Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Do Muslim Students Get to Shut Up Speakers They Don’t Like? The UWM Case

Via Texas Hold ‘Em Blogger, an interesting case at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

It seems that a reformed Palestinian terrorist has been slated by the Conservative Union to speak on campus, and the Muslim Student Association objects.

The university, it appears, is unwilling to flatly forbid the speech, but they are charging the Conservative Union about $2300 for the room. And $1,700 of this is for “security.” These figures have been confirmed for the Marquette Warrior by Laura Glawe at UWM Media Relations.

It is her understanding that the Conservative Union has produced a check for the necessary amount, and that the talk is “on.” It’s not officially “confirmed,” however. Glawe was unable to say what issues, if any, remain unresolved. Josh Dirkse, president of the Conservative Union confirms that the payment has been made, and says the event is “on,” but describes himself a “wary.” He says the confirmation process has been “quite a headache.”

Charlie Sykes has the relevant e-mails, showing the opposition of the Muslim students. One sent to Muslim students urges:
We have noted to the University that the event will create a safety concern for Muslims at UWM. We ask every Muslim who receives this to voice their concern and demand the cancellation of the event.
And an e-mail to the UWM administration claims:
The Muslims at UWM feel that their safety will be in danger if the above mentioned event takes place on the UWM campus. We ask the UWM Administration to cancel the event due to these circumstances for the safety and comfort of the students.
Yes, they actually raise the specter of non-Muslim students going out and beating up Muslims!

Opposition to free speech on the part of Muslims does far more to harm interfaith relations than any speaker condemning radical jihad.

And Jay Weber has more of the details.

Tight security is planned -- indeed the Conservative Union has paid for it! Not only will there be eight UWM police officers, there will be an additional 13 security guards.

There will be metal detectors.

Muslim students will have ample opportunity to protest, either outside the Union (where the speech will be held) or even inside the hall (where they will be allowed to hold up protest signs.)

Do the Media Matter?

When the Conservative Union found itself facing resistance from university bureaucrats, they “went public” with the issue. And indeed, the issue has been thoroughly hashed out today on conservative talk radio.

An official in the UWM Reservations and Event Planning office admitted to Dirkse that “the media coverage pushed us to believe that it’s a free speech issue.” It’s nice they came to believe that, but it would have been better had they believed it all along.

Is this Really Academic Freedom?

Glawe stressed that UWM has “done research” and established that it’s typical on other campuses to charge student organizations extra for security if they bring in a controversial speaker.

It should be obvious what’s wrong with this policy. It gives the groups or organizations who threaten violence or disruption the right to silence speakers, simply by imposing on sponsors costs that they, in a lot of circumstances, cannot bear.

Dirkse said the Conservative Union, to cover the cost of the event, had to take some money out of the honorarium that the speaker, Walid Shoebat, will receive. He said his organization is “a little behind on finances” and that “security costs really hurt us.”

Thus if conservative students will accept with civility the speech of a left wing radical, and leftist students will disrupt or shout down a conservative speaker, the leftists are rewarded with fewer conservative speakers.

The victims are being punished here.

It’s an incentive for being a fascist and a fanatic.

There are too many such incentives already on college campuses.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are you so quick to dismiss the Muslim students' expressed concern about their safety following the event? Their worries may be reasonable. The emails do not mention any specific threats to Muslim students, though it is quite possible that such threats have been made. This would be relevant to the evaluation of the appropriateness of the speaker--as would the likelihood that the speaker would incite such threats.

It would be irresponsible of the University to not consider whether a speaker is likely to incite unrest or threats of violence against members of the student body. This is especially true of unconventional and provocative speakers on subjects of ethnicity and religion.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would have have shut down martin luther king when he was speaking about the civil rights movement because whites were afraid of him? i do not believe so.

the school has policies in place for high security events and they seemed to have no followed them on this occasion.

looking back at the many predominate speaks on that have visited the campus, you can see that there have been many high profile speakers, ranging from martin luther king, to jfk, and even howard dean. however, as soon as the conservatives bring someone in, security cost are automatically raised.

how can you justify silencing the conservatives to appease the muslims. what you are talking about is exactly that, appeasement, and as we have all learned, appeasement does not work, it comes back to bite you in the butt.

7:10 PM  

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