March 11, 2003

A Response to Matt Tievsky

When the Maroon wrote a staff editorial last Tuesday calling for the University to punish hate speech and action, I do not believe that the intent was to claim that the University should punish all speech that anyone could find offensive. There is a difference between being offended and being afraid; speech that causes the former is protected as free speech, while speech that causes the latter in any group, including "the rich" and "the unattractive," is something the University could do without. The Maroon's editorial specifically addressed the difference between having an opinion that homosexuality is wrong and hurling derogatory remarks about homosexuals.

While the Maroon suggested that a policy should be enacted by the University, we did not outline exactly what this policy would be. However, any such policy would have to allow for differentiating between the offensive and the threatening on a case-by-case basis. Members of the University community will and should have their convictions challenged, and are likely to be offended when this happens. If the University does decide to "let homophobes, racists, and others speak their minds," it should make absolutely certain that those offended are not too frightened to speak.

Phoebe Maltz

Viewponts Editor