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Profiles in Courage--Nova Southeastern Edition:

Nova Southeastern has invited a controversial and undoubtedly extremely interesting speaker for its commencement--Salman Rushdie. Some Muslim students object to the choice, apparently because of his "blasphemous" writings. More or less par for the course. But here's the kicker:

Besides concerns based on Rushdie's writing, students also expressed worries over safety. "Who is to say there is not someone willing to try and kill him while inflicting harm to [sic] everyone else at the ceremony?" said NSU student Randy Rodriguez-Torres in an editorial published in this week's Nova student newspaper.

Rushdie's lived with a fatwa on his head for almost twenty years. Do you think Nova students might be willing to spend two hours in the same auditorium with him? (Hat tip: LGF)

Hank:
Rushdie appears in public often, and I doubt if the students will be at much risk. If I am wrong, however, then I would respect the students' fears. Rushdie had no choice but to live with the fatwa. The fact that he did does not oblige the students to place themselves at risk.
4.20.2006 10:30pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
He spoke at Yeshiva U last year and some of my friends went to see him. Why is that people who live a 20 minute subway ride away from Ground Zero don't make a peep about this, but kids in East Bumnuts, FL are raising a "terrorism concerns" stink? Ugh.
4.20.2006 10:35pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Why? It's a veiled threat.
4.20.2006 11:13pm
mistermark:
I have nothing but respect for Salman Rushdie, but I have to say that the phrase "(Hat tip: LGF)" is a phrase that should never be said in polite society. It's all well and good to cite your sources properly, but, sheesh, David, stay away from that maggot heap where your blog reading list is concerned.
4.20.2006 11:54pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
"
I have nothing but respect for Salman Rushdie, but I have to say that the phrase "(Hat tip: LGF)"
"
I was *this* close to making a joke about that precisely to beat someone like mistermark to the punch, but then I thought that people would be above that. oops.
4.20.2006 11:58pm
davidbernstein (mail):
I've hattipped Juan Cole, and if I'll hat tip him, you know I don't discriminate.
4.21.2006 12:11am
mistermark:
"I've hattipped Juan Cole, and if I'll hat tip him, you know I don't discriminate."

Fair point, Professor Bernstein. I realize that blog etiquette sometimes requires one to give credit to people one would otherwise not invite to a dinner party. Nevertheless, my comment about LGF still stands.
4.21.2006 12:33am
mistermark:
Oh, and just so there's no confusion, I'd happily invite Juan Cole to a dinner party at my house. David Bernstein or Eugene Volokh would be welcome to attend, also, despite any differences of opinion. Charles Johnson and the merry band of idiots in his comments section, well, they get no invitations to mistermark's house. One must have standards.
4.21.2006 12:40am
Glenn W Bowen (mail):

"Who is to say there is not someone willing to try and kill him while inflicting harm to [sic] everyone else at the ceremony?" -Randy Rodriguez-Torres


"Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?"
-Sgt. D.J.Daly, USMC
France, 1918

-.45ACP@LGF
4.21.2006 12:42am
Ray (mail):
Oooh, . . . academia and danger, a rare mix. The students would of course be in no danger, but they could get that vicarious feel for danger that most of them will never experience. Kind of like walking through one of those shark aquariums.
4.21.2006 1:47am
rightnumberone (mail) (www):
It's not even a veiled threat.

Look, students aren't stupid. They probably read the Kozinski decision noted in the post below.

All you have to do, according to the Kozinski doctrine, is THREATEN VIOLENCE, and you can get speech and speakers who you disagree with BANNED.

You certainly won't be punished for THREATENING VIOLENCE. Indeed, you will be REWARDED by ensuring that your opponents never get to speak.
4.21.2006 7:49am
RJL (mail):
Bravo!
4.21.2006 9:17am
poster child (mail):

Oh, and just so there's no confusion, I'd happily invite Juan Cole to a dinner party at my house. David Bernstein or Eugene Volokh would be welcome to attend, also, despite any differences of opinion. Charles Johnson and the merry band of idiots in his comments section, well, they get no invitations to mistermark's house. One must have standards.


