After publishing my latest piece about why “everybody loses their mind when a kid says prayer in school,” I got into a discussion with a friend who didn’t entirely agree with my stance (and that’s fine – the whole point of my blog is to create a discussion, not to tell the whole world how brilliant I am). Several days after the friend sent me a link to an article related to liberals, Berkley, and free speech; with a note that he was curious what I thought.
My first thought was a-ha! I know what it is going to be about: It’s an article that shows that Christians are not the only ones trying to impose their values on others, or something of that sort! And I was prepared to agree wholeheartedly; I would assume that by now all my readers know that I don’t have it exclusively for Christians, Republicans, conservatives, etc. – in fact, I just read somewhere a few weeks ago that politically modern feminism belongs to the liberal left, which is supposed to be my side, and yet NOTHING has been recently getting on my nerves like modern feminism! I have absolutely no problem, I thought, to show my friend that in writing about what’s going on out there I’m trying to be as fair as possible.
Um. But then I actually read the article. And it’s not anywhere as clear-cut as I assumed it would be.
If you don’t want to read the whole article, the summary is as follows: A bunch of students in Berkley, California, invited Bill Maher to be their commencement speaker. Bill Maher accepted the invitation, but shortly after said some nasty bits on TV about Islam (specifically “Islam is the only religion that acts like the mafia that will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.”). The Berkley students voted on it and decided that they didn’t want Bill Maher to be their commencement speaker after all. And now there is a huge case out of it because apparently by un-inviting Bill Maher the students are compromising his right of free speech.
Well, for all it’s worth, here is what I think:
Obviously, I do believe in everyone’s having the right of free speech. Bill Maher can say whatever he wants about Islam. However, I also believe that I have some rights when it comes to deciding whether I want to listen to him or not. So if the majority of students decide that Bill Maher doesn’t represent the values that they would like to have in their commencement speaker, who am I to tell them otherwise? It’s THEIR graduation!
I know, I know, you are probably thinking: But if the majority of students decide that they want a prayer at their graduation ceremony, who am I to tell them otherwise? It’s THEIR graduation!
Ugh, it’s not easy, is it?!
I have a very strong suspicion that that’s EXACTLY what my friend was after when he sent that link :)
But seriously, I don’t know what to think (or whether to even view these two situations like the same). It’s true that if we honor the right of one group of graduate students to have a graduation exactly the way they want it, we should honor the right of all graduate students to have the same. However: One might argue that the reason against a Christian prayer at a public school graduation ceremony is that being pressured into participating in it is offensive to people of a different or no faith. Is NOT inviting Bill Maher offensive to some people as well? That’s the dilemma that had me thinking; I don’t believe that not inviting necessary compromises his right to free speech, as he can talk elsewhere (he is on TV, for God’s sake!)
The more I think about it, the more questions I have. Which is why I’m going to ask my audience to put their two cents into the jar and tell poor Global Chick WHAT is the answer to this one!?
Photo of Bill Maher from www.artcelebs.com was accessed freely on Internet