The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 37.0°F | A Few Clouds

Respect must be deserved

[mk1]To the Editor:

I was somewhat taken aback by David Flanagan's recent article in The Tech ["Respect other opinions," Oct. 25]. I disagree strongly with his opinion that groups who protest deserve the respect of the community.

I should first point out that I do not intend to offend any groups who have protested, and I certainly do not wish to convey my opinions of any of the causes that have been protested for --rather I am addressing protesters in general, and not the issues for which they stand.

Flanagan boldly states that we "must respect the opinions of others." Well, I hope Flanagan respects my opinion in that I disagree with him entirely. Whether or not I am in an "academic community, based on the supremity of ideas" has no bearing on my right to express my opinions of people who protest. Did it ever occur to Flanagan that people who boo or hiss at protesters are merely expressing their opinions of them or of the issues in question?

Secondly, Flanagan believes that people who do not respect such opinions are apathetic. This is ridiculous. Just because I don't take part in "dramatic takeovers and shootings during (lecture)" or actively take part in some other protest does not make me apathetc. For instance, I could be making better use of my time than writing this article to The Tech, but I don't particularly like being accused of "(wrapping myself) in apathy and (shying) away from social conscience." Once again, I'm not saying that protesters are evil or that they aren't fighting for just causes. I am saying that one who does not partake in such activities is not necessarily apathetic.

Finally, men and women greater than myself have said that respect is something to be earned. I don't believe that I owe anyone's opinion my respect by default. I may not respect the opinions of certain protesters -- that is my right. I don't respect Flanagan's opinion -- that is also my right. I expect that Flanagan does not respect my opinion -- that is his right. Just as protesters have the right to publicly express their beliefs, people have the right to publicly reject those beliefs.

If you wish to be apathetic, that is your right. If you wish to protest, that too is your right. If you choose not to show respect to people who protest, once again that is your right. If you disagree with me, that is also your right. I don't care if you disagree with me -- that is my right.

John Swartz '86->