Our blog has moved, and is new and improved.

You should be automatically redirected in 3 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

St.Thomas should reconsider Tutu decision

Perhaps because the University of St. Thomas is a Catholic school, there is a cliché I can’t get out of my head when reflecting on its decision not to let Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak there – the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Indeed, it was with the very best of intentions that St. Thomas made its decision. The school was concerned that some in the Jewish community would be offended because of controversial views the archbishop has previously expressed about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The school should be commended for its thoughtfulness, sense of inclusiveness and religious and cultural sensitivity. However, its decision is a mistake.

The role of an educational institution is to educate – a function that is ill served by filtering out controversial views. In fact, we learn the most from those with differing views and values than ours. When in doubt, consider Voltaire's famous words: "I do not agree with a word you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it."

I know that Archbishop Tutu can find other venues locally, and, in fact, the group sponsoring the Nobel laureate’s visit has already lined up a secondary site. But I nonetheless think it sets a bad precedent for a respected local institution of higher learning such as St. Thomas to turn away a speaker of Tutu’s caliber to avoid a debate. Better to have that debate and make sure it is done in a respectful way, such as holding a public forum or bringing in speakers with opposing viewpoints.

Again, I understand why the University of St. Thomas has reached the conclusion it has and applaud its ecumenical spirit. I also appreciate how much soul searching must go on before one says no to a religious leader with the worldwide name recognition of Tutu. However, I urge the school to reconsider. I think it's doing the wrong thing for all the right reasons.

1 comment:

Hamline 2L said...

looks like they took your advice!!