Just over a year ago, in February, 2006, Dr. Peter March, a philosophy prof at St. Mary’s University, sparked controversy when he posted the much-reviled cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad on his office door. Flash forward (if you’ll pardon the gratuitous use of my own handle) to one year later, when I am proceeding to do something I considered unthinkable at the time – I’m taking his side.
Saint Mary’s University has decided to cancel the race debate with American Renaissance editor and raving bigot Jared Taylor, since they have decided it is too risky, and required more security than they were willing to provide. This appears to be primarily as a result of an anonymous threat against mister Taylor – specifically, that he would be stabbed if he tried to speak. I don’t see a downside, but that’s just me. I’ll come back to this.
Seriously, SMU, your story is a complete and utter boatload of boviturdinous misrepresentation. Did you have or express or attend to any security concerns when Dr. March was being denounced and protested by Muslim students? I certainly don’t remember the university going out of its’ way to protect your own employee, no matter how insensitive he was in promoting his cause. Dr. March is correct in his assertion that this indicates a reluctance to open what may be a politically unpopular topic. Political popularity and rightness, however, should never be the hallmark of the field of academia. certainly, there are some incredibly moronic crackpots out there with tenure, but the university as a whole should be a place of intellectual challenge and a willingness to expose small-minded and dangerous ideas to the light of truth. SMU has given up its’ right to call itself a true university (but I’ll keep my degree, thanks).
There has been a knife driven into the heart of academic freedom and cultural leadership, and I suspect it has ‘Sobey’s’ written on the hilt.
Onward and downward: regarding the anonymous poster who threatened to stab Mr. Taylor – you, and others like you, are a greater threat to liberal ideals than anyone on the so-called right wing. You would perhaps claim that you are trying to defend the rights of minorities – and who asked you to do that? Who told you that violence was the best way to suppress opinions you disagree with? Where does the idea come from that some form of social justice and peace is best facilitated at the point of a knife?
Fanaticism of any stripe is dangerous, and, as the maxim says, ‘the ends do not justify the means’. If you resort to violence to stop this racist from speaking, all of the other racists can smugly say that your actions confirm their stereotypes of you – you’re anonymous, so you can anticipate that they will ‘assign’ you a race to bolster their argument – and it becomes another moral victory for them. If, on the other hand, you win through this method, and you silence all arguments you consider wrong according to your own subjective criteria, you have snuffed out the candle of the very freedom you were claiming to defend. Freedom means the freedom to disagree no matter how onerous an argument seems. If you kill Mr. Taylor, do you then turn on Dr. March because he worked so hard to provide the venue for the debate?
I’d much rather have this white supremacist bastard hoist on his own intellectually inadequate petard than silence him. If he speaks, he gets to show the world how repulsive his argument is. If he is silenced in the name of a subjective view of freedom, then freedom is silenced along with him.