At 3pm this afternoon, I met with Kevin Helmkamp: the Associate Dean of Students.
He seemed legitimately interested in hearing the AHA perspective, and the reasons why we we felt that the event was necessary. He agreed that it “was a good topic to grapple with,” but brought up many of the same arguments we have already heard from others who oppose the event.
1) This is not the best way to start a dialogue.
2) It targets innocent Muslims instead of radical Islam.
3) Just because you can offend others doesn’t mean you should.
I will concede the first point. With regards to #2, I would argue that both radical and moderate Muslims need to acknowledge that others have the fundamental right to criticize Islam – and even to draw cartoons of Muhammad if they so choose. As for #3, we shall see if I truly can…
When I asked about his opinion about the legality of our event, he stopped short of making a definitive statement about whether or not AHA will be found to be in violation of any code of conduct – as the issues involved are complex and a delicate balance between defending free speech and preventing “hate” speech. He assured me that the university’s lawyers were working on it.
One particularly interesting thing he had to say was this:
“Our office tends to be the office where aggrieved groups want to come and expect us to spread our little dean dust and make it all right. “
If the MSA actually does support my freedom of expression, there is no need to resort to dean dust.