When it became clear that the college, the Mayor, and the New York Times were in support of allowing the talk on BDS at Brooklyn College sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, the politicians backed off and the discussion by Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler took place. Here are Butler’s remarks published on The Nation (http://www.thenation.com)
February 7, 2013
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. 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. It is also what democratic debate is about, which suggests that open debate about difficult topics functions as a meeting point between democracy and the academy. Instead of asking right away whether we are for or against this movement, perhaps we can pause just long enough to find out what exactly this is, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and why it is so difficult to speak about this.