The following are excerpts from Crimson staff editorials printed this academic year.
FREE SPEECH is one thing, but it does not include the right to issue death threats with impunity. Nor does it include the right to take somebody else's belongings. City University of New York (CUNY) Professor Leonard Jeffries did both last October when a Crimson editor interviewed him in New York.
Academic freedom is another thing, but it should not include the right to encourage a Final Solution for whites. According to the CUNY student newspaper, Jeffries did so once in a CUNY classroom.
Of course, Jeffries has the legal right to espouse whatever ridiculous theories on race he can conjure up. But his message of division and cultural nationalism can only lead his followers--many of them inner-city Blacks still desperate for truly equal political representation--to violence. His power to incite hatred, his anti-Semitism and his anti-gay attitudes should be recognized as hateful non-scholarship.
Still, none of these things, horrifying as they are, makes Jeffries totally unacceptable as a guest speaker at Harvard. The Black Students Association (BSA), along with the Black Law students Association and the DuBois Graduate Society, asked Jeffries to speak in Sanders Theatre in February.
Our objections to this invitation stemmed not from Jeffries' beliefs. Indeed, the BSA has every right to invite whomever they want, including people with non-mainstream and even racist views of history. When Conrad Muhammad was invited, for example, The Crimson did not object. Our gripe with the Jeffries invitation was founded on the belief that no organization should honor a violent criminal with a Harvard podium. In short, Jeffries should have appeared in a court in February, not in Sanders.
LAST NOVEMBER, Harvard buzzed about Peninsula's long-awaited special issue on homosexuality. The magazine even drew national press as it sparked protests on campus at which two professors, including Plummer Professor of Christian Morals Peter J. Gomes, came out of the closet.
But while the issue was hurtful and clearly offensive to many of us who disagree with its central proposition, it wasn't hateful. It was well within the bounds of intellectual discourse. They made arguments--most of them riddled with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and irrelevancies--but arguments nonetheless.
None of their observations came close to demonstrating that homosexuality is "bad." Imagine that gays were, in fact, "not truly happy." What would that prove? Only that homosexuals were unhappy. Not that homosexuality was in any way "bad." Practicing gay sex can indeed be dangerous. So can practicing heterosexual sex. That doesn't make either "bad." Being a police officer can be dangerous, too. Peninsula thinks homosexuality is "unnatural"? Who cares? So is Astroturf. And cow manure is natural. Peninsula's writers should think carefully before the equate their version of "unnatural" with "bad."
Later in the year, the Concerned Christians at Harvard (CCH), attacked Gomes and called for his resignation as Memorial Church minister. CCH insisted that it was not asking for his resignation because he is a homosexual--only because he's not a self-hating homosexual. One CCH member said, "If Gomes were repentant of his homosexuality...there wouldn't be a need to call for his resignation." And CCH said it wanted Gomes fired on the grounds that he preached something they see as antithetical to Christianity.
Basically, all of this boils down to a theological dispute--one that should be debated at the Divinity School, not in University Hall. Of course Gomes should not be dismissed over such a dispute. For our part, we do not think homosexuality is in any way "wrong" or "hurtful." And Gomes himself has been a valuable member of the community. Still, we must object to the continued existence of institutionalized Christianity at Harvard. The policy of mixing academics with religion should end. It belies the ideal of a "secular" University and is simply unfair to non-Christians. One option is for Memorial Church to become an ecumenical religious center for all students.
WE DON'T REJECT many advertisements. Then again, we don't get offered too many blatantly false ads from blatantly anti-Semites. Last December, The Crimson and other college papers received a full-page ad explaining how the thought police was preventing academic debate about the Holocaust's non-existence, how the photos, documents and eyewitness accounts proving the obvious in fact prove nothing, how "Zionists and others in the Jewish community" whose "political and financial support for Jewish causes" had led "a conspiracy to suppress the truth." We chose not to run the ad and returned the money.
Over the years, many controversial arguments we have disagreed with have been made on these pages. But we're not talking about a controversial argument based on questionable facts in this case. We're talking about vicious propaganda based on utter bullshit that has been discredited time and again.
Simply put, we do not print just anything, and we will not prostitute this paper to "disseminate the good news" of lies and hatred. There will be borderline cases for this rule, but this was not one of them.
SEVERAL MONTHS after the Date Rape Task Force released is long-awaited report, in April the Undergraduate Council also debated the ways in which the College should deal with cases of acquaintance rape. The Council approved a definition of rape as any sexual act that occurs "despite the expressed unwillingness of the victim" and left in a "gray area" those cases in which the initiator "falls to elicit consent, resulting in psychological or physical harm of the victim."