Now, Kushner's Critic Has His Freedom of Speech Threatened (UPDATED)

By Jeffrey Goldberg

There's a move afoot -- led by the faculty of the City University of New York -- to force Jeffrey Wiesenfeld from the CUNY board. Wiesenfeld, it will be recalled, blocked John Jay College, part of the CUNY system, from granting the playwright Tony Kushner an honorary degree, because of Kushner's views on Israel (he doesn't like Israel very much). Wiesenfeld's campaign was wrong (and subsequently reversed), but is this new situation much different? The faculty wants to purge the CUNY board of someone who has, by their lights, objectionable views, and who used his position as an appointed member of the CUNY board to advance those views.

Perhaps everyone in the CUNY universe should simply learn to live with objectionable views. And perhaps the CUNY board should consider whether it wants to turn Jeffrey Wiesenfeld into a free-speech martyr, just as Wiesenfeld tried to turn Tony Kushner into same.

UPDATE: This missive from one James Fallows came in over the transom a little while ago:

The obnoxious guy at CUNY is not having his "freedom of speech" threatened.

He's having his presence on the board called into question.  Freedom of speech is a right; membership on the board is a privilege.   FWIW.

Otherwise I think there is nothing we disagree about at this stage of history!

Point taken. Another point, mitigating all of this: What are the chances that the City University of New York would throw off a board member for being too pro-Israel?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/05/now-kushners-critic-has-his-freedom-of-speech-threatened-updated/238728/