Friday, February 21, 2014

In which I tell Ramaz what to do

My view on the Ramaz thing is pretty simple:

(1) A school can set limits if it wants. Its under no obligation to give anyone a podium; however

(2) If over 150 students have expressed a sincere interest in hearing from a tenured Columbia University professor, the school should probably find a way to make that happen. The kids want to learn about the world? Teach them. And if you're worried they might learn the wrong things, well, there are all sorts of pedagogical solutions. The professor can be forced to appear on a panel with speakers the schools finds more appropriate, or the students can be required to hear a rebuttal or an introduction from someone who can deliver the opposing view.

I honestly don't know too much about this professor and what he stands for, but if he's as horrible as suggested, Ramaz should just follow the example of Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, who, in 2007, welcomed that Iranian jerk to his campus with a stinging rebuke. Thats what Ramaz should do: Bring the professor and tell him off in a way the students can respect and understand, like Bollinger did, then let him reply.

Though the school can ultimately do as it wishes, and is answerable to donors and parents, not students, it may also have some chanoch hanaar al pi darko obligations here.

Expected objections:

Tenured Columbia University professor? The guy supports terrorism!

Ok, I don't want to get into a whole big thing about the definition of terrorism, so I'll just make any stipulation you want regarding his views. Still, I think we can expect a Columbia University professor to refrain from saying stupid and offensive things during an appearance at a Jewish school, and if the administration has any worries they can let him know ahead of time that some topics are off limits.

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