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ARI Free Speech Campaign

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I made a donation 30 seconds after I got the Institute's email announcing this new campaign. Someone needs to do something, and Objectivists seem to be the only ones with the moral fortitude to do it.

I just wonder if they are taking extra security precautions at these events. There are plenty of Islamists in America, too many to assume there is no physical risk involved here.

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I really hope they are taking extra security precautions. I actually sent ARI an email asking about this, but I haven't gotten a response yet.

Patrick

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I'm planning on going.

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Someone needs to do something, and Objectivists seem to be the only ones with the moral fortitude to do it. 

Objectivists certainly have the proper moral basis with which to judge this issue and to act. But, fortunately, they are not alone in terms of taking the proper actions. Kudos to the Republican UC Irvine students who organized a panel discussion on campus along with a display of the Danish cartoons. And kudos to the campus administration who did not cave in to political correctness. The event took place on Tuesday, March 2, 2006. Here is one report.

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I just wonder if they are taking extra security precautions at these events.  There are plenty of Islamists in America, too many to assume there is no physical risk involved here.

I would be extremely surprised if they weren't. Security for controversial topics is one of the things on the standard checklist they send out to campus clubs planning events, so they are well aware of the need.

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Will you let us know how it goes?  :)

Surely.

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Stephen, thanks for linking to that article. That is rather eerie! I have never come across such a reaction at any lecture or forum I've attended. Also, I've visited the UCI campus numerous times..... I was just there last weekend, and I had no idea that anything of the sort transpired!

Also, I just found this article published in a UCI paper itself here.

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....I have never come across such a reaction at any lecture or forum I've attended.  Also, I've visited the UCI campus numerous times..... I was just there last weekend, and I had no idea that anything of the sort transpired!

....

While I also have not ever come across such an extreme reaction (which includes death threats) to a speech, this isn't the first time I've seen or heard of groups initiating force to try to stop ideas they don't like from being discussed.

For example, in the early 1980's, I attended a speech by an American general on the University of Washington campus, on the subject of strategic defenses against ballistic missiles. Quite a few leftist hecklers were in the audience, screaming insults. There were also quite a few outside who were pounding on doors (and chanting inane slogans) trying to disrupt the event. Fortunately, the security people (they were probably not the campus security people, but perhaps were connected with this general) removed the latter.

I also remember hearing about George Reisman giving a speech on the UC San Diego campus (must have been in the early 1990's) at which he was shouted down by leftists, and apparently the campus security didn't stop the hecklers.

This sort of behavior - using force to stop people from hearing ideas they don't approve of - is something the leftists (who are often very angry people, especially when others aren't listening to them) engaged in a lot on college campuses, and it sounds like the Islamists are taking it even further.

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I also remember hearing about George Reisman giving a speech on the UC San Diego campus (must have been in the early 1990's) at which he was shouted down by leftists, and apparently the campus security didn't stop the hecklers.

I was a member of the campus club that put on that event. The behavior of the leftists in the audience was truly disgusting; it's still my personal touchstone for what these self-proclaimed adovates of "diversity" and "tolerance" think of as acceptable. I don't particularly blame the campus security though. There were only a couple of policemen present and they did good work just getting Dr. Reisman out of the hall without triggering a riot. Back then that sort of behavior on college campuses was still unusual enough that the notion of a massive security presence just never occurred to the organizers. (It's also worth nothing that Reisman gave his speech about two weeks after the Rodney King riots, and the leftists on campus were all organized, riled up and looking for a target.)

The thing that amazed me was that, after failing to discipline the disruptors, the university administration was *surprised* when Reisman moved the TJS conference out of their facilities. They considered the whole thing a "teachable moment". Yeah, and a gang raping a co-ed in the university parking lot is a "teachable moment" in gender relations. Craven weasels.

To this day I take great pleasure in explaining to every representative of the university I speak to exactly why I will never donate any money to any of their causes or support them in any way, even though I could easily afford to do so.

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I'm very glad to see these events happening. Kudos to the campus clubs, organizers, speakers, and ARI.

I was quite surprised to wake up to the news on KFI (AM 640) and hear the UCLA talk mentioned. But I haven't seen or heard much about how it went. Was anyone from the forum in attendance?

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I'm very glad to see these events happening.  Kudos to the campus clubs, organizers, speakers, and ARI. 

I was quite surprised to wake up to the news on KFI (AM 640) and hear the UCLA talk  mentioned.  But I haven't seen or heard much about how it went.  Was anyone from the forum in attendance?

