Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Horowitz and an Academic Conference

InsideHigherEd.com reports that the National Communication Association conference withdrew an invitation for David Horowitz to debate, replacing him with Anne Neal. It's too bad that Horowitz won't be speaking at the NCA. But his demands were unacceptable. Demanding payment for a bodyguard and demanding to control the speaking order is not something normally granted to a speaker at an academic conference.

The "disruptive protests" angle strikes me as a red herring. The opposition to Horowitz, as far as I knew, came from the idea of paying him a speaking fee, which is not common at academic conferences, particularly since it would be used to fund his $340,000+ salary and his attacks on academics. The idea of a registration protest applied only to paying Horowitz, not to having him speak.

I think Dana Cloud is very stupid for being drawn into a debate over a right to "disruptive" protests, a right which doesn't exist. Now, everyone has a right to engage in protests, including verbal expressions, that don't prevent a speech from going forward.

I've tried to organize events at scholarly conferences with Horowitz, but I've never been able to get them approved. The problem is that David Horowitz isn't a scholar, and scholarly conferences are extremely narrow-minded. Not ideologically, but structurally, in the sense of wanting the usual boring speakers and panels rather than debates and non-academic speakers.

I'd be happy to debate Horowitz at any conference, including the NCA if any NCA members want to organize an event and Horowitz is willing to drop unacceptable demands.

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