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Princeton Univ Will Take ‘No Action’ If Students Hold Osama Event

The president of Princeton University says no disciplinary action but further speech will be used to solve issues.

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The book of tolerance has yet another chapter to be added. Prestigious Princeton University has lauded itself for being tolerant of even the most offensive kinds of speech. They believe that response with speech rather than disciplinary actions gives a more fundamental advantage to those who make hate speeches, reports The Indian Express.

We at Princeton believe that it is a fundamental advantage for a university to be able to tolerate even offensive kinds of speech and to respond to bad arguments when they are made with more speech rather than with disciplinary actions.
Christopher L Eisgruber, President, Princeton University

This comes after the Union Minister of India, M Venkaiah Naidu expressed his opinion in Parliament saying that no American university would allow students to commemorate ‘Osama bin Laden’s martyrdom anniversary’ on campus, the way Afzal Guru’s death was highlighted on JNU campus grounds. However, the president of Princeton differed with Naidu’s ideology.

Read: JNU Orders Disciplinary Enquiry into Afzal Guru Event

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We would permit that (event) and there would be no disciplinary action of any kind against those students. That’s unambiguous. It could be very offensive. I might be called upon depending on what the students said or did. Under some circumstances, I might have to speak out and indicate my disagreement as the President (of Princeton) and say that what the students were expressing was not consistent with the views of the university. I expect in the circumstances you are describing, there would be a number of people who would call on me to take action. I get people writing to me saying you must discipline a speaker. We don’t do it even when the views are very offensive. We think that the university, as we conceive at Princeton, is founded on the idea that overall you are better off letting offensive ideas be stated even when they are very offensive. And responding to them and letting truth come out of the discussion rather than stepping in and censoring speech in one way or another.
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Naidu expressed his statement last month while subtly hitting back at US Ambassador Richard Verma’s remarks on ‘free speech’ being the ‘hallmark of democracy in both the US and India’.

I want to send a message to those countries that are telling us about tolerance. If someone says ‘Osama, you are great’ on one of your campuses, will that be tolerated? If you can be so sensitive, can we not in our own country deal appropriately with those who raise pro-Pakistan statements?
M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs/Union Minister

Princeton’s President Eisgruber, who was elected in April 2013 is a noted American constitutional scholar, an author and he has testified several times before legislative bodies on issues of religious freedom. He is currently in India connecting with Princeton alumni and exploring future collaborative research opportunities with Indian universities.

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