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Robicheau Seminar Is Matter of Free Speech

Robicheau Seminar Is Matter of Free Speech

According to a recent article ["IAP Seminar on Gay Conversion Prompts Angry Student Response," Jan. 17], Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, and Friends appears to be saying that the sexuality-change class is inappropriate for IAP because it is hateful or belittling of homosexuals. But it is wrong to say that MIT is "supporting hate," because MIT does not sponsor and does not take any responsibility for IAP activities. That MIT allowed the seminar to be held is a matter of free speech.

Let me draw an example: I am Jewish, and it makes me pretty mad to have to walk past the woman from Jews for Jesus on my way to Lobby 7. She has the letters "Jesus" formed into a Jewish star on her shirt. It's insulting to me and demeaning to my religion. But does she have a right to be there? Yes.

Just as the "change" seminar is demeaning to homosexuals, the Jews for Jesus confront Jews with unwelcome pity. I'll bet, in fact, that my feelings toward this woman are pretty close those of GAMIT members toward Peter N. Robicheau, who sponsored the seminar. But the Institute isn't supporting either one. Robicheau has as much of a right to lead his seminar as the Jew for Jesus lady has to stand out on Massachusetts Avenue in front of Lobby 7. As distasteful as it may be, that's free speech and MIT shouldn't interfere with it.

Jeremy D. Sher '99