News - Editorial
POV | Speech is Free -- Forums Aren't
In America, people should be allowed to say what they want. But that doesn't require the rest of us to help spread the message.
Last week, the University of Kentucky hosted an event at which Neo-Nazi Senatorial candidate Robert Ransdell was invited to speak. For more than two minutes, he spewed the hate-filled garbage one would expect before someone with better sense than the event's organizers finally turned off his mike and asked him to leave the stage.
One might think an apology would be forthcoming for giving this guy a platform for his despicable views. But following Ransdell's rant, UK's Director of Rural Journalism, Al Cross, defended the decision, calling it a "lesson in free speech." A later statement issued by the University itself made things even worse by saying the school “wasn't aware of the content of his remarks prior to him speaking.”
What baloney. Are we really supposed to believe that Al Cross -- who spent over 15 years as the Courier-Journal's chief political writer -- could actually be unaware that a candidate whose personal website (called "The White Guard") claims that "With Jews, We Lose" might venture into unacceptable territory?
A spokesperson for the ACLU of Kentucky said it's not clear whether Ransdell's First Amendment rights were violated at UK. But it's clear to me: They weren't. In America, people are free to say what they want, no matter how offensive. But no one is required to provide a forum for such speech. And UK stumbled badly by doing so.
Call and share your views.
I'm Bill Lamb and that's my Point of View.