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I read with interest the letters in response to "How Brown Turned Me into a Right-Wing Conservative" by David Klinghoffer '87, which appeared in the January/February BAM (Mail Room, March/April). I was appalled, but not necessarily surprised, at the mean-spirited nature of some of those letters. It appears that leftist readers have trouble accepting the fact that some seemingly intelligent people can actually believe in the biblical concept of God and can lean in any direction other than left.

Also in the March/April issue, I read about Jewish comedian Sean Altman '83, who pokes fun at Jewish ways. The article quoted the highly offensive lyrics of one of the songs featured in his album, Taller Than Jesus. If a Jewish person wants to poke fun at his own culture and religion, that's his business and the business of that particular community. But to write offensive lyrics about someone else's religion, and to use the name of Jesus in the title, that's not at all Kosher (if you'll pardon the pun).

What do these letters and the article have in common? They are further evidence that conservative believers and those who are more conservative politically receive nothing but disdain and ridicule from those on the "liberal" end of the spectrum. I am pointing out these observations because I think Brown and other universities should broaden the concept of "tolerance" to include those with whom you might actually disagree, such as conservatives, evangelical Christians, Orthodox Jews, etc. Let their voices be heard in a setting that is, after all, supposed to be open to all opinions and viewpoints, not just the PC line.

I suggest that Brown lead the way in broadening the concept of tolerance to include people with whom those on the left might actually disagree by encouraging an open, free, and civil campus that includes all viewpoints. The University should also make clear that shouting down, ridiculing, vilifying, or otherwise harassing those who have opinions contrary to yours will not be tolerated and will be punished as any other violation of the student code would be.

Brown leaders should declare the university a tolerance zone where all viewpoints will be allowed to be voiced in a civil manner and all people will be treated with dignity and respect.

Rev. Tony Beck '65
Beacon, N.Y.

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Comments (1)
06/21/08
 
Dear Tony: 
 
I wrote to you in private, and I should note that as someone who is a conservative Republican both at Brown and now, you simply don't get it. Nor does fellow Brunonian Bobby Jindal (see below). 
 
Ever True, 
 
John 
 
 
Hi everyone, 
 
My friend Barbara Forrest of the Louisiana Coalition for Science and her fellow citizens in the state of Louisiana need our help in supporting quality science education there. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has stated recently on television (last Sunday's "Face the Nation") that he supports the LA Science Education Act (SB 733) which would destroy Louisiana's efforts to ensure quality science education for its students. 
 
This bill is one of the reasons why Brown biology professor Ken Miller wrote "Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul" and why I wrote the extensive, persuasive review praising it at Amazon.com (It is also why he appeared on the Colbert Report last Monday.): 
 
http://www.amazon.com/Only-Theory-Evolution-Battle-Americas/dp/067001883X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214054479&sr=8-1 
 
Regards, 
 
John Kwok 
 
Reprinted from a Center for Inquiry announcement: 
 
 
 
Help the Louisiana Coalition for Science Defeat Anti-Science Bill; Protect the Integrity of Science Education 
 
Implore Governor Jindal to veto bill SB 733, LA Science Education Act 
 
The Louisiana Senate has passed SB 733, a bill that creationists can use to force their sectarian views into public school science classes. The bill provides that, upon the request of a local school board, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) must permit appropriate supplementary instructional materials in science classes, but gives no guidance about the criteria BESE should use in approving such supplementary materials. Effectively, the legislation provides a means for creationists to promote their pseudo-scientific views in the classroom. The LA Coalition for Science (LCFS), a group of concerned parents, teachers and scientists, has called on Gov. Jindal to veto the bill through an open letter on its website at http://lasciencecoalition.org. 
 
"This bill doesn't help teachers. It allows local school boards to open the doors of public school science classrooms to creationism with the blessing of the state," explains LCFS member Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University. "Governor Jindal surely knows that evolution is not controversial in the mainstream scientific community. He majored in biology at Brown University, and he belongs to a church that considers evolution to be established science and approves of its being taught in its own parochial schools. The LA Family Forum is pushing this bill over the objections of scientists and teachers across the state. The governor has a moral responsibility to Louisiana children to veto this bill." 
 
Paul Kurtz, CFI's Chair, has stated that "SB 733 poses a serious threat to science education and represents yet another attempt by creationists to insinuate their religious doctrine into the classroom under the guise of promoting critical reasoning." 
 
We have reached the point at which the only possible measure we have left is to raise an outcry from around the country that Gov. Jindal has to hear. What is happening in Louisiana has national implications, much to the delight of proponents of "intelligent design." 
 
Please contact everyone you know and ask them to contact the governor's office and ask him to veto the bill. Louisiana will be only the beginning. Your state could be next. 
 
Here are the talking points: 
 
Point 1: The Louisiana law, SB 733, the LA Science Education Act, has national implications. So far, this legislation has failed in every other state where it was proposed, except in Michigan, where it remains in committee. By passing SB 733, Louisiana has set a dangerous precedent that will benefit the Discovery Institute and other creationists by helping them to advance their strategy to get intelligent design creationism into public schools. Louisiana is only the beginning. Other states will now be encouraged to pass such legislation, and the Discovery Institute has already said that they will continue their push to get such legislation passed. 
 
Point 2: Gov. Jindal's failure to oppose the teaching of ID clearly helped to get this bill passed in the first place. His decision to veto it will stick if he lets the legislature know that he wants it to stick. 
 
Point 3: Simply allowing the bill to become law without his signature, which is one of the governor's options, does not absolve him of the responsibility for protecting the public school science classes of Louisiana. He must veto the bill to show that he is serious about improving Louisiana by improving education. Anything less than a veto means that the governor is giving a green light to creationists to undermine the education of Louisiana children. 
 
TAKE ACTION NOW! TELL GOV. BOBBY JINDAL TO VETO SB 733 
 
Contact Information: 
 
E-mail: http://www.gov.la.gov/index.cfm?md=form&tmp=email_governor 
 
Phone: 225-342-7015 or 866-366-1121 (Toll Free) 
 
Fax: 225-342-7099
 
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