To the Editor:

Christopher Wu’s Tuesday letter (“Booing Bush at Yale Bowl inappropriate,” 10/9) is another symptom of the widespread inability to construct our thoughts in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy. “Have students here forgotten all about the Sept. 11 tragedy?” he asks. Unfortunately, Sept. 11 cannot be the universal solvent for all our notions about appropriate behavior.

It is sad and disturbing that Wu enlists the catastrophe of four weeks ago to make his point. I don’t mind if he wants to play Miss Manners and object to the discourtesy of jeering, but we shoot ourselves in the foot as a society when we begin making procrustean beds of tragedy, in which we bury dissonances after mangling them to get the right fit.

We are letting the tail wag the dog, and it is making a fool of us. Are our lives to be ruled by those who best harness Sept. 11 for their selfish rhetorical needs? Will we be ruled by a can’t-get-over-it-ocracy?

Besides, I don’t think we want to police disunity as we police underage drinking. The public arena is the best forum for dissent; our willingness to cast away decorum and use our voices in ways that prudes and zealous patriots find odious is perhaps the measuring stick of the maturity of our democracy. It might sound funny, but democracy is a right based on the privilege to be ill-mannered and sometimes even ornery.

Aaron Goode ’04

October 9, 2001