No one benefits from anti-LGBTQ hate. But that’s not the point.
The point is that we won’t be protected from hateful ideas forever. I’ll be the first to agree, we don’t need hateful ideas on campus to learn how to refute them, but there is no denying that they exist. Even if we are shielded from them in the university setting, we won’t be shielded from them beyond campus, in future jobs, or in our personal lives.
Censorship won’t make these ideas go away. Look at censorship attempts by other platforms. Twitter banned Alex Jones in 2018, and Elon Musk, the “free speech absolutist,” has even refused to let him back on the platform. But what did I see all week on Twitter? Alex Jones’ horrendous interview with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes. Attempting to silence a viewpoint does not make it go away. It often has the opposite effect: fanning the flames and platforming the idea even more.
So what’s the strategy? If we can’t make those ideas go away, we must learn to counter them.
I came to college to learn. I came to be forced to question my own ideas and push the boundaries of my arguments. I came to become stronger in my convictions and learn to defend them with vigor. If anything, the university — with the institutional support of professors and faculty committed to upholding the experiences and dignity of all students on campus — is the safest place to practice those skills, especially against the ideas we find hateful. And, if we think those hateful ideas are so absurd anyway, shouldn’t they be easy to dismantle? As soon as Yale, or any institution, attempts to censor an idea of which it doesn’t approve, we are robbed of the opportunity to try to argue and bring the best ideas to the forefront, a skill desperately needed in this age of divisiveness and ad-hominem attacks.
As Jeff mentioned, it takes thick skin to stand up to these ideas. No one said it was easy. However, if we want to prove that those ideas have no ground, we have to be willing to stand up against them. And actually stand up. Don’t get lost in the name-calling — calling Ron DeSantis an “anti-trans activist” does nothing to convince people to join in your disagreement with his policy on trans kids. Point to the evidence, build your argument and refute the opposing argument. I have no doubt we’re capable of doing so.