Let debate and opinion thrive in universities
Re: "Thammasat shouldn't let lecturers take sides", Letters, January 21.
Far from discouraging learned groups of faculty/students from taking sides on the issues of the day, universities and other institutions of higher learning should encourage such involvement - so long as they do not present themselves as speaking on behalf of their institution. Thus, I profoundly disagree with Vint Chavala, even though he and I agree that what the Nitirat group of Thammasat professors seek isn't in our national interest.
There is no better place for all sides of a question to be aired than at a university, for there, faculty and students alike should seek to shed light, not heat, on an issue. Thus, Harvard's motto, emblazoned on its coat of arms, is simply "Truth", and one of the University of Chicago's core values is to teach "how" to think, not "what" to think.
Vint's reasons for wanting to silence the lecturers hold water like a sieve. He says that their call for a change in the Constitution, to amnesty those involved in political crimes - is eccentric. But mankind knows so little that seldom does any truth hold for all time; the foremost learners of their day believed that Galileo and Columbus were eccentric. So, let's talk the matter through.
To Vint, Nitirat's refusal to say clearly whether they would accept a political post or not means that Thammasat should silence them. I don't see how their acceptance or rejection of posts is relevant to their freedom of speech, especially in academia. For example, the Thailand Development Research Institute has come out solidly against the government's rice scheme, but that hardly means that TDRI, as an institution, must accept or reject a post.
Let us continue to search for the truth, hearing all sides and deciding for ourselves.