Danish journalist and free speech advocate Flemming Rose recently drew an aggressive pack of student protesters to his speech at Franklin & Marshall College as he spoke on his book The Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech.
Rose in 2005 published cartoon depictions of the Islamic prophet Mohammed in his role as cultural editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, sparking international controversy and catapulting him to the forefront of free speech debates.With that, several dozen student protesters converged at his campus talk March 2 voicing anger and outrage that Rose was allowed to speak on campus.The Judaic studies professor who invited Rose noted in the campus newspaper that prior to the event he was confronted by the students, who “expressed feeling threatened and unsafe” and asked why he would bring someone to the campus who contributes to “ever-increasing feelings of vulnerability, marginalization, and fear for our safety.”“The Q&A started in a hostile atmosphere, but as we went through the session it was my sense that everybody calmed down a bit, there were no boohs or interruptions, quite civilized but tense – and that’s the way to manage disagreements,” Rose added.http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/31621/“Before the talk, I tried unsuccessfully to engage some of the protesters in intellectual debate on the issue of the cartoons, and speak to the value of free speech as beneficial for the oppressed and marginalized,” Hoffman wrote. “Indeed, their vociferous protestations, and, at times, discourteous shouting of comments at the speaker exhibited precisely just how important the right to free speech is for all, regardless of power or privilege.”
Hoffman admitted, however, that he “did not address the emotional distress they [protesters] were experiencing that I now realize was for them the heart of the matter. And for that I am truly sorry. I never wanted to cause anybody pain and didn’t think that Rose’s words or ideas should have done so.”
The good news: His invitation was not revoked. He was allowed to speak. The protesters did quiet down and participate.
The bad news: Some students don't understand the value of free speech and exchange of ideas. They feel threatened.
I don't think Hoffman should have apologized.