While in Cairo, the Georgia State University newspaper published my op/ed column about the fundamentalist Christian protests on campus last month. I responded to the managing editor of the school paper who called for free speech zones on campus to be moved to locations where they’d be less intrusive:
Most agree that free speech and the marketplace of ideas are concepts that help create a healthy democracy. Even the hateful speech heard on campus earlier this month had some benefits. Sarkesian said the counter-protests “did help to unify our very diverse campus against an insignificant, yet potentially dangerous, contingent.” I see value in that unification.
It’s pretty clear that the protesters weren’t winning over many converts. Perhaps the cool reception helped some students – maybe those who harbor some disdain for homosexuality – see that their views are out of alignment with the mainstream. Again, there is value in this open market of ideas.
If we agree that a marketplace of ideas is a good thing, then we must also agree on the makeup of the market. If the market is so far away that no one can shop there, then the market can’t really flourish or provide any service.
Please read the whole thing — and feel free to comment on the paper’s Web site.