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09/24/2007

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make what you will or won't of the three or four colorful desert religions, one recalls today a verse from the myth of the bronze age hebrews:

"My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me"

the iranian fundy acquitted himself quite handily in the midst of a hostile field, and was given a startlingly gratuitous boost by a boorish and pandering bollinger.

This is your most bizarre post yet. Congratulations!

This may come as a bit of a shock so prepare yourself.

Achi doesn't have 1st amendment rights. True fact! See, he is the head of a foreign country and NOT AN AMERICAN. It's those last three words that are the critical distinction.

Now as for your confused thought that somehow he was discredited because people mocked his "we ain't got no homo's" bit, well here to you're mistaken. And the thing is, for an ex TV guy I'd think you'd be more savy.

See, first off, a huge number of his fellow countrymen have similar "unevolved" views regarding homosexuality. So our laughing at Achi only serves to demonstrate the perversion of our society in their minds. And lets face it, anyone in our country who was already taking this guy seriously isn't going to have their mind changed by that little exchange. Furthermore, the rest of the session showed Achi in a light that can be used by the pro Achi propagandists fairly effectively. They can show Achi talking about free speech (you seem to have bought this bit), they can show him standing up to the big American bully Bollinger and then being heartily cheered by an American audience who "clearly supports him".

Sorry dude, it is not "free speech" to invite a man who is personally responsible for the deaths of American servicemen, who denies the Holocaust, and leads a movement dedicated to the extermination of Jews to one of the country's premier institutions of higher learning. Nor is it important that we give him an opportunity to air his opinions. Really, exactly which thought do we really need to discuss? The murder of Jews, the stoning on teenage girls, the murder of homosexuals? Do fill me in, because really, I'm missing something here.

Sneering condescension seems a counter-productive strategy in attempting to refute the power of letting people make asses of themselves in public, but that's your choice. At any rate, I'll go down through your comment and explain why you're wrong.

Achi doesn't have 1st amendment rights. True fact! See, he is the head of a foreign country and NOT AN AMERICAN. It's those last three words that are the critical distinction.

We here in the United States believe that rights are not granted by the government, but endowed by our creator. You clearly disagree, since you believe rights are granted as a result of government paperwork. Your belief that fundamental human rights are the result of an act of government shows just exactly how little you understand about the country you live in.

In any case, allowing Ahmadinejad to speak is not a First Amendment issue. So far as I know, no one was seeking a government ban on his speech -- thus, no First Amendment issue and mention of the First Amendment only in passing.

I like the sneering condescension, though. Very convincing.

See, first off, a huge number of his fellow countrymen have similar "unevolved" views regarding homosexuality. So our laughing at Achi only serves to demonstrate the perversion of our society in their minds.

Why "unevolved" in quotes? I didn't use that word -- so, like the above reference to the First Amendment, it appears that you're arguing with someone besides me, perhaps even someone imaginary. Either that or it's your crafty way of indicating that the tolerance of homosexuality is somehow beneath you.

That said, Pursuer, in assessing the speach think world audience. I know the "unevolved" Islamic fundamentalists are going to find everything Ahmadinejad says to be fascinating and filled with profound truth. Frankly, I don't really care what they think, since they're always going to hate us. It's the people in the middle we're trying to convince.

Let me give you an example you'll understand, beause it plays directly to your hatred and resentment: Liberals. You, like lots of other conservatives, are convinced that liberals disagree with you because they're just too thick to understand the obvious. Ahmadinejad's gaffe concerning homosexuals (or "homos," as you so indicatively refer to them) will help liberals understand that fundamentalist Islam is bad, since liberals care about gay rights. Thus has Ahmadinejad helped to sway liberals toward your point of view. So, again: Think world audience, not just the True Believers back in Iran.

The sneering condescension was good though. Not at all obnoxious and clearly evidence of your superior thought processes. Hard to believe liberals aren't falling behind you in lock-step.

Really, exactly which thought do we really need to discuss? The murder of Jews, the stoning on teenage girls, the murder of homosexuals? Do fill me in, because really, I'm missing something here.

All of them. The more he talks publicly about all of those the better off we are. He's not going to convince as many people to agree with him as he is going to convince that he's a dangerous nut.

The sneering condescension worked particularly well here. In fact, it's a lovely illustration of my point about free speech. I could delete your comment, but why would I? Leaving it up makes my case about conservatives much better than taking it down would.

“We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile.”

I have been quite torn on this issue, going back and forth between both sides; is he dangerous enough that we shouldn't even let him in the country, let alone allow him to speak at one of our major universities, or do we give him all the rope he needs and wait for him to hang himself.

