OK, I write this knowing full-well the risk of appearing to beat a dead horse, and knowing full-well the tensions and emotions that have been involved in this weeks discussion.
That said, I’m interested in getting a little clarity here. Over and over again countless people (who oppose some of the tactics used in association with this site/petition) have voiced concern that Tyndale is supposed to be a University and that Universities are places where different ideas are discussed and debated. Others have argued against those calling for the cancellation of this event in particular and accused them of all sorts of ridiculous things such as stifling “free-speech” and “academic integrity” and so on. Some commenters around facebook, on this site, and on Michael Coren’s hit television show have even gone so far as to accuse those who oppose the Breakfast With Bush as being some sort of “cultural-Marxist leftists”! Because, you know, refusing to embrace a particular unrepentant figure from the Right necessarily implies that you embrace the Left.
At any rate, what I find interesting is that in the midst of these sorts of accusations no one has paused to ask if this event was even geared towards “dialogue” in the first place. To those who chose to employ the language of “dialogue” and hurl accusations of being anti-free-speech or anti-academic or whatever I would ask just how exactly you judge this event to have been about open dialogue when:
1) NO ONE KNEW about the event until The Star somehow got ahold of information and published an article 1-week prior to the event. Students, past and present, had no idea this event was in the making or ABOUT TO OCCUR. I can only wonder how much the staff and faculty knew and for how long they knew it.
2) This was planned as a CLOSED EVENT. Only 150 invites were extended and those were primarily sent towards wealthy potential donors.
3) The primary goal of the event was to RAISE FUNDS. Not to have any sort of honest debate or dialogue but to make money by associating ourselves with President Bush.
There are other points I could raise here but these will suffice for now. It would seem to me, based on the actual evidence, that this event was never intended to be about “dialogue” and “hearing other view points” or whatever. If that was truly the intent then 1) the event would have been made known in advance by Tyndale themselves (and not The Star), 2) it would have been open and invitations would have been extended outside the company of a handful of wealthy business folks, and 3) the goal would have been dialogue and debate rather than to make millions.
Thus, I can only deduce from this evidence that “dialogue” was never in the cards and that the sort of language being employed by those who think this petition is immature and foolish (i.e. anti-free-speech, anti-academic freedom, marxist-leftists etc) is simply a way of hiding behind rhetoric and refusing to *actually* engage in any sort of meaningful dialogue, and no, calling someone “dick” is not meaningful dialogue, neither is hurling any other sort of name or suggesting that dissenters simply “shut-up” (here’s looking at you Coren).
So, what then was the purpose of this event if not “dialogue”? Dr. Nelson seemed to say it quite clearly in the original article found in The Star: “He added that he hoped the Bush talk would help elevate the school’s profile”…amongst 150 wealthy potential new donors, that is. In other words, it was a chance to make some dough.
To conclude, if I am right that this event was never really geared towards “dialogue” and “presenting all sides” or “being open to different opinions” then this is not actually a matter of free-speech or academic-integrity, but of integrity (or lack thereof), period.
Of course I’m open to correction on this so if some of you have evidence to the contrary and care to demonstrate how this event was meant to stimulate dialogue (and address the problems with that which I’ve raised above) then please, proceed.