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Freely Speaking

April 15, 2001

* Re "Dr. Laura Falls Victim to the Thought Police," Commentary, April 9: There seems to be two interpretations of our fundamental American right to free speech. The first is the belief that citizens have the right to speak their minds free from government attempts to curtail or silence them (agreed!). Another more recent interpretation is the notion that people can say whatever they wish and anyone who criticizes them is a censor infringing on the speaker's 1st Amendment rights.

Norah Vincent's attempt to equate criticism with censorship and fascism dilutes the power of the 1st Amendment and ignores the fact that just because speech is free does not mean it is without the price of responsibility. Simply put, there are some things we just don't say in a society built on respect. There are consequences for such speech, the most common of which is public criticism.

When Dr. Laura Schlessinger targeted gays and lesbians by using offensive words to advance an agenda of discrimination and exclusion, we took her to task. GLAAD's campaign to unmask "Dr. Laura" succeeded because fair-minded people and corporations decided that words which defame gays and lesbians are just as intolerable as those used to denigrate any other cultural minority.

JOAN M. GARRY

Executive Director

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against

Defamation (GLAAD)

Los Angeles

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