Trent Colbert has self-identified as the Native American/Federalist Society student member who stood up to the harassment of the powers-that-be at Yale Law School (see Aaron Terr’s FIRE story linked below). The Free Beacon’s Aaron Sibarium broke the story with Colbert’s audio clips documenting his close encounters of the diverse kind in “A Yale Law Student Sent a Lighthearted Email Inviting Classmates to His ‘Trap House.’ The School Is Now Calling Him To Account.” Subhead: “In leaked audio, administration officials allege his membership in the conservative Federalist Society is ‘triggering’ and ‘oppressive.’”
Colbert’s audio clips take us inside the asylum of elite higher education. I noted the Free Beacon story and posted Colbert’s audio clips in “Getting minds right at Yale.” Aaron Terr followed up on the Free Beacon coverage in the (excellent) FIRE story “How Yale Law School pressured a law student to apologize for a Constitution Day ‘trap house’ invitation.” David Lat has posted the transcript of an interview with Colbert and an anonymous friend of his here at Lat’s Substack site.
Colbert also appeared on Michael Smerconish’s CNN show. Smerconish covered the story and briefly interviewed Colbert in a good eight-minute segment that is posted here.
Yale Law School authorities threatened Colbert and pressured him to send out a self-abasing written apology that it drafted for him. When Colbert declined, they sent out a statement to the YLS community themselves condemning the offending party invitation (“We condemn this in the strongest possible terms”). In his interview with Smerconsih, Colbert observes that the administrators sent out this statement while they were on the phone with him misrepresenting what it said.
Once exposed in the Free Beacon story, the authorities issued a statement that is so disingenuous as to warrant professional discipline if made by a lawyer as a statement of fact to a court: “Yale University and Yale Law School have strong free speech protections, and no student is investigated or sanctioned for protected speech. When the Law School receives complaints about offensive communications, the Dean of Students routinely tries to help students talk to one another and resolve their disagreements within the community. At no time was any disciplinary investigation launched or disciplinary action taken in this matter.”
The statement further denied that it reports such incidents to bar authorities (the threat made to Colbert): “While any person may report concerns about a lawyers’ character and fitness to the bar, the law school has a longstanding policy of reporting only formal disciplinary action to the Bar Association.”
Yale’s statement may not be the most disgusting element of this disgusting episode, but it too is disgusting. Speaking of apologies, I am warming to the notion that Yale owes one to Colbert.
The YLS authorities who haled Colbert before their Star Chamber — Dean Ellen Cosgrove and Diversity czar Yaseen Eldik — should be compelled to apologize to Colbert in a message to be distributed to the YLS community. In the same fake spirit of generosity they displayed to Colbert, I offer to help them draft the message. However, the apology must demonstrate their awareness of the multifarious wrongdoing they committed. This is what they might call a teachable moment.