Harvard University canceled its invitation to a feminist philosopher who was prepared to talk on British romanticism because she had, in her other writings, expressed disagreement with the tenets of transgender ideology that prevail in academia.
Dr. Devin Buckley had asserted that sex is immutable and that the inclusion of transgender women in women’s sports violates “fair play on sports teams.” Dr. Buckley also questioned the growing practice of putting transgendered females in women’s prisons. For such atrocities, she was cancelled by Erin Saladin, coordinator of the Harvard English Department, who “found at least one piece of her writing online that explicitly denies the possibility of trans identity.”
Whatever one’s views on the psychological and social reality of transgenderism, the cancelling of scholars like Dr. Buckley – or the exclusion of celebrity writer J.K. Rowling from Harry Potter events – will not settle any questions or win over hearts and minds. The views in the Harvard English Department notwithstanding, the statements of Buckley and Rowling are hardly outside of the mainstream of public opinion.
“I have never written anything hateful towards any transgender individual,” Dr. Buckley told National Review. “I’ve been shunned and ostracized by people at my graduate program. I’ve had people walk down the street refusing to acknowledge that I exist in ritualized shunning and social cancellation.”
The same First Amendment that protects Dr. Buckley’s speech also protects Harvard’s right to disinvite her. But a robust culture of speech rests not just on legal protections, but also on a willingness to engage those with whom we disagree. Harvard is poorer for its unwillingness to engage contrary views.
As for Dr. Buckley, she says, “For my part, I’d rather be damned with the Romantics and Plato than go to woke heaven with Erin and the Harvard faculty.”
Whether one agrees with her sentiment or not, there’s no denying that the Harvard educational experience is diminished when people with her views are denied the opportunity to share them.