A Letter to the Other Editors Re: Free Speech Debate
Despite an editorial traditionally representing the ideologies of all section editors and editors-in-chief, Hannah and I continue to disagree with some of the statements made in this week’s editorial concerning free speech on campus and the possibility of someone like Jordan Peterson visiting. Peterson is a controversial clinical psychologists who has purposely misgendered transgender people, disagrees with the gender pay-gap, and disbelieves in white privilege (despite reaching his position of education and success through years of that very systemic racism supporting him).
Ultimately, we may need voices like his on Skidmore’s campus -- he does represent the "real suffer emotional distress and pain from the marginalizing comments made by Peterson and his followers. Peterson has enough fame and outreach as is with a bestselling novel and 700,00 YouTube followers. If you want to listen to what he has to say, read his book and binge some YouTube videos. Or maybe a club can host a screening and discussion. And maybe you will continue to find him helpful and intellectual. But for many people, what Peterson speaks of in his lectures are more than abstract ideas being thrown out into the atmosphere.
The Go Fund Me’s asking price of $35,000 could be used in far more productive matters -- even if the money is not connected to Skidmore in anyway (which it is not). Our fellow students should think about spending their money elsewhere, or at least discuss other narratives that might be more productive. Having "greater civic responsibility" needs to go beyond listening to ideas that differ from our own. It must mean taking action to make the “real” world a better place -- not one we need to adjust to or prepare ourselves for. Not just for this community, but for the world around us. Sections of Puerto Rico are still without electricity even though the hurricane hit four months ago; Hawaii’s sewage system is beginning to leak into their drinking water; Flint is still without clean water; homelessness is an ever prevalent issue in the greater Saratoga area.
It is important to listen to difficult opinions, and we hope people do; but rather than funneling money into hosting Peterson or other controversial speakers, we should use our positions to create change. A speaker who has been in the real world, and has come back to educate us as students stepping ever so slightly into that great abyss would be more productive.