In response to the recent spate of attacks against free speech on campus, Harvard Law School has decided to install panic buttons in Wasserstein Hall. Students who feel that their free speech is being threatened will be able to hit a panic button, at which point, an administrator will be dispatched to take the offender to task.
“After careful deliberation with that one guy who complained, the Harvard Law School Office of Diversity and Inclusion has decided that panic buttons are the best way to ensure all voices are heard,” said Dean Minow, speaking via videoconference as she feared violence if she walked through the group of protestors quietly reading about Critical Race Theory.
“The administration is often criticized for our lack of responsiveness, so these buttons enable us to respond right away to anyone who feels their free speech is being infringed by the presence of someone else exercising their free speech,” she said. “I know that sounds paradoxical, but as someone who has dedicated her life’s work to this, I’m going to need you to trust me on this,” she added.
The panic buttons, which are to be installed every ten feet around the building, are only made possible thanks to the generous donation of Milbank LLP. Milbank was looking for ways to spend the money it had previously earmarked for Harvard Law School student organizations which has become unexpectedly available for some reason.
A 2L representative from Students For Free Speech demonstrated the button installed in Belinda Hall. “See, if you say something that infringes my free speech, I can hit this right here,” she said. Sure enough, a few minutes after pressing the button, Dean Sells appeared. A protestor from Reclaim HLS stood up from the lounge and walked over. “Can I try?” she asked, pressing the button. Within minutes, the Cambridge police had arrived. “Uh, that’s a – malfunction,” said the Dean. “We’ll work on getting it fixed. I’ll submit a report to the committee about it”.
Technical issues aside, the buttons have been well received by some students. “I think the administration is doing a good job,” said a 2L, who wished to remain anonymous so that nothing she said now might affect her running for office in 10 years.
“Look how fast they responded when black students said that they felt victimized by their classmates. I mean, look at that guy Will I keep reading about, he’s just one guy, just one black guy, and as soon as he felt threatened by the space he was in, they took swift and decisive action to…” she stops when her friend, who has so far remained silent but was eagerly typing out his first-ever article on the imperative of protecting free speech, closed his computer and tapped the 2L on the shoulder, whispering something in her ear.
“Wait, he’s not black?” she asked, confused. “Hang on, so why are they paying so much attention to him when students of color have been protesting for years?”
Her friend shrugs. “You know, every student of color that I speak to, regardless of their politics, seems to think this place has a problem with institutionalized racism. It’s so weird! It’s like a conspiracy! Do they have a convention where they all get together and agree on this?” he asked, bewildered.
What does the one student who complained about his free speech being infringed think about the new measures? “I am glad the administration is standing up for me,” he said. “I mean, they don’t really have to stand up from the table, because they never really sat down,” he chuckled.
Does he worry that his extreme tactics of filming people without their consent and publishing them online, yelling at people who try to talk to him, and defacing posters might reflect badly on white people in general at Harvard Law? “Not really. I resent the idea that I can be held up as an example of all white people in general. As Martin Luther King Junior said, I should be judged on the content of my character, not the color of my skin,” he said.
Has there been any backlash against him aside from the “angry black women” and “affirmative action admits”? “No, in fact it’s just the opposite. It’s almost as if white people fear condemning me because it would force them to confront how they are complicit in systems of oppression. LOL. Systems of oppression. Sounds like a good band name right?” he said, walking off to buy some more tape.
Editor’s Note: This piece is satirical.
*A previous version of this article erroneously included the words “Harvard Law School Office on Diversity and Inclusion” before the author realized there was in fact no such thing. The author sought to correct it but did not want to remove any speech.