On Hearing That The Students Of Yale Law School Have Joined the Agitation Against A Civil Liberties Debate

On Monday, March 21, 2022, The Wall Street Journal editorialized on the following email penned by Senior Judge Laurence Silberman of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit:

The latest events at Yale Law School, in which students attempted to shout down speakers participating in a panel discussion on free speech, prompt me to suggest that students who are identified as those willing to disrupt any such panel discussion should be noted.  All federal judges—and all federal judges are presumably committed to free speech — should carefully consider whether any student so identified should be disqualified from potential clerkships.

This reminded me of a short poem published by William Butler Yeats in 1912.  The title is nearly as long as the poem itself: On Hearing That The Students of Our New University Have Joined the Agitation Against Immoral Literature.

Where, where but here have Pride and Truth,
That long to give themselves for wage,
To shake their wicked sides at youth
Restraining reckless middle-age?

The poem alludes to student protests against J. M. Synge's play, The Playboy of the Western World, which was criticized as "immoral and indecent".  The poem is an ironic comment on students (youth) being more reactionary than their elders (reckless middle-age) in regards to speech.  The reference to the "New University" is to National University of Ireland.   Once again, it seems, there is nothing new under the sun.

Tags: free speech