The Daily Illini

Letter to the Editor: Don’t use free speech to silence those you disagree with

By Melech Lapson

On Nov. 13 Hen Mazzig was invited by the Illini Students Supporting Israel to give a speech about his experiences as an openly gay commander in the Israeli army working in the humanitarian division to help improve conditions for Palestinians.

During this speech, SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) activists acted rudely on multiple occasions, insulting the speaker and trying to disrupt his speech. They laughed when the speaker would speak about sensitive memories such as when he came out as an LGBT to his best friend or the time he was almost killed in a terrorist attack.

They were asked multiple times by perturbed attendees to show respect and let the speaker finish his speech, but continued to giggle and let their phones go off multiple times. They then got up in the middle of his speech with inflammatory posters, screaming and trying to stop the speech. The campus police had to be called to end the disruption. Many students were taken aback by these attacks.

Several of the attendees were freshmen (like me) or students studying abroad, and were surprised that such a traumatizing event could happen on such an otherwise peaceful campus. Many of these attendees would go on to fill out bias reports, informing the administration of the situation. Such a breach of free speech and common courtesy must be addressed by the college administration to prevent further occurrences of people trying to silence those who disagree with them.

Such is the way only of fascists and those who wish to lie and not be caught. We beseech the chancellor and other University officials to work on the appropriate actions to take after such an event.

Melech is a freshman in ECE.

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