Earlier today, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a controversial appearance at Columbia University. The decision to invite Ahmadinejad was defended by President Lee Bollinger, who criticized Ahmadinejad and his views while introducing him, but condemned by Columbia Law School Dean David Schizer.
Dean Schizer’s statement provides us with enough of a “law” hook to write about the controversy. Here’s what he had to say:
This event raises deep and complicated issues about how best to express our commitment to intellectual freedom, and to our free way of life. Although we believe in free and open debate at Columbia and should never suppress points of view, we are also committed to academic standards. A high-quality academic discussion depends on intellectual honesty but, unfortunately, Mr. Ahmadinejad has proven himself, time and again, to be uninterested in whether his words are true. Therefore, my personal opinion is that he should not be invited to speak. Mr. Ahmadinejad is a reprehensible and dangerous figure who presides over a repressive regime, is responsible for the death of American soldiers, denies the Holocaust, and calls for the destruction of Israel. It would be deeply regrettable if some misread this invitation as lending prestige or legitimacy to his views.
Our university is a pluralistic place, and I recognize that others within our community take a different view in good faith, and that they have the right to extend invitations that I personally would not extend. I know that we will learn from each other in discussing the difficult questions prompted by this invitation.
Do you agree with President Bollinger or Dean Schizer? Take our poll:
Statement By David M. Schizer Re: SIPA Invitation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [Columbia Law School]
Tough US Welcome for Iran’s Ahmadinejad [Associated Press]
Columbia law dean slams Ahmadinejad invite [JTA]
QuickSpec- Judgement Day edition [The Bwog]