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Today Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com had an interesting take on this whole issue. Below is a small glimpse into what he had to say:

"All of the hysteria over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speaking at Columbia University is so tiresome for so many reasons, beginning with the fact that it is all rather transparently motivated by exactly what Juan Cole says: "The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state."

In their minds, we are at war with Iran -- even though, in reality, i.e., according to our Constitution, we are not -- and all of the ensuing hysteria is rooted in the fantasy world they occupy in which Iran is our Enemy at War. By their nature, such fantasies cannot be reasoned with.

This desire to prevent people from speaking when they express views that one finds offensive is just always baffling. That is true in general, and includes even pettier though still inane suppression efforts such as this one, which recently resulted in the recission of an invitation to Larry Summers to speak at an event for the University of California regents. Other than converting the individual into a martyr and dramatically elevating their importance, what do people think is accomplished when a person with a certain viewpoint is denied a forum?

In any event, there is not much new worth saying about the "debate" over whether Columbia should have invited Ahmadinejad to speak. People either believe in the value of having academic institutions be a venue for airing all viewpoints or they do not.

Exactly as is true for the First Amendment, it is so often the case that those who claim to believe in this principle when it comes to ideas they like suddenly find all sorts of reasons why the "principle" does not apply when it comes to ideas they hate most. "

The whole thing can be read here http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/09/24/ahmadinejad/

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