Cost of freedom means tolerating opinions we despise

Students who were offended at some slogan painted on the NC State’s so called “Freedom Tunnel” exercised their own right to free speech and painted over the slogan. They then wrote, “Freedom of speech. At what cost?” Apparently the answer to that questions is not taught at NC State.

In case any NCSU student is interested, the answer is that the cost of freedom is a willingness to not only let people express opinions you abhor and detest, but to defend that right. As Noam Chomsky puts it, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, than we don’t believe in it at all.”

One NC State alumni does understand the answer. Stef Watson wrote in her blog that she had hoped her alma mater would be open-minded enough to resist unreasonable bigotry but was disappointed by the response from the students and the school administration.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re opinion, if you show open intolerance to someone of a different opinion, that’s bigotry,” she said. “The artist may be a bigot, but the artist isn’t trying to take away the rights of other students through his expression. The protesters are the ones taking their bigotry too far by assuming that the artist should not have a right to this type of expression.”