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The Dartmouth
February 22, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

The Right to Offend

To the Editor:

It seems that Michael Kreicher '08's latest op-ed ("Rampant Political Correctness," Nov. 3) presents many strong arguments. However, his contention could be enhanced by a distinction that he misses.

There is a difference between a Hawaiian party and a White Trash party in that the latter necessarily diminishes and attacks the image of a socioeconomic group. While it is meant only as a fun costume as Kreicher indicates, it can clearly be seen as overtly offensive to the rather large group of people to which the stereotype applies. It is difficult to debate what does or does not offend someone.

The missed distinction is that, while one may pass judgment on the party's taste, groups should not be subject to punishment merely because they have offended someone. Whether a person's feelings are hurt by a statement should not be a concern.

Groups and individuals should be permitted to express their free speech rights even if these articulations are offensive. In doing so, they run the risk of falling in the opinions of others.

I sympathize with Kreicher's frustration about an overly politically correct environment at Dartmouth, but think that those arguing against it would do well to refocus the argument.