"Money is talking. You might want to listen."

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Thomas Veil, Oct 2, 2007.

  1. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #1
    Interesting follow-up to the whole Columbia-Ahmadinejad speech thing:

    Plain Dealer

    This to me is a sign that some feel that donating a building to a university gives them the perpetual right to dictate how that building will be used -- free speech be damned.

    You'd think she'd get it that Ahmadinejad made a fool of himself and that the audience recognized that, but apparently you'd be wrong.
     
  2. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #2
    Giving has changed.

    It's sad though that she's against free speech. Even sadder that she refuses to realize that a lack of dialogue is usually what leads to events like Rwanda, Bosnia and the Holocaust itself.

    Ahmadinejad may have been laughed at but neither he, nor those who were there that day will ever forget the event. Education isn't simply about rote memorization but exposure to ideas foreign to us.
     
  3. dswoodley macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    It's reasons like this that more and more philanthropy occurs as restricted gifts. The Columbia administration should have been a bit more cognizant of the potential consequences. That being said, I agree with Ugg for the most part.
     
  4. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #4
    I fail to see the problem here - it's not as though they're asking for the money back, just intimating that there might not be any more forthcoming. It's their money and are free to do with it as they please. Or should we also require that Steven Spielberg go back to supporting the BSA?

    On a side note, might the Lerners be Jewish? I looked but couldn't find anything, and it would certainly explain why they might be upset.
     
  5. aquajet macrumors 68020

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    #5
    Read more carefully. The problem here is that she says one thing, but really means something else:


    "I do not know if you've served in the United States in the full measure of actual military commitment; whether you've taken the oaths to your country that my husband did as a U.S. Marine and have become prepared to defend our way of life at all costs, despite the sacrifices asked of you. Either way, your decision in this case flies in the face of these values."


    She speaks of "our way of life", which of course would include the freedom to allow people to talk about things, even if they're controversial. That much should be apparent. But the rest of Lerner's letter would indicate that what she really wants is for everyone to conform to her view of how things ought to be -- which means not allowing people and ideas she doesn't like to be talked about, in a university setting no less. Thusly, she threatens to commit a form of blackmail, which makes her appear to be a really big hypocrite by not adhering to what she espouses.
     
  6. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #6
    And others are free to voice the opinion that she's apparently a hypocrite who has presented a veiled threat to under cut one of the cornerstone values that her Marine Corp husband was prepared to defend at all costs. This is up there w/people who want to make flag burning illegally, I mean talking about people dying to defend our freedom while arguing to limit Free Speech is either pretty ballsy or pretty stupid.


    Lethal
     
  7. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #7
    The problem is that the idea that rich people by way of donations should be able to dictate how our society functions is not consistent with democracy.
     
  8. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #8
    Can only those who have given the oath to defend the Constitution actually interpret the document? I don't remember that requirement, but maybe I've missed something.

    It's weird, maybe we are heading towards a 'Citizen' democracy in the likes of Heinlein's Starship Troopers.
     
  9. Swarmlord macrumors 6502a

    Swarmlord

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    #9
    People have been voting with their money for centuries. It's very democratic.
     
  10. bartelby macrumors Core

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    #10
    Surely it's more of an oligarchy.
     
  11. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #11
    People who don't like freedom of speech shouldn't donate money to a university, period. Universities are for learning and free exchange of ideas. If she doesn't like that, then she shouldn't donate. If I were Columbia, I'd tell her what she could do with herself and her money. It's not as if there aren't any other sources of funding available. As a matter of fact, they should agree to give her a lot of her money back and remove the name from the building. Obviously she cares nothing for American values, including the free exchange of ideas.
     
  12. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #12
    I don't see it as her trying to limit free speech in a vacuum. What's she's saying is that if they want to do this, then fine, she just doesn't want her [husband's] name or her money tied to it, as that indicates a tacit approval of which she clearly is not giving. Free association is in the First Amendment, too.

    We've also heard that very sentiment expressed on these boards not a few times as well. Goose and gander.
     
  13. aquajet macrumors 68020

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    #13
    Well of course. I don't think anybody is actually arguing that she is somehow denying the rights of others. We are saying, however, that she is clearly opening herself up to severe criticism by stating what she stated. Obviously, Lerner has a different interpretation of what the First Amendment actually means. But it should be perfectly clear what it means to anybody who has actually read the Constitution. I really have to wonder whether or not she's read it for herself because the language is pretty clear.
     
  14. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #14
    I knew I've seen an article on this same issue recently, but this was all I could find. The article I remember was broader, and addressed the concerns at a wide variety of campuses and the broader implications (and counters by schools).

    Anyway, I can see the argument for both sides as having merit. If the Temple to the Athletes at BYU had been funded by general donations rather than specific, I would have been furious. But, at the same time, there is an expectation that the University knows where funds are needed better than I, and how to maximize the return on donated dollars to better benefit the student body (Athlete center brings better recruits to the team and conference, leading to bigger bowls/tournaments/etc, leading to more income to the school).

    I refuse to give money to my grad school because I really disapprove of a lot of the proposals that the schools works to promote. If there is a particular cause related to the school that I am interested in, I donate to that cause. Not too different than what they want here, but it is offset by the risk that schools just get too political.
     
