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COLUMN

Tower Poster Knifed

Guest Column
Stuart McGillivray

A roll of paper under the MIT dome has become perhaps the most controversial item on campus. Established as a way to let students express their feelings over the attacks in New York, it has evolved into a written version of the political bully pulpit. I welcome this as a healthy way to discover the thoughts of fellow students.

I expected that the discussion would turn a little raucous at times. However, several people have crossed the line of even the loosest definition of decency. One, in particular, created a large hole in the scroll by cutting out some text they presumably opposed.

In perpetrating this act, some individual has chosen to side with the World Trade Center attackers. This may seem like a strong accusation, but consider the similarities in intent, though hardly in scope. The terrorists sought to attack U.S. values; removing another’s ideas from a public place is an attack on free speech, the first and most fundamental tenet of the Bill of Rights. The terrorists wanted to bring fear and uncertainty to the United States; likewise, those who now write on the board cannot be sure their prose will survive. Finally, the terrorists acted by surprise, never publicly revealing their motive; the person who removed the text from the scroll revealed neither their identity nor their reason.

Overseas, such action would not be a big issue. However, it is a particularly harsh blow here, since the U.S. is perhaps the only First World country that has continued to defend its values. It is easy to miss the worth of U.S. resolve unless contrasted. As a European citizen, I am constantly ashamed of the vulnerability of Europe’s national leaders, submitting to the often-ludicrous demands of the United Nations, a body dominated by legions of dictatorships, monarchies, and pseudo-democracies.

With the U.S. expending great financial and political capital to protect free speech and individual rights, it is an indignity that certain U.S. residents or citizens undermine those same values. I am ashamed to share a campus with them.

Stuart McGillivray is a graduate student in the Engineering Systems Division.