Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Ibrahim Hooper, the Communications Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations squared off over the protest to Bill Maher’s planned commencement address at the University of California-Berkeley on Tuesday’s “NewsNation” on MSNBC.
“We’ve been following this what we call disinvitation season for years, and that’s the attempt by students and faculty members to get speakers they dislike … disinvited from campus because of their views” Lukianoff stated.
Hooper argued, “The key issue here is honoring and endorsing views that are bigoted and hate-filled. When we challenged [Ayaan] Hirsi Ali at Brandeis University, it was because she was being honored by the university, she’s spoken many times around the country spewing anti-Muslim bigotry. We haven’t said a thing. But when a university honors someone that’s when we feel we have the right to stand up and say ‘no I don’t want this person honored. I don’t want their hate-filled views endorsed.’ And that’s the same situation with Bill Maher … when the hate radio host Michael Savage was barred from England because of his views, we said, ‘No, you shouldn’t bar people from a country merely because of their views even if they’re hate-filled and bigoted.’”
Lukianoff countered, “What we’re finding is that students are increasingly coming to believe that they should have freedom from speech as opposed to freedom of speech,” to which Hooper responded “that’s not our position. Our position is if bill was invited by a student group and he wanted to spew his anti-Muslim hate, well, maybe we tell people to go and hand out literature or something like that, but we wouldn’t ask that it be cancelled, but when he is being honored and endorsed by the university itself, that’s when we believe you have the right to say ‘no, not in our name.’”
“You have the right to protest a speaker. My concern is that students and faculty members go first to ‘let’s not have this person speak on campus.’ that’s intelligently unhealthy,” Lukianoff stated, to which Hooper re-iterated that CAIR was only taken issue with Maher being honored by Berkeley.
Lukianoff added, “The fact that people so vehemently disagree with him is all the more reason to hear him out. And this is an art that I feel like is actually being lost on our campuses, where we really should be teaching people to at least hear people out or what they’re going to say before you try to get them kicked off campus.”
Hooper then responded, “So, if they invited the Grand Dragon of the KKK?”
Lukianoff said in amazement, “It’s just amazing in these debates though, how quickly speakers are likened to Hitler and the Grand Dragon of the KKK.”
Hooper then clarified (a clarification host Tamron Hall tried to help him make) that he wasn’t comparing Maher to the KKK, but asking Lukianoff if he thought there were no speakers who should be disinvited.
Lukianoff then answered the question by declaring, “I fully support the right of students to protest and picket outside, but my point is that increasingly we just want people not to speak in the first place, and that’s bad for the marketplace of ideas.”
Hooper then concluded the segment by re-stating his earlier point that he only takes issue with Maher being honored by the campus, saying “that’s not our position. Our position is honoring and endorsing speakers. It should not be, or you should be able to challenge that, honoring [or] an endorsement. They want to speak and spew hate. It’s a free country.”
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