The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 56.0°F | A Few Clouds

Letters to the Editor

Recently, my posting of Jewish jokes to the computerized newsgroup eunet.jokes has become an issue on campus. I would like to apologize to the community for the pain the jokes have caused, and explain the situation, since it has been portrayed unfairly.

There is no defense for what I did. It was irresponsible and an act of extremely bad judgment. The jokes were submitted late one evening and were inspired by other "gross" jokes on the same newsgroup. I thought the jokes would fit in, and in an effort to keep people who might be offended from reading the jokes, I started the posting with the phrase "Some absolutely disgusting jokes here, that will probably offend a lot of you." I was getting pretty tired at that point of the night, so I didn't proofread the posting to see that it was insufficient as a warning.

The jokes were not meant as a statement about Jews or any other ethnic group. I had no idea when I posted the jokes how offensive they would be to some people, and I feel terrible for having caused them distress. Had I known, I never would have posted them.

I think this issue has been blown completely out of proportion, though, due to the fact that Jonathan Richmond PhD '91 failed to fairly inform the community of the entire situation when he wrote his last column in The Tech.

After I posted the jokes, people who were offended, or thought that the jokes were inappropriate, sent me e-mail and posted on the newsgroup eunet.jokes. After a while, as it slowly occurred to me what I had done, I apologized on eunet.jokes, and the issue was essentially closed.

At this point, Richmond stumbled across the dialogue. He posted part of the discussion about my jokes from eunet.jokes, taken completely out of context, on the mailing list jewtalk@athena, and portrayed me as anti-Semitic. By then, my original posting had been on eunet.jokes for a while and had been automatically removed from the news server, so most people on the mailing list were only made aware of the jokes because of Richmond's efforts. When I realized that another debate, on this mailing list, had been set off about my jokes, I apologized on jewnet@athena, too.

Just when it seemed that the issue had died down on the mailing list, Richmond wrote his column. The column presented only one side of the story, and nearly all of the quotes he used were taken out of context. He also did not mention in his column that I had only submitted one offensive posting, and that I had apologized both in the original forum where I had posted those jokes, and the second forum where he dragged the discussion. I hope you don't judge me solely on the basis of Richmond's column. I genuinely regret what I did, but I feel I have been unfairly set up as a scapegoat for anti-Semitism and prejudice in general.

Yngve K. Raustein '94

Religious Need To Consider Their Own Beliefs

In his column ["Religion Helps Some Survive Nuclear Age," Jan. 3], Swami Sarvagatanada hit upon the problem that intolerance among differing religions can lead to bloodshed. His solution is for everyone to accept all religions as true. This is clearly impossible: belief in one set of religious dogma usually precludes belief in another set. This is fine, as the truth of all religions is not the problem. Rather, the arrogance of fanaticism is the problem.

A clear demonstration of this arrogance was a recent letter ["Christianity Cannot be Reconciled with Other Religions," Feb. 7] in The Tech. The authors state of Christianity: "The road He offers is not one of `many paths'; it is the only one." The authors do not believe that Christianity is the only path. Rather, the authors know Christianity is the only path. They don't say: "We believe it is the only path." They instead say: "It is the only path!"

What's the matter with you guys? If Christianity is the "only path," what do you think of the rest of us? Are we just stupid? Are we all just wrong? Are we all damned? Are Jews wrong? Are Buddhists wrong? Are Moslems wrong? What a nice feeling it must be to know that you are right and everyone else is wrong.

Think people, think! Please consider that your beliefs, whatever they are, are not the only ones out there. Shake yourself, and think, "I might be wrong."

James Fleming G