Free speech at Yale is in peril.
Take this past week alone.
Desperately clinging to a puny and mindless vocabulary, a miseducated vandal wrote “Nigger School” on a wall outside Pierson College. Yesterday, an e-mail from Yale College Dean Peter Salovey reported homophobia. Blackface.
Or recall last year.
N.O.G.A.Y.S. posters. “Yellow Fever.” Alleged racism in Yale Herald cartoons.
Or take Columbia with their rampant nooses and swastikas.
Sure, these are examples of individuals speaking freely — and short of vandalism, their legal right to make hurtful statements or gestures should remain — but is this truly “the” freedom of speech for which the Founders sacrificed to protect?
Not at all. And yet this inane dictionary gun-play has dominated discussion on campus for the past year, if not longer.
But what is also sad is that it seems now any speech at Yale even remotely controversial is greeted with a chorus of naysayers. They argue certain opinions are wrong — no question about it — and decline to engage in real debate. Or they insist that certain views, particularly offensive ones, simply should not be published in the first place.
This is not just disappointing but contrary to the spirit of freedom and dialogue with which this country and University were founded.
What happened to the days when ideas flowed freely here — minds relatively open — and contributed to an atmosphere of fruitful, and not futile, debate?
Nothing. But the recent misuses of speech at Yale and beyond — and on the opposite side of the same coin, its misguided reception — have distracted us from the value of examining all issues, from all sides. And agreeing to tolerance.
The News itself has been condemned for tolerating too liberally — and publishing too much.
But our view is just the opposite.
The truth is that this page is quantitatively insufficient. Three thousand words each day is not enough to contain all the voices of a community of tens of thousands.
We know we can’t remedy the free speech problem on campus, and we don’t deign to believe we can come close. But one modest solution we do offer is today’s two-page spread: an expanded weekly Opinion & Editorial section, Friday Forum.
We intend to make room for our readers’ many voices — long overdue for a listen.
Like a bucket slowly filling with water dripping from a leaky roof, this section does not serve its purpose letting one column or letter pour out to make room for another; the floor, then, gets all wet.
So now there is another bucket — a no-holds-barred call for more speech.
Let the debate begin.