Monday, September 20, 2004

USVC Controversy : IN OUR VIEW Michael Moore and liberal education

The Daily Herald

Utah Valley State College is giving students and residents an object lesson in the First Amendment and questionable economics.

UVSC's student government approved spending $40,000 -- most of its public speaker's budget -- to have controversial filmmaker Michael Moore speak at the McKay Special Events Center. Moore is the director of "Fahrenheit 9/11," his polemic on the Bush Administration's handling of the war in Iraq and against global terrorism.

Moore's film has been blasted by Bush supporters as being on a par with Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda film "Triumph of the Will," and that it was an indirect contribution to Democratic Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign. Many others have criticized Moore for the conclusions he draws in the film.

Now UVSC is taking calls from irate conservatives who believe Moore should not be given a forum to speak on campus, especially a month before the presidential election. Some even say his views just don't belong in one of America's most conservative communities.

But the would-be censors ignore the principles of the First Amendment, as well as the purpose of education.

The First Amendment's guarantee of free expression was not meant to protect speech that the majority agrees with, but that with which it disagrees. Surely a Sean Hannity or Alan Keyes does not need legal protection to speak in Utah County. The First Amendment was crafted to protect the dissenting voice, the minority opinion. James Madison and other founders believed that robust debate was healthy for the republic and would allow people to find the truth on their own through the clash of opinions.

Just because the speech is being sponsored by the student government doesn't mean that UVSC students or Utah County residents are being compelled to listen to Moore. They can stay home, read a book or listen to a radio talk show that more closely reflects their beliefs. On the same grounds, they shouldn't try to interfere with those who want to hear the guy.

(click on the title for the whole article)

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