An event featuring speakers calling for a boycott and other sanctions against Israel took place as scheduled Thursday evening at Brooklyn College, The New York Times reported. Some politicians have called on the college, part of the City University of New York, to call off the event, but the college (with backing from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others) has declined to do so, citing academic freedom. About 150 people held a protest outside the event.
The Nation published the prepared remarks of one of the speakers -- Judith Butler, a professor of rhetoric and comparative literature at the University of California at Berkeley. "The principle of academic freedom is designed to make sure that powers outside the university, including government and corporations, are not able to control the curriculum or intervene in extra-mural speech," she said. "It not only bars such interventions, but it also protects those platforms in which we might be able to reflect together on the most difficult problems. You can judge for yourself whether or not my reasons for lending my support to this movement are good ones. That is, after all, what academic debate is about."