Star Wars is effectively limiting scientific freedomI'd like to compliment Tech editors for serious coverage of a diverse set of issues on Oct. 29. I particularly liked the placement of the Orwellian cartoon on page 12 ("post-1984 radical") next to a post-1984 letter ["Dissenting against ideas behind protests," Oct. 29], in which Perry Lee Anthony and Jennifer Wiseman imply that slavery is freedom and rewrite a bit of history to boot.
This new letter paraphrases their old one ["Action opposes individual freedom," Oct. 18]. "In the first paragraph we state that people have a right to protest SDI and the CIA" clearly refers to their original statement: "These (anti-SDI and CIA recruitment) people, of course, have the freedom to oppose freedom."
This reinterpretation equates freedom with SDI and the CIA. My letter ["Dissent is a large part of freedom," Oct. 25] strongly disagreed with this narrow view of freedom, not with the right to support our government.
Anthony and Park are plainly concerned that professors will feel peer pressure against SDI work. As Prof. Vera Kistiakowsky said in response to James Ionson on Oct. 21, "the pledge is to not request or accept SDI money. It is a personal statement that this individual will not contribute his or her effort to what they consider a silly or a dangerous program. If that is peer pressure it is because most of the scientists do in fact agree it is a silly or a dangerous program, and they feel very uncomfortable with therefore accepting the money."
Consensus, not restrictions, cause peer pressure. Note that this particular consensus is not imposed, Soviet-style. Peer pressure is not slavery.
Kistiakowsky goes on,"There is at this university a professor whose funding has been cut off from his present funding agency and he will be faced with a choice of not being funded or applying for SDI funding. There have been these shifts of funding con
trol to SDI and it poses a real pressure on the individuals involved. Let me also point out that the foreign scientists who are doing this research are also under real pressure. If they sign the pledge, then in fact they may be in very serious trouble with the visa question." Anthony and Park call this type of pressure "freedom." In this case, I believe "slavery" is an appropriate term.
Finally, Anthony and Parks statement "Professor Ezekiel and others have stood up for their beliefs. We hope that other professors will follow their example, and only work on projects in which they believe" does Ezekiel an injustice. Though he supported doing SDI research, he never said he believed in SDI on Oct. 21. In fact, he was careful to say, "And not once have I said that I agreed with what DOD does, or what DOD stands for."
Ezekiel later said, "So I'm not going to say that SDI research as it stands is gonna work, but the research for it -- I think should be done." I hope Ezekiel will consider that there are other professors -- perhaps outside his Aero/Astro department -- who will say their projects are a good idea, that the research is gonna work, and that they agree with what their funding agency stands for. Shouldn't these professors get the first crack at the government's limited resources?
Rich Cowan G->