I didn't attend myself, but Ed Locke, who moderated the event, told me that it was fabulous. He estimated maybe 200 people in attendance. There were no demonstrations, which gave them time to deal with ideas. Ed mentioned that the Muslim professor on the panel actually acknowledged at times the irrationality of some Muslim actions, but he remained mostly defensive. He was alone. Evidently (surprise!) Yaron was the star of the show, being the most coherent and expressing the highest level of ideas. The conservative talk show guy, Kevin James, was at best, Ed said, when he was just being common sensical. Typical conservative, I guess, not very conceptual. All in all, evidently a very successful event.

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Does anyone know if an audio/video recording of this event will be available on the ARI website for free or for purchase? I'm very interested in listening to this event.

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Does anyone know if an audio/video recording of this event will be available on the ARI website for free or for purchase? I'm very interested in listening to this event.

Me too. I couldn't make the UCLA talk, but I hope to see the USC event.

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Does anyone know if an audio/video recording of this event will be available on the ARI website for free or for purchase? I'm very interested in listening to this event.

I'm told that the event was taped by ARI, and you can contact Debi Ghate (DGhate@aynrand.org) to find out if it will be made available.

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Me too.  I couldn't make the UCLA talk, but I hope to see the USC event.

I encourage you and all FORUM readers in the area to attend the USC event in early April, and to spread the news as widely as possible. The organizers are hoping to have a large audience and lots of publicity. From my vantage-point in the audience at the UCLA event, it was certainly a rewarding evening.

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I encourage you and all FORUM readers in the area to attend the USC event in early April, and to spread the news as widely as possible.  The organizers are hoping to have a large audience and lots of publicity.  From my vantage-point in the audience at the UCLA event, it was certainly a rewarding evening.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I have been to other ARI events over the last couple of years and they were all rewarding. Living in Las Vegas though it is a little harder to squeeze a whole day out of my work. But, I would like to attempt to make it even more rewarding by offering to get together for lunch, dinner or just a discussion with anyone that will be in the area and would like to meet.

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Will you let us know how it goes?  :)

Michelle and I went to the panel discussion on the Danish cartoons yesterday at JHU. It was an evening well spent. Drs. Brook and Ghate, and Mr. Mitchell who represented FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) elegantly presented the case for why free speech has to be an absolute in order to sustain a free society. An American Muslim medical doctor from Maryland volunteered from the audience to represent the Muslim perspective on the cartoons. Unfortunately, I did not get his name as it wasn't printed anywhere. He eloquently presented his perspective on why the cartoons should not be published and why it created rage among the Muslim world.

There was about 50 or so people in the auditorium, a little disappointing to me. I was hoping for many more to show up. There were about 6 or 8 guards on duty inside and outside the building, but no protestors showed up and there was no disturbance during the discussion. The audience was very respectful and attentive to the discussion.

Of course, I agreed with the Objectivist position entirely. Mr. Mitchell, after admitting in his opening remarks that he is a religious Christian, recognized and agreed that there should be a separation between religious and secular views as embodied in the Constitution. The Maryland doctor essentially appealed to emotion by claiming that something that offends a religious group to the core should not be published. He didn't say that it should be against the law, and he did say that those Muslims who rioted throughout the world were wrong. He maintained that they are a small portion of Muslims and do not represent Islam. He maintained that those who believe that these minority of Muslims represent Islam really feel afraid of themselves, and that is why they clamor for attacks on Muslims. In other words, as an excuse to attack Muslims, Americans claim that all Muslims are terrorists (something that none of the panelists voiced).

Mr. Mitchell pointed out that there is no right not to be offended. If something offends you, that should be the starting point for a discussion of values, not for rioting and burning buildings. Drs. Brook and Ghate pointed out that free speech is an absolute in the political life of a nation. Free speech came about as an outgrowth of the Enlightenment vision of reason being the source of man's understanding of the world around him. The doctor brought up that there was free speech during the time when Islam controlled Spain.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the evening, personally for me, was finding a label that sticks to one's shirt (like the kind one would put one's name on a conference). The label was the idea of one of JHU Objectivist club members. On the label was printed "I, too, am Spartacus." I grasped right away what this meant. Can anyone figure out how that relates to the panel discussion and the events of the Danish cartoons? (As Alex might say, 5 points if you get the correct answer!!)

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The doctor brought up that there was free speech during the time when Islam controlled Spain. 

