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Hopkins fails test of free speech

2:00 PM EDT, April 13, 2013

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As a Johns Hopkins University alumna, I am deeply disappointed in the school's decision to chide Dr. Benjamin Carson to the point that he has stepped down from delivering the commencement address to the graduating class ("Dr. Ben Carson steps down as speaker at Hopkins graduation," April 11).

A university, especially one with Hopkins' vaunted reputation, should stand for the value of free speech in the marketplace of ideas and the respect for diversity that are the hallmarks of a free and civil society.

What happened to, "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it?" Where would civil rights marchers and Vietnam protesters be today if their right to speak uncomfortable views had been so sanctimoniously curtailed by the very people who are supposed to uphold the enlightenment principles on which our democracy is based?

Are we really to accept that some segments of our society have the right to disqualify and silence a person with an outstanding reputation for achievement and service to humanity because they construe what he says as "uncomfortable?" What does that say about the strength of their character or their position? And what mess is the leadership of this fine institution making of this "teachable moment?"

Hopkins, it's not enough to talk the talk.

Rosemary Warschawski, Baltimore

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