Democracy speaker interacts with crowd

Christina Stafford

“Would all of you who are left-handed please raise your hands?” producer Edward Gray asked of the more than 250 students, faculty and community members in the Kiva last night.

Gray was speaking as part of the eighth annual Symposium on Democracy. He was trying to get the audience involved in his documentary and dialogue by asking personal questions.

“I ask people very personal questions that embarrass them,” he said.

He went on to ask how many agree with their parents about politics and how many have a friend or family member who has served in the military in Iraq or Afghanistan. About half of the people in the audience raised their hands.

He then asked the attendees to close their eyes and asked who had voted for President Bush in the last election and how many think all troops should be withdrawn from Iraq within the next year.

After his question/answer period, he spoke about his documentary Security Versus Liberty: The Other War, which was part of the Public Broadcasting Service film series America at a Crossroads.

The documentary was shown in three 15 minute parts with a question/answer period following each session. Gray asked the questions, and the audience answered.

Grey said Security Versus Liberty: The Other War tells the story of people who have been affected by controversial government policies that were put in place to protect the nation against terrorists. This includes secret demands for records, the USA PATRIOT Act and wire-tapping.

Some people in the audience agreed with what was being done to protect against terrorism, but many voiced negative opinions of these practices.

One wanted to know, if our thoughts are being policed, where is our freedom?

The theme of this year’s symposium, Democracy and Peace? Historical Links and Implications for World Order addresses these issues.

“Our theme this year could hardly be more urgent,” Provost Paul Gaston said. “It appears in the headlines everyday.”

Gaston said the symposium, which started to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the May 4 shootings, has deep meaning to the university.

The symposium will continue tomorrow with panel discussions and anti-war activist Tom Hayden, who will speak in the Kiva at 7:30 p.m.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Christina Stafford at [email protected].