McCain's planned speeches at universities met with protest

| Tue May 9, 2006 11:53 PM EDT

Senator John McCain of Arizona is about to show up at a couple of places one wouldn't think to find him: He is the speaker at Columbia College's Class Day on May 16, and he is scheduled to give the commencement address at the New School on May 19. McCain was invited to the New School by New School president Bob Kerrey, who is standing by his decision, despite a lot of protest.

Columbia's class of 2006 has constructed a website, John McCain Does Not Speak For Us, which includes a petition to withdraw the school's invitation to McCain to be its Class Day speaker. At the New School, Gregory Tewksbury, a leader of the anti-McCain protests, is suggesting that McCain would be an appropriate guest if New School faculty and students could debate him, but that he is not an appropriate commencement speaker. Others at the school do not think McCain should be a guest there under any circumstances.

The protests against McCain, as expected, are about the senator's strong voting record against gay rights and women's right to choose, and his support of the war in Iraq. But there is something else that has made the protests perhaps even stronger than they might have been: This Saturday, McCain is delivering the commencement address at Liberty University, the school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Mr. Falwell is also opposed to gay rights and women's right to choose, and drew attention to himself after the September 11 attacks for saying that the attacks were caused by the ACLU, feminists, gays, abortionists, and the federal courts.

McCain says he considers it "an honor" to address the students and faculty at Liberty Univeristy.

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