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Felix

The student newspaper of Imperial College London

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Felix

Issue 1774
The student newspaper of Imperial College London


Keep the Cat Free


Letters to the editor and smut

Editorial

in Issue 1774

Being an embarrassing, closet liberal, I read Peter Hitchens’ book Letters to a Young Contrarian this week. Glossing over the self-congratulatory title, Hitchens makes a point that has stuck with me far longer than his smug anti-theism. He writes about Václav Havel, the former President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, who wrote, when he was still a poet and playwright, that the only way to live your life “as if ”. Apparently, Havel decided to live “as if ” he were a citizen of a free society, “as if ” lying and cowardice were not mandatory patriotic duties. I would hesitate to compare myself to Havel who lived under one of the most frightening totalitarian regimes in recent history. However, he raises an interesting point. How many of us have decided against doing the right thing just to have an easy life? I know I have. I still remember with shame the time I sat at a table around which were close female friends and laughed, mostly out of shock, at a shockingly poor taste comment made by a friend of a friend. I knew right away that what he had said was wrong but I tried to defuse the situation through bluster and changing the subject. I have still not apologised enough for that. Yet what should I have done? I barely knew the bloke and we had a week long holiday to get through. What I should have done is spoken up “as if ” I would face no consequences. 

This week I received an email from a group of Chinese students who told me that the headline that Felix published last week (Chinese infiltration? MI6 say Imperial academics could be arrested in weeks) was extremely disrespectful and demanding an apology from me. If I did not publish an apology in this issue, as well as comply with their other demands, I was warned of further consequences. 

I shall restate here my response. I will gladly publish any article they send me and would welcome rebuttal of claims made in the piece and also “circulating in mainstream media”. However, empty threats will be treated with the ridicule that they deserve. We must all live “as if ”. 

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