Bhushan Disregards Saftey of AudienceVipul Bhushan's ramgbling column ["Rushdie Lecture Should Have Been Publicized," Nov. 30] left me a bit stunned. While he speaks of the need to "jealously guard the right to keep and speak our opinions," he condemns what may very well have been the only practical way to have an author like Rushdie express his ideas in a public forum, in spite of being at risk of harm for doing so.
It is unfortunate that secrecy often is used to provide protection, but I am not sure what Bhushan thinks would have been gained had the talk been widely publicized. Aside from putting Rushdie at risk, announcing a lecture by Rushdie might have also put the audience attending the talk in danger. As Bhushan himself states in the column, "Rushdie does have exceptional worries about his safety." So what could have been gained from an announcement except anxiety for Rushdie and, and an opportunity for those who would harm him to plan?
I also fail to see how being discrete about the subject of a lecture is "contrary to promoting the free exchange of ideas." Informing the media was the best way to get the content (or one might say "the ideas") of Rushdie out to the widest audience with minimal risk to the speaker and the audience, and the key point that Bhushan seems to overlook is that the Sontag lecture as announced was open to the public, and was far from being a "private audience" for Institute personnel, unavailable to the community at large.
Bhushan's comments regarding tolerance for provocative ideas are valid, but his ire regarding the decision to keep the Rushdie visit low key are out of place.
Steve Berczuk '87