To the Editor:
While the arguments that hyper-sensitive political correctness stifles intelligent debate on social issues are often compelling, they do not apply in the particular context of the "white trash" party ("Fair and balanced social activism," Nov. 9). "White trash" implies that a subculture of America is equivalent to "trash;" it says that people who talk differently or have less money to buy clothes are disposable. It also implicitly states that non-whites are automatically trash (indeed, this is the etymology of the phrase). To say that it is "just a costume, no more, no less" ignores the concrete effects that the party has: it assumes meaningless stereotypes about a culture that, like it or not, most Dartmouth students have little experience with. Blackface is also just a costume; that does not mean it is not racist for white students to engage in it, even if they do not directly make racist jokes.
Those who oppose rampant censorship in the name of tolerance should choose their battles more wisely. No one is attempting to "force... politically correct lunacy on campus." Last week's oped ("Speaking out, Standing Alone," Nov. 7) only condemned the party; it did not suggest that those who hosted the event should be punished. This is not an attack on free speech: this is free speech. It voices an opinion about what is right and what is wrong. Attacking those who hold a well-justified belief that we should not equate poverty with "trashiness" is thus a counterproductive move. With the rampant amount of one-sided political discourse on campus, surely there is a more worthy cause in need of a vehement defense than an intriguing party theme.