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LETTER: Charlie Hebdo faced tragedy; UND faces difficulty

In a letter, Gary Severson complained about a supposed inconsistency between the Charlie Hebdo response and the Fighting Sioux nickname response ("Free speech for me but not thee," Page A4, Jan. 26).

In a letter, Gary Severson complained about a supposed inconsistency between the Charlie Hebdo response and the Fighting Sioux nickname response ("Free speech for me but not thee," Page A4, Jan. 26).

To see whether there's a double standard, we should consider a few points.

There is a significant difference between individual speech and taxpayer-funded group speech. If a person wants to stand by the side of the road yelling nasty things, he or she probably can do it.

With a few exceptions for inciting imminent violence, the First Amendment is very protective of individual speakers, even if what they say is insulting or racist.

But nowhere in the Constitution does it say we should spend tax dollars to support such sad people. You can say what you want, but you can't make others give you money for it.

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Also, while the First Amendment means you can say a lot of things and nobody can stop you, they don't have to like you, and they don't have to associate with you.

If you think Charlie Hebdo's magazines are offensive, just don't buy them. That's what the NCAA did with the Fighting Sioux logo. The NCAA said, in effect, "Hey, your logo is hostile and abusive. We don't want that in our association. You can keep using it, but not with us."

Free speech is free, but it's not without consequence.

What happened at the Charlie Hebdo offices was a tragedy. UND, on the other hand, has been given the task of choosing a new mascot.

I went to Grand Forks Central High School in the late nineties, just when we adopted the "Knights" mascot. It was great to be there at the beginning of a new era; and though the community at large may have had mixed views about the change, it was a smooth and positive process from my perspective as a student.

Ten years ago, if you looked around the north side of town, you could spot a few "Central Redskins" signs in house windows. By now, though, most of those have been taken down.

Central had a nickname; we found out it was not so great; and then we got a new one. The process had some bumps but was smooth enough, and it took only a few years.

UND is headed towards the same sort of future, and it's a good place to be going.

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Douglas Paul Perkins

Nishitokyo, Japan

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