The Legal Beat
Yale Law School Had So Much Fun The First Time, They’ve Brought Recognized Hate Group Back To Campus!
Posted on Wednesday January 25, 2023
“Fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me… you can’t get fooled again.” — George W. Bush
Yale Law School had such a positive experience hosting Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, an SPLC-recognized hate group, that it decided to give it another whirl! The last time resulted in a protest that got right-wing media madder than a gas stove ban at a critical race theory symposium. After taking its turn as a Wall Street Journal punching bag, some grandstanding federal judges threatened to boycott the school, and the school issued a new set of oxymoronic “freedom of speech rules” that earned derision from right and left.
In the same week that Harvard Law School deals with the aftermath of anti-LGBTQ+ violence on campus, we learn that Yale yet again lent its credibility to mainstreaming anti-LGBTQ+ discourse. When the Federalist Society invited Waggoner back for another round, the school took steps to silence anyone who might want to exercise their freedom to speak in opposition.
Because while Yale Law School’s policies have changed over the past year, its guiding principle hasn’t: “free” speech is a one-way proposition. It flows from the lectern down. From Yale’s perspective, if the powers-that-be choose to give a speaker a microphone, that person is blessed with the holy right of speech and the role of the audience is to shut up and absorb the lessons of their betters.
What a curious take from an institution that sees itself as a chosen gatekeeper of elite credibility!
The Washington Free Beacon, an outlet that routinely functions as the press arm for Federalist Society groups seeking 15 minutes of fame through campus outrage stunts, helpfully and unsurprisingly has all the details:
Now Waggoner is returning to Yale Law for another talk. And this time, administrators aren’t leaving anything to chance, banning press and anyone without a Yale Law School ID, including undergraduate students, from the event. They are also trying to prohibit covert cell phone recordings, which picked up audio of last year’s disruption. It is not clear whether the ban on media includes the Yale Daily News, Yale’s flagship student paper, whose editor in chief, Lucy Hodgman, did not respond to a request for comment.
Yes! This is a problem, isn’t it? It’s almost as if regulating speech to shield invited speakers from scrutiny actually undermines freedom writ large.
This has been our consistent take from the start. Schools should promulgate time, place, and manner rules that allow speakers to speak for their designated time (rules that the original protest followed, which is why no one got punished despite the squawking of some professors). But schools cannot get in the business of silencing or terminally sidelining counterspeech. Because going down that road ends up silencing all sorts of speech, including the press.
But let’s have a round of slow claps that the Beacon is starting to piece it together.
The event, scheduled for noon on Tuesday and hosted by the Federalist Society, will also feature Nadine Strossen, the first female president of the American Civil Liberties Union. Yale’s draconian measures aren’t sitting well with her. She is calling the school’s decision to ban the press “unjustifiable,” telling the Washington Free Beacon, “For an event that is discussing important First Amendment issues—and is designed to illustrate Yale Law School’s announced recommitment to free speech—it is sadly ironic that elementary freedom of speech principles are being violated.”
It’s only “sadly ironic” if you thought anything about Yale’s new policy and its disgracefully toadying to media bullying amounted to a commitment to free speech. If you saw it as a top-down effort to curtail dissent that only situationally pleased conservatives, well….
In that case, this isn’t ironic at all.
Earlier: Yale Law School Free Speech Crisis Mostly Fake News
Banning Law School Protests To Protect Free Speech Marks New Orwellian Heights
Yale Law Professor Suggests Punishing Students For Following The Rules
Yale Law School Responds To ‘Free Speech’ Complaints By Cracking Down On Free Speech
Harvard Law School Student Attacked While Assailant Hurled Slurs
James Ho Cancel Cultures Yale Law FedSoc Because Other Students Are Mean To Yale Law FedSoc Students
Free Speech Is The Freedom To Shut Up And Listen To Your Betters, Trump Judge Explains
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.