Published in the Indiana Daily Student, February 9, 2006
To the Editor:
The reaction of some Leftists to the upcoming February 23 speech by Ann Coulter is a perfect example of why she needs to be here. It is those who wish to stamp out dissent that need to be exposed to ideas they disagree with. College should be a learning experience, not a time to shut out what you do not want to hear.
One "student" was quoted in the by the Indiana Daily Student as saying: "I hope that other students will join me in sending a message that speakers who preach such morally reprehensible things should not be invited to speak to students, and if they are, it's not a decision the student body will support."
What about tolerating dissent and welcoming ideological diversity? Does respect for diversity apply only to race, sex and ethnicity and not to opposing viewpoints? Hopefully this freshman will mature over the course of the next three years and recognize the value of ideological diversity and the free exchange of ideas. Given the culture of censorship at this university, I do not hold out hope.
I saw Coulter speak when she was here in 2001. She gave a great speech, with sound argumentation. While I admit that Ms. Coulter is often provocative with her writings, I think to some extent she is playing a character to get a reaction in the media. No matter how "offensive" Coulter may be, nothing excuses physically assaulting her, which is exactly what Leftist thugs did at another university.
I was unable to attend the speech last year by David Horowitz, but several people who were there have described the reaction of his Leftist critics as completely unacceptable. Screaming obscenities is not intelligent debate, and attempting to shout down a nationally known speaker does not reflect well on Indiana University.
It is worth noting that the speech by Al Sharpton was completely different, with conservative critics of Sharpton behaving in a proper and respectful manner. I hope people who protest Coulter's speech emulate Sharpton's critics rather than Horowitz's critics.