A second university has rescinded its invitation to filmmaker Michael Moore to speak after protests from conservatives.

President Alan Merten of George Mason University in my community of Fairfax, Va. said of Moore, whose film “9/11 Fahrenheit” was critical of Bush, “It would have been well within our right to [invite Moore],” according to The Washington Post article — but that Merten decided it “was not the wisest use of state money.” California State University-San Marcos, near San Diego, also recently caved to pressure.

Michael_mooreThe snub came after two of the Virginia state legislature’s most conservative members, Republicans Dick Black of Loudoun County and Bob Marshall of Prince William County, complained.

Word spread quickly, and after complaints from the legislators and some members of the community reached the office of President Alan G. Merten this week, the school announced that the event, coming so close to the presidential election, would be “an inappropriate use of state resources.”

A few things are important here:

One, Moore is coming anyway but obviously won’t be paid a fee by GMU. Who will sponsor his appearance isn’t clear. But my guess is he’ll have a bigger audience because of the flap.

Two, the obvious capitulation of an academic institution that is supposed to be a place where all views are heard sends a chilling message to students and faculty. The state-funded GMU is fast becoming overcrowded and only this year got an infusion of cash after Democrats and moderate Republicans formed an alliance to pass new tax measure. Merten may have feared that having Moore could result in legislation in the next Assembly cutting his funds.

Three, The Post story, co-written by one of the newspapers laziest reporters, Lisa Rein, makes no attempt to find out if conservative speakers were paid to speak at the university. The story broke Wednesday. So reporters had time to do a little research and ask for a list of speakers GMU has paid in the past couple of years. But they either declined to do so or were unsuccessful, a point they should have made in the story. The reporters included a comment from a GMU student who agreed with the decision to cancel the speech to but did give voice to any faculty or student opposed to the cancellation.

But that’s typical of Rein’s conservative and lazy reporting.

I and I’m sure others will be trying to find out who has spoken at GMU.

Care to complain? Here’s GMU President Alan Merten’s email address: amerten@gmu.edu