A reader notes this free-speech tussle at Tufts.

The Committee on Student Life (CSL) will hold a hearing today to address two complaints against The Primary Source.

One complaint comes from senior David Dennis in response to the Source’s parody Christmas carol from last semester. The second comes from the Muslim Student Association (MSA) in response to an item emphasizing the hostility and violent tendencies of Muslims in the April 11 issue.

Both complaints allege that the magazine broke university policy by publishing content that constituted harassment and created a hostile environment. Both are actionable offenses, according to the Pachyderm, Tufts’ student handbook. Primary Source members maintain that they were exercising their right to free speech.

The reader claims:

I thought this might be of interest considering the recent “Hitler” posters scandal. I think, though, the dynamics of the situation at Williams are different from that at Tufts, where the humorous pieces did not state that the parodied religious group had no right to post what they did in the first place simply because they were Islamic — and the mockers don’t believe that Muslims should not be referencing their religion in anything posted on campus. Yet there was sufficient outrage for the actions to be considered as violations of community standards. I think the administrations of both Tufts and Williams have got it wrong in each of these instances.

I don’t care about Tufts, but you are wrong about Williams. Although the student handbook does not include the sort of free-speech absolutism that I would like to read, its makes fairly clear that, unless a student is harassing a specific individual, or small group of individuals, her speech is allowed. An Eph Style Guide would help to make that reality obvious to everyone at Williams.

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