In Response to: Can We Say That?

According to Asanni York ’17, a member of the Black Justice League, when “people in the minority speak their truths ... [t]hey risk their livelihood and well being.” Not surprisingly, he is described as having “a relatively expansive view of hate speech.” Former student James Madison 1771, father of the First Amendment, must be rolling in his grave.

No person is entitled to maintain the pernicious position that any utterance, whether of fact or opinion, must be accepted without scrutiny. The First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech is meant to foster the civil exchange of information so that the uninformed, the misinformed, the purposefully untrue, or the unsupportable position may be exposed and rejected by the body politic. Analysis and judgment enhance society, rather than undermine it. Ask anyone who has served as a juror. So if “your truth” is that the sun revolves around the Earth, then you should be disabused of it, not applauded.

For example, the article references the death of Michael Brown, particularly as an event that stimulated the formation of the Black Justice League. Anyone who maintains as “their truth” that Mr. Brown was maliciously killed by a police officer while surrendering, with his hands up, should be dismissed as uninformed, if not purposefully stating a lie. Read the report of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any person committed to “equal justice under law” should appreciate that former police officer Darren Wilson and his family have found their livelihoods and well-being jeopardized by demonstrably false statements.

Thomas R. Clark ’80
Chester, N.J.