Tolerance matters

Written by Rosa Colucci on .

Recently, the administration of the University of California, Irvine, faced a problem with students who interrupted the Israeli ambassador to the United States while he was speaking at that college.

The students decried some of the actions taken by the Israeli government against the Palestinians. The issue and dilemma was one of tolerance and civility (permitting the lecture) versus freedom of speech (the contention of the ousted students). What existed were two basically good democratic tenets in opposition.

Personally, I find it deplorable that college students would attempt to silence a speaker who had been invited by the college to deliver a point of view.

While I basically support democratic Israel, I am opposed to some of its tactics. The students in attempting to intimidate the speaker and coerce his acquiescence claimed freedom of speech to support their actions. What of the ambassador's freedom of speech and the right of the audience to listen? Are these not also components of freedom of speech?

Civility, open-mindedness and tolerance for opposing views are too often missing in our society, and it is especially sad when college students deny this. Perhaps an assignment would be good for those students -- the classic "Essay on Liberty" by John Stuart Mill.


Elizabeth Township


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