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Free speech is its own photo

Maybe the administration is learning something about the free marketplace of ideas. "HAMIT" put up a horrible poster intended to hurt members of the MIT community. The response to this has been very strong, including many letters to The Tech attacking this nastiness. This exchange has hopefully made many people aware of an issue that they did not understand: there are many different ideas and views, specifically about sexual preference, present at MIT. They are all acceptable, and attacking someone for their beliefs can be hurtful.

When such an attack does occur the correct response is for the members of the community to respond loudly, with the hopeful result of changing some minds. I am sure that some of the bigots and homophobes on campus have learned something from this public exchange. In an open academic setting such as MIT, the acceptable ideas will win out over the harmful.

The response to a poster like this should not be a new policy censoring posters or speech perceived to be harassing. The administration will not be able to change the attitudes of these perpetrators by punishing them, even if it could find them. This would only push such feelings out of the public view where they can be challenged. The correct response is to condemn such hurtful speech, not to outlaw it.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the letter in The Tech from Henry Jacoby and Samuel Keyser ["HAMIT poster attacked all of MIT community," Dec. 8] condemning the poster. It is a sad commentary that it took a letter form the Graduate Student Council before this action occurred to them, but maybe they learned from it for the future. If the community and the administration explains why some speech is hurtful, and then condemns it, that peer pressure will stop some of the speech. More importantly, it will reach some people and increase their awareness of the issues, and change some minds. The point of education is to explain why someone should or should not do something, not for the administration to treat the students like children, and say, "You can't, because we said so." In their letter Jacoby and Keyser seem to realize this when they say, "We need to create a climate where everybody comes to understand that such an act of gratuitous meanness is unacceptable." Let us hope that they have also learned something about education versus prohibition. That poster was terrible, but the public outcry against it was a great demonstration of the power of free speech to challenge and change bad ideas and to allow good ideas to win out.

Adam Dershowitz G->