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Leftist whiners promote censorship

Indiana Daily Student, September 08, 2003

To the Editor:

It is sad that some Leftists are unable to deal with disagreement, and seek to have it censored. The episode involving IU School of Business professor Eric Rasmusen and efforts to have his web log ("blog") removed from the University server is an illustration of why eternal vigilance is required to protect free speech.

A few Leftists found Professor Rasmusen's views "offensive", so they whined to GLBT services and to the Business dean. (These whiners are not "liberals", as the root of "liberal" is "liberty". Attacks on free speech are not "liberal".) Rasmusen then agreed to move his site to a private Web server. Fortunately, the Herald-Times reported on September 6 that the University reversed itself.

Yes, the University owns their server, and has the right to remove material from it they do not wish to host. The ability to host a personal Web page on the IU server is a privilege, not a right. But as a prominent research institution, IU should carefully guard the principle of free expression of ideas, especially controversial ideas. Once a precedent has been set to censor "offensive" speech, all speech is in danger.

The arguments presented by these Leftists are lacking in logical validity. Rasmusen's blog is on a personal home page, clearly identified as such. In such a large university, there will always be people who agree with Rasmusen's views on homosexuality. Other pages on IU's server (including pages of organizations like OUT, Allys and GLBT services) support homosexual rights. If someone is deterred from coming to IU because of one person's views, perhaps that person should reconsider whether attending a university is a good idea in the first place.

IU's server contains Web pages for a myriad of political groups, such as the College Republicans and Democrats, pro-life and abortion-rights groups, and other political groups like InPIRG. Some of these groups have posted "offensive" items on their Web pages, such as an advertisement for the College Democrats "contract on Hostettler" event in 1996. This political discourse should be encouraged, not stifled. IU should stand firm as a defender of free speech.

Scott Tibbs.