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Why is dissent so problematic?

Reader comment on item: Columbia University vs. America

Submitted by Brian Anderson (United States), Apr 4, 2003 at 15:40

...Sure, a professor interrupting class to rant on a political topic is an example of someone not taking their job seriously enough, but most of the rest of your examples are just strong opinions. Their expression should be acceptable to anyone who truly believes in the ideals of free speech and academic freedom. Incitements to violence are a grey area, and I'm not going to comment on them because a) I'm not a legal scholar and b) it would take a lot more than a short email to do the subject justice I imagine.

Please don't focus on this grey area to the exclusion of my previous, clear point that, for example, seeing the US government as a brutal, oppressive regime is a legitimate, dissenting opinion whose expression should be protected, both in terms of free speech and academic freedom.

Finally, lumping all of those people together into the same sack doesn't make sense to me. As a trivial example, not all of them are "leading lights". Second, I wouldn't characterize any of them as promoting the same message as any of the others. Oversimplification doesn't seem to move this debate anywhere in my opinion.

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