UO Law Professor Nancy Shurtz has some hard-won and interesting thoughts on the intersection of Halloween, free speech, and diversity in her op-ed here.
…Halloween costumes have also been a hot-button issue on college campuses in recent times, brought into the fore by the case of Yale University lecturer Erika Christakis two years ago. Christakis, who was a residential overseer in a Yale dormitory, wrote an email to students opposing arbitrary restrictions on costumes, arguing instead for student self-policing and open dialogue. For her trouble, a faction of students branded her a racist for defending “offensive” costumes and demanded her ouster by the university. The Yale administration did little to buffer her from two months of relentless character attacks and harassment, after which she did resign.
I experienced my own Halloween ordeal just a year ago this week. I hosted a private party in my home, attended by friends, a few university colleagues, and some law students. …
… When free expression is tethered, administrators tacitly endorse the tactics of ideological bullies, the self-appointed dictators of truth, and cheat the larger student body that hears but one bellowing voice. Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” This Halloween, let’s see through this masquerade of communicative suppression.
Nancy Shurtz is the Bernard A. Kliks professor of law at the University of Oregon School of Law.