Good to know. Thanks for the informative post.
4.21.2006 9:47am
Glenn W Bowen (mail):

Oh, and just so there's no confusion, I'd happily invite Juan Cole to a dinner party at my house. David Bernstein or Eugene Volokh would be welcome to attend, also, despite any differences of opinion. Charles Johnson and the merry band of idiots in his comments section, well, they get no invitations to mistermark's house. One must have standards.


Good to know. Thanks for the informative post.


that is good info- I wouldn't be in the same room as Juan Cole.
4.21.2006 10:39am
Brandy:
I heard Rushdie speak in Houston on September 10, 2001. A few Muslims were there, protesting very peacefully. They passed out flyers explaining why they were protesting, but they did not attempt to stop anyone from entering the building or to disrupt the event in any way. In my opinion, it was a model of what a peaceful protest should be. Rushie was a captivating speaker, very warm and engaging. Afterwards, he signed books and actually took the time to chat with the people in line. The next day, September 11 occurred.
4.21.2006 11:19am
djacrossthesea (mail):
Prof. Cole should be given credit on all sides for at least two of his long term projects: contributing to the history of the Baha'i faith (a minority religion, presently under violent oppression in the Muslim world), and the project to translate documents by American founding fathers, beginning with Jefferson, into Arabic. When one realizes that there are huge lacunae in political literature in Arabic, especially literure representing classics of liberal thought, the translation project comes to represent real potential to contribute to long-term democratic change in the Arabic world. Finally, whether you agree with his commentary or not, Cole's daily summaries of middle east source documents is invaluable, and it is still shocking that -- years after the beginning of the WOT -- no scholar on the right has attempted a similar project.
4.21.2006 11:22am
davod (mail):
Fourteen comments, seven of which do not relate to the article. Fifty percent on a side issue. Is this a record?

Back on topic: That the Muslim group chooses to couch its objections as a caution about possible violence just shows someone has been reading up on how to achieve your objective by addressing others concerns.
4.21.2006 11:25am
The Constructivist (mail) (www):
Wonder what people think of Hamilton College's decision to cancel Ward Churchill's scheduled talk due to death threats, etc.? Are security over free speech concerns ever justified? And what does it say that one liberal arts college was more scared of domestic terrorists than another is of radical Islamist ones?
4.21.2006 11:29am
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):

Are security over free speech concerns ever justified?

Presumably, Yes. In the Pentagon Papers case one of the 75 concurrences said something to the effect that you cannot, during wartime, disclose the location of a Navy ship that's already at sea. Plus there is the famous Holmes line about fire in a crowded theater. Somehow the fear of some kids in FL that Salman Rushdie, who has been speaking in public ever since the fatwa, will bring upon them the collective wrath of the Muslim world, seems a bit overblown.
4.21.2006 11:34am
k parker (mail):
rightnumberone,

OK, I'm really confused. I though Kozinski dissented from that decision? Exactly what case are you referring to?
4.21.2006 12:28pm
Luke R.:
Hey, I live in East Bumnuts, Florida!

But seriously, my girlfriend unit was accepted to NSE's DO program, and she says that the dean is this amazing guy, really inspiring and intelligent. From her description, it is no shock that he would invite someone like Rushdie to commencement. On the other hand, it should be no shock that these students in the middle of nowhere are concerned about terrorist attacks - they have been bombarded for five years incessantly with fearmongering and "the terrrorists are coming to get you so vote for us" campaigning and sloganeering. Who can blame them for making terrorism their #1 concern, when that is exactly what the government has told us it should be?
4.21.2006 12:52pm
The Constructivist (mail) (www):
Mike, I agree with you the fears of the FL kids seem overblown and apologize for the badly worded question. Let me rephrase: is it possible both Hamilton and NSE made the right decision, and if so, how should those who recognize legitimate limits to free speech generate criteria for colleges in similar situations to determine when to go ahead with and when to cancel an event that has moved from controversy to specific threats against the speaker or the institution?
4.21.2006 1:11pm
Chukuang:
I strongly second Luke's comments. Rushdie should speak and the students should not be afraid. They're more likely to get hit by lightening.

