Freedom of speech and expression is a right treasured by Americans and although Daniel Pipes has the right to defame and speak ill of a faith with over 1.5 billion followers, his supporters have no right to spit on someone who peacefully opposed his presence. Pipes’ supporters have crossed the line by spitting on a student who attends the same institution she works for.
Speaking ill of a faith and demonizing its followers leads others to believe it is acceptable to ridicule and express hate. Freedom of speech should not be exploited in order to offend a faith for it paves the way for hate and intolerance. The spitting incident is an example of this. The victim of this incident opted not to press charges, hoping that remorse will prevail. However, who is to say that the next time such a confrontation occurs it would not result in a more severe incident?
University campuses should be places of tolerance and understanding. Hate speech must be rejected no matter who it comes from, even if they carry a degree from a prestigious university. This will send a message, not only to the invited speaker, but all those who feel that bigotry and intolerance is protected by the First Amendment.
Omer Subhani, Communications Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations-Florida