He continued: “[We] have these values of free speech. And it’s not free speech in the abstract. The purpose of that kind of free speech is to make sure that we are forced to use argument and reason and words in making our democracy work. And, you know, you don’t have to be fearful of somebody spouting bad ideas. Just out-argue them. Beat ’em. Make the case as to why they’re wrong. Win over adherents. That’s how things work in a democracy.”

He’s right, of course, and I’m glad that he’s making these points forcefully and repeatedly, because it seems as if a lot of other presidents — university presidents, that is — have forgotten what free speech in a democracy is all about. Law Professor Richard Epstein takes Yale University President Peter Salovey (whose response to students bullying a professor was to apologize — to the students)  to task for just such a lapse, writing: “This approach is ruinous to the intellectual and moral development of students, and leaves them ill-prepared for life’s challenges. If only on educational grounds, it is critical to rise up and challenge these students by insisting that the exchange of views, often hostile and disagreeable, is essential for the cultural and intellectual health of a university. … Unfortunately, universities can also lose their souls. It is here where the Salovey statement falls so short. At no point in his letter does he stand proud for Yale’s accomplishments in academic research and social life. At no point does he condemn students for heaping abuse on Christakis, whom Salovey should praise for his fortitude and judgment in the face of senseless provocation.”