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The new hysteria over campus speech

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The incident earlier this month at Middlebury College, at which Charles Murray was shouted down while attempting to give a talk, and a professor who was accompanying him was physically assaulted when she and Murray were attempting to leave, has led to a new round of hand-wringing over how Kids Today just want their safe spaces and lazy rivers, the supposed flourishing of left-wing intolerance on college campuses, the revivification of the ghost of Herbert Marcuse, etc.

The leader in the clubhouse for the most over the top take on these developments is Yale law professor Stephen Carter:

Here’s what’s scariest about the last week’s incident at Middlebury College, where protesters shouted down the social scientist Charles Murray and injured a professor who was escorting him from the venue: It felt like an everyday event. So common has such odious behavior become that it’s tempting to greet it with a shrug . . .

The downshouters will go on behaving deplorably, and reminding the rest of us that the true harbinger of an authoritarian future lives not in the White House but in the groves of academe.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear, as Richard Nixon used to say.  OK two things:

(1) College students who exercise a heckler’s veto — that is, who don’t merely protest, but actually try to shut down a speaker at an institutionally-sanctioned event — should be punished (in the wake of adequate due process of course) by their college or university.  Such punishment might include expulsion from the school under certain circumstances.

(2) Physical assault should be prosecuted.

That being said, the notion that the behavior of a handful of idiot undergraduates at one event at one hyper-elite college is a true harbinger of an authoritarian future — as opposed to say the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States — is dangerous nonsense.

But halt, sayeth the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law. Hast thou not heard that the name of the Middlebury Morons is legion?

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 2016 saw a record number of efforts to keep controversial speakers from being heard on campus — and that’s just in the U.S. To be sure, not all of the attempts succeeded, and the number catalogued, 42, is but a small fraction of the many outsiders who give addresses at colleges and universities each year. The real number of rejected speakers is certainly much higher, once we add in all the people not invited in the first place because some member of this or that committee objects to their views, or because campus authorities fear trouble. But even one would be too many.

By my count the actual number of “rejected speakers,” per the data base Carter cites, is 24.  They include things like the singer Common having an invitation to give a commencement speech revoked because police groups protested that he was the author of “a song in which he depicted a woman convicted of killing a police officer as a victim.”

They also include attempts by various people to stop giant checks from being handed out to the likes of Condi Rice for giving commencement speeches — i.e., wholly commendable efforts to resist this particularly obnoxious form of pseudo-intellectual grifting.  (Carter thinks those efforts are a form of illegitimate censorship as well).

And more than a quarter of the attempted dis-invitations were aimed at Milo Yiannopoulos, a professional attention seeker, whose total lifetime contribution to actual intellectual debate in even the broadest sense of the phrase can be calculated as approximately zero.

As Carter coyly acknowledges, the total number of talks on potentially politically sensitive topics at American colleges and universities in any one year must reach seven figures (There are four thousand such institutions in the US, so if you assume an average of one such talk per day per institution — surely a gross underestimate — that’s 1,460,000  opportunities for civil discourse-destroying protest).  So tens of thousands — at least — politically controversial talks take place at American institutions of higher learning for every one that leads to any (overt) attempt to keep that talk from taking place.

But even one such attempt is too many, says Carter.  Does he actually want to defend that position?  Universities are ongoing exercises in massive content discrimination, and indeed have to be by their very nature.  The notion that universities should be open to all viewpoints is so ridiculous that it’s hard to believe anyone would defend it, except at the highest level of abstraction, which is the level at which such defenses invariably take place.

Universities should not be open to the viewpoints of Holocaust deniers or Sandy Hook truthers, to pick just a couple of a basically unlimited number of possible examples, because such views are false, and false views should not be given a forum within institutions dedicated to the pursuit of truth.

But where do you draw the line?  You draw it right here, every day, that’s where.  (“Right here” being within the university itself).  But who should have the authority to make decisions about what constitutes a controversial view that deserves a hearing, and what is misguided nonsense, or a noxious calculated lie, or a paranoid delusion? We should — we being the members of the scholarly community — BECAUSE THAT’S LITERALLY OUR JOB, or part of it, anyway.

Sorry for shouting but come on.

The point is that, within the university at least, viewpoint tolerance is not and cannot possibly be some sort of absolute value.  It’s a pragmatic tool in the pursuit of truth, and, like all such tools, it has its limits.   Duly invited speakers should not be shouted down, let alone physically attacked, but making the decision whether a speaker should be heard in the first place is not “censorship,” unless censorship means making distinctions between speech that is likely to advance the mission of the university and that which will not.  And if making that distinction is illegitimate, then intellectual life itself becomes totally impossible.

 

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  • DrDick

    Conservatives consider everything that they disagree with to be hate speech, which explains their ongoing war on reality.

    • muddy

      “You said No and that was very triggering for me!”

      • carolannie

        me go to my safe place where no one disagrees with me and at the same everyone give me lots of money because otherwise I am oppressed

        • tsam

          This doesn’t sound too bad. Where do I sign up?

  • CP

    I will believe that this bullshit about the right to give speeches on college campuses is about free speech and the need to hear controversial opinions, and not just promoting racists, the day the people who defend Milo Yannopoulis insist that Hamas and Hezbollah representatives deserve the same treatment and invitations.

    • nadirehsa

      College students NEED to hear the viewpoints of racists. How else will they be exposed to the point of view of white supremacy, that little-known, oft-ignored philosophy with no real power or powerful adherents?

      (Or less sarcastically: I agree with you completely.)

      • aturner339

        Which honestly is all this is really about. The right demands its racism.
        1.) Taken VERY seriously
        2.) Not be called out as racism

        And I believe that the credulousness on the “principled issues at stake” is at least as silly and self defeating as EMAILZ!!

        Assault should be prosecuted. Short of a criminal act? Murray can take a long walk on a short pier.

        • DrDick

          Also too misogyny and homophobia/transphobia.

  • nadirehsa

    You should expel kids for yelling at a man who says black people are inherently inferior?

    • twbb

      You should probably expel kids for physically assaulting someone.

      • Jordan

        (2) Physical assault should be prosecuted.

      • nadirehsa

        I agree. But Paul said this about the shouting-down:

        College students who exercise a heckler’s veto over a speaker at an institutionally-sanctioned event should be punished — in the wake of adequate due process of course — by their college or university. Such punishment might properly include expulsion from the school under certain circumstances.

        And it’s that statement I’m taking issue with.

        • Cheerfull

          Isn’t a question of proportion? If a particular group decided that every meeting they did not personally approve of should be made impossible by shouting down the speakers, wouldn’t that eventually be a problem?

          In this particular case, shouting down Murray on a single occasion, given his views, is not a crime. Chasing him around and putting him and others in physical fear more so. But as a general principle, allowing self selected groups to decide what they will allow heard or not seems pretty problematic. There’s a reason in Animal Farm that sheep shouting Four Legs good, Two legs bad, was an effective tactic at silencing dissent.

          • DrDick

            While I am not sure expulsion is automatically appropriate, though there may be some cases, I agree that this kind of disruptive behavior should be formally censured, while allowing students to protest the event in any other manner that does not abridge the rights of the speaker and their audience. That would include quietly sitting in the back of the event with protest signs.

        • Dilan Esper

          What do you think should happen if a small but committed minority of conservative students shouted down all talks given by liberals and leftists?

          Whatever your answer is, the sane rule has to apply when the politics are reversed.

          • Jordan

            If your institution is committed to the value at issue, you ban them from future instances.

            If your institution isn’t committed, you don’t invite them anymore.

            This isn’t a universalizable thing, its a university. They can pick and choose who they want to invite, and they shouldn’t have picked Murray, because they shouldn’t have invited a fucking racist. When they fucked up and invited him, the students protested. Good for them (not the assault, of course).

            I don’t know what you are comparing this too. Is it a town hall or constituent meeting? Then, sure, different rules should apply.

            • ThresherK (KadeKo)

              Rhetorical question: Has Murray ever agreed to speak on a college campus sharing the stage with someone who can hold their own in debate?

              Or is he just one more right-winger who wants every place to be a Fox-News-level safespace, plus honoraria checks?

              • Jordan

                Ignoring the rhetorical bit, I think Murray actually has, but I can’t remember the places/times.

              • Katya

                Well, Professor Stanger was invited specifically as a counterpoint to him.

            • Dilan Esper

              No, the students didn’t “protest”, they shouted down the speaker.

              There’s a difference between a table in front of an abortion clinic with a sign saying “choose life”, and obstructing the clinic entrance. The same principle applies here. They SHOULD protest Murray. But they shouldn’t be allowed to shout him down.

              • aturner339

                Murray wasn’t seeking medical care. He was seeking legitimacy.

                • Dilan Esper

                  The principles of free speech do not turn on that.

                • aturner339

                  Nor are they analogous to abortion access but why let that stop you?

                • Dilan Esper

                  They actually are analogous. The speech in front of abortion clinics is evaluated under free speech principles.

              • Jordan

                Good for them. Murray is a racist and he should be shouted down. Some things are up for debate. Some things aren’t. At the point that you are denying the basic humanity of people you deserve shouting down.

                • twbb

                  “Some things are up for debate. Some things aren’t.”

                  And we’ll rely on you to decide this?

                • DrDick

                  I am pretty sure that my university would not approve such an event on campus, as we have a strong policy on these issues.

                • Q.E.Dumbass

                  Would it allow egging?

              • jam

                Defending white supremacy is white supremacy. Don’t debate white supremacists, disrupt them.

            • Katya

              The college didn’t invite him; a student group did. And invited Professor Stanger specifically to challenge/rebut him.

              • jam

                That’s not how the Inside Higher Ed article describes her role.

                Stanger was scheduled to moderate the question period after a lecture by Charles Murray

                • Katya

                  The Atlantic describes it as: “It invited a left-leaning Middlebury professor, Allison Stanger, to engage Murray in a public conversation following his talk, thus ensuring that his views would be challenged.”

                • Katya

                  Also, Prof. Matt Dickinson: “After about 20 minutes, when it became clear that the students would not let Murray speak, administration officials escorted him to an adjoining room. There he was interviewed by my colleague Allison Stanger who pushed back against some of his research regarding the role of race and genes in intelligence and asked him to clarify his views on other issues, drawing in part on questions submitted by other faculty. Students were able to join the debate by asking Murray questions via twitter as well.”

                  Dickinson also held a lecture/discussion on The Bell Curve before Murray’s visit, and says, “My presentation was attended by a packed audience of students and local residents, and many of the students went away primed to do battle with Murray. A few of them, drawing in part on my slide presentation, put together a pamphlet outlining five criticisms of Murray’s argument in the Bell Curve, which they placed on every seat in Wilson Hall. Unfortunately, due to the actions of protesters, my students never had the opportunity to engage Murray beyond a few questions directed at him via Twitter.”

            • No Longer Middle Aged Man

              No. I’m not willing to allow a vocal minority, or a vocal majority for that matter, to dictate to me and everyone else who I am or am not allowed to hear speak at my university. Speech and thought police are not my political allies.

          • Chetsky

            What do you think should happen if a small but committed minority of conservative students shouted down all talks given by liberals and leftists? arguing that whites were subhuman and should all be shot?

            Whatever your answer is, the sane rule has to apply when the politics are reversed.

            There. FTFY.

            Oh, you wanna claim that Murray isn’ that bad. No, he’s not. Milo? AAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

          • DAS

            Charles Murray isn’t just a conservative who believes that free markets and traditional mores are good while government action inevitably either is futile, results in perverse outcomes or jeopardizes liberty. He believes that African Americans on average have lower intelligence than White people.

            The relevant comparison wouldn’t be conservatives heckling a liberal or even leftist speaker or one critical of Israel. It would be if students loudly heckled a speaker who co-authored a book claiming Jews were on average significantly more greedy than non-Jews.

            I should add, though, that it is possible to give even deplorable speakers a fair hearing. When I was at Rutgers, Daniel Pipes came as a speaker. The audience included pro-Palestinian and Muslim students who listened respectfully and respectfully asked some very pointed questions. For his part, Daniel Pipes responded respectfully as well. How come conservatives don’t even pay attention to when “free speech” happens as they claim they want it but rather they cherry pick when deliberate provocateurs successfully provoke people?

            Of course the question for students is whether to give the provocateur what s/he wants or to be “respectful” and thus normalize what the provocateur is saying …

        • vic rattlehead

          I don’t think Campos has an issue with protest per se – it’s when said protest deprives anyone else of listening to what the speaker has to say (i.e. a heckler’s veto).

          I welcome people making their opprobrium known, but it can’t extend into refusing to let anyone else hear a speaker.

    • King Goat

      You expel them for disrupting the meeting that others are voluntarily involved in. We wouldn’t like it if pro-life people decided to disrupt every event where reproductive rights are discussed in order to prevent ‘the holocaust of baby murders’ or some such nonsense.

      • rea

        We wouldn’t don’t like it if when . . .

        • Just_Dropping_By

          Yeah, lots of instances of anti-abortion groups disrupting pro-choice speakers on college campuses…. [/eye-roll gif]

      • nadirehsa

        I wouldn’t like it because I disagree vehemently with their goals and think their values are abhorrent.

        I wouldn’t have any problem with their tactics, I certainly wouldn’t think they should be expelled.

        • Cheerfull

          So how would minority viewpoints that you subscribe to get a voice in a world where the majority could shout them down without fear of sanction?

          • aturner339

            Can they not?

            • Cheerfull

              Can who not what?

              Or you could be pointing out, correctly, that this world of a majority shouting veto is a dystopian fantasy that doesn’t really describe any current actual situation and that minority viewpoints do have free play. Fair enough. But Nadihresa’s original point seemed to be that the validity of a shouting veto depended purely on what you think of the statements being made by the speaker. And as a general principle, that’s a problem.

              • aturner339

                I’m saying that the majority always had a relatively unregulated shouting veto and still does. I am questioning whether what you describe is an actual choice as opposed to the illusion of it.

          • Whirrlaway

            So how would minority majority viewpoints that you subscribe to get a voice in a world where the majority minority could shout them down without fear of sanction?

            Suppression of alternative views is a tactic of those who can’t win otherwise.

          • nadirehsa

            This is the required level of abstraction to avoid dealing with the fact that Charles Murray is an agent of white supremacy, and white supremacy is much more a majority viewpoint than it is a minority one.

            I see no reason why white supremacists are due quiet, attentive deference, nor any reason they should be tolerated on college campuses. The basic humanity and worth of human beings is not a topic for scholarly debate.

            • King Goat

              “The basic humanity and worth of human beings is not a topic for scholarly debate”

              Easy to see that exact line being used by pro-lifers in all kinds of applications…

              • aturner339

                And what pray tell restrains them from doing just that?

                • King Goat

                  The same liberal principles, norms and laws that critics of the Middlebury students are invoking? If we chuck them, then nothing but street fighting I guess. We’ll be the ones in red, they’ll be in brown. How awesome would that be?

                • aturner339

                  So… Nothing at all really?

                • DocAmazing

                  Yeah, pro-lifers aren’t committing acts of vandalism and arson with no interference from law enforcement already, but they might if we’re not polite to respectable racists.

              • nadirehsa

                And I’m already on record saying they could use the same tactic, and I would still disagree that some draconian punishment is called for.

                Whatever tactic we use, reactionaries can and will use as well. We can defeat them through collective expressions and uses of power. This is not a debate over facts, no matter how much liberals want it to be.

                • King Goat

                  We can defeat them through collective expressions and uses of power.

                  Sounds like Mussolini.

                • nadirehsa

                  Haha. You’re just trolling at this point.

                • King Goat

                  Not at all, this could have come straight from his pen. Read the guy. Collective expressions of will and power rather than the illusion of a liberal marketplace of ideas and a debate of facts, he’d love it. let the silly parliamentarian liberals debate, we’ll win this in the streets!

                • nadirehsa

                  It’s telling that a) you think I don’t know what Mussolini said, b) that you think people expressing collective voices is fascism, and c) you think “black people are inherently inferior” is an example of civil discourse.

                • King Goat

                  I assumed you didn’t know what he said by your writing something that sounds like it could come from him. If you’re familiar with his writings do yourself deny that he didn’t talk all the time like that? Silly liberals thinking their parliamentarian debates are worth something, power is won in the streets by those who can make a more effective show of collective will! When that line gets tossed we get something like the street fighting that preceded Mussolini or Hitlers rise, it’s just some of us will wear one color shirt, the other side another.

