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Monday, February 15, 2010

A different approach to civil discourse

Maggie's Farm reports that Michael Oren appeared on the campus of the University of California at San Diego last week and the results were very different than what took place at the University of California at Irvine (Hat Tip: Powerline).
By contrast, Ambassador Oren appeared at the University of California campus at San Diego a few days later.
Thanks to the firm position taken by UCSD’s administration led by Chancellor Marye Ann Fox, this lecture was not a repeat of the unfortunate incident in UC Irvine on February 8th where the Israeli Ambassador’s speech was disrupted by a well-organized group of student protesters.

In sharp contrast, UCSD’s administration demonstrated resolve and determination to conduct a program in a peaceful and civilized manner and in the best traditions of the university’s commitment to freedom of speech and exchange of ideas. The presentation started with a strong statement from Peter Cowhey, Dean of the UC San Diego School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, that interruptions would not be tolerated during Ambassador Oren’s presentation and that members of the audience would have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the presentation. The lecture proceeded smoothly…
Though the Q&A was dominated by pro-Palestinian students, “Ambassador Oren responded to each question with the knowledge of the accomplished historian that he is and with the wisdom of a true diplomat.”

The audience and the subject were treated with respect and benefited from civil discourse. University administrators or others who are willing to forfeit that freedom of speech and minimal manners themselves do not belong on campus.
You may recall that when I was at the Goldstone - Gold debate at Brandeis, students were threatened in advance that anyone who disrupted would be expelled. Here's how the one disruption was handled.
Students with signs are standing the front rows on the other side. They’re all dressed in black. I can’t see what the signs. Dore Gold addresses the interruption and says that the US fought a war seven years ago for freedom of speech and discussion.
What I didn't put in there was that the campus security went up to the protesters and told them to either sit down and shut up or they would be expelled from the university. They sat down quite quickly. At the end of the debate, most of the questions were hard questions for Goldstone.

All of which makes the title of the Maggie's Farm post quite apt: Where are the adults? It's a good question. Read the whole thing.


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