Right to choose

While walking to class one day, a gentleman at the corner of Annie Glidden and Lucinda reached out his hand to give me a small green book. I looked at the title and said, “No, thank you.” The title of the book was “The New Testament.” There were some more of these gentlemen in front of the field house and also in the lobby of the psychology building.

I was rather outraged that they were in the lobby of a state owned building passing out those little green books. It seemed to me to be a fairly clear violation of the tenet of the separation of church and state.

As an agnostic, I do not support the spread of religion. I think religion is responsible for some of the problems in our society and can provide little of value.

As a result of these thoughts, I wanted to do something to prevent them from passing out their little green books. I was going to go up to one of them and ask them to get out of the lobby and onto the (public) sidewalks.

I thought more about it and realized that if I did try to stop them, I would be violating their rights, the rights of my fellow students and perhaps more importantly, my own right to be handed a piece of paper on the street and make my own judgement about it (i.e. to have free access to any information I choose).

In the Star, I read about the distribution of something called the Thunderbolt, a newspaper which the Star described as “radically derogatory.” I then read that Jon Dalton, vice president of student affairs, “directed university staff members to find and remove all copies of the newspaper from Greek Row.” I, for one, do not doubt that the newspaper is a radically derogatory “newspaper.” What I resent is Dalton not allowing me to make that judgement for myself.

By his action, Dalton is violating my right to have free access to information and violating the right to freedom of speech and of the press. Whether it is a little green book entitled “The New Testament,” a reportedly racial newspaper, a pamphlet called “Why Communism Kills,” or a monograph by some guy named Plato, I have a right to have access to it and read it if I choose.

I concur with Dalton’s abhorrence of the values which created Thunderbolt and I support the University stand against racism. What I do not and cannot rationally support is the censorship of ideas. No matter how disagreeable they may be, the free expression of ideas is a fundamental, “inalienable” right.

Michael C. Held