Rutgers University offered $35,000 to George W. Bush’s national security advisor and secretary of state to speak at its commencement exercises on Sunday. But just a few weeks ago, Rice got $150,000 for giving a speech at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
As it turned out, pushback from some Rutgers faculty and students caused Rice to bow out, saying she didn’t want to be a “distraction.” Still, she had accepted their lowball offer in the first place. Why the deep discount? Was she planning to be 80 percent more platitudinous in New Jersey than in Minnesota? Or maybe it was a pro rata deal, and she going to speak for 14 minutes in New Brunswick instead of the hour she talked in Minneapolis.
I should note here that the University of Minnesota has never paid me $150K to deliver a bunch of instantly forgotten platitudes, which I if I understand the new definitions of free speech America’s pundits are using these days means that my free speech rights have been egregiously violated and the university is irrevocably opposed to the free exchange of ideas.
Kaplan has another important detail about the Rutgers speech:
But her Rutgers fee – which her replacement, former New Jersey governor Tom Kean, has waived – would have come from a public university’s revenue, not from a benefactor, which means that anyone who paid for a parking pass or a student fee this year might have been able to claim some pride of ownership if she’d shown up.
So if understand the objection to the actions of Rutgers students correctly, their tuition money can go to give exorbitant speaking fees for people to address a captive audience, but if they object to how this money is spent this is contrary to the Principles of Free Speech. Again, Pillsy has it right:”free speech” apparently now means “the rich and well-connected saying whatever they want, whenever they want, and the rest of us get to sit and listen respectfully.”