                  I think saying people are inferior is pretty uncivil, but as long as it stays at the level of discourse then I think crossing the line of ‘we don’t use force and disrupt those we disagree with when all they’ve engaged in is discourse’ is worse.

                • Cheerfull

                  But doesn’t this assume that you will be in the majority? If reactionaries are using these tactics, and in a position to make them effective, and there is no larger consensus that such tactics in themselves are problematic, where does that leave intellectual debate? just a tug of war between shouters?

                  Reactionaries are just as capable of yelling people down as progressives and I am not sure why we think they would necessarily lose such a battle.

                  I keep thinking about Anton, the guy who wrote the Fight 93 Election essay, who said:

                  If you prefer, writes Anton, “for conservatism to keep doing what it’s been doing—another policy journal, another article about welfare reform, another half-day seminar on limited government, another tax credit proposal—even though we’ve been losing ground for at least a century, then you’ve implicitly accepted that your supposed political philosophy doesn’t matter and that civilization will carry on just fine under leftist tenets.”

                  (Taken from an Atlantic article about Gelertner, of the same mind,https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/david-gelernter-and-trumpism/519207/)

                  What I find abnormal about our current political situation is the tendency of some to abandon the ideal of rational thought and resort to simple power struggles between tribes.

                • aturner339

                  Whatever the “intellectual debate” is I can assure you it is taking place far from wherver Charles Murray is standing.

                • nadirehsa

                  Since I said up above that white supremacy is the majority position, no, I don’t assume I’m in the majority.

                  I don’t know what about this election, or the Trump movement in general, makes you think that we aren’t, and haven’t been for some time, engaged in a war between tribes.

                • djw

                  So is your objection the implication that expulsion is too draconian? In that case, I could probably agree with you, but some of your comments seem to suggest no sanctions at all for any heckler’s veto tactic short of physical violence are appropriate, which is a position much more difficult to square with a functioning university committed to academic freedom.

                • aturner339

                  If anything the sanction should be for the invitation.

        • King Goat

          This seems to me to abandon any civil way of dealing with strong disagreements. I can’t see that working out overall for anyone, but especially the left (since the other side is generally bigger, has more guns and angrier).

          • sigaba

            It’s unreasonable to expect flies to sit quietly in the audience while two spiders discuss the relative merits of eating spiders, even if one of the spiders makes a good case for not doing it.

            I agree it’s a problem.

          • DrDick

            There is no civil way to deal with racists. They are simply evil. This is not a subject of debate, since human beings do not actually have races. This is hate speech, pure and simple and should be banned from all campuses, as it is from mine.

            • Captain Tau

              There is no civil way to deal with racists. They are simply evil. This is not a subject of debate, since human beings do not actually have races. This is hate speech, pure and simple and should be banned from all campuses, as it is from mine.

              You should extend your campaign against free speech hate speech to the medical profession—anyone who says that ancestry has anything to do with SCA or Tay-Sachs should be declared a crime thinker.

              • DrDick

                Ancestry does, but not race. The highest incidence of SCA is in parts of Greece. What matters is that your ancestors lived in areas of endemic malaria, such as the entire Mediterranean basin, much of the Middle East, and South Asia. Your complete ignorance of the patterning of human variability is duly noted.

      • Jim in Baltimore

        “Every”? Where’d you get “every”? We’re talking about a astonishingly small number of incidents, and you pull “every” out of the thin air. Where do you come with that stuff?

  • King Goat

    Conservatives hold colleges to an impossibly high ideal (no large modern organization or community can hope to operate by the rarefied rules they say are required) one which holds no value for them in the institutions they create/operate (conservative colleges like Liberty or BYU, military colleges or the military in general, police departments, corporations). They just hate academia as ideological enemies (much like unions) and would love to handicap them. Few of their criticisms of academia are remotely made in good faith.

    • Marc

      It doesn’t help to give them valid examples of appalling behavior with visceral and repulsive video to make the point.

    • DrDick

      No, conservatives insist that the whole world be their “safe place” where they never have to encounter any other ideas or information.

  • Cheerfull

    I wander through Redstate and NRO on occasion out of boredom and morbid curiousity and it’s amazing how they seized on Middlebury as the confirmation of all they feared of the left (though the Berkeley riot against Milo had already been proof enough). It will be added to their stock of evergreen proofs (did you know that Robert Byrd was both a member of the KKK and a leader of the Democrat Party?) of their justification for hating and fearing the Left, always, regardless of whatever foolish thing Trump has done lately.

    As you say Campos, the protestors at Middlebury were wrong and some should be punished for assault. I’d love someone to confront them really on what they thought they were accomplishing. Does punching Nazis also mean punching campus administrators who allow people who share some views with Nazis to speak? But there’s never a sense of proportion about what really are the threats to speech and politics on this country. On that scale jailing a Dreamer who spoke out, after a rally on immigration seems to rate even higher.

    • patrick II

      I forget which one of our hosts thinks its ok to punch a Nazi. Was it Paul? But it’s not ok to yell at them?

      • Murc

        I forget which one of our hosts thinks its ok to punch a Nazi.

        You’re thinking of both Erik and vacuumslayer. Dan is on the other side of that debate, as, evidently, is Paul, and I’m not sure where Scott is.

    • sigaba

      The entirety of Conservative social critique can be reduced to:

      * Beyonce
      * Milo at Berkeley
      * Wedding photographers who won’t do gay weddings

      Everything else is hypothetical.

      • cpinva

        what about bakers who won’t bake cakes for gay weddings? they’re hurt you left them out, what will their homophobic friends think?

      • ASV

        * Too many non-white babies

        • Abbey Bartlet

          Beyonce has *two* of them in her right now!

  • I’ll start believing wingnut speakers should not be shouted down by students on the day when I start believing wingnuts don’t want all universities burned to the ground.

    • farin

      Liberty University: QED, libtard!

      • cpinva

        “Liberty University: QED, libtard!”

        could we? really?

  • AdamPShort

    I think it’s particularly unfortunate that this happened to Murray, whose defenders/boosters trade almost exclusively in this illusion that they are embattled truth tellers.

    Charles Murray’s ideas are numb retreads of ancient “scientific racism” tropes and i sympathize with people who don’t want him to be given a platform, but the assumptions that undergird his work are actually assumptions that are held by a large number of people and therefore there is some value in the discussion of his ideas, even though said discussion thoroughly refutes those ideas.

    Some people probably need to be shouted down; Murray just needs to be debunked.

    • Jordan

      Murray has been debunked. Over and over and over again. There is not really much future value in further debunking. Once he’s been debunked a heckler’s veto (or just not inviting him in the first place, of course) seems appropriate.

      • Lord Jesus Perm

        This.

        Also, we’ve really gotta stop with this idea that some things should be up for debate simply because a lot of (white) people believe that they’re true. The basic humanity of black folks isn’t a mere topic of discussion.

        • Jordan

          Right. I don’t see how “are black people full human beings worthy of dignity?” is an appropriate topic of discussion in the sense that holocaust denial or sandy hook denial are not. None of them are.

        • Origami Isopod

          Thank you.

          It’s not a surprise that people who think everything should be up for debate are, overwhelmingly, straight white cis men.

          • Dilan Esper

            The ACLU chapters of America are filled with minority and women lawyers who strongly stand up for free speech while also fighting discrimination.

            • Origami Isopod

              “Filled”… compared with the white dudes? Probably not. You just notice them more.

              • Dilan Esper

                In my experience (and I have a fair amount), ACLU chapters are always recruiting talented minority and women lawyers.

        • cpinva

          this. a person’s or group’s civil rights are not an issue for discussion. you don’t get a vote on whether or not I’m entitled to be treated like everyone else. you don’t, the state legislature doesn’t, and neither does congress/president/supreme court (except by virtue of the constitution and Marbury v Madison). if you are a living human being in this country, your civil rights are guaranteed, period.

      • King Goat

        You can easily see conservatives saying something like this for any speaker they think is a ‘communist.’ After all, communism has been ‘thoroughly debunked,’ associated with the oppression and murder of millions, etc. So by your principle every junior Glenn Beck who decides a speaker is a communist should go shout down the speaker.

        • Jordan

          Your major error is thinking about this in some abstract, context-free form. It isn’t, we are talking about a specific instance in a specific scenario.

          Should, for instance, CPAC ban communists from sitting on panels? Of course! Would I care if they did? No!

          Universities are a different sort of institution. One that should be committed to, at the least, not rejecting the humanity of black people. So they should not invite Charles Murray and if they do so their students should protest him.

          This isn’t that hard. Different norms should apply to different institutions. And universities should not be “hey, lets hear all your racist shit” places.

          • King Goat

            In the minds of many communism is as thoroughly debunked and historically/potentially as oppressive/murderous as white supremacy. So Jr Glenn Beck should get to work disrupting ever speaker on campus he thinks is a commie.

            • Jordan

              No. If a Stalinist (or whatever) gets invited, sure, they should get protested and shouted down.

              Jr Glenn Beck doesn’t get to decide the universities values just by randomly calling someone a commie.

              Again, this is pretty easy stuff.

              • King Goat

                Jr Glenn Beck shouldn’t be able to decide who’s a Stalinist who deserves to get shouted down, but Jr Noam Chomsky gets to decide who’s a white supremacist to be shouted down. I see.

                • Jordan

                  You don’t do the reading comprehension thing much, do you?

                  The institution should decide who they want to allow in. The institution should not invite stalinists or racists, because ideally, they aren’t monsters.

                  As to the issue at hand, luckily Jr Noam Chomsky decided correctly that a white supremacist had been invited and should be shouted down.

                  Good for them for shouting down the white supremacist and bad for you for not recognizing that he is a white supremacist, I guess.

                • King Goat

                  The institution should decide, not the student, but in this case the institution was wrong to decide to allow him to speak but Noam Chomsky Jr was right to abrogate that. I see why you think people who disagree with you are too bogged down in ‘abstractions.’

                • Jordan

                  Uhh, what do you possibly disagree with about that? Of course the institution was wrong to invite and of course the students were right to protest, and of course the issue who gets invited in the first place is an institutional one.

                  That … uhh … all seems obviously right to me, bro.

                • DocAmazing

                  King Goat has managed to, in the manner of a blind squirrel, actually find an acorn here: let’s count the times Noam Chomsky, who has well-established credibility on the subject of politics, has been invited to speak at campuses (we’ll try not to depress ourselves by mentioning, say, the Sunday morning shows) compared to the number of times a dilettante propagandist like Jonah Goldberg or Megan McArdle or a war criminal like Condoleezza Rice has been invited.

                • Merkwürdigliebe

                  To a first approximation, nobody cares about procedural justice.

                  This was a bad guy, so it’s good that he was shouted down and assaulted. All bad guys should be assaulted. Had it been one of our good guys, that would, however, be a disaster which we would need to avenge. And, of course, we decide who is who.

                  Mirror and repeat.

                  The more I’m reading this stuff, the more I’m seeing another civil war looming on the horizon.

                • DocAmazing

                  Unilateral disarmament is not a winning strategy.

                • Merkwürdigliebe

                  If you consider not assaulting an invited speaker unilateral disarmament, that seems to be a point in favor of my thesis.

                • ColBatGuano

                  The more I’m reading this stuff, the more I’m seeing another civil war looming on the horizon.

                  This is the part that annoys me about this subject. The idea that some college students shouting down Murray is the spear tip of leftist thought police destroying America is fundamentally ridiculous. Right wingers love to pump up these isolated incidents as if they are revolutionary vanguard because it enhances their grievance politics . We’ve been hearing about these outrages for 25 years and it looks like conservatives are still managing to get their message out. Should we allow speakers to speak? Probably, although there is an excellent case to be made that Murray’s scientific racism might not. Is there an imminent danger to free speech? No.

    • Davis

      A good bit, maybe most, of the data he used in his book was generated by research funded by the white supremest Pioneer Fund. all of his work has only one conclusion, welfare, especially for blacks, is useless. No one owed him a forum foe his “work”. Thanks, Andrew Sullivan!

    • ASV

      In fact, when Andrew Sullivan published an excerpt of The Bell Curve over the objections of his staff, the same issue contained several critiques of it, what you might call “debunkings.” That was more than 22 years ago.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    So, just to clarify, Paul, your position is that people like Sandy Hook troofers and Holocaust deniers shouldn’t be invited to campus, that if they are invited, it’s ok to work to disinvite them, but once they start speaking, students should just sit down and shut up or face official sanction? Or is Murray somehow different?

    Like others upthread, I think Murray falls into that Sandy Hook troofer / Holocaust denier category in terms of his relationship to a college’s mission.

    Like you, I think the idea that institutions of higher learning need to be equally open to all views is ludicrous. Like you, I think there’s nothing wrong with students (and faculty) working to get invited speakers who are fundamentally at odds with the mission of the institution disinvited. Like you, I think people who physically assault others should be prosecuted.

    But I’m much less sure that I’m on board sanctioning students who attempt to nonviolently silence such speakers if they do manage to get invited (though I also think that the entirely predictable free speech panic that follows makes silencing such speakers a lousy political strategy).

    • Jordan

      Ya, that last bit needs to get unpacked (though it won’t). I *suppose* there are *some* circumstances in which some discipline is warranted, maybe. But just a “those idiots, lets expel them” which this post doesn’t say but does suggest is a terrible position.

    • Scott Lemieux

      students should just sit down and shut up or face official sanction?

      There’s an obvious excluded middle here, though. Students can protest ex ante/ex post and outside the venue; they can protest throughout the lecture by turning their backs or holding signs; and they can even shout briefly at the beginning of the talk. There’s plenty of ways to express disapproval that don’t involve actually preventing someone from speaking.

      Leaving aside the question of whether the heckler’s veto is permissible, I also don’t see how it’s better tactically. What have these tactics accomplished in this case except to give Murray’s ideas a lot more attention than they would have otherwise?

      • Jordan

        Leaving aside the question of whether the heckler’s veto is permissible, I also don’t see how it’s better tactically. What have these tactics accomplished in this case except to give Murray’s ideas a lot more attention than they would have otherwise?

        That seems easy: make a lot of colleges way more wary of paying him an honorarium to come speak to their colleges? And having it less likely for him to speak at their colleges? That seems plausible and a win.

        • Jordan

          well crap, I’d fix that if there was an edit button. But the first paragraph is a quote of you and the second paragraph is me.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Is there any reason to believe that’s happening? It’s far more plausible that Murray’s speaking income just got a nice bump.

          • Jordan

            I mean, I don’t know. Seems plausible that Murray’s speaking income got a bump from conservative institutions but also seems plausible he’s less likely to get invited to non-conservative institutions.

            And working on him getting invited less to those sorts of places was one of the original goals, right?

        • King Goat

          What astoundingly short term thinking.

          Sure, liberals and the left get discredited, conservative legislatures use this to ratchet down on academe, Murrary comes off as sexier to many on the intertwined, but hey, we might have made some colleges more fearful that the left will lawlessly react to his next invite making it slightly more costly and less desirable to do so! FTW!

          • Jordan

            Cool story, white male. Every downside you cite will happen and does happen anyways. But preventing him from speaking at other universities *was the entire upshot of the original post* and it seems like you agree that will happen. Thats a win. Thanks for agreeing, white male.

            • King Goat

              “Every downside you cite will happen and does happen anyways.”

              Bull, the other side is always working, true, but our side handing them more and better tools to work with is not inevitable.

      • aturner339

        I think Sullivan let that cat out of the bag a long time ago and the notion that the mental inferiority of black people isn’t already a widely held (indeed dominant) view does I believe miss the stakes.

        I really do believe this is akin to hyping EMAILZ.

        • Lord Jesus Perm

          This. That train left the station years ago. I don’t think there are many people who still don’t know who Murray is, or at least haven’t heard of The Bell Curve. He isn’t hurting for a lack of attention.

          • Chetsky

            AAHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHAAA … spit-take.

            And Donald Trump was just a successful businessman with no experience in public life! Truly! Truly! I’m not shitting you!

            [close to a literal quote of what a former friend told me, in-between his butthurt whimpering that I was un-friending him unfairly.]

            I’m QUITE QUITE sure that there’s a TON of college students who have NO IDEAR who Charles “Bell Curve” Murray is.

      • djw

        Right. At this point it could hardly be more obvious that when conservative groups invite speakers like Milo and Murray to campus, they’re trying to provoke this kind of response, because they know it’s fantastic propaganda for them. Setting aside debates about whether shutting down a speech should invite institutional sanction, the confidence some people seem to have that this is smart politics seems is pretty clearly misplaced.

