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Message from the NYU Provost About the Mohammed Cartoons Matter:

Provost David W. McLaughlin sent this message in response to a student's inquiry, and then gave me permission to post it:

Thank you for writing. I'm sorry I wasn't able to respond sooner on behalf of John Sexton and myself.

I disagree with a number of your views with respect to the event involving the Danish cartoons.

First of all, at no time did the University say that cartoons could not be shown; indeed, just the reverse. For that reason, I reject the assertion that free speech was abridged. That the Objectivist Club, the student organization, ultimately chose not to include the display in its event was its decision, not the University's. The University made clear to the club -- as well as to the Muslim groups on campus asking for the cartoon display to be prohibited -- that the display would be permitted.

Secondly, you, like the Muslim students on campus, have a right to make your voice heard when you think something is objectionable. We would handle your objections no differently; that is, our tradition of free speech would prevail, as it did in this instance.

Thirdly, as to the media -- I believe this matter has been mischaracterized by several media outlets, driven by accounts offered by others that have been crafted in a way to obscure the crucial, central fact: the University made clear that the cartoons could be displayed as part of the event.

Good luck with your studies. Thanks for writing

I should say that I'm quite unpersuaded by this message -- unless I'm mistaken, it's quite clear that NYU did indeed insist that the Objectivist Club choose between (1) displaying the cartoons, in which case the event would be closed to audience members from off-campus (even though NYU student groups are generally allowed to open their events), or (2) having the event be open to off-campus visitors, but not displaying the cartoon. It's hard for me to say that, given this, "at no time did the University say that cartoons could not be shown; indeed, just the reverse." But if I'm mistaken on the facts, I'd much appreciate being corrected.

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