Even our power
To bring forth life still contains
A seedling of death
Leviticus 16:7. Aaron shall take the two he-goats and let them stand before the LORD at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting;The scapegoat is not the object of communal violence, so that violence cannot be providing a kind of redemptive communal release of tension. [emphasis added]
16:8. and he shall place lots upon the two goats, one marked for the LORD and the other marked for Azazel.
16:9. Aaron shall bring forward the goat designated by lot for the LORD, which he is to offer as a sin offering;
16:10. while the goat designated by lot for Azazel shall be left standing alive before the LORD, to make expiation with it and to send it off to the wilderness for Azazel.
16:11. Aaron shall then offer his bull of sin offering, to make expiation for himself and his household. He shall slaughter his bull of sin offering,
16:12. and he shall take a panful of glowing coals scooped from the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of finely ground aromatic incense, and bring this behind the curtain.
16:13. He shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, so that the cloud from the incense screens the cover that is over [the Ark of] the Pact, lest he die.
16:14. He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger over the cover on the east side; and in front of the cover he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.
16:15. He shall then slaughter the people’s goat of sin offering, bring its blood behind the curtain, and do with its blood as he has done with the blood of the bull: he shall sprinkle it over the cover and in front of the cover.
16:16. Thus he shall purge the Shrine of the uncleanness and transgression of the Israelites, whatever their sins; and he shall do the same for the Tent of Meeting, which abides with them in the midst of their uncleanness.
16:17. When he goes in to make expiation in the Shrine, nobody else shall be in the Tent of Meeting until he comes out.
When he has made expiation for himself and his household, and for the whole congregation of Israel,
16:18. he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD and purge it: he shall take some of
the blood of the bull and of the goat and apply it to each of the horns of the altar;
16:19. and the rest of the blood he shall sprinkle on it with his finger seven times. Thus he shall cleanse it of the uncleanness of the Israelites and consecrate it.
16:20. When he has finished purging the Shrine, the Tent of Meeting, and the altar, the live goat shall be brought forward.
16:21. Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites, whatever their sins, putting them on the head of the goat; and it shall be sent off to the wilderness through a designated man.
16:22. Thus the goat shall carry on it all their iniquities to an inaccessible region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.
If free speech does take precedence over every other constitutional principle and every other community principle, then perhaps we should no longer claim to be weighing or balancing competing principles or values.But all people are created equal and endowed with dignity by virtue of being human. A trans student’s dignity—their quality of being worthy of honor or respect—is not something an anti-trans speaker can take away; Butler is wrong to write as if their dignity is so contingent that an anti-trans speaker can somehow abscond with it (but not if he’s denied a campus platform and says the same words elsewhere?). Trans students will spend decades in a world with folks who attack their dignity. They are done a horrific disservice if the message they get at university is that their dignity is thereby diminished every time.
We should perhaps frankly admit that we have agreed in advance to have our community sundered, racial and sexual minorities demeaned, the dignity of trans people denied, that we are, in effect, willing to be wrecked by this principle of free speech, considered more important than any other value. If so, we should be honest about the bargain we have made: we are willing to be broken by that principle, and that, yes, our commitments to dignity, equality, and non-violence will be, for better or worse, secondary. Is that how we want it to be?