To the Editor:
Re “Why having free speech at Yale matters,” 3/1:
Dean Salovey and Master Krauss are right to declare the theft of the November run of the Yale Free Press unconscionable and contrary to the spirit of the University. But while we should regret this disappearance, we should also recognize that the defense of free speech is considerably more complicated than Salovey and Krauss suggest. The Free Press, for its part, receives significant funding from the Collegiate Network, the self-proclaimed “home of conservative college journalism.” The Collegiate Network, in turn, is a subsidiary of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which provides financial support for supposedly embattled conservatives on college campuses. Light and Truth, another conservative journal at Yale, also receives funding from this group; a full list of its sponsored publications is at http://www.isi.org/cn.
To be sure, the 5,200 issues of the November run should not have been stolen. But the very fact that the Free Press can afford to print so many copies (almost one for every undergraduate — an absurdly high number, as demonstrated by the well-nigh-infinite stack that remains outside the dining halls months after publication) should demonstrate that the defense of free speech must go beyond the mere prevention of theft. Freedom of expression is meaningless if only those who can afford it may speak. And while there is no shortage of publications at Yale, let there be no doubt: The conservatives who write for the Yale Free Press and Light and Truth enjoy a considerable financial advantage over those who disagree with their politics.
The Woodward Report boldly supports “the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.” Quite so. But just where should this thinking, discussing and challenging be done? Think tanks and foundations rarely give money to those who wish to “challenge the unchallengeable.” If Salovey and Krauss truly want to ensure freedom of expression within the Yale community, then a simple condemnation of stealing will not suffice. Beyond that, they should join me in advocating for increased funds for on-campus publications so that rich papers with external funding can have an appropriate counterbalance. The theft is of course disgraceful. But with respect to funding, who at Yale is truly silenced?
Jason Farago ’05
March 1, 2005