The University of Chicago is the first place that made me feel safe
Yangyang Cheng

Your way of coping is through books and internalization of other people’s experiences. Others may have different ways of coping. Maybe they need a more external way — public acknowledgement or a safe room with another person to listen and talk to — interactive healing.

Regardless, my issue with the letter and your defense of it is that dean Jay seems very aggressive and definitive in his stance and is speaking from his position of authority and thereby he effectively shuts down “freedom of speech on freedom of speech” — he acknowledges a controversy behind such position from years past but deems it of little consequence in face of the principles of unencumbered intellectual inquiry. But the fact is that free speech and debate are there to find compromises, not truths (at least humanitarian side of things) and the letter espouses a tone of total truth without referencing a healthy debate that is behind UofC’s conclusion just a “monograph” by a single person.

In the end, your essay focuses a great deal on your own experiences and also on comparative victim-hood. I’ve had friends with your background and similar life stories and I sympathies deeply with the the plight of that situation and have seen how they deal with it first hand. However, I can’t help but reference your past article here on where you say blacks in this country experience a systematic repression of a greater scope than a childhood abuse victim and thus we can reasonably conclude that you can’t speak for them as well as one of their own background could. And to be totally honest, the reason this debate even exists today on such a national scale is because of the african american struggles of the recent years and beyond and because of the country’s current prosperity. I may be biased because most of my friends are asian (I’m a white male immigrant) but I feel they are the least people of “color” of all others — the stereotypes connected to them are the least damning in my humble opinion and they never ever bring them up.

It totally sucks to be bringing up the comparative victim-hood into this, but I felt it is important to be able to empathize with a repressed party as much as possible to be able to get to the bottom of this debate. I certainly don’t want to invalidate your points with which I mostly agree. I, like you, would just like to know more and therefore disagree with the tone that the Dean’s letter took upon.

I don’t know how harmful “trigger warnings” may be to free expression. If they are used like we use the phrase “this might not be politically correct, but…”, then it is not THAT bad. Duke made an actual “safe room” this year with a professional stuff to help people with traumatic experiences cope with their issues and I think, as long as it is not taken too far, it might be a step in right direction.

ps. trigger warning…. “life is not fair” approach may be why there are so many instances of childhood abuse in China. “Bad people” SOMETIMES cease to be “bad” if there is a weight of public disapproval heaved upon them. Then again I’m not sure “public” opinion really exists in China in a same way it exists in the west…

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