Still Halloween at Yale

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Academics are still using the Halloween costume controversy at Yale as a teachable moment. One wonders what they will learn.

erika christakis yale

“A white Ivy League lecturer has resigned following an uproar over an email she sent in October suggesting students should have the freedom to wear whatever Halloween costumes they like, including those that may be culturally insensitive,” Michael D. Reagan reported in The Christian Science Monitor on December 8, 2015. “Yale University announced on Monday the lecturer, Erika Christakis, would not be working at the school during the spring semester.”

“Ms. Christakis’s email was sent in response to [a] statement made by Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Committee, which suggested students should not don costumes depicting Native Americans, Asians, and [or] African Americans that could offend fellow students.”

“Wholly apart from the values of academic inquiry, it is a mistake to seek to suppress speech in the name of equality,” Georgetown Law Professor David Cole wrote in The New York Review of Books. “Free speech and association are rights of special importance to the minority—as the Yale students themselves have demonstrated.”

“The freedom of speech empowers them to express their views, to dissent from majority policies, and to organize politically to advance their interests, just as, before them, it lent protection to Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and other civil rights activists. The last thing a minority group should seek is the suppression of nonviolent free expression.”