        • Jordan

          Hmmm, I am not sure about that at all.

          1) Protests make people protestors, this type of thing seems likely to generate more aware and active lefty types, right?

          2) Its obvious that this plays well to the right wing rubes, but who really cares about that? If they are sending their money to this asshole rather than that other asshole, what is the real impact? Just because something is good for the right wing grifters doesn’t really mean its terrible for us.

          • djw

            It’s not the fact of protests that makes this propaganda, it’s the tactic of shutting down the speech.

            I don’t think stuff like the Middlebury protests are all that helpful or necessary for propaganda directed at the frothy rubes, who’ve been primed to believe the worst about liberal college students regardless of their protest tactics. It’s more effective propaganda for relatively apolitical people who have an inconsistent attachment to norms of reasonableness and are prone to the strong gravitational pull “both sides do it-ism”.

            • aturner339

              Real talk. Does anyone think that was OWS or the Women’s March were not used as right wing propaganda?

              • djw

                Less effectively so, especially in the latter case.

                • aturner339

                  By what measure? If you ask the right they are as appalled by pussy hats as thrown punches. Is thus all just a matter of how popular the target is?

                • djw

                  If you ask the right they are as appalled by pussy hats as thrown punches.

                  The broader public, on the other hand, is not.

                • DocAmazing

                  The broader public somehow is not shown (or fails to see) the actual violence committed by political actors on the Right: ask a rando about shots fired at a Black Lives Matter protest and they’ll tell you about dead cops.

                  It’s really not helpful to add voices to the Radicals Bad! chorus that the media already selectively amplifies.

                • djw

                  The broader public somehow is not shown (or fails to see) the actual violence committed by political actors on the Right: ask a rando about shots fired at a Black Lives Matter protest and they’ll tell you about dead cops.

                  As I point out below, this really isn’t accurate, and doesn’t give BLM the credit they deserve as an effective social movement. The smears against BLM have not been that successful; they’ve got a +19 favorability, +12 with white people, and since that poll appears to be getting more positive. It seems at least plausible that the fact that the smear they’re a violent movement is, in fact, false, is part of the story of why the smear hasn’t been particularly effective.

              • Sebastian_h

                This is unclear thinking, and leads to all sorts of tactical errors.

                Yes it is inevitable that SOMEONE will use EVERYTHING as right or left wing propaganda. That doesn’t mean that ALL THINGS are equally effective at seducing/confusing/inspiring/scaring the people who aren’t paying attention (who are the targets of the propaganda).

                You have to think on the margins. The question isn’t will the horrible people try to use this as propaganda. The question is: will the non-horrible people who aren’t political junkies be likely to be fooled by the propaganda if when faced with it we have to admit that it did in fact happen?

            • Jordan

              I guess: the ones who are primed to think the worst about college students are either 1) a lost cause, or 2) too random to attract. So write them off.

              The “both sides do it inclined”: isn’t this exactly the overton window people? They see: well, those silly leftists over there, they can’t be right. So lets go over a little bit more to the middle, ya.

              and you don’t address the activating issue, where maybe this activates future … err … activists. That seems like a good thing.

          • ColBatGuano

            Its obvious that this plays well to the right wing rubes, but who really cares about that?

            But every interview with those poor WWC Trump voters has at least one example of some guy proclaiming about “PC culture on campus” being the death knell of America. So their money may end up going to groups who love to invite these folks to speak generating more headlines and pearl clutching.

      • Patick Spens

        Well, fairly obviously anyone who shared or came close to sharing Murray’s views about Black people would feel threatened and scared of voicing them on campus.

        • Abbey Bartlet

          Well, fairly obviously anyone who shared or came close to sharing Murray’s views about Black people would feel threatened and scared of voicing them on campus.

          Good.

          • Origami Isopod

            Yes.

        • Ithaqua

          And hopefully everywhere else, too.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        As I say at the top of this thread, I think shouting down rightwing speakers is a politically stupid thing to do. I would urge people not to do this. But especially in the absence of a clear and explicit college rule against it, I’m not entirely comfortable punishing students who do it.

        It’s also worth noting that conservatives seem almost as upset at the students who stood up and turned their back on Murray as those who shouted. And, like you, I’ve always been a big fan of that as a protest tactic, precisely because it indicates disrespect without disrupting the speech.

        • Murc

          But especially in the absence of a clear and explicit college rule against it, I’m not entirely comfortable punishing students who do it.

          I’m having a hard time conceiving of a college that doesn’t have rules governing how you’re expected to behave at official events, or events in general, given the longstanding protest culture on college campuses.

      • Arouet

        I agree these people, reprehensible as they are, must sometimes be allowed to speak. How Paul gets from there to recommending expulsion is….. impossible to understand. Ejection from the venue, perhaps. Expulsion from the university is an outrageously harsh and wildly unwarranted reaction that would ruin the lives of college students for expressing themselves in ways we find a bit troubling.

        • Darkrose

          I agree these people, reprehensible as they are, must sometimes be allowed to speak.

          Why?

          Must Adam Jones be allowed a platform for pushing his Sandy Hook trutherism? Should colleges in Iowa, say, be required to host lectures by Steve King?

          The problem here is not that Murray was shouted down. It’s that he was provided a platform for spreading white supremacy in the first place.

          • Darkrose

            OOPS! I meant Alex Jones, not Adam Jones, who is sexy and smart and plays baseball really well.

          • Arouet

            I agree completely. But once you allow some dumbass student group to invite him and decide to let him on campus, I agree that the costs of silencing him or his ilk can outweigh the benefits. My point was that if some students do decide to be disruptive, the thought that they should be expelled FROM THE UNIVERSITY rather than merely asked to quiet down and removed from the space if they don’t comply, is insane.

  • nemdam

    I roll my eyes at all of these debates for the simple reason that anybody who thinks what a few idiot undergrads do at a handful of the most liberal of liberal arts schools is somehow representative of either the left in this country or a future trend is not a serious person.

    • Dilan Esper

      I would roll my eyes, except the students who do these things get defended on many parts of the left and many “serious” voices argue things like it is OK to punch people because of their views and the like.

      • aturner339

        The protest should not simply be defended but lauded. The assault should not.

        • Dilan Esper

          The protest should not be lauded for two reasons- (1) they stopped Murray from speaking, as opposed to simply having their own voices heard and (2) the protest led to the assault.

          And 2 cannot be understated. Protesters get drunk on their own power. That’s one reason violence happens. If the school had stopped them at stage (1) and protected the speaker, (2) never happens.

          We see this at abortion clinics too. Once protesters are given the right to block rather than to speak, their self righteousness about blocking tends to swell, which increases the possibility of violence against those who attempt to thwart them.

          • aturner339

            Murray should be stopped from speaking at any venue willing to lend him legitimacy when at all possible. If national review wants to give him a pedestal nothing to be done. An institution of learning need not

            • Dilan Esper

              The school should not have invited Murray. Once he’s there, though….

              • aturner339

                Once he’s there they necessitated the protest to correct the error.

                • Dilan Esper

                  The students do not run the school. They don’t get to “correct errors” with mob rule.

                  They can protest, and should. But they are not in charge.

                • aturner339

                  Ah. Appeal to Authority. How did I know that’s where this would end?

                • Dilan Esper

                  aturner, authority actually exists in college. It’s not an apoeal to it- I assure you that if Middlebury takes some action against the students who shouted down Murray, it will be upheld in court or not challenged at all.

                • aturner339

                  Which I’m sure is central to your point.

                • djw

                  The students do not run the school. They don’t get to “correct errors” with mob rule.

                  They can protest, and should. But they are not in charge.

                  I think it’s perhaps misleading to emphasize their student status here. Insofar as they crossed a line, it’s the same line I’d apply to other members of a University community protesting a morally appalling speaker who shouldn’t have been invited.

                • Hogan

                  The students do not run the school.

                  It was students who invited Murray in the first place, so it would appear that in some instances they do.

                • Dilan Esper

                  djw:

                  That’s valid.

            • Jordan

              Exactly this. Process “liberals” care too much about abstractions that don’t necessarily apply to actual concrete cases.

              Murray shouldn’t have been invited, and it was fine for protestors to shout him down. He is a racist.

        • Chuckie

          Why shouldn’t the assault be defended? We’re absolutely fine with assault as a society if it’s targeted as suspected criminals. Charles Murray has caused incalculable harm by laundering Nazi eugenics science just in time for the welfare debates of the 1990s. Why shouldn’t someone who helps spread that shit get hit? Will it lead to some horrible slippery slope where minorities can be shot by police without reprisal, trans women get thrown into men’s jails, and secret police turf cancer patients out of their hospitals and exile them for paperwork violations?

          • Dilan Esper

            Knowing the difference between actual Nazis and metaphorical ones is pretty important here.

            • King Goat

              Lost on deaf ears Dilan. These Mussolini’s of the left, unencumbered by silly abstractions like liberal norms, know exactly who deserves punching and shouting down. Punchers and shouters down can’t be wrong tactically (after all, this is about tribal war where expressions of collective power are all that really matter), just in their targets.
              And the targets always grow. I mean, we know easily that Spencer is a Nazi that deserves punching. And Murray says some things that sound like Spencer, so he gets punched too. And they’re linked to Bannon, he gets punched. And of course Bannon=Trump, he gets punched. And look! Trump’s really just a run of the mill Republican, only difference is he says the quiet parts out loud more, so Ryan and McConnell, they get punched. And David Brooks, he’s really just the same, so he gets punched. And there’s people who’ve never voted Republican in their lives, but they oppose punching all these Nazis, so they should probably be punched…

              In the end there’s a tiny cell of really pure, punch happy leftists, though every now and then they’re eyeing each other a little suspiciously with a clenched fist. Just in case…

              • Patick Spens

                I knew it was going to happen, but I was still surprised by how fast “the kind of nazi you can punch went from” Richard Spencer to “some girl in a MAGA hat.”

                • DocAmazing

                  …your example of this being…who, exactly?

                • Patick Spens
                • DocAmazing

                  I can’t get your link to work. Who’s the girl, and who’s defending the pepper-spraying?

                • The Great God Pan

                  The woman was Kiara Robles, a Bitcoin activist in a red “Make Bitcoin Great Again” cap.

                  The linked photo (insert a colon to make the link work) is of Arthur Chu approvingly joking about the pepper-spraying.

                • Patick Spens
              • DrDick

                Dude, that goat you are fucking there is getting really tired of it

          • Jordan

            Because hitting him doesn’t actually help anything (and he wasn’t the one hit).

            He certainly *deserves* being punched, but it doesn’t actually accomplish or help anything. Ostracizing him and making his views outside the realm of acceptable didscourse *does* help a little bit. Hence the appropriateness of the heckler’s veto.

          • Karen24

            Because I don’t want anyone to beat me up when I go to an abortion rights protest or speak on behalf of illegal aliens. They have more guns than we do. I don’t want to give them any excuse to use them.

          • farin

            Not responding to the merits of clocking Charlie Murray, but it appears in this case the assault was against the (probably-not-coincidentally female) administrator who was escorting him. I’m comfortable saying that sort of assault is out of line in any currently-plausible scenario.

          • Katya

            Stanger was invited (by the student group who invited Murray) for the purpose of challenging Murray’s views (about his recent “bubble” stuff.

            • Redwood Rhiadra

              As noted above by jam, she was supposed to be a moderator for the student’s questions. She was *not* invited for the purpose of debating Murray herself.

          • Gareth

            Why shouldn’t the assault be defended?

            So there’s a dispute about whether black people are less intelligent than white people, and you want to settle it through hand-to-hand combat? What if the racists are better fighters?

        • Marc

          Basically, this is the true voice of authoritarianism: we should celebrate it when people with whom we disagree get shouted down; we should disrupt any attempt to allow others to hear what they say. It’s of the same piece as the hyper-aggressive verbal attacks on any disagreement, with personal abuse added on top. It’s inconsistent with a tolerant pluralistic society.

          I draw a straight line between campus tactics like this and the election of Trump. There is no more powerful form of propaganda for the right than the sort of thing that happened in Middlebury. We’d be outraged if that happened to a liberal speaker, and it wouldn’t make us feel better if this happened only occasionally. Threats don’t have to be common to have a real chilling effect.

          • aturner339

            Yes. Respect the racists or the Mexicans get it!

            • Cheerfull

              Do you see a distinction between respecting racists and not shouting them down? An empty room would also have been a symbol of dissent.

              • Hogan

                And how would you propose to make that happen?

          • FFFFFFIIII

            I draw a straight line between campus tactics like this and the election of Trump.

            And the award for SCORCHING HOT TAKE of the day goes to…

            • Origami Isopod

              He’s a habitual “civility” troll. This is his schtick.

          • King Goat

            Exactly this.

          • TroubleMaker13

            It’s inconsistent with a tolerant pluralistic society.

            So is white supremacy. Pick your battles wisely.

          • Merkwürdigliebe

            Aye.

      • Barry_D

        Dilan Exper:

        “I would roll my eyes, except the students who do these things get defended on many parts of the left and many “serious” voices argue things like it is OK to punch people because of their views and the like.”

        You *always* roll your eyes.

        • Dilan Esper

          Not really. I thought the women’s march was wonderful.

      • nemdam

        I also roll my eyes at the idiot students. I just think this debate gets a ridiculously disproportionate amount of coverage because its consequences are almost entirely confined to the small number of universities where this stuff happens.

        If Charles Murray gets “censored” at a university, there are plenty of other outlets where his message will be heard. If students try a “heckler’s veto” outside of a despicable person giving a lecture at a university, they will be quickly kicked out of whatever venue they are in.

        • Dilan Esper

          It’s true that the stakes are small (byt they get bigger when a professor goes to the hospital) but that cuts both ways.

          Students in selective universities are very privileged and greatly overstate the injury of having to listen to someone with awful political views too.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            Students in selective universities are very privileged

            #NotAllStudentsInSelectiveUniversities

            and greatly overstate the injury of having to listen to someone with awful political views too.

            Or you greatly understate the injury of someone being given a platform to question whether an entire group of people are human.

            Que sorpresa.

            • Dilan Esper

              Abbey:

              Every single student who graduates from an elite college is highly privileged. Including the minority, women, and gay graduates. The credential is worth millions at this point. The victims of serious structural discrimination, for the most part, reside at lower levels of the class totem pole. (I would make a partial exception for women- even very powerful women face pretty massive discrimination that cuts their incomes and alters their working conditions a lot. But still, graduates of elite colleges have it very good.)

              So unless you are talking about drop outs, your “NotAll” is pretty far off.

              And yes, I do think that in the scheme of things, elite college students whining about someone saying something mean is a very minor injury. Tell it to the wefare mothers and the blacks in jail or getting beaten by the cops.

              • DocAmazing

                You do know that the welfare mothers and the blacks in jail have, to a great extent, Charles Murray’s work to thank for their current condition, right?

              • Abbey Bartlet

                Every single student who graduates from an elite college is highly privileged. Including the minority, women, and gay graduates. The credential is worth millions at this point. The victims of serious structural discrimination, for the most part, reside at lower levels of the class totem pole.

                You can’t say “every single” and then “for the most part,” Dilan.

                • Dilan Esper

                  Every single, Abbey. In a numerical scale, the credential is 1000 and being hurt by the thought of Murray’s scholarship is a 15. Treating the protection of selective college students as a gigantic priority is a hugely discriminatory act against the actual oppressed.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  In a numerical scale, the credential is the credential is 1000 and being hurt by the thought of Murray’s scholarship is a 15.

                  Okay, well, it’s not “the thought of Murray’s scholarship,” but setting that aside, I’m curious at what point you think it’s acceptable to take people’s well-being into account? Or perhaps does it matter how many people are affected? If it’s at an HBCU (all of which are of course ranked much lower than Middlebury), are the rules different?

              • Darkrose

                Guess you never heard the Malcolm X quote about “What do you call a black man with a PhD?”

                Tell it to the wefare mothers and the blacks in jail or getting beaten by the cops.

                Yeah, I mean, the cops always check credentials before harrassing someone. Oh, what was that, Professor Gates?

                I’m pretty sure my Stanford degree isn’t going to protect me if I get pulled over and a white cop is having a bad day.

          • ColBatGuano

            greatly overstate the injury of having to listen to someone with awful political views too.

