On Wednesday night, NYU chose appeasement over upholding freedom of speech on campus.

An NYU-approved Objectivist student group spent significant time, money and effort to advertise to the public its “Unveiling the Danish Cartoons” panel discussion with the administration’s knowledge (and its involvement in planning the event’s logistics.)

Suddenly, responding to the threats and cries of Muslim students and their worldwide supporters, NYU changed the rules the night before the event: keep out the public and we’ll let you show the cartoons, or don’t show the cartoons and we’ll let the public to attend. In effect NYU said: “We’re going to sacrifice your right to free speech one way or another; we are too afraid to protect a civilized forum for the discussion of free speech because we’re intimidated by a screaming mob that is potentially violent.”

NYU caved to intimidation rather than insist that every student has the right to express his thoughts, no matter whether they are unpopular or might offend someone. If NYU seriously believed that there were security risks involved, they ought to have provided sufficient security.

Why did NYU trample the rights of the Objectivist student group?

Because it chose appeasement; it chose, out of fear, to avoid the consequences of taking a principled stand to protect every student’s freedom of speech on campus. And so next time, the mobs will know that to get whatever they want, they need only scream and threaten more stridently.

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Debi Ghate

Debi Ghate is Vice-President of Academic Programs at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif.