An editorial in Wellesley College’s student newspaper, The Wellesley News, has fueled online outrage for suggesting “hostility” against those who regularly espouse hate speech.
The editorial advocates educating those who engage in hate speech. But if that fails, "hostility may be warranted" instead, the editorial says. It doesn't define hostility.
“If people continue to support racist politicians or pay for speakers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of others, then it is critical to take the appropriate measures to hold them accountable for their actions,” the editorial reads. “It is important to note that our preference for education over beration [sic] regards students who may have not been given the chance to learn. Rather, we are not referring to those who have already had the incentive to learn and should have taken the opportunities to do so.”
Conservative websites picked up on the piece. The Daily Caller published a headline accusing the editors of promoting violence against those unpopular opinions, though nothing in the editorial endorses violent action.
Still, Twitter users spread and heavily criticized the piece, with the editor of The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, tweeting that it was one of the “most frightening” editorials he’s ever read.
Wellesley spokeswoman Sofiya Cabalquinto declined to comment, but instead forwarded by email a letter from the college’s president, Paula Johnson, regarding free speech on campus. It is dated April 4, prior to publication of the editorial.
“We must also recognize that for every outspoken voice, there are those who remain silent on the margins, in the classroom, in the dining halls, as well as at events with invited speakers,” Johnson wrote. “It is our responsibility to invite all our students to voice their views -- to find their way into the debate. Each of us in the Wellesley community has a stake in expanding the dialogue. When our most difficult conversations include a range of perspectives based in fact and strengthened by respect, they become the very conversations that move us forward.”