Don’t pro­tect me from of­fen­sive ideas

Albuquerque Journal - - OP-ED -

IN HIS Dec. 29 col­umn, Richard Co­hen com­plains that the New York Times nei­ther si­lenced nor con­demned Al­ice Walker for read­ing a book with anti-Semitic con­tent and for ex­hibit­ing anti-Semitism in her writ­ings. Although I agree with Co­hen that anti-Semitism is a de­spi­ca­ble world view, I can­not sup­port his con­tention that the Times was wrong to trust its read­ers to judge for them­selves. Co­hen’s ar­ti­cle ref­er­enced sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic re­sponse to the Times ar­ti­cle, which brought con­sid­er­able at­ten­tion to the al­leged an­tiSemitism in Walk­ers’ work. This sub­stan­tially con­firms the sound­ness of the Times’ pol­icy.

I re­ject anti-Semitism, just as I do other col­lec­tivist ide­olo­gies in­clud­ing racism, ethno-na­tion­al­ism, Marx­ism and in­ter­sec­tional post-mod­ernism. How­ever, I can­not sup­port the no­tion that I, or any­one, should be pro­tected from per­sons of­fer­ing these of­fen­sive points of view. It is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­ter­mine the value of opin­ions that I en­counter. I do not need social guardians to sub­sti­tute their judg­ment for my right of con­science.

En­cour­ag­ing our in­sti­tu­tions to sup­press thought and speech does not lead to social jus­tice; it leads to tyranny. CHARLES STEELE Al­bu­querque

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