Saturday, May 3, 2014


Students and faculty at Rutgers University have proven they have little to no interest in free speech by staging a large enough tantrum to cause former United States Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to decline the invitation to speak at their commencement. Unwilling to sully their ears with viewpoints other than their own, the group had planned even more elaborate and larger-scale moves, prompting Rice to allow all of the students who wanted to celebrate their graduation from college to do so without having to look the other way as polite people often do when under-supervised toddlers have fits in public.

The university will now tap someone as its commencement speaker who is probably lower profile, less controversial, and OK with the idea that the only reason he or she is speaking is because the original selection bowed out. My suggestion is that commencement ceremony organizers do not select a substitute, ask Rice about how long her speech would have been and simply have everyone in attendance sit there for that length of time. But looking to Rutgers -- whose president waited a year or so before telling his staff to exclude him from dealings with two companies on whose boards he sat and from whom he took a $300,000 paycheck and which delayed firing an abusive basketball coach until after he qualified for a $100,000 bonus -- to do the right thing is an unproductive course of action.

Rutgers, of course, is also the university that paid Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi $32,000 to tell its students to "study hard, but party harder" in the same year that it paid commencement speaker (and Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author) Toni Morrison $30,000. This suggests to me that the Rutgers community is ignorant not only of the value of free speech, but of worthless speech as well.

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