Freedom of screech

Letters to the Boston editor: March 3, 2006
By EDITORIAL  |  March 1, 2006

While I applaud your honesty, I cannot agree with your decision to not publish the Danish cartoons (“World of Pain,” February 10). By allowing these terrorists to force us to submit to their will, we are only emboldening them to continue in their murderous ways. Today they are offended by the cartoons. What will offend them next year? Perhaps it will be women with short-sleeved shirts on the streets of London, Boston, and New York. It seems like a slippery slope to me. Have we learned nothing from Hitler? Giving in to people like this never appeases them for long. It only makes them assume their tactics are working.

Sue Ettwein

I generally get a sense of confirmation from your editorials; not so this time. No religion has the right not to be lampooned. Just because you believe in God doesn’t mean others can’t mock you for it. If it so offends you, cancel your newspaper subscription. If you think it’s part of a conspiracy to weaken your religion, why not make The Life of Brian a best-selling video?

To those people (not the Phoenix) sticking up for offended Muslims engaging in violence in response to the cartoons, you remind me of the apologists for the accused Hmong rapist doing only what was “right” in his culture. To those kind of people coming forward to speak for nonviolent folks who may have been offended: get real. That is not the issue. I am deeply disturbed by anti-abortionists bragging about gunning down doctors. I have seen little censorship of their tirades with respect to my feelings. Having one’s sensibilities offended is part of life.

As a mill-town girl, with little experience in the Middle East, I believe this violence is fomented by the majority of men there who lounge about all day in comfy robes smoking pipes while the unseen women do the work. (Apologies to the men who actually help their mothers and sisters and wives.) They have loafed for generations and are afraid that anything (i.e., political cartoons) bringing their world closer to the Western world may hasten the day they need to go to work. What better angle to keep the West quiet than to cry religious persecution? To them, I say get some trousers and get a job.

Christine Agnitti

Summers twilight
Harvey Silverglate’s inspired column on the sacking of Harvard’s Lawrence Summers (“I Stand By What I Said,” February 24) has spread across the Internet like a prairie fire, re-energizing concern about the disease of political correctness that infects our college campuses. Hannah Arendt, a student of totalitarianism, said: “Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think.” That is precisely what these faculty Bolsheviks did — act without thinking. They should be forced to take a remedial course in academic freedom and the First Amendment. Thirty years ago, state education officials in New York, fearful of anti-war sentiment on campus, forced teachers to sign an oath foreswearing communism and subversive activities. The Supreme Court struck down the law in Keyishian. Justice Brennan’s words should be posted in every Harvard classroom: “The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.” In expelling Summers, Harvard’s faculty forgot that the purpose of any university is not to make ideas safe for students, but to make students safe for ideas.

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