative and the more people ignore her, the more provocative she will become in order to re-capture attention. However as long as she stays within the law I would accept her right to play that role. It would be different if Fordham were giving her any sort of implied authority to speak on their behalf (e.g. if she was teaching a class, or giving a speech at an official ceremony). We have people in Australia who also make a living out of being hateful, racist, prejudiced, and extreme and unfortunately they are here to stay because there is a sector of our society that holds those views and supports such people. I don’t think we can get rid of them by banning them. I think you get rid of them by demonstrating that being loving, accepting, rational and equitable actually works better in terms of producing a functional society.
    But maybe I’m being a little idealistic. . . .

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