Letters to the Editor: Recent Free Thought Event

The mission of Students for Free Thought is to create a place to examine controversial issues rationally, scientifically and objectively. Last Wednesday, May 17, we hosted an event to address the issue of free speech, especially as it relates to comedy. We showed a documentary that presents a perspective on this topic not usually voiced at Lawrence and attempted to have an open discussion about the issues raised in the film. While most of our members do not share the views espoused by this documentary, we believe in having rational discussions about important issues. Unfortunately, some students were determined to not allow this discussion to be had.

It was made clear that the documentary would contain offensive material and that there would be an open discussion afterwards. Sadly, some students came solely for the purpose of heckling the film and nearly shut the event down.

After one especially egregious heckler was asked to leave, she wrote an editorial containing one version of events. This version of events is mostly false. This student was asked to leave because she was by far the loudest person disrupting the film; nobody was drunk.

Students for Free Thought was formed because we are deeply concerned that there are elements of groupthink and opposition to scientific objectivity in the Lawrence climate. After putting up posters in late March advertising our group as a place for rational and objective inquiry without fear of ostracism, we were immediately accused of being white supremacists. This accusation is so baseless that we’re only going to address it once. We do not support white supremacism. No member of Students for Free Thought holds white supremacist views.

We have talked to many students who think that creating a forum for logical thought is unnecessary. They think that everyone already values scientific inquiry and objective truth. We hope this is the case, but our conversations with many students and professors have led us to believe that in some areas, there is work to be done to make rational and evidence based discussion accepted at Lawrence.

—Simon Laird