Thursday, May 19, 2005

Here was my statement for the panel

First off I want to apologize for being the only College Dem here. Unfortunately this discussion coincides with our elections so we could only spare one democrat, and since I am graduating in a couple of weeks I decided missing elections wasn’t the worst thing in the world. I warn you in advance that I may not be the best example of the wit or debating skills of the college democrats, as they have effectively sent a Religious Studies major to do a poly-sci major’s job.
Without further adieu, our statement.
George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships. There is the whole case against censorships, in a nutshell.”/// After such eloquence and brevity there is little left to say, except perhaps to argue the value of progress or the meaning of censorship.#
Progress is at once humbling and edifying. Humbling, because one is forced to look around and say, “The way things are right now, this present reality, is not the best we can do.” Edifying, because the question that follows the previous thought is, “What can I do to make things better?” Progress is, at its essence, the shaking up of the status quo and a yearning for something better for oneself and for others. Yet, it is apparent throughout history that the status quo has a way of cementing itself and limiting the forces of change. They realize, “One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” This they can not abide, and so they move to place a vice-grip upon the mind.
This is where censorship comes in. Those who are afraid of ideas not their own, and who have power to do something about it, will try and stop, that is censor, these ideas. This is rarely done these days by physical intimidation, more often now by greeting the ideas with: canned partisan responses, knee-jerk reactions, or with high concepts that justify low thought, like “Conventional Wisdom” “The Party Line” “Political Correctness” or “Patriotism.”#
That’s all I really have to say about free speech on campus, but there is another topic I would like to briefly touch on, national bias being imposed upon campuses. Just as we as individuals don’t want to be intimidated, or have our rights infringed upon; neither should universities have their academic freedoms, or freedom of speech, infringed upon.
For example people like Republican State Senator Larry Mumper of Ohio, are attempting to censoring the free flow of ideas. Mumper has categorized university professors as, “Democrats, liberals or socialists or card-carrying Communists who attempt to indoctrinate students.” And has written a bill that would debar professors, who teach “controversial material.”
Another example of someone who is trying to stifle academic freedoms, in this case not through legislation, but through outright lying, is activist David Horowitz. He recently alleged a student in a criminology class failed a course because he refused to write that the President is a war criminal. Horowitz later had to admit, “the test question was not the one described, the grade was not an F, and there were clearly non-political reasons for whatever grade was given.” These type of baseless accusations against professors are nothing more than thugary.#
And so, we of the College Democrats affirm free speech on campus, and freedom from physical or partisan intimidation. We affirm that attacks on the academic freedoms of college faculty should be rejected. We also affirm the responsibility of all students to hear people out, think before they critique, get the facts, and pay attention to the world around them.
This the U of O College Democrats affirm. Thank you.

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