So, here is how things work at Yale Law School and in the pages of The Yale Daily News.
A group of LGBTQ law school student activists try to bully a prominent conservative woman into silence in the name of, you guessed it, inclusivity and it is the prominent conservative woman who is referred to as “controversial.” (And these days the word “controversial” is Yale Law School-speak for anyone who is not wildly woke.)
This is what we see happening in a March 15, 2022 news story in The Yale Daily News, the school’s newspaper.
The article’s title Yale Law students protest anti-LGBTQ speaker, armed police presence triggers backlash makes it sound like the very distinguished lawyer Kristen K. Waggoner General Counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom is some sort of hate-mongering amazon instead of a highly accomplished litigator who tirelessly defends those whose religious freedom and freedom of speech rights are imperiled.
And I realize that Yale is its own special little woke corner of the world, but armed police are not terribly unusual in this somewhat rowdy country of ours.
And why were the police there? Not at the request of either the sponsor of the event, the Yale Law School chapter of the Federalist Society (which the left loathes because it is an incredibly successful training ground of conservative legal talent), nor at the request of Waggoner herself. Rather the university itself seemed to want to ensure that no one was injured the way Allison Stanger was at Middlebury College in 2017 by a left-wing mob.
Note how the blame for the bit of turmoil is not very subtly placed on the speaker. We read:
A Thursday Federalist Society event featuring a controversial conservative speaker sparked protest at the Law School.
Rather than, say, “Mob attempts to shut down speech at a leading university.”
“Sparked protest” makes it sound like the soft-spoken Waggoner--who has appeared before the United States Supreme Court (and won)--had done something that merits outrage. Let’s see. What could that have been? Oh, yes—she is a prominent female conservative legal figure. That sort of thing drives the left up the wall.
And what was the topic that she was there to discuss? We read:
Waggoner was invited by the Federalist Society, alongside Monica Miller, an associate at the American Humanist Association, to discuss civil rights litigation in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski.
And what was the origin of Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski? It was a case of a college in Georgia violating the free speech rights and religious freedom of a college student.
Now, you would think that law students, being students at, you know, a university, would want to learn as much as possible about how to preserve the free speech rights of, you know, college students.
And who was one of the lead attorneys on behalf of the college student involved, Chike Uzuegbunam, an evangelical Christian, and who helped him win a landmark case for the free speech rights and religious freedom? If you answered, Kristen K. Waggoner, you are correct and well done!
Now, if you were in law school and cared about major Supreme Court cases and if you were a female law school student, wouldn’t you want to go and hear Ms. Waggoner, one of the most successful American female lawyers alive, speak? Even if you are strongly opposed to free speech (which many of these Yale Law School protestors clearly are), would you nevertheless not want to apprise yourself of the arguments of those who fight for it, the better to learn how to win against them in court—maybe even the Supreme Court someday? Or would you prefer to just try to shut down entirely an educational event simply because it featured a prominent conservative lawyer? This last option is the one that this group of Yale Law School students childishly, selfishly and foolishly chose:
At the Thursday event, around 160 students were present, 120 of whom were protesting the event, according to multiple attendees. As the speakers were being introduced by a Federalist Society member, student protesters stood up in unison, some with signs and some with clothing that expressed their support of the LGBT community…
Such openness to ideas. Such a demonstration of commitment to the ideals of a famous institution of higher education. “I don’t like you, you mean, mean woman!!”
And what organization does The Yale Daily News quote as a supposedly authoritative source on “hate groups?” Three guesses—yep. This one—the go-to smear factory for the left-wing media (and note that the paper weirdly attempts to implicate Waggoner in her own victimization by the mob):
…Waggoner’s role as the general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, generated a large student protest to which police were called
Her "role"—merely working for a conservative advocacy group and her audacity in accepting an invitation from a conservative group to appear with a progressive to debate matters of import in good faith—generated a display of bullying by law students. Think about that. What is the law? The law is based on arriving at the truth. How do you arrive at the truth? By engaging in the search for it, not by shouting people down. This is disgraceful behavior and it is preventing everyone from learning anything.
