Here is the text of an email that was sent to every student at the
University of Florida by the vice president for student affairs. Note,
please, the hyphenated name.
November 26, 2007
To: All University Students
From: Dr. Patricia Telles-Irvin
Vice President for Student Affairs
Re: Official Response to a recent advertisement for the movie "Obsession"
Throughout our country, we have witnessed a rise in offensive behavior
and actions taken against others, which has created greater
divisiveness and misunderstandings among the various ethnic groups
residing in our communities. One of these events occurred on our
campus recently with the promotion of an event.
Advertisements for the movie "Obsession" sponsored by several student
organizations appeared during the past several weeks on campus
bulletin boards and they illustrate the importance of balancing
freedom of speech with responsibility.
The ads, which promoted a showing of the movie on Nov. 13 and a panel
discussion afterward, entitled "Radical Islam Wants You Dead,"
offended many Muslim students on campus. Regardless of its original
intent, the language reinforced a negative stereotype, created
unnecessary divisiveness and contributed to a generalization that only
furthers the misunderstanding of the religion of Islam.
We cannot speak of rights without also addressing the responsibility
associated with our actions or statements, including understanding the
potential consequences. One of our roles as a learning institution is
to teach our students to express themselves freely, and also in a fair
and conscientious manner. In an academic setting, differences of
opinions are strongly encouraged, yet such opinions must be based on
accurate information when describing other members of the community.
Unfortunately, in the case of the "Obsession" ads, that did not
happen. I believe the groups that posted them owe the campus, and
particularly campus members of the Islamic faith, an apology and a
At the University of Florida we have embraced a set of values, one of
which is diversity. Diversity is not just about having representation
from various cultures on campus, it also is having each member
contribute to an inclusive and safe environment and collectively
enhancing our understanding and appreciation of the richness brought
by such differences. The University of Florida is committed to being
an institution of excellence, where all members are valued and feel
safe on our campus. Our role as an institution is to create
opportunities for students to learn in an open and accepting
environment; one that emphasizes respect for all. Let's remember that
part of our mission is to prepare each other to be effective members
of a global community. With that in mind, I encourage each member of
our campus community as a start to learn more about the religion of
Islam and some of its tenets of peace, hard work, charity and compassion.
There is little room for divisiveness in our world if we are to find
peace and understanding among us. We all can win if we focus on
greater inclusion and understanding as well as the delicate balance
between our rights and responsibilities.
As per usual, diversity means including even those who would destroy diversity.
Let us be clear, the movie Obssession highlights "radical Islam." Radical Islam is characterized by its desire to see Sharia law implemented in countries around the world.
Sharia law calls for the stoning to death of all apostates, adulterers, and homosexuals.
Sharia law is opposite to the Western tradition of Freedom of speech, conscience, and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Sharia law is the constitution of the state of Saudi Arabia. As such it is the governmental idea of another state, just as the ideas of communism were the governing ideas of the Soviet Union.
Advocating for the implementation of Sharia law within the Western world is sedition.
There is no room for such law in the Western world.