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Letters: Poor decision to silence professor

Seven people have been appointed to an advisory

Seven people have been appointed to an advisory board that will be examining instruction and management at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point. (Feb. 22, 2012) Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

I am absolutely outraged at the recent action of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy's superintendent, Rear Adm. James A. Helis, ordering administrative leave for a professor for his joke about the Aurora shooting ["Bad joke shouldn't be cause for firing," Editorial, Aug. 20].

Perhaps this professor might have shown a bit more sensitivity, but to effectively suspend the man for the type of comment that would ordinarily get a minor laugh on a late-night talk show is ridiculous.

This was a knee-jerk reaction brought about by the political correctness of our time. Lighten up!

Michael J. Moonitz, Massapequa

The suspension of a professor highlights a dangerous problem in the United States where, at one time, free speech and its first cousin, academic freedom, were held sacred. Jokingly instructing his students to run for the exits if someone with dyed orange hair should show up was in poor taste, and the presence of a student who lost his father in the Colorado attack exacerbated the issue. The instructor apologized.

This case appears to be a perfect example of exactly what's wrong with a society gone overboard with political correctness. The idea behind free speech and academic freedom is not to protect those who say what we agree with, but rather those who say things that we, often strongly, do not agree with.

Silencing them is something to be avoided at all costs. It is our duty as a free people to defend the right to speak.

Bernard A. Bilawsky, North Massapequa