Rick, You Blew It
Rick Martinez wrote in his Oct 6 N&O column that Duke was cowardly, caving in to "political correctness" by allowing the PSM conference.
Even a moment's thought reveals this is absurd. It would have been much easier for us not to host the conference. There would have been less debate, fewer heated discussions, and fewer unsettling disagreements. In fact, we could just not have any discordant ideas at all, and never argue with each other. Duke could look like this.
But debate, discussions, and even unsettling disagreements are the reasons we have universities. True, if Duke had denied PSM, we would not have violated the 1st Amendment. It is also true putting PSM off would have denied our students, our faculty, and the larger community an opportunity to learn, and to speak out in opposition if that is their desire.
As a fellow conservative, I generally enjoy and appreciate Mr. Martinez's commentaries. But as a conservative in the academy, I recognize just how important a universal commitment to real freedom of expression can be. You are dead wrong on this one, Rick.
When I was asked by PSM if my Department would co-sponsor, I readily agreed, and gave money. Nonetheless, if you come to Duke's campus, you will find me outside, joining those protesting PSM's message. I disagree with PSM vehemently. But I defend Duke's decision to sponsor the conference just as vehemently. Note to Rick: C'mon over! You'll get angry. And you might even learn something.