When free speech advocate Flemming Rose was at Franklin & Marshall College to talk about his new book, “Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech” he was confronted by a group of protesting students.
In 2005 Rose published cartoons of Muhammad cartoons in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Muslims rioted in the streets as a result.
On March 2 when Rose was scheduled to speak at the college, he was greeted by students who didn't want him to speak at all.
In an email to The College Fix, Rose said “There was a loud protest outside the auditorium before my talk, around 30 people.”
“They held posters and one of them showed Kurt Westergaard’s cartoon of the prophet with a bomb in his turban on her smartphone, which to me seems a little bizarre. Why show the cartoon if you find it so offensive,” he added. “The Q&A started in a hostile atmosphere, but as we went through the session it was my sense that everybody calmed down a bit, there were no boohs or interruptions, quite civilized but tense – and that’s the way to manage disagreements.”
Prior to the visit, Matthew Hoffman, the associate professor of Judaic Studies and History and chair of the college’s Judaic Studies Program who invited Rose to speak, was told by colleagues that the invite was a “bad idea”.
He wrote in the campus paper that he was confronted by students who “expressed feeling threatened and unsafe” at inviting someone who contributes “ever-increasing feelings of vulnerability, marginalization, and fear for our safety” to school.
Hoffman told The College Fix in an email that “one protester contacted me directly, apologizing for his role in the protest, realizing that the protesters were themselves exercising their free speech, but maintaining that it was a bad idea to invite him in the first place.”
And he isn't backing down. “My commitment to free speech is similar to Rose’s. I see a fundamental separation between words and deeds, though one can at times influence the other. As someone from the libertarian left, I believe fully in the universal right to free speech, free expression, and the free exchange of ideas,” he added.
SOUND OFF in the comments: what do you think of this situation?