To the Editor:

As a staunch supporter of free expression, and as someone who has twice been the victim of hate crime, I support much of Laura Hess’ editorial (“The violent loss of free expression,” 4/10). In particular, she should be applauded for her defense of free speech and peaceful protest.

However, I take issue with some of her remarks, including her second-to-last paragraph: “A peaceful world cannot be achieved through violent measures or intimidation; violence will only lead to more violence.” History is rife with instances — from the “Pax Romana” to World War II — where Hess’ assertion is patently false. History is also rife with instances (the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example) where words alone have indeed led to a more peaceful world, or where, as in World War I, violence only begat more of the same.

I am not a strong proponent of the current conflict, but Hess’ empty rhetoric in pursuit of her own agenda — used in the same breath with which she defends free expression and peaceful protest and courageously stands up against hate crimes — is an insult to all those who support the two ideals, those who have suffered hate crimes in the past, and a severe detraction from her original point. It allows others in the community who share the view of the perpetrators to shrug off the force of Hess’ anti-hate and pro-free-expression arguments as just part of her rant.

David Peters ’05

April 11, 2003