Thursday, September 27, 2007

The NY Times speaks......

The NY Times, for all the criticisms levelled against it, especially in recent times, has had a regular feature of Talk to the Times - meaning that various senior personnel answer reader's questions.

The current occupant of the page is Editorial Page Editor, Andrew Rosenthal. He was asked where the NY Times stood on the Iranian President and his [then upcoming] talk at Columbia University:

"Having not heard the Iranian president's speech yet, I naturally don't have anything to say about his comments. In general, I don't plan to use this forum as a space for editorializing about the issues of the day.

But, there's an easy and obvious answer to the question, "Should he be allowed to speak at Columbia?" The answer is, yes.

Free speech is one of the founding principles of our republic. How can we deny him the right to speak simply because we don't like what he has to say, or what he has already said? Isn't that one of the biggest things that sets this nation apart from nations like Iran in the first place?

The right of free speech cannot be parceled out based on whether we want to hear what the speaker has to say, or whether we agree with those views. It means, quite often, tolerating the expression of views that we find distasteful, perhaps even repugnant. There is much that the Iranian president has to say that is loathsome, about Israel, about the Holocaust, about terrorism, about the United States. Are those views going to disappear because we cover our ears? Are we better equipped to counter those views if we don't hear them? We think the answer to those questions is, "No."

For anyone interested in newspapers, and especially the NY Times, which publishes under the banner "All the News Fit to Print" - about which some would argue - the Q & A is well worth reading, here.

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