“Their smug civility was infuriating; their invitations for debate, inflammatory. I could barely seethe out my opinion about the misogyny of holding such a debate at all…
The discussion never should have been entertained, because simply opening space for this ‘logical, respectful’ debate itself is a threat to human rights that should never be up for debate…
Some arguments aren’t worth engaging with, and quite frankly are dangerous for even existing.”
She added that “Yale should be more cognizant about the environment it fosters for women. We don’t need perfunctory celebrations of the anniversary of Yale’s women that accompany endorsements of misogynist dialogue.”
The editorial perfectly captures the rising intolerance and orthodoxy on our campuses. Nam insists that even allowing such debates is “an insult to our personhood, experience and rights.”
This is consistent with other editorials that we have previously discussed. A Berkeley columnist denounced civility and called for violent resistance. Dartmouth faculty and students demanded that the university shutdown a conservative newspaper. Wellesley editors endorsed shutting down conservative speakers and said that “violence may be warranted.” We have also documented repeated incidents where university newspapers have fired writers and editors for questioning Covid masks, challenging systemic racism claims, or holding other opposing views.
There has also been a repeated attack on civility as racist or reactionary. Even reporters at National Public Radio (NPR) have denounced civility as a “weapon wielded by the powerful.” Hillary Clinton has called for the end of civility toward any Republicans.
This tirade at Yale against free speech captures many of these elements from the attack on civility to the view of opposing speech as harmful. Given the increasingly anti-free speech culture in our elementary through high schools, it is not surprising to see this rising generation of censors. These students have been constantly told that free speech is harmful and that they should not have to be harmed by the exposure to opposing views.
The irony is that it is important to hear Nam’s views, which can be the basis for productive discourse — the type of civil discourse that she rejects. I would oppose any effort to silence her. This is precisely the type of open discussion that is valuable on our campuses. However, it should occur in an environment of civility and tolerance — values that Nam clearly rejects.
The Yale editorial gives an insight into what educators have created in this speech-phobic, viewpoint-intolerant generation.