I am sick and tired of reading article after article and e-mail after e-mail describing the “state of emergency” in which our student body is supposedly immersed. All of these rants take the tone and make the assumption that they are speaking for the entire student population. I assure you, this assertion is far from the truth.
The claim that Yale has become some sort of perilous wasteland where poor liberal protesters run the risk of being pummeled by oppressive conservative thugs at every turn is ludicrous. Not only is it blatantly untrue, it creates an environment where students with differing views are being discouraged from voicing their opinions publicly, say, in a protest on Cross Campus, for fear of the repercussions recently put in place. Before you disregard this piece as just some ridiculous rant by a crazy right-wing activist with an agenda, let me relate the following situation.
This past Sunday afternoon I received a visit at my house from a Yale police officer investigating one of the now notorious seven recently alleged incidents. Much to my surprise one of my housemates and I were informed that we were being investigated for intimidation and conduct that violates the Yale Community Code of Conduct, as well as possible criminal statutes.
You must understand, and I suppose to a certain extent trust me on this, but in no way did I do anything but engage in a constructive conversation with two students involved in a protest taking place on Cross Campus. I introduced myself to the fellow students and we proceeded to converse for nearly 45 minutes on everything from my disagreement with their treatment of the American flag (hanging it upside down and affixing signs to it protesting past U.S. military actions) to our respective views on the war in Iraq. We shook hands at the end and although I don’t think either side’s convictions were really changed, I left the interaction feeling good about what had just taken place.
You can imagine my shock on Sunday upon learning that I had been accused of inappropriate behavior. Incidentally, I learned from the ensuing conversation with the officer that there is a Connecticut statute prohibiting the desecration of the American flag. He informed me that included in this statute is the hanging of external logos or messages on the flag. Perhaps I missed it, but I have yet to see the outcry by the Yale community for investigating this infraction.
It is imperative to remember that free speech includes views other than liberal ones. Believing in conservative ideals and stating them in a public setting is not a hate crime and is not adequate grounds for investigation. I am a supporter of President Bush and firmly back our troops and the administration’s policies regarding the war in Iraq. Many other Yale students share these views and it would be a shame if our voices were suppressed in the name of protecting free speech. The rash of recent accusations and allegations has created a type of witch-hunt hysteria. The subsequent Big Brother mentality of the campus has given life to an atmosphere where students are no longer able to engage in productive debates for fear of uttering some conservative blasphemy and being subjected to investigation by the Yale police. I highly doubt this was the intent of those students making allegations; however, it has been a result.
I strongly encourage those with the Concerned Students at Yale and other groups to make sure that there is an actual threat before filing a complaint. I am in no way insinuating that acts deserving investigation and even administrative action have not been committed. I am simply calling for a rational outlook toward the current situation. Please stop and think before being blindly caught up in an emotional wave that brings about more damage than beneficial change to our community.
Chad Almy is a junior in Trumbull College.