            Yes, but they don’t columnists in prominent newspapers defending them. I had the joy of reading a Jay Ambrose column this morning decrying the Middlebury incident. Pretending these incidents are a bigger deal than they are is a form of hippie punching that liberals should avoid.

            • Dilan Esper

              A professor went to the hospital.

              • ColBatGuano

                Yes, you’ve been repeating that for weeks. Still doesn’t address the point I made, but you keep being you.

  • Srsly Dad Y

    Noah Smith of Bloomberg tweeted that there is “hand wronging” about Middlebury. That was a typo, but I liked it.

  • NewishLawyer

    I am relatively young but at the age where a lot of my friends can start getting pearl clutchey over college students. Keep in mind that none of this is among people on the right. A friend who thought Bernie Sanders was wonderful, Clinton was horrible, is also adamantly opposed to trigger warnings in the classroom, and skeptical of the whole safe space debate.

    I think the pearl-clutching happens because:

    1. Freedom of Speech questions/debates seem to be one of those stark divides between people who see themselves as liberals and people who see themselves as leftists. Freedom of Speech is still one of the “bourgeois freedoms” that is lesser or to be discarded in leftist thought.

    2. There is some acknowledgement that our future elites will always come from places like Yale and Middlebury.

    3. College students (being young) tend to taken interesting ideas, but ideas that should be wielded with a fine point pen, and turn them into sledgehammers. My personal view is that privilege and microaggression are useful academic concepts but very technical ones. But the technicalities and specific fine-tuning has been stripped away by a lot of people (usually young) on the Internet and now you have the phrases used as sledgehammers to shut down debate. I’m a bourgeois liberal so I still believe in the merits of debate so seeing things used as sledgehammers is not pleasing.

    4. The Internet turns everything viral and clickbait.

    • aturner339

      I think the irony is that the “free speech but mostly for racists” crowd is the very image of “using a subtle idea as a sledgehammer”

      • NewishLawyer

        Murray is an idiot who should have been laughed out of everywhere a long time ago and Paul is spot on with this paragraph on a handful of undergraduate idiots v. election of Donald Trump.

        But I’m a liberal and not a radical and disagree with the idea that Free Speech is only a “bourgeois freedom” even if I think most of the college students will outgrow this college radicalism.

        I also think the whole “check your privilege” thing has taken a useful concept and turned it into a sledgehammer that is more meant to shut up people who disagree. Plus it seems to lead to unnecessary amounts of college anger. What good comes of calling a random person on Twitter or the internet privileged? I imagine a dystopia where people just stay in front of computer screens all day and in a constantly agitated state at the other side.

        On an OT tangent, I’ve noticed a lot of people try and talk about how they know they are privileged but it always comes across as a humblebrag.

        • aturner339

          The first amendment refers to government restrictions on speech. Saying it means that all speakers should be welcome at all venues is the very thing you are (correctly) accusing students of often doing

          • Dilan Esper

            This is a straw man, and also overly limits the concept of free speech (which goes beyond legal protections).

            • aturner339

              Feel free to outline the moral responsibility to allow all speakers at all venues.

              • Dilan Esper

                Nobody in this thread is making that claim. It’s a pure straw man.

            • rea

              People in the audience have free speech rights, too. Free speech is no guaranty against getting booed offstage.

              • Dilan Esper

                There’s a difference between booing at the start of a talk, and preventing a talk from happening.

                • Ithaqua

                  He can talk all he wants while the people are booing.

              • NewishLawyer

                I don’t disagree but the issue is that Murray and Milo Y are easy targets. I have very little sympathy for people like Milo Y because they were just wannabe writers who discovered being an agent provocateurs gets you noticed. Good riddance to people like him and Murray.

                But there are other debates with ideological splits in which a heckler’s veto is more uncalled for.

                Plus in the end, a heckler’s veto is rather weak tea compared to the sharply worded counter-point or question that shows the emperor wears no clothing or exposes the weaknesses in the speaker’s thoughts, logic, and ideas.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  Plus in the end, a heckler’s veto is rather weak tea compared to the sharply worded counter-point or question that shows the emperor wears no clothing or exposes the weaknesses in the speaker’s thoughts, logic, and ideas.

                  Are we still pretending this is true? Seriously?

                • aturner339

                  Surely Trump will self destruct next month.

                • Jordan

                  Are we still pretending this is true? Seriously?

                  Ya, it would be nice if this were true. Very nice! But it doesn’t seem like it is :(

                • sibusisodan

                  Plus in the end, a heckler’s veto is rather weak tea compared to the sharply worded counter-point or question that shows the emperor wears no clothing or exposes the weaknesses in the speaker’s thoughts, logic, and ideas.

                  I remember seeing video of John Oliver doing standup, and the way he dealt with sharply worded counterpoints.

                  In triplicate!

                • Origami Isopod

                  Are we still pretending this is true? Seriously?

                  It’s such a nice little fantasy of certain kinds of liberals. Most of whom are unlikely to be at the business end of hate speech, ever.

                • Darkrose

                  Plus in the end, a heckler’s veto is rather weak tea compared to the sharply worded counter-point or question that shows the emperor wears no clothing or exposes the weaknesses in

                  the speaker’s thoughts, logic, and ideas.

                  This case is a perfect example of why that argument is bullshit. Murray’s been peddling his psuedo-scientific white supremacy for almost 30 years now. His methodology, analysis, and conclusions have been refuted over and over and over again. Yet people are still paying him to spout crap. If the “marketplace of ideas” was working the way you argue it should, then Murray would be completely and utterly discredited, Clinton would be president, and I’d have a pony.

          • twbb

            Free Speech is not coterminous with the First Amendment.

        • libarbarian

          Middleburghazi!

          Sorry, but someone had to say it!

    • Dilan Esper

      It can’t be stressed enough that this almost always happens at elite colleges. The students who do these things are extremely privileged, and having to endure a Charles Murray talk at a highly selective university is a First World Problem if there ever was one.

      • NewishLawyer

        I don’t know if it always happens at elite colleges but you here about at elite colleges because the current generation of leaders also went to those colleges and care about the future generations of students. You can also hear about it at non-elite schools in elite areas like NYC.

      • Jordan

        No it fucking doesn’t. Visit more community colleges.

    • DocAmazing

      You want to be very careful about that “liberals revere free speech and radicals are ready to toss it aside” stuff in the face of many Democratic politicians attitudes toward colleges that bring in Palestinian and pro-Palestinian speakers and their actions toward the BDS movement.

      • Origami Isopod

        YEP.

      • Murc

        You want to be very careful about that “liberals revere free speech and radicals are ready to toss it aside” stuff in the face of many Democratic politicians attitudes toward colleges that bring in Palestinian and pro-Palestinian speakers and their actions toward the BDS movement.

        There are a shit-ton of Democratic politicians and activists who are neither liberals nor leftists.

        • DocAmazing

          Even Hillary Clinton was flirting with anti-BDS stuff.

          • Murc

            I’m actually thinking of people like Tipper Gore and Holy Joe, who made were on the pro-censorship circuit during the nineties along with many others. Remember the gangsta rap scare?

            Being anti-BDS makes you wrong but doesn’t necessarily make you anti-free speech depending on how you’re going about it.

            • DocAmazing

              Oh, I remember PMRC; it’s one reason I wasn’t enthused to see Mr. Tipper and Holy Joe teamed up on the top of the ticket.

              Blocking discussion of BDS and threatening to pull funding from colleges that have pro-BDS or pro-Palestinian speakers is definitely the wrong way to go about it.

              • Murc

                Yeah, that’s legitimately not cool regardless of the merits of BDS. Or its effectiveness in pushing back against it, for that matter.

    • RebDovid

      Freedom of Speech questions/debates seem to be one of those stark divides between people who see themselves as liberals and people who see themselves as leftists. Freedom of Speech is still one of the “bourgeois freedoms” that is lesser or to be discarded in leftist thought.

      The divide, I suggest, is not between “leftists” and “liberals,” but between supporters of democracy and supporters of dictatorship. In this I follow the leftist Karl Kautsky who, commenting that the Bolshevik revolution divided the Socialist world into two camps, said it was a “clash[] of two fundamentally distinct methods, that of democracy and that of dictatorship.” He continued:

      “We place ourselves, of course, by asking for the fullest discussion, already on the ground of democracy. Dictatorship does not ask for the refutation of contrary views, but the forcible suppression of their utterance. Thus, the two methods of democracy and dictatorship are already irreconcilably opposed before the discussion has started. The one demands, the other forbids it.”

      • Origami Isopod

        Yeah, black folks who don’t want to pay tuition money to hear their humanity diminished, and other folks who support them, are “dictators.”

        I suspect, Reb, that if Middlebury had invited David Irving to “debate” the Holocaust, your response would be very different.

  • xq

    Universities should not be open to the viewpoints of Holocaust deniers or Sandy Hook truthers, to pick just a couple of a basically unlimited number of possible examples, because such views are false, and false views should not be given a forum within institutions dedicated to the pursuit of truth.

    Falseness is obviously not any kind of workable standard. Most views are false.

    When it comes to who gets hired for university positions, or who gives commencement speeches, there’s scarcity; choices have to be made. But I don’t see how intellectual life is made impossible by letting student groups invite who they want.

    • JPH

      Yeah, I was going to ask about that. I don’t know if allowing universities to dictate who student groups can invite is a good idea and I’m pretty positive that it’s illegal.

      • farin

        I’m assuming this was a paid speech with (private) university funds, in which case I don’t see a legal problem. We don’t question Christian universities’ right not to support speakers or performers they deem incompatible with their mission, and Middlebury’s mission is surely incompatible with racist pseudo-science.

        • Katya

          According to Middlebury Prof. Matt Dickinson, the department co-sponsored but did not co-fund. I would assume that the fee was paid by the student AEI group. They may get a share of general university funding for student groups.

      • Patick Spens

        A private college such as Middlebury can tell student groups who they can and cannot invite. A public university would be different.

  • libarbarian

    They should be judged by a preponderance of the evidence standardand expelled if found guilty.

    Also, anyone who disagrees with any part of this is probably a violent felon.

    • Why are you here?

      • Origami Isopod

        Because we touch ourselves at night.

        • libarbarian

          I’m not surprised that masturbation is an intricate part of your Internet Tough Guy fantasy where you are a brave Nazi puncher instead of just a leftwing Keyboard Commando

  • Morse Code for J

    The cost of attendance at Middlebury College this year is over $66,000. The endowment sits at about a billion dollars.

    If I’m paying anywhere near that kind of money for a bachelor’s degree at a private institution, then yes, I fucking expect it to respond when it does something that trips one of my prejudices, like Republican governors walking back any talk of “occupied territories” for fear that Sheldon Adelson will not slop their campaign troughs. Charles Murray has a publisher and no shortage of congenial venues for his bullshit. I’m not worried about the future of free speech because a group of stakeholders in Middlebury College made their ire known.

    • Dilan Esper

      You are paying for an education. That does not, in fact, give you the right to run the school. In fact, quite the opposite.

      But your comment is instructive, because there is very much a rich consumer mindset underlying these protests.

      • Morse Code for J

        22 years ago, I attended college at a four-year, land-grant university. NMC and ROTC paid for my tuition and books, and I borrowed about $4,200 a year for living expenses. Under those circumstances, I would agree with your first statement.

        By contrast, these students are paying what the average American household reported earning last year, rising by rates exceeding inflation every year, for their education. Under these circumstances, where a gathering of 250 angry students represents almost $18M in income to the university, their expectations should and will be treated a little differently.

      • AMK

        A rich consumer mindset underlying these protests

        Not just the protests. Plently of rich consumers want to buy what Murray is selling. The gospel of “poverty is fundamentally a function of the genetics of IQ, so all those taxes that support social programs are pointless” has a fairly large market share at any school with a billion-dollar endowment and ten times more kids with trust funds than with Pell Grants.

        • Dilan Esper

          That’s very true too. This is a battle of the privileged

        • Jackov

          Probably not ten times. Approximately 22% of students at Middlebury are from families in the top one percent while only 14% are from poor, working and middle class families combined. The huge discrepancy is typical of national liberal arts universities, with only the few campuses that have made economic diversity a priority, nearing a student body with 20% Pell Grant students.

    • NewishLawyer

      I am on Dilan’s side here. Education is not a consumer good and Murray is an easy pick but there is no way for any college to make a speaker’s list or total course catalog acceptable to every student on campus. Even at small colleges like Middlebury.

      Again, Murray and Milo Y are very easy targets. What if Tony Kushner was invited to speak but got booed at for some perceived centerism? Or a mainstream Democratic politician?

      • Morse Code for J

        If the providers want education not to be treated as a consumer good, maybe it should not be priced like one. The idea of students passively accepting whatever the faculty and administration want to hand them falls apart, the more you charge for the experience.

        There are 2,500 students at Middlebury. Taken together, they are a conduit for $165M in revenue this year, which I would have to believe is a substantial portion of their operating budget. Maybe there is no way to have a perfect speaker’s list or course catalog for all 2,500, but certainly you, the university administration, should try to avoid obvious shitshows like this.

        Liberty costs half this much. And I doubt that they’d allow an invitation of Steven Salaita or Cecile Richards by the Young Democrats to pass unremarked until protests broke out on campus.

        • Crusty

          You’re getting ridiculous. Putting aside that the students are paying primarily for the social signal, on paper, they’re paying for the education, which includes some rigor and challenge, which will included discomfort, whether from speakers or the curriculum. If you pay a lot for an education and view yourself as a consumer, how about no math, because math is hard. How about no books in the english department that move slower than a John Grisham novel? They don’t do these things because they devalue the degree. And while the degree is primarily a social signal, when people want to pretend otherwise, they have to think the degree involved being challenged in some way.

  • Colin Day

    And more than a quarter of the attempted dis-invitations were aimed at Milo Yiannopoulos, a professional attention seeker, whose total lifetime contribution to actual intellectual debate in even the broadest sense of the phrase can be calculated as approximately zero -∞.

    FTFY

    • Schadenboner

      Well, I corrected the value equation and the universe is unraveling because I multiplied by -∞ so, you know, thanks for————CARRIER LOST-

      • Stag Party Palin

        … SHALL WE PLAY A GAME?

  • tsam

    There I some relativity to consider. When a college invites a racist, sexist bigot like Milo, all bets are off. There’s no defense for giving a platform to people like that, especially at a place that educates people. Their writings and speech can be found and studied easily enough for a classroom environment, but allowing them to speak is close enough to approval of it for me.

    • Davis

      It was the Young Republicans who invited him, not the college. It was deliberately provocative, and the students played into their hands. Better to let him come, then ignore the attention whore.

      • tsam

        I disagree that it’s better.

        • farin

          Particularly given his history of using college talks to single out individuals for abuse, there’s really no argument that he should ever be supported by a school. Offensive, hateful wrongness is one thing, but direct incitement to harassment should continue to make one a pariah.

          • tsam

            Right–and if conservatives want to push Milo’s brand of conservatism, then they can seriously fuck off. This doesn’t need a nuanced philosophical debate. Pushing hate and bigotry may be free speech, but giving cruel fucks like Milo a controlled environment to victimize a bunch of students at the college is the college signing off on that behavior.

            • DocAmazing

              Y’know, Middlebury University is private property. If the College Republicans want to invite Charles Murray to speak, they can always rent an auditorium like anybody else.

      • TroubleMaker13

        It was deliberately provocative, and the students played into their hands. Better to let him come, then ignore the attention whore.

        So how’s Milo doing these days? All of that free media attention he got must be doing great for his career.

        • ColBatGuano

          He wasn’t ostracized for racist and sexist viewpoints though.

  • Lord Jesus Perm

    Since we’re here and this comment section’s already a trainwreck of concern trolling, I’ll note that this discussion is essentially identical to one that Jamelle Bouie and Conor Friedersdorf had about a week ago. The basic problems here are that (1) there are a lot of liberals who fetishize an abstract concept of “debate” as in and of itself vitruous, and (2) those some liberals pay very little attention to the power dynamics involved in allowing certain “debates.”

    Charles Murray’s work has been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked. He should by any stretch of logic be a pariah. He is still considered an intellectual heavyweight of the right, and his ideas still have a great deal of currency because there are a lot of people who believe in his racist ideas. Many of those people voted for a man who is using the state to harm nonwhites as we speak. So when I read comments like this:

    Basically, this is the true voice of authoritarianism: we should celebrate it when people with whom we disagree get shouted down; we should disrupt any attempt to allow others to hear what they say. It’s of the same piece as the hyper-aggressive verbal attacks on any disagreement, with personal abuse added on top. It’s inconsistent with a tolerant pluralistic society.

    I draw a straight line between campus tactics like this and the election of Trump. There is no more powerful form of propaganda for the right than the sort of thing that happened in Middlebury. We’d be outraged if that happened to a liberal speaker, and it wouldn’t make us feel better if this happened only occasionally. Threats don’t have to be common to have a real chilling effect.

    Or this:

    You can easily see conservatives saying something like this for any speaker they think is a ‘communist.’ After all, communism has been ‘thoroughly debunked,’ associated with the oppression and murder of millions, etc. So by your principle every junior Glenn Beck who decides a speaker is a communist should go shout down the speaker.

    Both of which detach Murray from the larger social context to which he belongs, and pretend as though his ideas are simply his own, I tend to roll my fucking eyes. Yes, Trump won because people shouted down racists who showed up at their universities. Yes, communism belongs on the same spectrum as racism.

    Liberals are trash, man. Just trash.

    • nadirehsa

      You said what I’ve been trying to say, but much better and more clearly.

      From now on, I’ll just be linking to this comment instead of continuing to (poorly) add to this debate.

    • Nick never Nick

      I remember a column by Coates in which he discussed how his professors handed out copies of The Bell Curve to all their students, with the direct understanding that this was written by the opposition (or enemy, if you will), and that it needed to be read and understood. I’m pretty sure that Coates would be a proponent of engaging with evil bastards, and part of that can be seeing them speak in person.

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        It truly is some of his best work — and, I would suspect, a direct impetus for Jeet Heer’s own (also great) TNR race biopsy.

      • Lord Jesus Perm

        Informing a group in order to give them a means to combat a particular viewpoint–which is what Coates described in the piece you allude to–is quite different from what happened at Middlebury. There is also quite a bit of difference between passing out books and inviting the author to your university to speak.

        Also, I do love Coates, but I think he would agree that he isn’t the end all be all of black people’s opinions. Bringing him up here seems…..odd.

        • Nick never Nick

          What’s odd about bringing up Coates? He writes about issues like this. Are you the gatekeeper of when he can be mentioned?

          • Lord Jesus Perm

            I wasn’t aware that I was gatekeeping. I merely pointed out that your mentioning that he might disagree with me–as though this was some trump card for you–was odd.

            Put another way: me and him may disagree here. What’s your point?

      • Patick Spens

        Coates believes that the New Republic publishing an excerpt from the The Bell Curve side by side with prominent black author’s debunking it was an unacceptably racist act that showed that Andrew Sullivan does not believe black people are human. I don’t know what his opinion on the hecklers would have been, but he would certainly not be in favour of Murray being invited to speak.

      • Drexciya

        I remember a column by Coates in which he discussed how his professors handed out copies of The Bell Curve to all their students, with the direct understanding that this was written by the opposition (or enemy, if you will), and that it needed to be read and understood. I’m pretty sure that Coates would be a proponent of engaging with evil bastards, and part of that can be seeing them speak in person.

        In addition to being distastefully unresponsive to everything Lord Jesus Perm wrote, this is also a misstatement of Coates’ own position, which he succinctly articulated here:

        Being forced to debate your humanity with people who know nothing about you is basically allowing them to run out the clock.

        When Coates extended a human and empathetic consideration to Sullivan that Sullivan was incapable of extending in kind, it didn’t resemble the entertainment of a debate with homophobes; he didn’t valorize the principle of a free exchange of ideas with those who would see him suffer; he didn’t lie about the benefits of conducting yourself well in such an exchange. He illuminated the dehumanization inherent to the debate, and the dehumanization inherent to the expectation that he should have it, then rejected that as a path for himself:

        I’ve been scrolling through Ross’s back and forth with Andrew and various other bloggers over marriage equality. Andrew has done yeoman’s work, and really engaged Ross on a level that I find, in some ways, admirable. In other ways, not so much. Increasingly, I have become aware of the commitment it takes to debate fairly and honestly. And yet even accepting that commitment, I’ve also come to believe that we often marshal all our apparent fairness and honesty to cover for what is, ultimately, politely spoken prejudice.

        My problem is that I have come to view some questions–gay marriage among them–as beyond the realm of debate. In a world where Newt Gingrich, is allowed to credibly position himself as a defender of “marriage,” there is something gut-wrenching about engaging people who think gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry. I feel like I am watching Andrew very respectfully reply to a critic who demands that he prove his humanity. It is not my right to feel that way. Perhaps it isn’t even logical, And surely someone must do it. But increasingly–in all such matters, and in this way–I feel unwilling.

        Since I’ve been out here I’ve gotten constant requests to respond to the latest “The Problem With Black People Is…” essay. I’ve obviously obliged when moved. But the less I do it, the better I feel. The best responses I’ve offered, the ones that leave me tingling for years, can not be done by googling around and then taking a couple of hours to pop off. They’re done over months, and sometimes, years of reading and talking with people, and then retreating into the wilderness and confronting the horror of solitude and loneliness.

        During my early years of blogging, I thought that the back and forth was actually sharpening my own logic and thinking. And maybe it is. But, at my core, I am selfish and each day less interested in polite, high-minded debate. Perhaps I will feel different when I return. But out here in the great green, I’m not convinced that any of it matters.

        I don’t want to die debating the humanity of the blacks, the gays, the browns and the poor. You must then see, that I can never make a permanent home here. I want more.

        The only thing advanced in the defense of such discussions is an interpretation of liberalism that sees its most noble fulfillment in the willing presupposition of subhumanity. That’s a conversation we are all, of course, free to have, but as you’re having it, remember that we had an election conducted under the same pretenses. Remember how that’s looked so far, and will continue to look so long as some people’s humanity remains an open question that the learned amongst us are asked to discuss in support of principles that the “civilized” amongst us are compelled to defend.

        • sibusisodan

          The only thing advanced in the defense of such discussions is an interpretation of liberalism that sees its most noble fulfillment in the willing presupposition of subhumanity.

          Nicely put (and good to read your thoughts).

        • Darkrose

          *applause* Thank you.

    • Anna in PDX

      Yes I am much more outraged that Murray keeps getting platforms than I am by angry college students being rude to him. It is like continuing to invite Andrew Wakefield. Paul should have accompanied this post with Phil Ochs’ “Love me, I’m a liberal.”

      • NewishLawyer

        I had a corporate defense lawyer quote that song to critique liberals once which always struck me as very ironic.

        I’m a liberal, not a radical. I am not required to believe in the same things that radicals believe in or with their total worldview.

        Yet I also decided that my liberalism was incompatible with corporate defense work and became a plaintiff’s lawyer working on employment cases and toxic/mass tort casses against pharma companies.

        But all around me I see former college radicals, go and join the corporate world or the corporate defense side of litigation and think they can still keep their radical street cred by sneering at liberals for having different viewpoints.

        Fuck that shit. You don’t get to do corporate defense and maintain that you are the true beacon of the left.

        • Jordan

          Fuck that shit. You don’t get to do corporate defense and maintain that you are the true beacon of the left.

          You aren’t wrong about that!

        • Crusty

          Kind of a whole ‘nuther topic, but the number of leftists at heart or liberals at heart who would love to be working for the ACLU or whoever, but just accidentally found themselves defending polluters and purveyors of fraud is tremendous.

          • NewishLawyer

            Yep. There are a variety of reasons for it, some sympathetic, some not but I find that even among a lot of self-described liberals and/or lefties, there is an absorption of the meme that “Plaintiff’s bar=ambulance chaser.”

            • Crusty

              Yes, and they also adopt the cultural snobbery towards the non-corporate.

              • LeeEsq

                I’m an immigration lawyer at a for profit law firm. There are people on the Left who think we do as worse job for the not for profit legal aid places or the corporate firms doing pro-bono even though that isn’t the case and we represent the bulk of represented immigrants.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Yes I am much more outraged that Murray keeps getting platforms than I am by angry college students being rude to him.

        It’s weird to me that people are discussing Paul’s post as if it was disagreeing with rather than agreeing with this point.

        • Jordan

          Who is doing that?

        • Anna in PDX

          I am disagreeing with many in the comments section, not really with the OP, and an agreeing with Lord Jesus Perm.

    • Jordan

      Good comment.

    • King Goat

      Communism was literally the ideology behind which millions of people were oppressed and murdered. It’s an easy analogy for white supremacy. It’s also one that’s been the focal point to shut down speech in academic settings in particular for a long time. The fact you can only see it offered as some bad faith or ignorant tactic by useful idiot liberals says something about how far your political views have warped your ability to see reality.

      • Jordan

        interesting comment, whitebro

      • DocAmazing

        Yes, we were all appalled when Communism eradicated most of the Native population of the US, or when Communism midwifed Central American death squads and Greek military juntas, or when Communism gave rise to lynchings in the former Confederacy.

        Step away from the Red Menace! newsreels and take a deep breath. The Wall came down and Trump’s president.

      • sibusisodan

        It should be hilariously obvious to everyone that communism has basically zero power in the US. Not so with white supremacy.

        Inviting a speaker to discuss communism will not result in the dekulakisation of the Midwest.

        Whereas tacit acceptance of a white supremacist viewpoint will buttress and support an actually existing white supremacist structure.

        The power dynamics of the two are radically different.

    • Origami Isopod

      Fervent round of applause.

    • jpgray

      What are the “power dynamics” and “larger social context” of pulling a woman’s hair to the point she is in a neck brace?

    • Darkrose

      Charles Murray’s work has been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked. He should by any stretch of logic be a pariah. He is still considered an intellectual heavyweight of the right, and his ideas still have a great deal of currency because there are a lot of people who believe in his racist ideas.

      Yes, exactly. Thank you.

  • Nick never Nick

    When I was young, like many people, I didn’t really have a perspective on how much outrage I ‘should’ show. One time in high school I went with some friends to a demonstration at a local campus against a speaker from the KKK — there were a few cops there, the door to the hall was locked, someone smashed a window in it and ran off. We all found it exciting, and debated what had happened; all of this was informed by the fact that we were children of people who had been college students in the 1960s and 1970s, the memories of the big Vietnam War protests were part of what we had grown up with.

    Also, when I was young (and now that I’m old too), I always suffered from the delusion that my views were self-evidently correct, and that if I only explained them well enough, everyone would agree with me. Protesters, liberals, and good-meaning people of all sorts should consider that the value of having a reactionary asshole speak at your campus is that you can hear their arguments out of their mouth, ask them a question, and actually see the opposition respond to you. The real thing is harder to debate with effectively than a straw reactionary. If you’re worried about ‘legitimizing’ them, then demand that the university put their speech or their presence in the appropriate context — but there’s value to you to meeting them.

    • aturner339

      Oh by all means organize a “teach in” on scientitic racism in addition to making sure Murray is decidedly unwlecome

  • bobbo1

    Campus speech scolding is just another part of the eternal effort to Both Sides every last damn thing – the country has been taken over by right-wing fascists, sure, but those rude teenagers on Teh Left! And of course it has the loud and very concerned support of your favorite EvenTheLiberals.

    • twbb

      Or, it’s a lack of awareness on the left, particularly among young leftists (though a lot of older leftists on this board seem to suffer from it, too) that historically repression of speech in this country has been overwhelmingly by the right against the left.

  • First Time Caller

    I’m a 90s graduate of this school and had several classes with Professor Stanger. Needless to say, it’s got the alumni talking.

    My understanding is that the college outpost of the AEI (Murray’s sinecure) brought him to campus and the poli sci department co-sponsored the event after the invite was accepted. There was a lot of discussion within the department about that co-sponsorship (but not endorsement, they’re quick to add) and I’d love to see the front pagers offer their views about that. Some of the students also mentioned their discomfort with the President introducing the speaker, although her remarks seem to have been as much, “I don’t believe him either, but be nice” as they were a more traditional introduction. There’s a legitimate question about institutional endorsement and its perception.

    The campus AEI seems to be an astroturfing exercise which surprises me not one whit. There are certainly many students who identify with some portion of that viewpoint so it’s not a completely made up presence.

    The physical assault is pretty easy to condemn and I don’t think anyone beyond the vast Strawman Army (Dangerous Leftist Division) would defend it. I think protests in advance are legitimate, that during the presentation they should have been seen but not heard, and that the Q&A is where his arguments could have been demolished.

    The college fumbled this all the way through, failing to be clearer at the start of the talk and improperly preparing for the aftermath. Middlebury when I attended was very white, quite privileged, and stood out in a poor, rural state. The administration should have prepared for this better.

    • King Goat

      “The physical assault is pretty easy to condemn and I don’t think anyone beyond the vast Strawman Army (Dangerous Leftist Division) would defend it.”

      And yet…

      • And yet what?

        • King Goat

          And yet we see people defending the assault here.

          • Patick Spens

            Who in this thread is defending the assault? Quote someone.

            • jpgray

              Most people in this thread apparently couldn’t be bothered to read any articles on this, so the lack of any caveats in their rah-rah support of this protest is not so much passing over the assault in silence, but evidence they have little idea what actually happened and feel that’s no bar to forming a strong opinion about it.

              • jpgray

                Ack no edit function. “Most” is going too far probably.

        • DocAmazing

          And yet he must be Respectably Liberal.

    • djw

      There was a lot of discussion within the department about that co-sponsorship (but not endorsement, they’re quick to add) and I’d love to see the front pagers offer their views about that.

      What is there to say? I don’t know exactly what “co-sponsorship” at Middlebury entails, but for almost any plausible answer to that question, I think it was clearly an error in judgement. If such a discussion came up in my department, I’d argue pretty vigorously against it, for all the obvious reasons. I could imagine losing that argument–not because my colleagues would want to endorse or lend credibility to Murray, but because they might see refusing to co-sponsor through the lens intra-instutitonal politics, and deem it unwise on such grounds. They could be right about the politics, but still wrong on the merits. They shouldn’t have done it.

      (Although as an aside, based some of the political science faculty of whom I’m aware, it’s a mistake to assume they share the prevailing political ethos of the larger institution and student body.)

      • First Time Caller

        The co-sponsorship v endorsement may be semantics without a distinction. The department felt it was important to distinguish between the two, so that’s why I include it.

        Political Science professor Matt Dickinson has discussed a little bit of the department’s back and forth on the topic at this blog on Presidential Power.

        The letter from the department somewhat broadened their internal debate:

        A key argument against co-sponsorship is that co-sponsorship confers legitimacy to Murray’s most inflammatory views, which constitute pseudo-science and racism. “Ideological diversity is good,” writes one member of the department, articulating an important departmental value, “but we all agree that there is a line that should not be crossed.” If we co-sponsor a speaker, it sends a signal that we believe that the speaker does not cross the line. This perception may be damaging to the community, considering what many colleagues consider to be Murray’s deeply evident biases. These biases may be evident in Murray’s erroneous interpretations of genetics research, his overgeneralizing based on flimsy evidence, and his conclusions that are far out of proportion from anything his data show. The whole edifice of his scholarship crumbles at the slightest challenge. As one colleague puts it, “We will do ourselves no favors by trying to defend his indefensible claims.”

  • jpgray

    I think it is wrong to shout down a peaceful speaker who is not disruptive, unless the speaker is inciting or causing harm in some direct way. Same goes for punching that person in the face, pushing them around, etc.

    “I don’t agree! Always punch Nazis, bro.” – some subset of LGM commenters/front pagers.

    Fine. Well not fine, because:

    1. An uninterrupted Murray/Milo/whatever campus lecture, interview, whatever is a non-event of stupid bullshit that would net only a write up in the local daily, if that.

    2. Disrupting these in a more aggressive way (silencing and/or punching) serves to validate their preferred image of martyrdom in service of difficult “truths.”

    3. This raises their profile and lets them play the victim in a way that is both valuable and necessary to their continued prominence and influence.

    “Behold me, I am wronged” is eagerly sought by all of these people. Paranoid hatred or bigotry thrives best if it can take on the mantle of subversive freedom fighting, disguising the fact that justifying the bigoted ghost stories and superiority fantasies of a powerful majority is anything but subversive or cutting edge truth-telling.

    They can’t obtain the substance of that, so we shouldn’t be so eager to give them the trappings of it. Right?

    • aturner339

      This is Hamilton all over again. let’s face it. The historical record suggests that there is no possible circumstance under which while supremacists cannot play the victim

      • Abbey Bartlet

        This is Hamilton all over again. let’s face it.

        *confused*

        • Lord Jesus Perm

          I think he’s referring to Pence getting booed when he showed up to a Hamilton show. Might be wrong though.

          • aturner339

            Exactly

      • jpgray

        True, but again, whatever you think of the Nazi-punching moral issue, I don’t think we should so lightly take on the “Liberal Thought Police Spear-Carrier” role they’ve assigned to us in their ridiculous, paranoid, persecution morality plays.

        • DocAmazing

          They’re going to project it onto us regardless of our actions. Isn’t that abundantly clear by now?

          • jpgray

            Right, but even sackcloth requires a bit of tailoring to not look ridiculous.

            Claiming a prophet’s martyrdom no matter what doesn’t mean people buy it no matter what. A boo-ed Mike Pence and a professor in a neck brace are perceived very differently.

            I assume you wouldn’t say to that “eh, they would have claimed the mantle of persecution anyway – whatevs” if someone shot Milo in the head.

            • DocAmazing

              The professor is in a neck brace? Milo got shot? No to both. We’re actively assisting in the process of right-wing martyrdom by giving this issue as much attention as we have.

              Right-wingers actually did shoot at people at a Black Lives Matter event. Haven’t heard a lot about that lately in the major media. A guy got shot by a Trumpster in Seattle; that story was awash in misinformation from the beginning.

              Respectable Liberals bemoaning the incivility of Those Radicals does at least as much to advance the narrative of right-wing victimization as unruly student protestors do.

              • jpgray

                Here you go.

                “During this confrontation outside McCullough, one of the demonstrators pulled Prof. Stanger’s hair and twisted her neck,” Burger continued. “She was attended to at Porter Hospital later and (on Friday) is wearing a neck brace.”

                Make all the moral arguments you like – even if I agreed with you utterly on those merits, in practical terms this is just some stupid unhelpful shit.

          • djw

            They’re going to project it onto us regardless of our actions.

            They’re going to try to, of course, but success isn’t guaranteed.

            Right wing propagandists are constantly trying to smear Black Lives Matter as a violent movement, just as they did with the Civil Rights movement a half-century ago. For the most part it doesn’t appear that effort has been successful. Do you think they might have been more successful had BLM protests been notably more violent?

    • NewishLawyer

      Good comment and I think this is where the disagreement comes in. My views are pretty similar to yours and I also agree with Paul’s great comment above. But that is not lockstepping enough I guess.

    • N__B

      I think it is wrong to shout down a peaceful speaker who is not disruptive, unless the speaker is inciting or causing harm in some direct way.

      In general, I agree. But because the harm that Murray has caused is second-hand, we end up in a definitional debate about “some direct way.” He’s scum, and just because he’s not saying “Destroy those people’s lives!” doesn’t mean he’s not inciting.

      • jpgray

        There’s no way to see our way clear to settling the disagreement on the morality of Nazi-punching or Nazi-silencing – the line where harm begins is going to be drawn in different places by almost everyone.

        What I think we can find more agreement on is the practical question of the silencing/punching versus its absence.

        In this case, in no wise would there be any takeaway beyond “racist old man bores dozens with bigoted pseudoscience” absent the aggressive shout down and physical altercation. I don’t think the latter two were helpful to anyone but Charles Murray and his allies in this case.

        • ColBatGuano

          In this case, in no wise would there be any takeaway beyond “racist old man bores dozens with bigoted pseudoscience” absent the aggressive shout down and physical altercation. I don’t think the latter two were helpful to anyone but Charles Murray and his allies in this case.

          This is where I come down too. Murray probably gives dozens of talks a year to various organizations and I doubt anyone here could name one. This one is now generating opinion pieces about poor aggrieved Murray and the death of free speech.

      • Dilan Esper

        There’s a history behind charges of incitement, and a reason why we ended up with Brandenburg v. Ohio.

        If you define incitement broadly, that’s the end of free speech.

        • N__B

          Well then, it’s a good thong I never suggested indicting Murray on that charge.

          • A good thong doesn’t cover much.

            • N__B

              Just like Murray’s scholarship.

          • Dilan Esper

            It isn’t as though the rationale of Brandenburg is irrelevant when we are discussing incitement outside the context of criminal prosecution.

            The CONCEPT of incitement is slippery and problematic. That’s how we got Brandenburg.

            The unwillingness of would be censors to think there is anything they can learn from the country’s historical experience with free speech is one of the worst aspects of this debates.

            • N__B

              I’ve read enough of your comments on LGM to know that you’re not a moron. I’m not sure why you think acting like a moron is a convincing way to argue. My original comment that you responded to is, in context, obviously about whether or not someone’s past actions are justification for protestors to shout him down.

              There are non-legal meanings to words such as “incitement” and your desire to use my comment to show off your legal research knowledge lies somewhere between pedantic to the point of stupidity and being simply assholish. Fortunately, I now know there’s no reason to ever waste my time reading a comment of yours again.

              • Dilan Esper

                Actually “incitement” is a vague term that the legal system took 50 years to come up with a workable definition of. And it wasn’t because it is technical jargon. It’s because it’s really too easy to sweep a lot of non-dangerous speech into the concept.

                That problem exists just as much when we are talking about shouting down speakers as it does when we are talking about prosecutions.

                You should probably look at a good Con Law treatise, start at Masses Publishing and Schenck, and trace the history. You will find that Brandenburg responds to a linguistic problem, not just a legal one.

    • Jordan

      I don’t really believe you.

      If you were at a lecture where the speaker said “so, the deal, just rape all the women. Every women, all the time”

      or

      “hitler was definitely on the right thing. His only mistake was that he missed some jews and they survived”

      or

      “I have a big movement behind me, and we all agree that the right thing to do is nuke everything, because then the humans will be dead and nature could then recover”

      or

      “I really like having sex with young children. Its great, the sex with the kids. Everyone should have sex with young children”.

      You would be like: fuck this. You would, and you know you would. You wouldn’t sits politely and clap and then offer your reasoned counter-arguments. You’d be pissed.

      But, somehow, saying an entire race of people are subhuman, that counts as a legitimate topic of discussion.

      • xq

        You could just not attend. No one is forcing you to clap.

        • Jordan

          Yes, that is generally the position of well-off white people. It doesn’t affect *me* so who cares? Good call.

        • Crusty

          Strongly and forcefully expressing disapproval of these “ideas” would be a worthy thing.

        • Origami Isopod

          Well, that’s a nice, neat “solution” to injustice. Let it be advocated for, so long as you don’t have to listen to it.

          • libarbarian

            There is no solution to injustice. It is a perpetual problem to be managed, not a temporary problem awaiting your idea of a Final Solution.

      • jpgray

        I’d be pissed. I’d be pissed about Murray too. Wanting to punch / shout down these people is a very sensible reaction.

        But I have to ask myself, who am I doing this for? If I’m not saving a single minority, woman, Jew, planetary population, kid, whatever, but am just gratifying myself and my buddies at the expense of getting this guy the prominence to ensure his paranoid nutjob sinecure, then I limit myself to (in no particular order):

        1. Protest outside

        2. Don’t show

        3. Walk out

        4. Boo / laugh at every idiot statement, as appropriate

        • aturner339

          Well on behalf of this particular black person you have my permission to make Charles Murray as unwelcoming as legally possible. Let’s not pretend the students are engaged in more moral preening than the tone police.

          • jpgray

            make Charles Murray as unwelcoming as legally possible

            That’s fine by me. But if his getting a dull, perennially debunked racist lecture out to an audience of a dozen uninterrupted has such dire consequences, justifying aggressive silencing or assault, at some point of escalation we may as well just shoot him dead, no?

            Now you may think we’re not at that point, but surely if you came across someone who did, it would be the appropriate time for some moral preening and/or tone policing?

            • DocAmazing

              Oh, Christ. You talk about the excluded middle, then you paint it on the walls in flourescent enamel.

              Look, you don’t want Murray to face protests because protests make him look victimized and therefore feed his media profile. Dandy. You know what else feeds his media profile? Concentrated attention from liberals. Murray got a huge boost from Andrew Dice Sullivan putting him in EvenTheLiberal New Republic; any boost he’s getting now from any group other than mouth-breathing Breitbartsters is coming from totebaggers who are busy eating up all of this putatively liberal outrage over free-speech abridgement.

              Assault is a crime. Prosecute that. But Jesus, don’t doe all of National Reiview‘s heavy lifting for them.

              • jpgray

                Face-punching and mic-cutting =/= all forms of protest.

                • DocAmazing

                  And nobody’s advocating shooting Charles Murray. You are the only person bring up shooting.

                  Be sure not to go on and on about shooting people in the head when NPR calls, ‘k?

      • King Goat

        “You would be like: fuck this. ”

        But if a third person or more says, excuse me I’d like to hear this out, what gives you the right to shut it down, awful though the content might be?

        • brad

          The black students currently at Millbury whose very identity he was being brought there and paid to question.

    • DocAmazing

      Regarding Milo: you are aware that he actively outed students on campuses in his lectures and other appearances, right? You are aware that he didn’t just espouse his positions, but showed slides of individual people and rally the crowds to make those people’s lives miserable,right?

      This is not just a question of a non-event lecture. This is incitement to all manner of destructive action.

      • jpgray

        Right, but even in the case of Milo, the important argument to have is the practical one, not the moral one.

        Does this tactic help to stop the harm, or help to more widely disseminate it? Does this tactic help to end his career or help to promote it?

        I’m not arguing for sitting around doing nothing, but I am arguing that the something we do could be better targeted to harm our opponents rather than help them.

        • TroubleMaker13

          Does this tactic help to stop the harm, or help to more widely disseminate it? Does this tactic help to end his career or help to promote it?

          You are aware that Milo lost his job and book deal in the wake of all of this “free attention” right? Granted, it was directly a result of comments he made elsewhere, but even before the peophilia thing, college campuses where starting to shut down his appearances because of the expense and risk of policing the resulting protests. The Berkeley event almost didn’t happen because the campus wanted the sponsors to pony up a shitload of cash to cover security.

          Your Milo example is kind of self-refuting.

          • jpgray

            Who is self-refuted here? Think about it for a minute.

            If Milo had been forestalled from spewing his NAMBLAisms by punches to the face, pulled hair, or shouts – if there was no clear record of those statements due to his being silenced, he’d still be as prominent as ever.

            Here we have an example of one of these monsters being hanged by nothing but their own clear and unobstructed speech, and that’s your argument for denying them the ability to speak?

            • DocAmazing

              Yes, after he had incited not on but two riots in Berkeley (with his own Black Bloc, the Proud Boyz). Attention to Milo’s disgusting behavior by the mainstream only came about after the Berkeley contretemps. Prior to that, he was enjoying a large advance from a publishing house and a warm-oil massage from Bill Maher.

              • jpgray

                Are you arguing Berkeley killed his career? His words did that. Berkeley served to ramp up his forum, not destroy it.

                Milo thrived on controversy, his shtick was to retain the cachet of the fearless persecuted subversive while at the same time arguing for superiority fantasies and prejudicial hatreds of the empowered majority.

                Eventually, his idiot mouth outmonstered himself, without requiring one bit of help from any protestor.

                His book was called Dangerous, not Racist Uncle Chestnuts.

                All that said, protesting Milo is GOOD. What wasn’t so good was aggressively silencing him via protest. Sure, this may have had good effects if it had ever worked, but it did nothing but help him for us to willingly cast ourselves as thought police boogeymen.

                • DocAmazing

                  Berkeley served to bring him to a wider audience, and one that wasn’t interested in cute notions of fair play and the inalienable right to a large book contract. He’d have gone on for a great deal longer had the violence that swirled around him not made clear who and what he is.

                • ColBatGuano

                  Well, if Milo hadn’t made his comments about the acceptability of pedophilia, then the violence would have had no effect on him. This is a bit of a fortuitous event that doesn’t seem particularly relevant.

                • DocAmazing

                  Had the violence not occurred, the slightly-less-far-right organization that dug up his year-old pedophilia comments would never have been motivated to act.

                • ColBatGuano

                  And if he had never made those comments he’d still be booking speaking gigs today.

    • LeeEsq

      On another blog that I read, there are two LGBT commentators and both have different perspectives on how to deal with the religious right. One is in favor of open confrontation because these people are against us and we must fight. Another favors a more discrete approach of quietly ignoring them because the religious right as prosecutorial fantasies and active confrontation will fuel these fantasies. To this poster, letting them speak their stupidity while carrying out your life will remind them of their importance. The debates about letting Murray or Milo Y. remind me of this argument. One side wants confrontation because they are evil and the other believes that allowing them to speak but paying no attention to them will remind them of their impotence.

      • jpgray

        But this presumes the choice is between silent disapproval and face-punching.

        A big problem with campus activism in general mirrors larger problems with left activism – our organization game rarely gets its boots on until some hateful weirdos have already worked some set of boring institutions to give a platform to another hateful weirdo.

        We then express a lot of righteous feeling and energy in protest. But from a practical point of view, though, we start at a disadvantage. How often would we be better served expending a tenth of that effort in battling the weirdos for control of those same institutions?

        It’s less exciting to sit in on campus speaker scheduling meetings than to punch faces or shout things, but what would have a better impact?

        Even then, the sort of after-the-fact protest has manifold options that are a step down from cut-his-mic or punch-his-face.

        • LeeEsq

          I agree entirely but I consider myself a liberal rather than a leftist. I’ve made similar points before on previous posts. A lot of people want to do the sexy stuff that allows them to feel righteous energy but few want to do the boring stuff. The right might have a similar problem but I don’t know.

  • lioness van pelt

    hi everyone,

    I teach at Middlebury, and am currently dealing with the various fallouts from the protests. I have written something (intended primarily for the campus community (whatever that means…) which might be of interest. I wrote it first as an angry email, not as a scholarly essay, so take that for what it’s worth.

    I was also on the radio this week to discuss it, which, if you care, you can find here.

    I do not agree that CM should have been allowed to speak on campus. I think discussions of free speech and open debate are disingenuous. As many others have said, CM has already been debunked. Just the fact that this is still considered a reasonable debate is maddening. We already one the reasonable debate. And yet, he and his ideas persist.

    And I am further angered by the fact that the students are being left out to dry by so many people, especially on campus, but also beyond. They were not trying to make any big points about “the left.” They just wanted to defend their campus, which is already an overly rich and white space, and not the most comfortable for students of color or from working-class backgrounds. And this was not just about CM. It was about a series of dumb choices (choices!) made by the administration and academic departments which served to escalate the issue and refuse any point of compromise with the students. Again and again, they said “we hear you” but they didn’t actually listen or give an inch (and this is about other things than abstract free speech, such as introductions and sponsorship and venues.)

    Did they protest perfectly? Maybe not. But this got dropped in their lap less than a week before it happened. They had to do a lot of work (remember, CM’s heyday was before they were even born. Many had to do a lot of homework even to know the stakes. By the way, the student group that invited him (sponsored fully by AEI) claims they didn’t even know his previous work, so they didn’t even know who they were really inviting).

    Yes, this helps CM, I guess. He sells more books and can preen as the victim of the “intolerant left.” Tha’t a shame. But that’s not my students fault. He’s been on rightwing welfare for so long, that there was no way he could lose. Right now, though, CM really wins if places like Middlebury (which unfortunately take an outsized role due to its elite status) become whiter and less diverse on class issues. And when the college supports a debate on whether or not these students are smart enough to be there, that doesn’t make them feel like they really belong here. Think about what other debates never take place on this campus, because the science is in, and it’s considered, rightfully, a waste of time to debate them. And yet race remains “open to debate” — for the mostly white intellectuals, it’s all a debate, where you can win with better facts. The students experience it differently. Does that make them right? Not necessarily. But their experiences and ideas were never taken seriously. They are being told to get over it and not embarrass their superiors, whether that’s the journalistic left or their professors who want to teach them a lesson.

    By the way, last time CM was on our campus, 10 years ago, in the Q&A session, the place where we are promised we can challenge him and come out winners, he dismissed student questions and told the black students they would be better off attending a less demanding state school. Beyond the series of flawed assumptions, that is openly insulting to our students. Why should we let him talk on our campus again?

    I know that there are differences of opinion on the proper way to protest, and there is a lot of talk on campus and beyond about teaching the students how to be better protesters. Someone mentioned to me that we should teach them to take the same care as they do with their essays. Ha! Beyond the fact that this continues to make all of life a classroom, it also misses the fact that these students were given a final term paper assignment less than a week before it was due, which by the way is also a group project with an oral defense in the national media. Good luck!

