The Yale controversy and free speech

As a response to the recent controversy at Yale, a group of faculty members have signed an open letter defending Erika and Nicholas Christakis and their right to free speech. The letter, authored by Douglas Stone of the university’s physics department, testifies to the alarming ideological polarization occurring on college campuses over the status of freedom of expression, and to what extent its suppression is justified for assumed social equality gains. Those arguing in favor of its limitation are often susceptible to a dichotomization of the issues at hand, painting them as a single dimension of progress versus regress in the social equality challenges the United States faces today, something I previously discussed in an op-ed I wrote for the Daily Pennsylvanian earlier this year. Here, Erika Christakis’ innocuous argument in opposition to the college administration interfering in student affairs has thus been distorted into a harmful act and an obstacle to progress, simply due to how it does not immediately amount to what some students believed to have been an appropriate, or even the single right, response to the situation.

This neglect of the core issues at stake, and rash adoption of an us-versus-them mindset, is a threat to the discourse necessary to find actual progress in social equality issues on college campuses and in the United States.

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