Double Standards for Freedom of Expression At Columbia University

Posted on October 21, 2009

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Potentially responsible for War Crimes Against Gazan Palestinians, Olmert is allowed to speak without challenge at Columbia

Potentially responsible for War Crimes Against Gazan Palestinians, Olmert is allowed to speak without challenge at Columbia


Al Jazeera Blog

When President Ahmadinejad of Iran spoke to students at Columbia University in September 2007, the students, the faculty and the media were all given front row seats to condemn and to vilify.

Even the President of the University, Lee Bollinger, took the opportunty to get a dig in, telling Ahmadinejad:

““Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator”

The New York Times reported:

“Mr. Bollinger praised himself and Columbia for showing they believed in freedom of speech by inviting the Iranian president, then continued his attack.”

The entire event generated reams of press coverage.

Contrast this with the experience faced by Ehud Olmert when he spoke to students at Chicago University this week.

In a letter to students, the university expressly forbade any video or audio recording equipment, barred members of the media from attending, told students they needed to be there 2 hours before the speech for security screening, and stipulated that questions should be pre-submitted, presumably also for screening.

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