Volume 93, Issue 53

Friday, December 3, 1999


Interpret the Charter correctly

Not allowed to make up own mind

Police force out of line

Study leaves should go

Right is independent of content

Looking at USC democracy

Simply stating his own beliefs

Poppies just aren't for everyone

Attack was personal

Toon lacked accuracy

Attack was personal

Re: "A hard look at debate and freedom" Nov. 30

To the Editor:

This is in response to several letters that have been posted in this paper regarding the "freedom of speech" controversy. Mainly, I am replying to Patrick Brown, from the department of psychology and his statements that "to live in an open society, the price of admission is occasionally being offended."

What a sad comment to make. Perhaps I am not the most educated person on this issue, but I do have on advantage over the professor – I WAS THERE!

Now, you might argue that freedom of speech is a right, a necessity for a free and open society. On that point, I do have to agree. However, how do we prioritize the various rights that we are given? What happens when one person's rights conflict with those of another? This is the situation that we are faced with now. When a man takes it upon himself to shout eternal damnation to the world, do his rights overrule those of the offended?

Now, had he just been throwing around loose comments, making an opinion, perhaps I could be more lenient. However, having been one of the people that he referred to as a "whore" because of my "promiscuous lifestyle" (which he knows nothing of), I am forced to press the issue. You see, the moment he spoke directly to me, it stopped being a general rampage of opinions and became explicit and overt harassment and discrimination, both of which are not only immoral, but illegal.

We have to bear in mind, Mr. Brown, that if freedom of speech is always completely condoned without question, society as a whole would be greatly harmed. This would re-open the flood gates to sexual harassment, racism, bigotry and scores of serious issues that we are trying so hard to combat. Remember, freedom of speech is meant to keep peace, not to justify animosity and disrespect. This occurrence went far beyond bothering me and not only because it presented a point of view different from my own (I happen to be a very open-minded person).

Rather, because it abased me as a human being. In a university setting, where the purpose is not only higher education but higher awareness, this type of offensive behaviour cannot be condoned.

I am amused at your use of the word "open," Mr. Brown. Shouldn't an "open" society be one in which I am not afraid of walking to class without first being accosted and verbally harassed?

I don't believe that I will ever forget being called a "whore" on the doorstep of the UCC, in front of dozens of onlookers. Nor will I forget the horrified looks in the eyes of others who might never have felt so insulted or offended. However, mostly, I will not forget those who defended a man's right to mistreat and abuse me in public. For the amount of damage he caused, he might as well have slapped me in the face.

If this is your definition of an "open" society, Mr. Brown, I want out.

Zita Katrine Dube
Music I

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Copyright The Gazette 1999