My biggest complaint with Columbia, and a few other places in America, is not that they allow Ahmanutjob to speak, but that are so happy to proclaim that they are champions of free speech because they have a leader of a state sponsor of terror coming to speak, but they will turn right around and declare that the U.S. Military is too dangerous to have on campus. You know, that same military that is willing to lay down and die in defense of their right to deny the military 5 minutes on campus.

That is why I have a problem with this. Not necessarily because they allowed him to speak, but that they allow him to speak because "dialog is a good thing", but conservatives and the military are persona non gratis.

Just ask Jim Gilchrist about the wonderful dialog he engaged in with Columbia students.

Oh yeah, and that international audience you touting? This is the kind of news story they are going to hear about it:

US threats are the real danger to peace, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells New York
This not from the state run news in Iran. No, that would be too easy. That's from our great British allies, the Times Online.

America as an ideal and a country either works or it doesn't. Pursuit, it is time to stand up for the ideal that is America, not look for Clintonesque (depends on what your definition of "is" is) loopholes to make that ideal small and subservient to what we see as our present needs. Patriotism should transcend self-preservation. Our fathers and grandfathers felt that way when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and countless members of Generation X felt that way when The Towers were destroyed. Be patriotic, believe in America, the ideal. Do not worry of the costs when a dangerous fool like Ahmadinejad uses our strengths to his own ends. Because to weaken those strengths is to settle for an America with a lower case "a." That america may be a safer, less contentious place to live but it is one every patriot, left/right, rifle-bearing/treehugging, should fear.

An invitation to the president of the Iranian theocracy to speak at one of America's most presitgious universities moves Tom to criticize the "authoritarianism" of . . . Rush Limbaugh?!?

This post is a parody, right?

Conrad, because one person is less authoritarian than another, it doesn't mean he's not authoritarian. The authoritarian urge of some Republicans, while minor relative to the full-bore oppression of states like Iran, is nonetheless a violation of American tradition and standards. (And one of their favorite justifications for their advocacy of things like torture and government intrusion is that they're not as bad as oppressive states like Iran.) Again, just because someone is worse, it doesn't make you good.

Frank, most of the controversy over the military on campus has to do with recruiting, not speech. They're different activities entirely. I don't believe recruiters should be banned. In fact, I find the ban quite offensive for the reasons you alluded to. But the fix for that isn't the intellectual Mutually Assured Destruction of banning everyone anyone objects to. It's pressuring the hosts of events to bring in people with diverse points of view. I don't think that's what the right was doing when it demanded with great umbrage that Ahmadinejad not be allowed to speak.

As for the British coverage of Ahmadinejad, I believe you're a proponent of the media presenting the facts, which the article did. It didn't opine about whether Mr. Ahmadinejad is dangerous or nutty. That is something I'm sure you believe is best left to the individual reader. (Certainly, you'd believe it if TimesOnline's conclusion about Ahmadinejad were that he is a reasonable man fighting against American oppression.) I think most readers will reach the right conclusion.

Tom, do you think Ahmadinejad is an authoritarian?

I ask because there's not a word of complaint about it in your post. Confronted by the leader of one of the most repressive, torturing, murderous regimes on earth, one might have expected you to, you know, mention it rather than singling out a fatuous talk show host as an enemy of freedom.

Those who justified Ahmadinejad's invitation on the grounds that Bush is a terrorist too, I wrote off as buffoons. But to approve of it because Rush Limbaugh is an authoritarian?

Jesus wept. I don't know what to say. . . .

Conrad, you're being melodramatic. I've no sympathy for the theocracy of Iran or the horrible oppression of Ahmadinejad and his sponsors, and you know it. I also don't think it's necessary to belabor the obvious. (I referred to the "terrorist supporting regime" of Iran and to Ahmadinejad himself as "an almost clownish liar and bigot," so I can see how you'd imagine I'm a fan.)

And I didn't justify Ahmadinejad's appearance by calling Rush Limbaugh an authoritarian. I justify Ahmadinejad's appearance based on the the primary point of the posting, which is that free speech not only allows enlightenment and uplift, it also exposes dangerous buffoons.

The right today sees freedom as a weakness, the same way the Marxists of the 20th Century saw competition as inefficiency. It's interesting to me that the right, which places absolute faith in markets of goods and services, has so little faith in the marketplace of ideas. At every opportunity, they're trying to limit who's allowed to say what, whether it's a character on TV saying "shit" or a Democrat wearing a "Kerry" button at a Presidential appearance. The urge to empower authorities -- public and private -- to control everything in the name of order and security seems irresistible to many on the Republican side.

Is any of that as vile as the things Iran's regime does every single day? No. But, as I previously pointed out, not being as bad as someone else doesn't make you good. If the best we can claim as a nation is that we're not as bad as Iran, we're not doing very well at all.

