At what point do ideas become dangerous?
I've been listening to plenty of news reports this morning about the protests against Columbia University for allowing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, to speak to students today.
My immediate reaction is to be rather suspicious of people who would find his viewpoints so frightening that they believe he should be silenced. Are they afraid he'll win converts?
I might not agree with everything he says. In fact, I know very little of what he says. Anyone who says the Holocaust never happened is a few fries short of a Happy Meal and I stop listening.
Still, the purpose of education is to know how to process ideas. It is about critical thinking. It's about listening to many points of view and evaluating them on their merit or lack thereof.
Silencing someone because he has controversial beliefs strikes me as the wrong way to handle it. I believe he should be allowed to speak, to be questioned and students can then decide for themselves what they believe.
How about you? Do you think he should be allowed to speak?