There are so many reasons not to like Duke. Like this. Or this. Or this. And this. And especially this and this. So it was hardly a surprise when FIRE reported that Duke’s Women’s Center had canceled an event about motherhood because — elsewhere on campus — the same group that was sponsoring the conversation about motherhood was also participating in the “week for life.” To the Duke Women’s Center, this association with the pro-life cause could be “traumatizing” for women.
This is, of course, completely and utterly absurd. Too absurd, apparently, even for Duke. In less than 24 hours, the director of the Women’s Center apologized and allowed the pro-life students back into the facilities. She even went so far as to affirm — what should be an obvious point — that “the Women’s Center is indeed intended to be a place that supports the agency and choices of all women.”
Well done, FIRE, and it’s heartening to see such a rapid change of heart. It’s less heartening, of course, to see the persistent claim that pure expression is somehow so harmful or “traumatizing” that it must be shut down. How weak are we becoming if our students can’t stand to be around a discussion about “motherhood” if the sponsors of that discussion are pro-life? This week has seen not one, but now two heckler’s vetoes. And had FIRE not intervened, Duke’s Women’s Center no doubt would have held firm on its ban.
Memo to Americans: Cowboy up. Stop being so weak and sensitive — and universities, please stop giving in to the weak and sensitive.