Free speech – should the President of Iran be allowed to speak at an American university?
The country of Iran is accused of sponsoring terrorist organizations around the world. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust-denier and has called for the elimination of the state of Israel.
He has been invited to speak at Columbia University in New York today, September 24, 2007. Protests against his appearance are planned and the debate has heated up on both sides of the free speech issue.
What do you think? Is there merit in hearing from a world leader regardless of his or her record and views of human rights? Should a public figure be denied a forum in this country because we disagree with the practices and policies of a foreign country? Or should a university campus be a free marketplace of ideas where all views may be calmly aired and debated? Does protest also fit into the equation? Aren’t these all pieces of the puzzle we call democracy?
Update: In June, 2009, Ahmadinejad was re-elected President of Iran in a contentious election. Riots and demonstrations by thousands of Iranians of all ages went on for several days after the election.