Women’s Center’s legal action against Zeta Psi is groundless in a free country

To the Editor:

The decision by the Yale Women’s Center to take legal action against the group that staged a distasteful photo in front of the center seems deeply problematic. While I can understand how such a photo would greatly upset the Women’s Center and its members, their intention to take legal action is far more upsetting.

It is one thing to say we do not want these sentiments expressed at this private institution of higher learning. It is quite another to say the legal system of this supposedly free country should punish those who dare to express a sentiment that may be objectionable. The day we start monitoring thought in this way is the day everything this country stands for dies. I look forward to the resounding defeat the Women’s Center will almost certainly suffer in a court of law and I encourage them to take their anger where it belongs: the university and its own systems of self-government, flawed though they may be. This type of behavior may be grounds for punishment by Yale, but it should never be grounds for punishment by this country.

John Loser

Jan. 21

The writer is a senior in Pierson College.


  • Anonymous

    John Loser,

    Sir, surely you were too overwhelmed by the pretty construction of your introductory paragraph to really understand the value judgment stated within. Do you REALLY mean that it is more "deeply disturbing" that the WC expresses an intent to sue than the fact that a fraternal brotherhood thought it appropriate to stage a sacrament to the "sluts" of Yale in front of the Women's Center? So, in your view of the universe, with respect to relative rights and wrongs, am I to assume that the Women's Center should issue an apology to Zeta Psi for merely expressing an intent to sue? Perhaps they should take part in an outreach with the prestigious fraternal organization, founded in 1847, to help heal the deep wounds inflicted by this stated intent to sue. It would follow, from what I gather, that since the wrong admitted to by Zeta Psi warranted a public apology, the FAR GREATER wrong of contemplating a civil action against the merry men of Zeta Psi would AT LEAST necessitate a public mea culpa from the Women's Center.

    I think your thesis could have been constructed without declaring the absolute value of the original injury to be obscured by the horror of a threatened lawsuit. The litigious lean of all aspects of American politics and business is a fascinating, troublesome, and worthy subject. The weapon of litigation, trendiest among the arsenal of modern Americans, and its effects, when precipitously used, on the free discourse of thought is, as a whole, weightier in the nation's mind than this one specific incident at the WC. But, the "deeply disturbing" litigiousness is in that case only the graver wrong because it threatens the free thought of a wider swath of society than has been effected by the WC incident.

    As your argument stands, the two wrongs cannot be fairly compared as if they were on the same scale. If you treat the Women's Center incident as representative of a larger, deeper history of workplace/schoolplace harassment effecting our daughters, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers for generations, then yes, reasonable minds could differ on the relative wrongs of sexism versus the suppression of free thought. But, really, no one would feel the need to cast one cause aside for the express purpose of advancing the other (at least in a hypothetical argument where resources of time and money don't require that we choose our battles), because most fair-minded people see the value in seeking to achieve the best for both causes.

    Also, does threatening to file a public suit really amount to "monitoring thought"? Had you made the worthy argument that filing highly public lawsuits has a chilling effect on free expression caused by the fear of being publicly chastised or sued, I could have stomached your op-ed piece. Or, had you argued more coherently that any legal system which would honor the WC's claim is no legal system you believe in…well, then I would have admired the effort.

    As it stands, I find that your argument is muddled and your conclusion made less credible by the diminution of the wrong committed by the esteemed brothers of Zeta Psi. I am surprised yours was picked by the YDN as representative of some part of the Yale community.

  • Anonymous

    You need to go back to freshman year and start college all over again, Mr. Loser. And while you're at it, look up the definitions of sexual harrassment and hate speech.

    We do have something in common, though: Like you, I can't wait for the Women's Center to take this to court and win their big fat settlement. Then when my daughter is ready for Yale in about eight years, I can be reasonably sure she will safely be able to enter women's health facilities without being confronted by a large, intimidating group of men yelling "Dick! Dick! Dick!"

    That's a cause worth defending, you know. Maybe if you have a daughter one day you'll know what I'm talking about. Until then, it looks like you have more in common with the frat offenders themselves: ignorance, entitlement issues, and a pathetic way of running your mouth off without thinking.

  • Anonymous

    To the above poster, it was already established that the were chanting "DKE DKE DKE", the name of a rival fraternity.

    I am a woman and I totally agree with Mr Loser. You have much bigger things to worry about in a society where people can sue others for using words that hurt their feelings. The Supreme Court has already said just by suing someone for speech, you are infringing on their rights and chilling the atmosphere of free debate.

    Also, perhaps many Yale women are indeed sluts. Is it surprising that young, drunk men would appreciate such young women?

    So long First Amendment!