Column: Free speech is for everyone

I am writing this in response to an editorial written by Sue Schlobin, an alumna of GW. I apologize for being disrespectful, but I have never read anything more pretentious, condescending, and intolerant.

In her piece, she basically wrote an attack directed at a student, Doug, who held a sign that read “Go Home You Commies” at the anti-war protest held on October 25th. I will not say whether or not I necessarily agree with this extreme assertion or if it was prudent of Doug to demonstrate in this manner. But, I will say that he had the right to hold that sign just as the liberal protestors had the right to proclaim “Bush is Hitler” and wear costumes mocking our President and the First Lady, two people who deserve a level respect, whether you are liberal or conservative.

Schlobin went on a tirade about being educated at GW and how that should teach someone to be open-minded and accepting of others’ ideas. She wrote, “I hate to think of how education at GW must have deteriorated to have a student carrying such a sign.” Though she may be referring to tolerance of protest and assembly and others’ political beliefs, she seems to really be saying, “I hate to think of how education at GW must have deteriorated to be allowing such conservative opinion to proliferate.” If liberals can compare our President to a fascist dictator, wear t-shirts displaying our President’s face and the words “International Terrorist”, and trample the very flag that is the symbol of the country allowing them to assemble and protest in the first place, why is carrying a sign reading “Go Home You Commies” so terrible?

I ask of Schlobin, if you are so against the deportation of those against the government during World War I, as you referred to in your article, why is it okay to be against the voicing of opinions that are in defense of the governments’ policies, no matter how extreme? I can’t understand how a person educated at a University that I, and apparently Schlobin herself, hold in high esteem, can make an argument so one-sided and so intolerant of other’s opinions.

I am not angry because Ms. Schlobin is liberal and a pacifist and I am not. I’m not angry because she is against our occupation of Iraq and I am not. I am angry because she fails to realize that free speech and assembly applies to both sides of the political spectrum. Just because liberals are seen as the group that will protest and create a scene doesn’t mean that the right to political activism and protest is reserved for the left. It would be nice if those on the left, who can go on for hours about tolerance and acceptance of others’ beliefs, recognized this fact.

Schlobin took personal offense to Doug’s sign. She countered (and admitted to being sensitive to communist ideals as far as I’m concerned), “Go home? Go home where? … So, Doug, do you suggest I go to Russia?”

So, Sue, did you realize that communism is an ideology? Did you stop to think that a person could be communist without being a citizen of the Soviet Union?

Schlobin also wrote, “Doug, do you know that we have been consistently lied to?”

Sue, do you know that people, conservative or liberal, don’t want your ideology imposed on them? Did you consider that Doug believes in his government and probably does not think that he was lied to?

As you said yourself, Sue, “there is a tradition in this country called freedom of speech, the right to assemble – it’s in a document called the Bill of Rights … it says that we have the right to criticize the government and stay here.” Yes, you do have that right, just as Doug and I (and all conservatives for that matter) have the right to say that I support the government and stay here. That means you also have the right to write an article to a college newspaper criticizing how another chose to use his free speech.

The title of Sue’s column poses the question “Commies are the problem?” In my eyes, yes, they are a problem, especially the “commies” who don’t understand that free speech and assembly applies to everyone, leftist communists and rightist fascists alike.

The writer is a freshman majoring in physics and political science.

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