By Bogdan Caradima
2nd year Environmental Science
Last Monday February 22nd, an act of vandalism occurred that reflected the intolerance and moral cowardice of two certain students on this campus. As some readers may have already noted from a campus-wide advertising campaign, the Students For Palestinian Rights (SFPR) have been busy organizing Israeli Apartheid Week, an event beginning on the 1st of March that aims to raise awareness about the Occupied Territories and the oppression endured by the Palestinian people residing there.
Among the diligent efforts of three SFPR members was a large banner still visibly torn in the SLC as I write this article. That day, SFPR members hung the poster for a mere half hour before returning, only to discover that it was gone. A nearby student then approached the activists and pointed out that the tattered poster had been unceremoniously stuffed into a garbage bin. The act of vandalism was not only witnessed in person, but it also occurred in broad daylight at approximately 11:20AM. One of the suspects was described as a Caucasian of tall build with light brown hair, and his partner-in-crime was an individual of Middle Eastern descent. The campus police have been notified of this act and there is currently an investigation pending.
While some may question why the reporting and apprehension of these people is necessary or even important, the answer is that our Western society prospers by encouraging open forums of discussion in which various views can be expressed freely without fear of reprisal. Democracy and free speech are thus important elements of this process and are critical to the upholding our rights, collectively and individually, whatever they are advocating. Any repression of such rights, whether it be by vandalism, censorship, or intimidation of others who we may or may not agree with is not only despicable, it is also an attack on your rights. As one of the Founding Fathers of America, Thomas Paine pointed out, it is not only the right of the speaker to speak and be heard, it is also the right of the audience to listen. Fellow students, whether you agree with the goals of the SFPR or not, there is no question that the act of vandalism witnessed last Monday was a crime of censorship against you.
Just as the heckler drowns out the speaker’s voice so that the audience cannot understand the orator, so have these two uncivilized cowards decided to deny you the right to information. It is for precisely this reason that I argue that one should be intolerant of intolerance while upholding free speech. The politically-correct willingness to protect those who wish to impinge on the rights of others is nothing more than the willingness to be pushed around by the thugs of society. That two people attending an academic institution that uphold such values, apparently unwilling to discuss their views in a civilized and democratic manner, would commit such a crime is a demonstration of the fact that they are simply not welcome here. Fellow students, stand up for your rights.