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Let's Talk About Speech

Let's Talk About Speech

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The empty stage of the Yale Repertory Theatre looked like the set of a talk show. A black-and-white photograph of the New York City skyline hung in three panels in the center, and two empty frosted-glass tables stood on either side of the stage, each flanked by a black podium. Lights on the walls shifted sunset-like from orange to pink. On March 1, Yale students, professors, New Haven locals, and even high school debate teams shuffled into the Rep clutching grey pamphlets that declared: '€œFree Speech is Threatened on Campus.

This was a public debate hosted by the nonprofit Intelligence Squared, but its resolution might have been lifted from any of the endless finger-wagging think pieces that appeared in response to anti-racism demonstrations last semester at the University of Missouri, Yale, and other colleges. And although the debate had been scheduled long before last November, higher-ups at Intelligence Squared chose the topic specifically because of its relevance to Yale, according to Dana Wolf, the executive producer of Intelligence Squared U.S.