What Matt said

By Megan McArdle

I can't improve it:

I'm a little confused by the framing of the decision to extend an invitation for Mahmoud Ahmadenijad to speak at Columbia University as "free speech." Everyone, including Ahmadenijad, has a right to speak his mind in this country, but nobody has a right to a specific platform at a major university. I, after all, haven't been granted such an invitation and there's no particular reason he should have gotten one either. For all the reasons Ross cites a lot of the right's reaction to this has been overheated, but it's still fundamentally odd to decide that a maniac should participate in a debate with a university president as part of a bizarre publicity stunt whose main purpose is to exaggerate the importance of both men.

Conversely, though, things like Duncan Hunter's new plan to cut off funding to Columbia University is a real free speech issue. The university really has the right to stage an asinine publicity stunt if it wants to without the federal government stepping in.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2007/09/what-matt-said/1988/