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Poster Wars: Deepti Says

Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2011

Mary puts up a poster on her dorm room door opposing gay marriage. James, a floormate, finds it offensive. What should happen?

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It seems to me that Mary would be in the wrong for putting such a poster in a hallway through which James, and others who may themselves be homosexual, are compelled to walk. The dorm hallway is as much part of James’ temporary home as it is part of Mary’s. For Mary to put her neighbor in a position in which he is confronted on a daily basis with an [albeit silent] attack to his very identity, within a space that could be considered his home, is unethical. James has a right to feel respected and secure within his own home. To view on a daily basis a public denouncement of his rights would not be conducive to any such feelings.

If Mary keeps the poster up, she must be prepared for a neighbor to post on his or her door an attack on some aspect of her own identity. The dorm director, who has a responsibility to ensure that all residents feel secure, should request that Mary move the poster to someplace within the confines of her own room, provided her roommate is not offended by it.

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Tags: Deepti Shenoy, dorm, ethics, free speech, residence hall