I'm no expert on history but I find this extremely hard to believe and wonder what his idea of freedom of speech is. Could the equivalent of those cartoons (adjusted to the times) have been printed? Could any man publicly call the caliph (sultan? I'm not sure what the right term is) a stupid SOB as many Americans can (and do) to President Bush? I'm not saying you are confirming his claims, but I'd like for someone more knowledgable on history to validate my skepticism. This claim can't possibly be true, can it?

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I'm no expert on history but I find this extremely hard to believe and wonder what his idea of freedom of speech is.

I don't know about the freedom of speech part, but a late Louis L'Amour novel, The Walking Drum, was based as I recall in Muslim dominated Spain, and fictionally at least presents an intellectually oriented sense of life then. At that time they did have a greater respect for reason - ironically and predictably because of, guess who, Aristotle's influence on philosophers of the time, notably Averros (or Averroes). One Google'd article is here: http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/averro.htm. Apparently his writings, and similar ones, introduced Thomas Aquinas to Aristotle, eventually blossoming into the Renaissance.

Perhaps Burgess Laughlin can comment, I'm sure that he knows quite a bit more about the history.

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...One of the most enjoyable parts of the evening, personally for me, was finding a label  that sticks to one's shirt (like the kind one would put one's name on a conference).  The label was the idea of one of JHU Objectivist club members.  On the label was printed "I, too, am Spartacus."  I grasped right away what this meant.  Can anyone figure out how that relates to the panel discussion and the events of the Danish cartoons?  (As Alex might say, 5 points if you get the correct answer!!)

Awesome movie. In Stanley Kubrick's 1960 film Spartacus, Kirk Douglas plays the title role, leading a slave rebellion against the brutal Romans. Near the end of the film, the Romans recapture the slaves, and aim to make an example of Spartacus, only they don't know what he looks like. So they ask the slaves to point him out, in exchange for mercy. With each slave asked, they receive the same confounding answer: "I am Spartacus."

This relates to the same solidarity for freedom of speech that one would hope the Western media would show in its contempt for Muslim sensitivity towards depictions of Mohammed (to hell with him), but which they have predictably gladly relinquished in vain hopes of gaining "good feelings". We are all Spartacus now.

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Michelle and I went to the panel discussion on the Danish cartoons yesterday at JHU. 

I would like to add the following to Paul's account:

There were panels with enlarged pictures of the cartoons on the stage behind the speakers, as well as two enlarged photos of rioters in London carrying signs calling for violence against the West. Drs. Brooks and Ghate and Mr. Mitchell questioned whether carrying such signs was protected under freedom of speech. Dr. Brooks stated that the police had the right to arrest those rioters for inciting for violence. Mr. Mitchell pointed out that only the U.S. has laws protecting freedom of speech, whereas Europe has laws against hate speech.

At one point Mr. Mitchell recalled the controversy several years ago around the image of Christ immersed in urine (at an art exhibit in the Brooklyn museum). The Supreme Court decided the image was protected under freedom of speech and there were no riots by Christians.

At the very end of the event, Dr. Ghate asked rhetorically why the media could show images of rioters desecrating the Danish flag without concern for the feelings of Danish citizens. The Moslem M.D. responded that there was a difference between the image of the prophet Mohammed and the Danish flag. This, for me, highlighted his misunderstanding and/or misrepresentation of the principle of free speech: that the law either protects offensive images and speech or it does not.

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Awesome movie.  In Stanley Kubrick's 1960 film Spartacus, Kirk Douglas plays the title role, leading a slave rebellion against the brutal Romans.  Near the end of the film, the Romans recapture the slaves, and aim to make an example of Spartacus, only they don't know what he looks like.  So they ask the slaves to point him out, in exchange for mercy.  With each slave asked, they receive the same confounding answer:  "I am Spartacus." 

This relates to the same solidarity for freedom of speech that one would hope the Western media would show in its contempt for Muslim sensitivity towards depictions of Mohammed (to hell with him), but which they have predictably gladly relinquished in vain hopes of gaining "good feelings".  We are all Spartacus now.

Excellent. That was my interpretation also, as well as those who prepared the label. You get the 5 points! (Not sure what you can do with it though :) )

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Excellent.  That was my interpretation also, as well as those who prepared the label.  You get the 5 points!  (Not sure what you can do with it though  :) )

Cool. Thanks! Can I use the 5pts. in my NCAA brackets? I'm gonna need 'em! :)

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