At the same time, travelling around the country in the years since 9/11, I've been struck by how every locale finds their own reasons why they are likely targets of terrorist interest. Every place seems to think they are important enough to register on the terrorists radar no matter how absurd it might seem to anyone else in the country. I've literally heard concerns about a firework display being the biggest in Ohio and thus a "very tempting target" for terrorists. Right. Everyone notes that there's a resevoir or something like it right outside of town. Ridiculous as this all is, Luke is right that it is hardly surprising give the messages being put out by the gov't and others (got that duct tape carefully stored away?).
4.21.2006 1:25pm
CEB:

Fifty percent on a side issue. Is this a record?

Record high or record low?
4.21.2006 1:43pm
Glenn W Bowen (mail):

Fourteen comments, seven of which do not relate to the article. Fifty percent on a side issue. Is this a record?


Is this off topic?
4.21.2006 2:47pm
Mr. Mandias (mail) (www):
"Wonder what people think of Hamilton College's decision to cancel Ward Churchill's scheduled talk due to death threats, etc.?"

I think it was feckless and cowardly. They should have cancelled his talk due to his being filthy fraud (and, in fact, I'm betting the alleged death threats was a face saving way of backing down, little more).
4.21.2006 4:10pm
The Constructivist (mail) (www):
Mr. Mandias, you may well be right on the "feckless and cowardly" part, you'd lose the bet if you put the emphasis on the "alleged" nature of the death threats but might win it if you put the emphasis on "face saving way of backing down." Ultimately, however, you and Mike are both engaging side issues but avoiding main issues:

1) Mike's examples seem to suggest that a college could be justified in shutting down an event if a planned speaker's talk could reasonably be expected to incite violence. But at Hamilton the threatening speech was coming from off-campus and was aimed at and succeeded in shutting down an event which would feature unpopular speech by an unpopular speaker, to say the least. Is it really fair to suggest Churchill and the college deserved to be threatened in that way? Or am I misreading the tenor of your examples, Mike?

2) how should colleges balance safety and speech values when they potentially might conflict? I'm sure liability lawyers and law enforcement people have figured this all out, but it's beyond me.

3) No bites on my 3rd q yet: "what does it say that one liberal arts college was more scared of domestic terrorists than another is of radical Islamist ones?"
4.22.2006 2:01am
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
The Constructivist, to be sure, I think colleges can shut down absolutely any speaker they want, based on whatever criteria they devise. As to when it would be reasonable, as an original matter, I think it would have to be decision based largely on the particular circumstances. Colleges don't need a steady rule in this respect - they are not likely to have recurrence of the relevant situation, much less frequent recurrence.

For my $.02, I think schools ought to take into account that we've had nothing happen since 9/11, and that police can address, if nothing else, <i>anticipated disruption.</i> Accordingly, the deans should check to make sure their balls are in place, and proceed.

I apologize for the delay in responding, but I actually just lowered myself to studying at IHOP (once Starbucks closed), and did not get home until just now.
4.22.2006 2:47am
Meryl Yourish (www):
Could have been worse, Mike. You could have gone to Denny's.

Or Waffle House.
4.24.2006 3:46pm
Cam Sutherland (mail):
It's all well and good to cite your sources properly, but, sheesh, David, stay away from that maggot heap where your blog reading list is concerned.


Surely you are aware Volokh and LGF share a spot on Pajamasmedia.com . Might be a little late to start worrying about appearances when it comes to associating yourself with racists.
4.25.2006 10:22am