31 Comments

Appreciate the piece and the author's steadfastness.

The part about the "two discrimination and harassment resource coordinators from the Law School’s Office of Student Affairs" swiftly stepping in and trying to justify their jobs is particularly telling of what the liberal humanist camp is up against.

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In not apologizing, you acted honorably; no one should have to apologize publicly just to appease the crowd. I am baffled that this happened at a law school, of all places. Doesn't law school emphasize the principles of "innocent until proven guilty" and not having to testify against yourself?

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The form apology letter is the most chilling aspect of this story. That feels right out of 1984. "You will confess to your crimes eventually, so let's just save time and do it now so we don't have to send you to Room 101, shall we?"

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Yes--it reminded me of the apology form letter prepared by the "team" in my poem "Apology in Seven Tongues" (https://www.thesatirist.com/poems/apology-in-seven-tongues.html). I have posted the link to it in a Persuasion comment before, so I hesitated to do it again--but I think the relevance is clear.

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A terrific post. Thanks for being so courageous.

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The people claiming to be offended by Colbert's email should "get educated," try to "do better," and write an apology email themselves. There was nothing hostile or offensive about the email, and pretending to be offended by it can only be seen as cynical power grab that will only deepen racial divisions.

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Wow. Just wow. For the past few months, I've been wondering if I have been overreacting to cancel culture and the DIB surveillance state. Between this incident and the incident at MIT, I think the answer to that question is no. I have not been overreacting.

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founding

Trent, I am seventy-six years old and I expect that politically we may not agree on many things. You were absolutely right, however, to stand your ground and I believe that the Yale Law School administrators who attempted to coerce you, assuming of course that your rendition of the conversations is correct, should take a long look in the mirror. Racism is a terrible thing and it is trivialized when the struggle against is reduced to a game of "I Gotchya." The presentation of a prepared confession for your signature was, in its mechanics, no different than the way totalitarian governments have operated through the ages. I am sure that the administrators with whom you dealt are smart and well-meaning but for me that makes their actions, especially their veiled threats and citing your Federalist Society membership as a "triggering" factor, even more troubling. I am not familiar with the term "Trap House" but frankly, even if the term were somehow inappropriate, the behavior of the administration could only be justified on the theory that any claim of hurt feelings must be met with a vigorous

response to avoid even the slightest doubt about the School's wokeness. The sending of an email to the entire second year class, whoever did it, is right out of the Chinese Cultural Revolution playbook.

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I'd never heard of the term "Trap House" until I read Colbert's article. Even after I'd looked it up and discovered it was a slang term for crack house, the connection still seemed pretty tenuous and fundamentally harmless in Colbert's original usage (which was supposed to be a tongue-in-check invitation to a party).

If you look hard enough, everything is offensive. My Protestant ancestors were oppressed by Queen Mary so I could take offence to the continual sight of Catholic imagery. Conversely, I almost certainly have Catholic ancestors who were oppressed by King Henry so I could work that angle too. It never ends.

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There's a time for making reasoned arguments, and a time for saying "Fuck 'em." Mr. Colbert seems good at both.

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Does anyone else find it strange that the Yale Law faculty and DEI folks think black people have a monopoly on houses where drugs are sold? That seems like some old school racial stereotyping. White people sell drugs out of houses too.

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Thanks for an excellent post and for your courage to stand up to such pressure. Censorship and compelled speech pervade academic institutions and if more people take your example the tide could turn.

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Good for you! It is inspiring to see a person of intelligence and courage standing up to the speech control that is pervading academia and our society in general. Your stance is indeed helping all of us.

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One thing that this incident illustrates is the pervasiveness of "slur creep". Ethnic slurs were once understood to be explicit terms of derision aimed at specific groups of people (actually, before that they were just lazy colloquialisms which eventually gained negative connotations through context, but that's another topic ...).

Now, a slur is any term or reference that reminds someone of some negative (or sometimes even neutral) stereotype of a group of people, or of a time when discrimination against that group was much more pervasive. Some words that were never used to denigrate when in common use become "offensive" by simply falling out of vogue (like "oriental" or "colored people").

Ultimately this is all reflective of the hypersensitive imaginations of certain educated minorities with too much time on their hands and who, ironically, travel in disproportionately white, affluent circles - and come to see the world through their eyes. Thus they learn to take shame in things that a culture would otherwise take pride in (like fried chicken, effectively invented by African slaves but now regarded by high society as a "low class" food), and to assume derogatory intent from lowbrow cultural references (like "basic-bitch"). The guilty anxieties of their white peers become their paranoid obsessions.

And to my mind, that's the *charitable* explanation - the other being an explicit, cynical power maneuver to destroy one's perceived enemies. Which may very well have been the motivation here.

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"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

Today’s Humpty would say “When you use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean”

Whereas yesterday’s Alice would ignore Humpty because she considers his logic to be absurd, today’s Yale Law School administration does everything to placate him out of fear that he might accuse them of being an egg hater. By doing so, they have given the Eggman a lot of power over others.

Goo Goo g’joob.

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Good analogy. :-)

It was once a matter of common sense that when someone spoke, the onus was on the listener to make a good faith effort to understand what the speaker meant and intended (since this is the very purpose of communication). If the intent was clear, outrage was unreasonable, and if it wasn't, a simple clarification by the speaker would suffice (perhaps with a minor, perfunctory apology or expression of regret for not choosing ones words more carefully). It was a matter of simple fairness to the speaker that they could not be held materially accountable for arbitrary misinterpretations of their words.

Thus, woke ideology has adopted as a specific tenet that intent is irrelevant in all matters regarding racism (and perhaps other "-ism"s). Something which would once have been an unconscionable perversion of any modern understanding of morality is now accepted without question by cowardly white progressives eager to earn and keep their "one of the good ones" merit badges.

You would think that a law school, moreso than most, would understand the importance of weighing intent, and in insisting on standards of fairness in areas where people face severe punitive consequences. So many people are deferential regarding the taking of offense because they feel they have no right to tell someone what should or shouldn't offend them. That's fine, but beside the point. Everyone has the right to say what offenses they believe they should reasonably be held responsible for.

That means that, yes, a listener *does* have an obligation to clearly explain the reason for the offense, and defend it from challenges, if they expect someone to be "held accountable". One cannot simply claim offense and then bat away objections with ad hominems about being white or male. Charitability and sensitivity are fine virtues, when freely given. But the fact that many white progressives have been simply cowed into believing they are undeserving of a voice in matters which clearly affect them - namely the social boundaries we are all expected to obey and face consequences for violating - is just abusive coercion.

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I can’t believe a graduate school of any type would involve themselves in any of this. Y’all are grown-ass adults! Adults have to deal with misunderstandings, incivility and even worse all the time. We don’t get to appeal to the teacher or principal. That it’s a law school makes it even worse.

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I can’t believe they wrote a form letter apology for you. This is insane. Great article and even greater stance. Let us all stop apologizing when there is nothing to apologize for.

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Very well said, young man. Standing up to these pernicious demands, and doing it moreover with poise, intelligence and good humor, does you and your family credit.

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Excellent essay. I think you have a lot of insight into the "ritual of compelled apologies" and what you call "the wider culture" towards the end.

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