    We were played. And, frustratingly, the students were set up to fail. Unless they were perfect (they were not, but they did what they thought was right), they were never going to win.

    I am going to stop because I have other more pressing issues. Apologies in advance if I never respond.

    • Hogan

      Thank you for this.

    • Jordan

      excellent comment, thank you.

    • Nick never Nick

      I think that your statement “there was no way he could lose” shows a real lack of imagination. Protests, just like elections and politics, have specific goals — if you can’t figure out a way for a protest to advance your cause, why are you protesting?

      I can think of one way that Charles Murray would lose — no one protests, no one comes to his talk either faculty or student, no one discusses it, no one cares. Let the only people who attend be the conservative troll group; let the students not worry about ‘defending their campus’ from an aging racist; let everyone understand that his ideas have been so thoroughly debunked for so long that they don’t need to notice him, or them.

      • Jordan

        but that isn’t all that realistic. There will be a few undecideds there. And if there is no opposition, they’ll be like “wow!”. And that is a terrible result.

        • Nick never Nick

          Being vocally and publicly right feels good — but it doesn’t necessarily cause people to agree with you. People who want to go ‘wow’ at Charles Murray might be even more likely to go ‘wow’ if they see a bunch of people getting all worked up about him. Don’t assume that action always has the effect you think it does.

          Here’s an example from public health. Gross pictures of diseased lungs on cigarette cartons felt like a great innovation — we’re sticking it to the companies! Everyone can see what they do! However, disgust is a strong emotion, and it turns out that strong emotions cause attachment.

          Australia tried something different, they required cigarette companies to sell their cigs in packages that were plain and brown, like the ‘beer’ or ‘food’ that used to appear on Ozzie and Harriet, before product placement became standard (memory very vague). This had a dramatic effect — the new packages ruined the brand, created no attachment. Cig companies hate them, far more than they hate dire warnings and repugnant pictures.

          Charles Murray’s brand is angry protests. You can reinforce and feed it, or you can figure out a way to weaken it.

          • If no one speaks out against CM, we are implicitly agreeing that there ‘s nothing wrong with what he’s saying.

          • Jordan

            sure, alternatively the protests might make leaners think: wow! this a real big deal, and I should get involved!

      • Hogan

        Once the political science department has decided to co-sponsor his talk, that ship has already sailed. Students have no control over that decision.

      • ColBatGuano

        I’d say forming a gauntlet that supporters have to walk down to enter might be effective. Also taking pictures and posting them around campus pointing out their support of racism would also be useful.

        • DocAmazing

          I’d say forming a gauntlet that supporters have to walk down to enter might be effective.

          That would give our polite brethren the fantods: O the threats! O the implied violence!

      • Darkrose

        And hey, the black students who’ve just had a guy show up and get paid for explaining why they’re inferior should just suck it up because they don’t really matter!

    • Lord Jesus Perm

      Think about what other debates never take place on this campus, because the science is in, and it’s considered, rightfully, a waste of time to debate them. And yet race remains “open to debate” — for the mostly white intellectuals, it’s all a debate, where you can win with better facts.

      No more calls. We have a winner.

      • tsam

        Yeah-this is my beer with the whole thing. At an institution of higher learning, why dig into ideologically motivated junk science? It HAS a real world effect on the targets of the junk science and if people think some misguided understanding of what free speech means outweighs the damage inflicted on black people, then you’re just nothing but a fucking bad person.

        • King Goat

          Add ’em to the list to be punched, amirite?

          • tsam

            Your concern is noted.

        • Lord Jesus Perm

          Because there are a lot of people–liberals included–who just don’t value certain groups all that much?

          I mean, I hate to be cynical here, but that’s all I got. People here are honestly arguing that Charles Murray(!) is just going to get more attention from this, like a fucking university didn’t just allow him to speak there. That ship has sailed. He’s a fixture of the intellectual right despite being a widely debunked writer. The ideas he traffics in are not simply defeated by facts and logic because people like what he has to say, regardless of whether or not what he’s saying is true.

          I think Jordan said it best up thread. There are a lot of liberals who value process and abstraction over actual people. It’s pathetic.

          • tsam

            It’s easy to say the price of this kind of free speech is affordable when you aren’t the one paying.

            • Abbey Bartlet

              It’s easy to say the price of this kind of free speech is affordable when you aren’t the one paying.

              QFT.

          • Nick never Nick

            I don’t support letting Charles Murray speak because I value process and abstraction — I support letting him speak because his brand depends on protests.

            He got no attention at all from the fact that the university let him speak there. I didn’t see a single headline up here in Canada — “Charles Murray to speak at Small Liberal Arts College in Vermont!” I did after the fact, though, and not because he spoke. He got a thousand times more mileage out of the protests, and the incident of violence, than he did from speaking.

            Can you explain to me how these protests will change the minds of people who are predisposed to listen to Charles Murray? If you can, then I’ll support them.

            • tsam

              More mileage with who, exactly?

            • sibusisodan

              But Charles Murray speaking as if he were a normal academic opinion will have a reaĺ and negative effect on lots of students at this college.

              It will tell them that the college views polite racism as something within the bounds of discussion.

              That effect may be small, and the message about what acceptable may be confused and garbled, but it’s real.

              It’s fine to think about the national exposure Murray will get as a result. But you shouldn’t neglect the actual bad effects your preferred tactic would have on the student body.

              • Nick never Nick

                I agree with this and it’s a real problem — there’s no doubt that this was handled badly by the college itself. They let the students down, as pointed out below.

            • Lord Jesus Perm

              The idea that he’s dependent on protests to publicly subsist simply isn’t true, man. I seriously doubt there were hordes of people buying The Bell Curve and Coming Apart to hate read. There are many people who agree with his ideas. They have used them to shape their policies. He’s not some nobody with a Geocities website; he works at the gotdamn AEI.

              Also, this:

              Can you explain to me how these protests will change the minds of people who are predisposed to listen to Charles Murray? If you can, then I’ll support them.

              Spare me.

            • gmack

              I support letting him speak because his brand depends on protests

              I don’t actually think this is Murray’s game. He’s not Yiannapolous; he trades on making various ideas look respectable and serious. At least, that’s always been my impression of him–I’m most familiar with Losing Ground, which has also been almost wholly debunked, but the hallmark of that book is its apparent reasonableness.

              In some sense, the question about how to respond to someone like Murray turns on the question of how seriously we should take the veneer of respectability that he develops and relies on.

              • I don’t actually think this is Murray’s game. He’s not Yiannapolous; he trades on making various ideas look respectable and serious.

                Good cop, bad cop, kind of thing?

                • gmack

                  Yes, that’s pretty accurate. But here’s the thing: the veneer of reasonability isn’t nothing, at least with regard to politics. More people take him seriously than take Yiannapolous–even Yiannapolous’s defenders don’t actually defend any of his positions; they just cast themselves as heroic defenders of free speech. Murray is different. People actually read his arguments and get convinced by them.

                  Personally, I don’t really know how best to respond to stuff like that. He’s not intellectually serious, but people act as if he is.

                • Linnaeus

                  I wouldn’t say that – Murray was trafficking in this stuff long before folks like Yiannapoulos showed up. It’s more about portraying what he does as “serious” social science. The more opportunities he gets to do this, the more he can claim this, regardless of how much he’s been debunked.

          • aturner339

            I think that’s basically the issue.

        • sibusisodan

          this is my beer with the whole thing.

          I’m not sure I totally agree with the ‘would I like to have a beer with this controversy?’ standard.

          • tsam

            Damn. Hello, Dr Freud.

          • Taking due notice of all internet traditions, I would have to say that it depends totally on the hoppiness.

            • tsam

              Where people like Murray represent a double IPA that requires re-indexing the IBU scale.

        • djw

          Yeah-this is my beer with the whole thing. At an institution of higher learning, why dig into ideologically motivated junk science?

          In this particular case, my understanding is that the invitation was issued because student groups were empowered to invite him. (That’s no excuse for Poli Sci’s co-sponsorship, but from what I understand Murray’s invitation was going forward whether they co-sponsored or not.)

          There are good reasons to empower student groups to make decisions like that–we have some speakers that student groups play a primary role in choosing on our campus, and I support that particular allocation of resources and decision-making power, and I’d support it even if they screwed up.

          • tsam

            There are also good reasons to not subject students from marginalized groups to white supremacist doctrine. I don’t know how it feels for a black person who calls a college campus their home to have that kind of thing brought that close to them, but I’ll bet it’s more than annoyance. It feels to me like we’re comparing the health and safety of black people to the rights of someone who would just as soon see them all dead.

            Opposing views debating are one thing. Bringing nazi propagandists in to speak is quite another.

            • djw

              I don’t disagree. My point is that the answer to your question “at an institution of higher learning, why dig into ideologically motivated junk science?” is that (in this case) the institution empowered students to be active participants in the intellectual life of the university, and they did a piss-poor job of it. There’s a case to be made that in this particular case there should have been a veto somewhere, but the general category of what Middlebury did here–empowering students to be active participants in the intellectual life of the university, even though they might screw up badly, is pedagogically indispensable.

              • DocAmazing

                Also pedagogically indispensable: pointing out publicly that the student AEI group either did not know who Charles Murray was (other than somebody who bugged thuh lib’ruls) before inviting him or that they support racist pseudoscience; they are invited–again, publicly–to offer a third option and defend their assertion.

                If that fails to occur, we may assume that pedagogy was never a factor in this.

                • djw

                  If that fails to occur, we may assume that pedagogy was never a factor in this.

                  No, you miss my point. The pedagogical decision is the empowerment of student groups to choose who to invite, not this student group’s actual decision about who to invite.

                • DocAmazing

                  And with empowerment (of the student AEI group? Goodness, how downtrodden!) comes responsibility for means and outcomes. An instructor who fails to point out a student’s gross errors is doing that student no favors.

              • tsam

                Yeah–I see your point. But it feels to me like having a bunch of psychology students bring in some asshole who really wants homosexuality put back into the DSM. Administration blew the fuck out of this one. Even if I had told students to bring in a speaker, I’d certainly limit what their choice brings. Even if I hadn’t set that as a rule in the first place.

    • muddy

      By the way, last time CM was on our campus, 10 years ago, in the Q&A session, the place where we are promised we can challenge him and come out winners, he dismissed student questions and told the black students they would be better off attending a less demanding state school. Beyond the series of flawed assumptions, that is openly insulting to our students. Why should we let him talk on our campus again?

      This comment alone should have disqualified him from speaking there again! He had his chance and he showed his ass the last time. Thank you for bringing this up, I will point it out every time I hear someone wank on about how he wasn’t given a chance to speak.

    • aturner339

      Thank you. The superhuman standard applied to anti racism is appalling.

      • LeeEsq

        It was a few years before I was born but when the Neo-Nazis decided to march in Skokie, the mature reaction was seen as the Jews who would allow the march and quietly ignore them and the Jews that wanted to beat the bloody shit out of them in confrontation were seen as the wrong side. What I find interesting about these debates on racism is that it seems some groups are allowed to demonstrate anger quicker than other minority groups. Mainly my
        group, the Jews and to a lesser extent Asians, are supposed to have a chin up and bear it more than say other minority groups. Even other minority groups seem to expect this of us.

        • aturner339

          I think the racist stereotypes around Jews and Asians are not easily reconciled with violence

          • LeeEsq

            How convenient. It allows violent protesting of some racists but not others. Its a win for the anti-Semites and the people on the Left who aren’t quite convinced of the minority persecuted bona fides of Jews and Asians.

            • DocAmazing

              Let’s take this apart:

              Jews in the US are economically and politically well-represented. There is indeed a wave of anti-Semitic violence going on now, but please, let’s not do the Oppression Olympics bit in a thread about a well-paid and respected guy who argues for the genetic inferiority of The Dusky Folk.

              Asians are not a monolithic group; Asia is the largest continent. Are we talking about Pakistanis, Koreans, Vietnamese? Are we talking about Han Chinese whose families have been in the US longer than those of quite a few Congresswhitefolk? Are we talking about Filipinos being evicted en mass from buildings in San Francisco, or Vincent Chin being beaten to death in Detroit, or Michelle Rhee being publicly jeered?

              • AMK

                Jews in the US are economically and politically well-represented

                Which is exactly why it’s impossible to imagine the anti-Semetic equivalent of Charles Murray–some kind of genteel, inside-voices Holocaust denier, for instance–ever being invited by any halfway-mainstream American college, much less an elite liberal arts school like Middlebury. The reason Murray keeps getting these invites is because his targets don’t have enough seats at the table in the first place, which is why they rightly show up and protest.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  Which is exactly why it’s impossible to imagine the anti-Semetic equivalent of Charles Murray–some kind of genteel, inside-voices Holocaust denier, for instance–ever being invited by any halfway-mainstream American college, much less an elite liberal arts school like Middlebury.

                  Maybe for the moment. But congresscritters are now openly spewing white supremacist propaganda, so I’m not optimistic for the future.

                • Linnaeus

                  The reason Murray keeps getting these invites is because his targets don’t have enough seats at the table in the first place,

                  Correct, and this demonstrates a problem with the concept of a pure “marketplace of ideas”.

              • Q.E.Dumbass

                Michelle Ree being public jeered

                Wait, what?

    • Origami Isopod

      Great comment. Lost on certain people, of course, but much appreciated.

    • Dilan Esper

      The students weren’t set up to follow Stanger and Murray to their car and batter Stanger.

      We can’t act like otherwise extremely intelligent (very likely, on grades and test scores, far smarter than I am, for instance) young adults have no idea that you aren’t supposed to do these things.

      • DocAmazing

        Stipulated: assault is illegal and bad. Can we move along now?

    • Stag Party Palin

      By the way, the student group that invited him (sponsored fully by AEI) claims they didn’t even know his previous work, so they didn’t even know who they were really inviting).

      Bwahahaha! Shit sandwich please, hold the bread and mayo.

    • Captain Tau

      Think about what other debates never take place on this campus, because the science is in, and it’s considered, rightfully, a waste of time to debate them. And yet race remains “open to debate” — for the mostly white intellectuals, it’s all a debate, where you can win with better facts.

      I’m just curious, on what evidentiary grounds do you make the claim that debating whether race differences in mean IQ is considered a “waste of time” to debate? I know of two surveys of expert opinion on the topic (I’d like to include links, but doing so seems to get comments trapped in moderation purgatory, so hopefully these citations are easy enough to find via a Google search.)

      Synderman and Rothman, 1987:

      12. The source of the black-white difference in 1(2.
      This is perhaps the central question in the IQ controversy.
      Respondents were asked to express their opinion of the
      role of genetic differences in the black-white IQ differential.
      Forty-five percent believe the difference to be a
      product of both genetic and environmental variation,
      compared to only 15% who feel the difference is entirely
      due to environmental variation. Twenty-four percent of
      experts do not believe there are sufficient data to support
      any reasonable opinion, and 14% did not respond to the
      question. Eight experts (1%) indicate a belief in an entirely
      genetic determination.

      That is, a plurality of respondents (46%) indicated that they believe genetics play at least some role in the black-white IQ gap, and a considerably smaller minority (15%) believe that the black-white IQ gap is 100% environmental.

      Rindermann, Coyle, Becker 2013:

      Seventy-one experts rated possible causes of cross-national differences in cognitive ability based on psychometric IQs and student assessment studies (e.g., PISA, PIRLS, TIMSS). Genes were rated as the most important cause (17%), followed by educational quality (11.44%), health (10.88%), and educational quantity (10.20%) (Table 1). The sum of both education factors yielded the highest rating (21.64%). Of all factors, genes had by far the largest standard deviation (SD = 23.85; all other factors, SD < 10), indicating disagreement about the importance of genetic influences. Only 5 of 71 experts (7%) who responded to the genetic item thought that genes had no influence. If non-responses to the genetic item are converted to 0% (4 additional experts), 13% of experts doubted any genetic influence. The frequency of zero-percentage-ratings was larger for genes than for culture or education (about 1%), but experts who believed that genes had no influence were a minority: Around 90% of experts believed that genes had at least some influence on cross-national differences in cognitive ability.

