Let me be nice and clear

This is an article published today in Duke’s student newspaper.

The article advocates for the silencing of ideas we disagree with as long as our actions aren’t completely unconstitutional. Therefore, here is a list of responses to this article the author would approve of:

  1. Getting a counter protest together to scream about what a horrible person the author is.
  2. Targeting her with horrible facebook and twitter smear campaigns, declaring what a bad* person she is
  3. Stage a protest and circulate a petition to get the Chronicle and Duke to take down this column and stop the author from writing any more
  4. Create a committee to approve of all future columns before publication to make sure they do not contain any intolerant opinions.
  5. Circulate this column with future prospective employers of the author, threaten to make a big protest if the author is hired at a firm. Ruin the author’s chance of employment because we disagree with her opinion.

*insert your own creative adjectives here

If an angry mob did this to the author, it’s hard to see how she could say it was unfair. Nevertheless, I don’t believe we should be as mean and intolerant as the Constitution allows us to be. There is a great benefit to tolerance beyond the tolerance of law.  Therefore, if you do what the author has suggested, you will not be elevating the level of intellectual discourse; you will be shutting out part of it. Intolerance, like speech, is a tool. And there is no reason a tool can be used by only your side.  We should not be making it easier to stop speakers from having an open dialogue, to stop interactions with ideas we dislike, or to get people fired for unpopular opinions.  Groups of people who have not heard all sides of an argument are by definition uninformed, and uninformed mobs are not good arbiters of the merits of arguments.