McShane Issues Statement on Roger Stone Ahead of Speaking Engagement

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McShane Issues Statement on Roger Stone Ahead of Speaking Engagement

(Photo Courtesy of Fordham University College Republicans' Facebook page)

(Photo Courtesy of Fordham University College Republicans' Facebook page)

(Photo Courtesy of Fordham University College Republicans' Facebook page)

(Photo Courtesy of Fordham University College Republicans' Facebook page)

By SOPHIE KOZUB, News Editor

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At 5:01 p.m., Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. issued a statement on Roger Stone’s speaking engagement taking place tonight at 7 p.m. at the Rose Hill campus. He said that the university will allow the event to continue, despite having strong conflicts with many of Stone’s opinions.

The event, hosted by Fordham College Republicans, was “neither University-sponsored nor University-funded,” according to McShane’s email statement, sent to all members of the Fordham community.

“We respect the Office of the President’s opinion as much as he respects others,” the College Republicans said in a statement to The Observer. “We were pleased with the way in which the president was able to stand up for free speech.”

McShane notes that the College Republicans “have every right to invite Mr. Stone, and he has every right to share his opinions.” He further stipulates, however, that many of Stone’s opinions are  “demeaning to numerous individuals and groups, and do not rise to the level of thoughtful discourse we expect at Fordham, nor, it must be said, in civilized society.”

“Much of what Mr. Stone has offered is in stark contrast to the Jesuit notion of men and women for others, and at odds with our ideal of care for the whole person,” he states. “This comes not from a conservative nor liberal point of view, but from the standpoint of common human decency. He does not seem to appeal to our best angels, and thus is at odds with the way of proceeding advocated by Abraham Lincoln, the greatest light of the GOP and one of the most luminously good presidents in history.”

The university, however, will allow the talk to proceed.

“If we err in this decision, we do so on the side of academic freedom,” McShane wrote.

He concluded by saying that students “have every right” to hear what Stone says tonight and debate and refute him peacefully “and without disrupting the talk itself.”

“No point of view has the exclusive right to freedom of speech, and I encourage you all to use that right freely and wisely,” he writes.

The full text of McShane’s statement is below:

Dear Members of the Fordham Family,

As you are likely aware, the Fordham College Republicans have invited political operative Roger Stone to speak at Rose Hill today. I am only writing to you about the talk today because it was not clear by the end of last week whether the College Republicans had actually confirmed Mr. Stone’s appearance.

Mr. Stone’s appearance is neither University-sponsored nor University-funded. Of course the College Republicans have every right to invite Mr. Stone, and he has every right to share his opinions. Many of those opinions, however, are demeaning to numerous individuals and groups, and do not rise to the level of thoughtful discourse we expect at Fordham, nor, it must be said, in civilized society. Much of what Mr. Stone has offered is in stark contrast to the Jesuit notion of men and women for others, and at odds with our ideal of care for the whole person. This comes not from a conservative nor liberal point of view, but from the standpoint of common human decency. He does not seem to appeal to our best angels, and thus is at odds with the way of proceeding advocated by Abraham Lincoln, the greatest light of the GOP and one of the most luminously good presidents in history.

That said, the University is allowing the talk to proceed. If we err in this decision, we do so on the side of academic freedom. Our students have every right to hear what Mr. Stone has to say, and every right to debate and refute his words peacefully, and without disrupting the talk itself. No point of view has the exclusive right to freedom of speech, and I encourage you all to use that right freely and wisely.

Sincerely,

Joseph M. McShane, S.J.