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Harassment policy endangers freedom

In recent issues of The Tech, Associate Provost Samuel J. Keyser has pointed out that words can hurt. Keyser's response is to restrict free speech and suppress hurtful words.

This approach is fundamentally misguided. Institutional threats and coercion are a perverse way to promote mutual respect and civility. Moreover, repressing bigotry can lead to a false sense of self-confidence within the MIT community and stunt a collective examination of conscience.

Free speech is a crucial democratic value that should be especially cherished at a university. Vague restrictions on speech inhibit discussion and give MIT administrators arbitrary power to enforce their own prejudices.

Here's an example of how such arbitrary power operates. In a letter published in The Tech, Arnold N. Weinberg, the MIT medical director, labeled as "audacious" persons who think abortion is a public concern ["Abortion, insurance separate issues," Nov. 20]. I felt offended and belittled by this statement, especially since Weinberg was writing in his official capacity as an MIT administrator.

I brought this matter to Keyser's attention in a letter, and he ignored it. President Charles M. Vest, on the other hand, endorsed Weinberg's statement as representing MIT policy, and refused to discuss the matter further.

MIT administrators can't even deal with their own offensive statements. I doubt they can successfully police students' offensive statements, and I think it is wrong even to make an attempt.

Douglas Galbi G->