When asked about the death penalty Iran imposed on homosexuals, Ahmadinejad discussed the death sentence for drug smugglers. When pushed by moderator and acting dean of the School of International and Public Affairs John Coatsworth, the Iranian president said: "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who has told you we have that."
"Despite differences in the use of certain Western terms and potential errors in translation, he clearly knew what was being asked and what was going on," said Crystal Gonzalez, 20, an economics major and spokeswoman for the Columbia Queer Alliance.Whoa - strong words there, Crystal. That's telling him. How about this:
"At first I wasn't sure about what I thought about him coming, but I think it was a good thing that he did and could spark a debate. … He is clearly a master of avoiding questions," she said, adding, "we disapprove and condemn much of what he said."
"There is no doubt that the current government is disrespectful of human rights, but war is not an answer," said David Trilling, 29, speaking on behalf of the Iranian students at the School for International and Public Affairs, which hosted the event. "Nearly all of us," he said, "do not accept the comments of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."
Other students saved criticism for [Columbia President] Bollinger, who condemned many of the Iranian leader's earlier comments in his opening statement. "Yes, he skirted some of the issues," said senior statistics and political science major Max Bulinski of the Iranian leader, "but I believe he believed much of what he said."
"I think it was a mistake for Bollinger to attack him before he was given a chance to speak. Ahmadinejad was right to say he should have been given the chance to let people form their own opinions."
The Iranian president's presence invited comparisons to President Bush by a number of activist organizations, which used the opportunity not to protest against Ahmadinejad's human rights record but against the war in Iraq. "Ahmadinejad's speech comes at a time the U.S. is proposing war in Iran," said Sunsara Taylor of Revolution Newspaper before a large crowd of reporters. "Bush is using Ahmadinejad's record and the crimes of his regime as an excuse. Bush has propped up plenty of Islamic terror regimes -- look at the Taliban and Saudi Arabia."Sickening. If the West collapses, it will be because of the rot within, not attacks from outside.
Any gay or lesbian American that still denies Islamists are targeting gays, and instead thinks President Bush is the enemy, demonstrates the true definition of a "self-loathing homosexual."
UPDATE: Well, thanks for clearing this up: statement from Columbia's Queer Studies Department (via Classical Values)
....we would like to strongly caution media and campus organizations against the use of such words as "gay", "lesbian", or "homosexual" to describe people in Iran who engage in same-sex practices and feel same-sex desire. The construction of sexual orientation as a social and political identity and all of the vocabulary therein is a Western cultural idiom. As such, scholars of sexuality in the Middle East generally use the terms "same-sex practices" and "same-sex desire" in recognition of the inadequacy of Western terminology. President Ahmadinejad's presence on campus has provided an impetus for us all to examine a number of issues, but most relevant to our concerns are the complexities of how sexual identity is constructed and understood in different parts of the world.