Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Different President, a Different Precedent

Perhaps we can find a way to encourage President Barak Obama to pay a visit to the Butler campus so he can repeat some of the things he said in China on Monday. Unfortunately, I suspect he might be unwilling to come to Indianapolis thinking that his welcome from Butler’s leaders might well be far icier than the one he received from Chinese leaders in Shanghai.

The BBC, in a story with the two-tiered headline of “Obama presses China over rights: US President Barack Obama has told China that individual rights and freedoms should be available to all,” quoted Obama as saying, “certain freedoms were universal - and not just limited to Americans.”

The story went on to say, “’We do not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation, but we also don't believe that the principles we stand for are unique to our nation,’ he said.

"’These freedoms of expression and worship, of access to information and political participation - we believe are universal rights.’"

The article then noted that “Media outlets and the internet are heavily censored, and those who speak out against the government are often imprisoned.

“Mr Obama added: ‘They should be available to all people, including ethnic and religious minorities, whether they are in the United States, China or any nation.’

“After his main speech, he addressed the issue again in a question and answer session with Chinese students - many of whom spoke English.

“Mr Obama said freedom of information - including open access to the internet - was important.

"’That makes our democracy stronger because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear - it forces me to examine what I'm doing,’ he said.

“He said the internet was a powerful tool to mobilise people and had helped him win the presidency last year.”

So, President Obama is telling leaders that they shouldn’t be using the legal system to shut down internet speech that they don’t want to hear. In fact, he’s arguing that hearing such criticisms improves the democratic process and “forces me to examine what I’m doing.”

If only members of the Butler administration could hear, understand and appreciate what President Obama had to say. Obviously, Butler has chosen a completely different path, a path that many have found objectionable. It is very hard to feel comfortable with the company that Butler is deciding to keep on this issue.


  1. YES! I thought of you when I was reading these remarks in the NYTimes and almost sent the article to you.

  2. I, too, thought of you Jess as I watched the live streaming video from China. Obama could have been speaking directly to the Butler Administration.

  3. Oh, how I long for a different president! --of the university, not the USA

  4. Sadly, fascist authoritarianism such as that evinced by Pres. Fong is far too common in many sectors. It is nearly always an indicator of a small mind and morally weak spirit.

  5. On Aprl 27, 1961, in his Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association, President John F. Kennedy stated, "Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed -- and no republic can survive."

    Keep writing, Jess. Your eloquence and critical thinking skills are for more effective than anything the Butler Administration has brought forth in this situation. What is right, will prevail.

  6. We have a few college students online from college of Butler-University and we love your blog postings, so well add your rss or news feed for them, Thanks and please post us and leave a comment back and well link to you. Thanks Jen, Blog Manager Butler-University