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Paulin’s Absence Denies Our Chance To Decide

Letter to the Editors

To the editors:

In the current controversy about English poet Paulin’s controversial views and his right to speak here ( News, “Poet Flap Drew Summers’ Input,” Nov. 14 ), two small points seem to be lost upon many of us. First, all I know of these “hateful views” are what his antagonists have to say about them, and second, my own right to hear a speaker and make my own judgment has been abridged by those who would “protect” our tender sensibilities from an encounter with the controversial. It is not Paulin who is deprived; it is we who are denied the right of a University citizenship to decide for ourselves. No argument of analogy, moral or otherwise, is a sufficiently acceptable substitute for participation in a real argument. I associate myself with the views on this particular point of Professors Dershowitz, Fried and Tribe, and think it a sad day for our “Republic of Letters” when we cannot hear that which we are likely to disagree. Who next will be deemed to be “controversial,” and by whom? Surely we can and must do better than this.

Peter J. Gomes

Nov. 19, 2002

The writer is Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church.

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