Organisatie - 11 december 2008

CHINESE FLAG XII

Already on two occasions, we – PSF and WSO – have raised our voices to protect the freedom of press at Wageningen University, because we are of the opinion that the magazine of a university should be free, open and moreover a place for debate and discussion.
In the last few weeks a heated debate has sprung up on the correctness of placing a specific flag while mentioning the important and sensitive issue of violation of human rights. On the one hand, this has created a very interesting atmosphere of discussion and analysis; it has resulted in participation in this discussion by many different parties, and an unprecedented surge in participation on the open letters section in Resource.
On the other hand, we have observed how this discussion has led to other, not so welcome sides, where the freedom of press, which we have fought so long for, seems to be under threat. It amazes us how easily one can change his/her opinions concerning freedom of speech, when one feels affected by what is being said, and how easily one reacts and proposes bans on the discussion of sensitive issues. These differences of opinion should bring us neither censorship nor disruption of our relations. Rather, they should be the perfect excuse to meet, debate, propose and construct the future together.
Although we agree that the use of a specific example was not the most suitable and would advise the editors to avoid stigmatization and present a broader picture when referring to sensitive issues, we also consider that freedom of speech has to be defended and maintained everywhere. As EB Hall said: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’.
Finally, we would like to encourage all readers to keep an open mind concerning discussion and debate, so that we can benefit from this public space. We invite you to share your views, to learn from one another’s cultures and backgrounds, and to build bridges of communication and understanding, rather than walls of intolerance.

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