Gary Fouse

Asking the Wrong Questions in College-In the US, No Less

How would you feel if you attended a public event (in this case) at a college or university and asked questions of the speaker (politely and fully in line with the protocol for asking questions) that the sponsors of the event deemed “inappropriate”? How would you feel if someone called you outside to admonish you for your inappropriate questions? How would you feel if police showed up and you had to step outside to speak to them about your inappropriate questions? How would you feel if the cops told you that you could not ask questions?

You would probably feel that you were living in Russia, or the old Soviet Union, or perhaps, Iran or Saudi Arabia. How about North Korea?

How about the United States of America?

That’s what happened to a group of us March 14 at Golden West College, a 2-year-institution in Huntington Beach, California. The open event was entitled, “Islam 101” and the speaker was Nicole Bovey, public information officer of the Islamic Institute of Orange County in Anaheim. Two GWC professors sponsored the event, which was open to the public. Here is what happened videotape and all.

To sum it all up, while Ms Bovey was giving a lollipop presentation of Islam and inviting questions along the way, a few of us from the community had the temerity to politely ask some pointed questions, which the speaker was unwilling or unable to deal with. So the professors stepped in, called one man outside to admonish him then brought in the campus cops. I was asked (unsuccessfully) by the speaker to turn off my video camera, and finally a professor rushed the stage to rescue Ms Bovey from further questions a full hour before the scheduled end of the event.

Moscow State University couldn’t have done it any better.

Subsequently, I wrote a letter to the administrators of GWC. Here is the response I received.

“We fully support free speech and the right to express diverse thoughts.”

Really? They call in the campus police is what they do.

Don’t let anyone tell you free speech isn’t under assault in America. The focal point of that assault on free speech is in our colleges and universities.

About the Author
Gary Fouse worked from 1998-2016 as adjunct teacher at University of California at Irvine Ext. teaching English as a second language. Served three years in US Army Military Police at Erlangen, Germany 1966-68. 1970-1973- Criminal Investigator with US Customs 1973-1995 Criminal investigator with Drug Enforcement Administration. Stationed in Los Angeles, Bangkok, Milan, Italy, Pittsburgh and Office of Training, FBI Academy, Quantico, Va. until retirement. Author of Erlangen-An American's History of a German Town-University Press of America 2005. The Story of Papiamentu- A Study in Slavery and Language, University Press of America, 2002. The Languages of the Former Soviet Republics-Their History and Development, University Press of America, 2000.
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