Are all conversations discussing conflicting beliefs valuable to engage in? What about controversial conversations? Is there value in listening to ideas that scare us? Are there times when it is morally courageous to give others platforms to speak and other times when it would do more damage than good?
Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife is a licensed psychotherapist with a Ph.D in Counseling Psychology from Boston College. She wrote her dissertation on LDS women and sexuality, and has taught college-level courses on human sexuality, as well as community and internet based relationship and sexuality workshops. She is a frequent contributor on the subjects of sexuality, mental health and spirituality to LDS-themed blogs, magazines, and podcasts. She lives in Chicago with her husband and three children where she maintains a private practice.
Differing Views and Beliefs: Interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife
“Are you willing to understand another view even as it pressures and challenges your view?” – Dr. Finlayson-Fife
Letter written by President Adam Falk, President of Williams College, regarding the cancellation of John Derbyshire’s Scheduled Appearance at Williams:
February 18, 2016
To the Williams Community,
Today I am taking the extraordinary step of canceling a speech by John Derbyshire, who was to have presented his views here on Monday night. The college didn’t invite Derbyshire, but I have made it clear to the students who did that the college will not provide a platform for him.
Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard. The college has a very long history of encouraging the expression of a range of viewpoints and giving voice to widely differing opinions. We have said we wouldn’t cancel speakers or prevent the expression of views except in the most extreme circumstances. In other words: There’s a line somewhere, but in our history of hosting events and speeches of all kinds, we hadn’t yet found it.
We’ve found the line. Derbyshire, in my opinion, is on the other side of it. Many of his expressions clearly constitute hate speech, and we will not promote such speech on this campus or in our community.
We respect—and expect—our students’ exploration of ideas, including ones that are very challenging, and we encourage individual choice and decision-making by students. But at times it’s our role as educators and administrators to step in and make decisions that are in the best interest of students and our community. This is one of those times.