Free Speech. The freedom to be able to say what you believe without the threat of retaliation from those with whom you disagree.
Good Manners: The ability to listen to those with whom you disagree and give them the opportunity to state their case without interruption. They in turn, allow you the same courtesy. It's called a discussion, and those of you who need a lesson in this nicety of polite society, you watched too much "Crossfire."
If we think airport security is tough, the security at Monday's appearance by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University better be tighter than that of Fort Knox.
"Nudity Required" should be the price of a ticket to hear Iran's president speak, because from past behavior, Columbia's students don't know how to comport themselves when the university hosts a guest they don't approve of or intensely disagree with.
Columbia students' record of hostility toward invited guest speakers was best demonstrated on Oct. 5, 2006, when Jim Gilchrist appeared at the invitation of the Columbia University College Republicans.
Gilchrist, founder of The Minuteman Project who, unarmed, patrols mostly the southern border looking for illegal immigrants who are breaking into the country, and reports them to ICE, was attacked by an angry crowd of students who rushed the stage before he had a chance to utter a word.
Gilchrist and fellow Minuteman Marvin Stewart were quickly escorted to safety from the onslaught of out-of-control students, who were armed with placards and banners.
It's possible that the attack on Gilchrist might have been planned in advance, since students had been protesting for a week prior to his appearance.
If the price of admission for Ahmadinejad's speech/discussion is nudity, it might be well worth it. Totally naked audience members who have undergone cavity searches can't be armed with rotten tomato missiles, anti-Ahmadinejad banners and signs.
Even better, any of them who are inclined to craziness won't have any pockets in which to hide a grenade they've livened up after purchasing it at an army/navy surplus store, a stick of dynamite stolen from a construction site, or some explosive device cooked up in the chem lab, even if it's of the stinky smoke bomb kind.
If you think about it, an audience full of naked men and WORSE naked women, all by itself might be enough get Ahmadinejad to cancel his appearance, even though he can be clothed.
You know how priggish those Muslims can be, keeping their women all swathed in voluminous garments that hide the fact that they are women. On the other side of the burka, Ahmadinejad might come to get a voyeuristic thrill. The only way he can ogle at home is to look at his wife, if that's allowed, or do it in some secret dark, dank place...just like Republicans.
Disagree. Fine. Attack. Not so fine.
It is an extremely high-minded, high-flown, commendable idea to encourage a free and open discussion on the highly volatile situation in Iran and the even more volatile Ahmadinejad.
Columbia officials are either extremely stupid or incredibly naive if they think Ahmadinejad can appear at their institution of higher learning without incident, when some of its students haven't even learned to control themselves.
Any attack by Columbia students would be shameful. No matter how much they disagree or how much disdain they have for Ahmadinejad, they must save it for another time.
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