  15. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #15
    Sort of. I thought the fundamental principle of democracy is one person one vote. Clearly if the few very rich wield unchecked power to influence society with their wealth, that's not compatible with the idea that we all have an equal say.
     
  16. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #16
    Did she put restrictions on the money when she donated it? If not, then what is she complaining about? It's not her building. That's what happens when you give someone something. You lose control over it unless you specifically request veto power over what happens in the building when you give the money.

    You didn't want a free exchange of ideas to occur in the building your money helped finance? You should have said so up front.
     
  17. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #17
    But that's a little far fetched, IMO. Who would actually think that because President Ahmadinejad spoke in Columbia Univ's Lerner Hall that the Lerner family supports or in is some way affiliated with him? CBS did and interview w/President Ahmadinejad but I don't think anyone assumes CBS is endorsing him or has a relationship with him beyond being an interviewee on one of their programs. Does the Lerner family also get say over the food served their or which students can and cannot congregate there? That's ridiculous, unless like mactastic said, there were conditions put in place on the donated funds.

    And this is made even a bit more amusing since Lerner Hall has been described as, "... Columbia's first major campus facility for extracurricular, cultural and social activities under one roof...".
    I guess it's a good thing they didn't donate money for a new library. ;)


    Lethal
     
  18. aquajet macrumors 68020

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    #18
    Exactly. Except prohibiting a free exchange of ideas at a university should never be tolerated. Thanks, but no thanks. Unless we're talking about Bob Jones University, that is.
     
  19. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #19
    As explained earlier, what restrictions might or might not have been placed on the funds is irrelevant. In fact, but for her name on the building, the location is irrelevant. Her point was that we donate a lot of money to Columbia, and we are hurt that Columbia chose to take the stance of allowing this speaker. We can't stop you, but if you continue to move in a direction we find disagreeable, we will cease to donate.

    I don't see the problem. Philanthropy has always been based on what curries the favor of the philanthropist. Her favor isn't being curried, she philanthropizes elsewhere. Those that approve the school's stance are free to donate as they wish as well.

    I imagine that if Planned Parenthood decided to promote and abstinence-only, adoptions-only, no condoms or abortions stance, its biggest donors would scurry away while others would replace them. For all intents and purposes, PP is free to make that shift, and people are free to respond accordingly.
     
  20. aquajet macrumors 68020

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    #20
    Again, Lerner spoke in her letter about the sacrifices made by the US military in order to preserve our way of life, whatever the cost. This has historically always been about freedom. But in the same letter, her warnings of action against the university indicate that she doesn't support the free exchange of ideas, but only things of which she approves. She is a hypocrite. Her actions indicate that she doesn't actually believe what she philanthropizes. And she is undeserving of the label.
     
  21. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #21
    No, it most certainly has not. This is mean-spirited ego talking, not philanthropy.
     
  22. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #22
    I'm not saying the Lerner family shouldn't have the right to donate their money where they want, I'm just saying that thinking they should get to "yay" or "nay" who gets to speak at the Columbia Univ's Lerner Hall is wrong, IMO, and hypocritical given how "highly" she thinks of the values of the US and the lives of the men and women whom have sworn and oath to protect them.

    She also says they deserved to be told before the invitation to President Ahmadinejad was extended presumably so they would've had a chance to pressure Columbia into not extending the invitation.

    So, like I half joking mentioned in my post, I'm glad they didn't pay for a library otherwise it might only be stocked w/books approved by the Lerner family.


    Lethal
     
  23. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #23
    Which is certainly her right. But she also went the extra step in saying that she felt her family should have been told prior to Imadinnerjacket's invitation. Which is hogwash. Unless she stipulated it up front, she has no control over who the university has speak there.

    There is no problem. She is free to whine about the decision as much as she wants. She is free to stop donating to the university over the matter.

    She is not free to add restrictions on the money at this stage.

    Are you suggesting that Columbia University has shifted it's stance from pro- to anti-American?
     
  24. LizKat macrumors 68030

    LizKat

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    #24
    I don't think she's a hypocrite. I think she does in fact support free speech but considers Ahmedinejad's prior public remarks elsewhere and everywhere as pretty much shouting fire in a crowded theatre. And he was not coming here to announce any shift in his world views.

    So I might have written that letter too. I might continue donating to the university. And so might the Lerner family. But I would not have let Columbia's invitation slide by either, not without remarking on it.

    As others have implied, Columbia U is free to invite the guy to come back for another go, and the Lerners are free to decide NOT to donate more money. That does not make her a hypocrite or Columbia some villain. At the moment they are just, respectively, a disappointed donor and a beneficiary of past philanthropy. There is an element of "the dance" to it, I suppose. Time will tell how it shakes out.
     
  25. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #25
    Can you enlighten us as to which words of Ahmedinijad's were "pretty much shouting fire in a crowded theater"?

    You are suggesting that some of his words created an immediate threat of danger to others. Please provide some evidence that this is so.

    And remember, it's not illegal to shout "fire" in a crowded theater IF you believe there is a fire burning in said theater.
     

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