Friday, May 23, 2014
Much has been written about the protests at various schools over proposed commencement speakers. I am not sure I have much original to add to the many thoughts that have been shared on the issue (See, e.g., Jonathan Adler (Case Western), The Volokh Conspiracy; Stephen Carter (Yale), Bloomberg; Glenn Harlan Reynolds (Tennessee), USA Today; Editorial Board, Washington Post), but the controversy did make me think of the dystopian society in The Giver where “Sameness” rules.
One of my younger sisters recently accepted a job with Walden Media, which is producing the upcoming film version of The Giver with The Weinstein Company (shameless plug - in theatres August 15, 2014). My sister was amazed that I hadn’t read The Giver, as it is supposedly regular middle school reading, but it looks like the book (published in 1993) was not in the curriculum in time for me. Yes, I feel older every day.
Anyway, in a single day a few weeks ago, I read a borrowed copy of The Giver, which was a nice break from legal treatises and law review articles. While I understand the “Elders” in The Giver were trying to protect people by ridding the community of differences, pain, conflict, and ridicule, it made for a shallow existence.
Some of my most valuable moments in school occurred when I faced views I disagreed with and had to grapple with them. As a professor, the most valuable conversations are often those with knowledgeable people with opposing opinions and ideas. Going forward, I hope we will encourage engagement with those who see things differently than we do and continue the search for a more nuanced understanding of complex issues.