Although we understand these professor’s message that Scalia does not want to engage in discussion, we cannot help but think that this view is influenced to some extent by their disagreement with Scalia’s views.
Despite their disagreement with Justice Scalia’s views and the contention that he does not want to have an open discussion, we advocate remaining in the fight rather than ignoring the issue. Choosing to remain on the sideline threatens the spirit of discussion and debate that student groups have worked to foster, particularly in the past week. We value discussion too highly on this campus to let this opportunity pass by.
Many groups on campus have been outspoken in their opposition to Scalia’s views, including the Pride Alliance, BSU and College Democrats. These groups have printed pamphlets, signs and posters, and have initiated discussions and open forums this week to discuss Scalia’s speech and views. While we commend them for these methods of protest, we do not support the armbands sported by many protesters throughout the day on Tuesday. We think these are an extreme measure take the focus off of what is important: education and debate.
Although the majority of people on Amherst’s campus disagree with Scalia’s views, we must remember that students and faculty at Amherst are ideologically to the left of mainstream America. Many citizens in the United States side with Scalia on many issues, which makes it all the more important that we do nothing to quell the debate over the important issues Scalia’s visit has raised.
As a community that prides itself on being open and tolerant, we should be able to listen respectfully to Scalia’s speech, even if we disagree with the content. We should voice dissent through intellectual academic questions pointed at Scalia and through debates and discussion sessions. Scalia knows he has opponents here; armbands are not necessary. It’s not often a Supreme Court Justice speaks at Amherst; we should relish the opportunity to foster dialogue.