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Allow dissenting opinions

Eric Buell | Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I saw the sign that appeared outside of Alumni’s window that proudly proclaimed they loved Taco Bell. Who can blame them? Taco Bell is a tasty restaurant with chalupas, burritos and soft tacos, that serves to clean out the system every now and then. I saw the sign and I had a pretty good chuckle. The debate about our University’s contracts with the “Bell” has been heating up over the past few weeks, and has impacted many people who have thought about “running for the border” recently. I respect those people who have brought this issue to the foreground, but I also recognize the right of people to express their ideas, even if they may be offensive or (heaven forbid) humorous. As for being proud of those students going on the hunger strike, does this mean that I, too, should be commended if I go on a hunger strike and am willing to work to have my demands heard? This is ridiculous. If I went on a hunger strike for the release of those prisoners our nation is holding in Cuba on the basis that they were being treated unfairly (which they most likely are), I doubt I would find much support, let alone respect from fellow students. Why should I look for commendation from people who oppose my views? Why would people want to support me in my cause if they do not agree with me? I do not care how much activism we do or do not support on this campus, Ms. Shreiner. I am not obligated to be proud of a cause I do not support. I do not commend those people who are pro-choice just because of their devotion. I am not proud of those people who are adamantly in support of the death penalty. I do not support a war in Iraq just because the majority of our administration is seriously devoted to it. It does not matter that I support the cause of these students on campus, but it does matter when someone tries to quiet a dissenting opinion. These students have worked hard for their cause, and have taken measures to make their voices heard. Congratulations, you have made the Notre Dame community aware of unjust practices by a major company, but I doubt you are doing this to gain respect from fellow students. Even I, a lover of all things Taco, have decreased my consumption of Taco Bell, and have not eaten a tomato from their company. I do not do this to gain respect or to even commend those on a hunger strike. I do this because I have looked at their argument and found it compelling. Not everyone on this campus is going to find their argument as compelling as I did. Maybe those men in Alumni disagreed with the hunger strikers and were sending a political message in opposition – this should be allowed. However, maybe those men in Alumni were using satire to make a point about the University’s commitment to Taco Bell. I, for one, think they were just trying to have a laugh. We cannot restrict freedom of speech based on content because if today we restrict dissenting opinion, tomorrow we restrict those people who are campaigning against Taco Bell.

Eric BuellsophomoreKeenan HallApril 19