The principles UCSD lives by

The Crusades probably would not have happened if there was no Bible. The Inquisition probably would not have tortured thousands if Jesus hadn’t preached of loving thy neighbor. Most recently, the Sept. 11 attacks would not have been carried out if the Koran had not been written. Does this make the Bible bad? Do atrocities committed in the name of Christ make the Ten Commandments evil?

I don’t think so.

Similarly, even though the UCSD Principles of Community has recently been used to justify the dubious actions against The Koala and the Che Cafe Collective, this does not mean that there is anything wrong with the principles themselves. The principles speak directly about celebrating diversity, not persecuting it. If the meaning behind the principles has been misinterpreted, this does not affect the spirit behind the principles. The UCSD Principles of Community should be followed not just by the members of UCSD, but by everyone who desires a better world.

The principles are not a set of laws, or anything similarly rigid. The principles are merely guidelines to our behavior, and the message is simple: Respect the differences of other people. It is this willingness to accept the culture and the viewpoints of other people that has allowed us to be molded from disparate groups of immigrants into one cohesive nation.

America is a mosaic of different races, religions and beliefs. If we became prejudiced against each other based on our differences, we would fall into strife against each other and probably wouldn’t be able to deal effectively with external problems. Rational debate and reasonable disagreement can lead to a better understanding of each other, but violence only creates more problems. The problems inherent to widespread violence based on prejudice should be easily apparent; other than the possible loss of life and the definite cost to the economy, there is the climate of fear that will descend over the people, and society loses the contribution of talented people from the minorities.

Frankly, there’s not much to be said against the Principles of Community. They are not rules or laws, but guidelines to encourage friendlier behavior among the UCSD community. It may perhaps be considered obvious that it is a good idea to be nice, but by putting this on one document, we allow everybody to have the same understanding of what it means to be “”nice to each other.”” By having the Principles of Community, we are also able to see when someone is violating the boundaries of “”nice”” more clearly, which allows us to be more lucid about enforcement.

The sad truth of the world is that it is not possible to have absolute freedom. Even a document like the Principles of Community, written to increase the personal freedoms of people, does not allow absolute freedom. It is, for example, not possible for me to have the freedom to walk down a dark alley unaccosted at the same time that a mugger has the freedom to mug me. It is rather easy, in this hypothetical situation, to decide which freedom is more reasonable to ask for, but this is not always the case.

A good set of rules for the world should maximize the amount of freedom available to the greatest number of people, so long as the freedoms granted to the people do not harm anyone else. It is hard to decide if The Koala actually hurt anybody with its racist jokes — the jokes were, after all, published in a paper that has been consistently acerbic with just about everybody. It seems unfair for minorities to expect any special exemption from being lampooned like everyone else. Also, the paper did not advocate any specific form of action against minorities. At this point, it seems more reasonable to think that the UCSD Principles of Community should protect The Koala’s right to make silly insults rather than stifling its right to free expression. That the administration has chosen instead to persecute The Koala does not change this.

The situation with the Che Cafe is a more interesting case. It is unreasonable to accuse of harming people in general, since the terrorist Web sites that are linked from would exist regardless of whether it links to them or not. However, the existence of the hastily implemented and extremely loosely worded USA Patriot Act (H.R. 3162) might be used to accuse the Che Cafe of violating federal law, a situation out of the control of the UCSD administration. But it still seems more reasonable for the administration to side with a student organization until it has been proven malicious.

No doubt the radical leftist leanings of the Che Cafe have influenced the administration’s confidence in’s claim of impartial scholarship, but, again, the Principles of Community should bolster the legitimacy of the Che Cafe rather than stifle it. Until and unless the Che Cafe starts to advocate or actually perform some act of aggression against its political opponents, we should welcome its different viewpoints and alternative political beliefs.