And what is the Southern Poverty Law Center? A leftist organization that keeps itself in clover by designating even modestly conservative organizations “hate groups.” That is catnip for lazy journalists--in this case, student ones. That is the evidence for smearing Waggoner? That is the basis for character assassination in the pages of a student newspaper at one of the most famous universities in the world? A quote or two from a single, headline-seeking outfit that is itself worthy of the designation it so freely applies to others, “hate group?”
And this attempt to prevent free and open access to ideas that upset LGBTQ activists is justified, naturally, in the language of equity and inclusion, the open letter (which The Yale Daily News, for some unaccountable reason, does not link to) saying:
Understandably, a large swath of [Yale Law School] students felt that [the Federalist Society’s] decision to lend legitimacy to this hate group by inviting its general counsel to speak at [Yale Law School] profoundly undermined our community’s values of equity and inclusivity...
It is typical of LGBTQ activist groups to argue they should be able to veto the speaker lists of other student organizations. All in the name of inclusivity. Oh, and it is somehow “inequitable” to oppose anything that the LGBTQ activist class wants. And whose "community?" That of the activists or of Yale Law School as a whole? If the latter, don't go to Yale Law School unless you a narrow-minded, speech-crushing zealot.
Not content with smearing Waggoner as a hatemonger, the activists include in their letter some over-the-top melodramatizing of the supposed threat to them that the mere presence of police officers poses:
the decision to allow police officers in as a response to the protest put YLS’ queer student body at risk of harm
How do we know that none of those officers was queer?
To its credit, The Yale Daily News does quote from an email that Waggoner sent it:
Future lawyers should have the critical thinking skills, intellectual curiosity, humility, and maturity to engage with ideas and legal principles that they may disagree with…
And to its credit, the Yale Daily News added a note to its original story:
the protesters’ claims that their protest was non-disruptive has been disputed
One would hope it was disputed. It is hard to imagine large groups of protestors standing up in unison and filing out in high dudgeon with clumps of them then occupying the hallway as not being disruptive. But then, I am not a law student and these sorts of antics by the left are pretty much par for the course at this point.
And even as it makes stabs at balanced coverage, the paper still manages to portray the Federalist Society as a locus of dark doings:
This is not the first time this school year that the Federalist Society has faced controversy. In September, a member of the group sent a school-wide email inviting students to a “trap house” themed party.
Um, the controversy lay not with the Federalist Society but in the fact that law school administrators pressured, in an absolutely unconscionable fashion, the student involved to apologize.
The determination of the activists to foreclose discussion of legal questions at a law school is shown in the fact the even though one of the aims of the event was to present both sides of the issue under discussion, one activist was still not mollified:
I hope — although I doubt — FedSoc has learned that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in silence
Take that, Federalist Society. That will you teach you for striving for fairness!!
Interestingly, this brouhaha is not getting very much coverage. Maybe the presence of the police officers was a caution to the protestors that there would be no Middlebury-style turmoil at this event. No concussion, no coverage.
And the Open Letter seems to have not been all that open—as noted, it is not linked to in The Yale Daily News story about the event. And it is hard to make the well-spoken, disarming Waggoner into a convincing villain. And maybe even corporate media, weary of the covering the same old concocted brouhahas, are taking the attitude, “You’ve seen one mass temper tantrum by bratty woke law school students, you’ve seen them all.”
If these activists were smart, they would spend less time demonizing the Federalist Society and disrupting its events and more time creating a woke version of it. But that would require years of work, shrewdness and a dedication to legal principles. It is so much more fun and so much easier to shout people down in person and gather signatures from leftists and “allies,” which are a dime a dozen at Yale.
Meanwhile, Waggoner and her team at Alliance Defending Freedom rack up wins in court.