Not much time dear Tom so a few quick points:

"-- people who seem to understand little about why the First Amendment came first"

You, in fact, did bring up the first amendment, and seemed to be implying that people that don't think Achi should speak are denying him this right.

Secondly, all of us who are students of Locke believe rights are granted by the creator. It's just that we also believe those who represent the power structure of a country that not only denies said right, but also the right to life to those who disagree, do not deserve to have said right granted in our country. This seems rather basic, but then I'm aware you and the university types are much more sophisticated than me, so perhaps I'm missing the nuance here.

Finally, there was no need to give him the platform to spew the hatred that he has felt free to spew in other less prestigious venues. Indeed, the very reason this was controversial was because we were well aware of his views. So I ask again, what more did you need to know? Exactly how he proposed to kill homosexuals. Or was it how many kiloton he thought it would take to incinerate Israel?

Inquiring minds you know!

Pursuit, I think I answered all of that already. The point isn't that he was going to say something new. The point is that he was going to say what he's been saying to a whole new audience.

As for bringing the First Amendment up, I insist it was just in passing and that your read of what I wrote -- that I "seem to be implying" that failure to invite Ahmadinejad to speak would be a violation of his First Amendment rights -- is incorrect. Certainly, in clarifying comments I made clear that I don't believe this to be a First Amendment issue. Maybe I'm lying to cover my own perfidy, but I think it's more likely that I was imprecise in my writing. If so, I'm sorry about that. But don't wave an insignificant ambiguity around as if you've uncovered some great truth in words that, at worst, I did not intend to mean what you think they meant.

The importance of the First Amendment -- the reason it came first, the thing that Rush Limbaugh and you both apparently don't understand -- is that free speech is important in large measure because it allows people with repugnant ideas to reveal themselves to be repugnant.

I, personally, hope they reveal themselves early and often. Hence, my willingness to let Mr. Ahmadinejad expound at length in front of a couple of dozen cameras in the media capital of the world. One thing is obvious about Mr. Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia: There are people who are more aware of his abhorrence today than there were before he appeared. That's why letting him speak was a good idea.

"I think most readers will reach the right conclusions"

I think you should go read the comments in their forum and then decide how correct their understanding is of what happened at Columbia. There is overwhelming support for Ahmanutjob, and overwhelming condemnation for Bollinger, Bush, and the U.S. in general.

"He's managed, without even trying, to make the elite of the USA look like a bunch of uncivilized, wide-eyed, war mongering, zealots.

Steve, London"

"Ahmadinejad is the elected leader of the Republic of Iran, attacking him is attacking the Iranian people and no different then attacking democracy, a idealogy we claim we are defending. And furthermore, we have installed governments in the Middle-East, how man have been succesful? None, we support Israel, but what do we really support? Israel is a fundimentalist state, no different then Iran. If Iran hangs criminals, Israel bulldozes homes and denies Israeli Christian and Muslims citizenship.

P. Balthasar, Los Angeles"

"So the president of the University called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a petty and cruel dictator. This is so typical of the ignorance of world affairs by US citizens. How rude can Americans get?

[cunnind], La Chatre, France "

And the list goes on and on for 2 or 3 dozen pages.

Tom, I find it almost comical that you excoriate the right for wanting to close down the marketplace of ideas for their desire to prevent Aramalamadingdong from speaking.

I think if you look around, you'll see that it's those on the left who consistently attempt to deny, and succeed in denying, the ability of those on the right to express their ideas. Leftists call in bomb threats, shout down speakers, physically block people, restrict access, and otherwise impede the expression of ideas they don't agree with. Meanwhile, those on the right consistently allow leftists to speak, generally without intteruption, at similar events.

Was it good to let Aramalamadingdong spout his hatred and lies? Yes. Should it have been at one of the top universities in the world? No. The three-ring circus of the UN is an adequate forum for that clown.

"As for bringing the First Amendment up, I insist it was just in passing and that your read of what I wrote -- that I "seem to be implying" that failure to invite Ahmadinejad to speak would be a violation of his First Amendment rights -- is incorrect. Certainly, in clarifying comments I made clear that I don't believe this to be a First Amendment issue. Maybe I'm lying to cover my own perfidy, but I think it's more likely that I was imprecise in my writing. If so, I'm sorry about that. But don't wave an insignificant ambiguity around as if you've uncovered some great truth in words that, at worst, I did not intend to mean what you think they meant."....

..."The importance of the First Amendment -- the reason it came first, the thing that Rush Limbaugh and you both apparently don't understand -- is that free speech is important in large measure because it allows people with repugnant ideas to reveal themselves to be repugnant."


I give up.

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