      And finally, you’ll notice that the most prominent critics of the hereditarian view, like James Flynn, have in fact often politely debated hereditarians like Jensen and Murray in person and in print. For example, Flynn said of Jensen:

      Now and then I am asked by colleagues, students, and journalists: who, in my opinion, are the most respectable critics of my position on the race-IQ issue? The name James R. Flynn is by far the first that comes to mind. His book, Race, IQ and Jensen (1980), is a distinguished contribution to the literature on this topic, and, among the critiques I have seen of my position, is virtually in a class by itself for objectivity, thoroughness, and scholarly integrity

      So you’ll understand that I’m puzzled that you, without citing specific evidence, consider this issue utterly beyond debate.

      • DocAmazing

        Hey, we need a free-speech liberal here so that we would-be authoritarian leftists don’t inadvertently shoot this guy in the head.

        • Captain Tau
          • DocAmazing

            Inside joke, sport. You’d have to read the thread to get it. That would involve stuff like literacy.

            • Captain Tau

              I realize that it was a joke; I was just pointing out that it was Not An Argument (see above.)

      • Captain Tau

        Sorry, that last quote was actually Jensen speaking about Flynn (though I would hope that it would indicate the same thing.) For completeness’ sake, here’s Flynn quoted on Jensen in the latter’s NYT obituary:

        “Arthur Jensen’s life is emblematic of the extent to which American scholarship is inhibited by political orthodoxy,” James R. Flynn, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said on Wednesday.

        “Jensen was a true scientist, and he was without racial bias,” Professor Flynn added. “It never occurred to Arthur Jensen that people would use his data to argue for racial supremacy. Now, to be fair to his critics, over time he became more and more convinced that the evidence did show a genetic component.”

        A noted authority on intelligence, Professor Flynn has long opposed Professor Jensen’s views on the subject. “Take it from me, the evidence is highly complicated,” he said. “The best we can say is that it is more probable that the I.Q. gap between black and white is entirely environmental in origin.”

      • Hogan

        Argumentum ad four out of five dentists.

        • Captain Tau

          More like argumentum 97% of climate scientists.

          If you’d actually like to read the argument, look up Jensen and Rushton 2005, “Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability.”

          Or, if you’d like a non-academic blog post summary of the evidence, check out “the Facts that Need to be Explained” or “Race and IQ: the Case for Genes.”

      • rea

        Huge difference between thinking that “intelligence” (whatever that is) has a hereditary element and that it has something to do with “race.” You don’t think with your skin.

        • milx

          Not even racists believe that the skin color itself determines one’s intelligence. They believe that skin color is an aspect of a racial profile that includes other elements including intelligence. They don’t think that darker white ppl are dumber than lighter white ppl, or darker black ppl are dumber than lighter black ppl.

    • Captain Tau

      for the mostly white intellectuals, it’s all a debate, where you can win with better facts. The students experience it differently. Does that make them right? Not necessarily. But their experiences and ideas were never taken seriously. They are being told to get over it and not embarrass their superiors, whether that’s the journalistic left or their professors who want to teach them a lesson.

      Wow, those WHITE MALE intellectuals sure are crazy to believe in settling important questions with debates using factual evidence. Don’t they know that accusations of racism exist in an epistemological realm where “facts” and “logic” don’t matter?

      I do feel really sorry for those underprivileged, at-risk, Middlebury students you mentioned, though:

      Maybe Middlebury students (average SAT score 1450 out of 1600) don’t want to hear about how the society favors those with more academic ability? Maybe Middlebury students (the 9th richest student body in the country, with 23% of their students from the top 1% of income in the U.S. and a median parental income of $244,300) don’t want to hear about the extent of their advantages as members of a favored class?

      —Spotted Toad

      • bw

        Oh fuck off already, you VDARE Nazi prick.

  • Harkov311

    And more than a quarter of the attempted dis-invitations were aimed at Milo Yiannopoulos, a professional attention seeker, whose total lifetime contribution to actual intellectual debate in even the broadest sense of the phrase can be calculated as approximately zero.

    I just keep wondering who is inviting this shitstain to these colleges. On some level I have to wonder if some troll conservative group is sending these invites out, actively hoping he’ll be disinvited, thus giving them something to complain about.

    • N__B

      some troll conservative group

      Such things exist? I am...oh wait.

    • NewishLawyer

      When I was at my small, super-liberal undergrad there were still a handful of College Republicans/Libertarians. Allegedly there was also a group of conservative Christians who got together and offered each other support for being in super-liberal land but I only heard about this via hearsay.

      FWIW most of the people I knew who were conservative in college are now on the left and/or Democrats. One came out but in college he was the product of a very Catholic upbringing and going to Catholic school from K-12.

  • Nick never Nick

    A few more thoughts on this, not connected. One, someone up above made a good point, the value of a speaker today is less than in the past. It didn’t use to be that all information that existed was easily available.

    The words ‘invited to speak’ carry a lot of weight, here. The university isn’t, and nor should it be, monolithic. I went to Duke — I’m familiar with how a school can contain groups of assholes, in addition to scholars, artists, truth-seekers, and kids. As long as assholes are present, other assholes will be invited to speak. I think that a few basic guidelines here will go a long way — anything that regulates conservative assholes will sooner or later (i.e. sooner) be used to regulate the left as well. Look at how the right has co-opted the language of civil rights to apply to the white majority?

    Finally, protests are fine, but let people recognize that they’re more effective when they feature wit, intelligence, and humour. Protests have goals — whose goals were more advanced by the violence at Middlebury? The protesters, or Charles Murray’s? Maddow’s or Hannity’s? Just as voting requires you to make pragmatic choices, so should protesting.

    • King Goat

      For many the only goal of protesting seems to be: we are in the right and it feels so good to express that! Any concern further is for weak liberals.

    • aturner339

      Iambic pentameter is clearlt the only effective means of protest.

      My apologies if I come off as caustic but I’m just flabbgeasted about how critiquing an impromptu action by some undergrads advances the liberal agenda like… At all.

      • King Goat

        Because their impromptu action harms that liberal agenda? When conservatives salivate and can’t stop highlighting this, and, as you can see liberals/left are so split, that’s a hint that this wasn’t good for the liberal agenda.

      • Nick never Nick

        If a protest has goals, and it doesn’t achieve them, how will the protesters get better without criticism?

        Put another way, who benefited more from this protest? Charles Murray, or his opponents? I think Charles Murray did. When you do something that plays into your opponent’s hands, it’s good to have that pointed out.

      • Nick never Nick

        Also, aturner339, I’ve been meaning to ask, are you the same aturner who comments at Slate? If so, we’re more in agreement there, probably because the range of comments includes fascists and racists, instead of being a more compressed spectrum of the left.

        • aturner339

          The same! And if anything myexperiencee on the net is “just let the racists talk!” Rarely ends the way we would like it.

          • Nick never Nick

            Pleased to meet you in a new venue, I’ve always appreciated your take on things over there. I think that here most people are in agreement on the basic issue — perhaps it’s because I’m so distant from the meat of this issue (middle-aged Canadian white guy), but this entire thread seems like an argument about tactics that kind of got out of hand.

            Or maybe my argument about tactics is someone else’s something else, don’t want to put words in mouths.

  • LeeEsq

    When I was in college in the late 1990s, Charlton Heston was invited to speak in his capacity as President of the NRA. The people who wanted to protest protested and those that wanted to listen listened. It worked out well. The problem with defending the heckler’s veto even for people as loathsome as Murray and Milo Y. is that you never imagine that it will be turned against you. Under the logic employed by the pro-heckler’s veto faction, Jewish students should be allowed to use it against a speaker invited by a Pro-Palestinian group because they believe that a particular speaker’s harsh views on Israel amounts to anti-Semitism. What works as weapon against people with evil or erroneous beliefs can easily be used against people with neutral or good beliefs.

    Murray and Milo Y. are so obnoxious in their beliefs that it seems ludicrous to defend their right to speak but free speech really needs to be enjoyed by as many people as possible if its too have any meaningful value. Obvious evil is very easy to identify but some things are more tricky. What if a student group wanted to invite a defender of free trade and open borders to speak to them? That speaker could be easily attacked by a heckler’s veto from the right and the left based on his or her views?

    • DocAmazing

      Under the logic employed by the pro-heckler’s veto faction, Jewish students should be allowed to use it against a speaker invited by a Pro-Palestinian group because they believe that a particular speaker’s harsh views on Israel amounts to anti-Semitism.

      They don’t need to use the heckler’s veto; they have politicians who are happy to do that work for them.

      https://www.democracynow.org/2013/2/6/lawmakers_threaten_funding_of_brooklyn_college

  • DocAmazing

    This whole issue is a distraction and is purely right-wing media manipulation (with assistance from ostensibly liberal concern trolls). It’s ancient as hell, as well. I was at Berkeley when Jeane Kirkpatrick was shouted down, and all the “liberal” media prattled on about how her free speech was blocked–while they broadcast interviews with her coast-to-coast. Meanwhile, protests to induce the university to divest its holding in apartheid South Africa were met with police violence that the same “liberal” media studiously ignored. The college newspaper columnist that got the Big National Job subsequent to that? Max Boot.

    All of that was thirty years ago. Are we really going to dance this dance again? Jesus. Move on.

  • No Longer Middle Aged Man

    Thank you for posting this. The hysteria about the Middlebury event has been insane. College students acting dumb. Hey why not, it launched Dinesh D’Souza’s career, actually arguably it was his high point.

    Someone please ask Carter, Esq., when he last had an ISIS spokesman in class. Or if he’s ready to sign on with former Senator Jim Talent, another small government conservative who has spent his entire adulthood on either the public payroll or wingnut welfare, who in a recent epicly stupid article advocated for making such on-campus disruptions a Federal offense, with a second offense a felony carrying mandatory jail time.

  • shah8

    I commend people’s attempts to deal with atomic waste liberalism. Not even Yucca Mountain would take this shit!

    • jpgray

      Congratulations, you’ve successfully name-called people who have concerns with pulling a woman’s hair to the point of an ER visit for interviewing a racist.

      Your “not a stupid liberal but in fact a bold and fearless radical – internet division” membership card is safe.

      • shah8

        I don’t care man.

        At this point, I’m basically sick of people who wouldn’t tolerate holocaust denial (in practical terms, of course), support the right of people who campaign to deny my right to be a full fledged human being.

        This is just white bros before black and brown hoes bullshit. And you’ve been a trash human being, as many so called liberals are in threads like these.

        • jpgray

          I wouldn’t support hair-pulling on holocaust denial interviewers either, make the terms as practical as you like.

          If you want to play a Roman in some idiot’s racist passion play, be my guest. Why not just go all the way and shoot them?

          If you blench at that, you’re someone else’s trash human being, just sitting here and typing away on your own atomic waste, when you could be dealing out righteous massive head wounds to somebody.

          Come on man, who did this help?

          • shah8

            It seems funny that you are so interested in turning the tables on me, demanding my energy and care for some vague purpose, as the only acceptable coin to express my upset.

            *sigh*

            No, man. You’re basically defending the right of white people to engage in propaganda activities. Said propaganda activities that gives justifications to people who like the idea of hurting their targets or putting in place a system of malign neglect.

            And you’re not defending free speech, or anything else, but the above. And it’s fundamentally predicated on the idea that people like Dylan Roof or Alexandre Bissonnette can not be “radicalized by virulent speech” (while passively accepting that people like Rizwan Farook and Tasfeen Malik *can be* radicalized by virulent speech), all the while ignoring, in very bad faith, the power dynamics involved in such activities–such as giving such platforms to people like Charles Murray being a power-trip in and of itself.

            So own it, jpgray, you’re just another trash human being who expect people not like him to be docile or otherwise useful, all the while pretending to be foresighted and wise and all performance bullshit.

            • No Longer Middle Aged Man

              Got it. You’re a hero. Just like the keyboard kommandos.

              • shah8

                So…

                I’m a do-gooder, eh? Even as I pursue my own safety and promote a more beneficial social climate for my own life?

                Awfully constrained concept of a hero, that?

                Sort of would like to be a superhero, though. Smack every fool with a paper copy of the XKCD cartoon that concisely explains what free speech actually is, and by implication shows just how transgressive a notion that a private society *has* to tolerate any speech, no matter how hostile, is.

                • No Longer Middle Aged Man

                  You’re every post here is based on attacking or condescending to those who don’t match your valiant leftist revolutionariness. I have no clue what you’re really like, but your posting persona is the guy who picks the Che character every time he plays the Revolution game on his Playstation.

            • jpgray

              Some people probably deserve a punch in the face, a pull of the hair, a shot in the head, based on their speech alone, depending on “power dynamics” and “larger social context.” After all, a great deal of harm might be forestalled by those actions given these dynamics and this context. Right?

              But what people seem to ignore is that everyone has very different ideas of what the “power dynamics” and “larger social context” are in this country. And they feel just as strongly as you do about it.

              Alternate shah8 cheers over the bloodied face or terrified silence of an abortion doctor, or a Muslim, or a GLBT person.

              To the trash liberals among us, a terrified bloody Charles Murray isn’t worth the potential cost of validating that behavior by engaging in it ourselves.

              • shah8

                But jpgray, we don’t in a world where a terrified, bloody Charles Murray is all that possible.

                We live in a world where a young woman gets deported to who knows where simply for protesting about the injustice of government actions.

                That’s why you are trash.

                • jpgray

                  But would you support deporting people for promoting racist junk pseudoscience?

                  Planting a boot on a face over speech doesn’t become okay when the boot is on the right foot and the face is an asshole’s, right?

              • DocAmazing

                Alternate shah8 doesn’t exist.

                Real-world Charles Murray, and the Border Patrol/ICE policies, and vote-suppression efforts, and Ending of Welfare As We Know It, and disproportionate incarceration that he and his work helped to bring about does exist.

                • jpgray

                  Alternate shah8 certainly exists. The Pro Life movement is rife with them – what violence wouldn’t be justified to stop what you saw as ~900k “murders” year after year?

                  Anybody that denies the harm Charles Murray has done with his words is a titanic asshole. But:

                  1. There are methods to stopping his speech that are morally unsound

                  2. There are methods to stopping his speech that are practically helpful to him and harmful to us

                  I don’t care if you disagree with me on 1, but on 2 I have yet to see an argument that this event was at all practically useful.

                • DocAmazing

                  The Pro-Life movement commits violent and/or destructive acts on a nearly weekly basis and gets away with it, and is winning is a number of states. If you want to talk about “practical utility”, you might want to use a different example.

      • muddy

        For the gods’ sake, the assault was singled out in the OP as a bad thing that went beyond protesting. Please read the material.

        • jpgray

          Not everyone’s on board with that. See the Nazi punching threads from a few months back.

          We all agree that it would be better if Charles Murray had no forum for his debunked racist quackery. What we don’t agree on is:

          1. What methods are morally acceptable in denying him a forum

          2. What methods are practically beneficial in denying him a forum

          On #1, nobody is going to change the mind of anyone else. Many someones somewhere would love to see Murray beaten to death or shot in the head, and thinks we’re all a bunch of effete concern trolls for having problems with the assault.

          On #2, there is a real argument to be had, but people seem to constantly conflate it with #1. This either helps Murray or his enemies, and I have a hard time seeing how it helps his enemies.

          • muddy

            Many someones somewhere would love to see Murray beaten to death or shot in the head

            Sorry I thought I was reading this thread and not one from a while ago about a totally different person. I haven’t seen anyone in this thread say that Charles Murray ought be punched in the head, let alone beaten to death or shot.

            • jpgray

              There’s a whole universe of people beyond this thread. The point is to show that people will draw this line very differently.

              It’s not going far to assume there are people who would cheer if Charles Murray got punched for promoting racist garbage, for example.

              If you don’t think he should be punched, does this make you a concern trolling, privileged, tone-policing so-and-so?

              To them I’m sure disagreement on Murray-as-punchbag just means that the harm of Charles Murray just doesn’t matter very much to you, and you want everyone to be docile, polite, milk-blooded liberals, you have a poor understanding of power dynamics and larger context, etc., etc.

  • Murc

    This is the best post Paul has made in a very long time.

    The comment section is a tire fire of course.

    • twbb

      Yup.

    • twbb

      Yup.

  • Pingback: ‘Viewpoint tolerance is not and cannot possibly be some sort of absolute value’ | Humanizing The Vacuum()

  • As a matter of policy, universities need to be choosy about who they invite, as the OP indicates. And there must be a right to protest invitees. However, once someone is invited universities can’t allow talks to be shouted down. There may be special cases where civil disobedience in defiance in university policy is morally justified, although those engage in that must be prepared to face the consequences.

  • prplmnkydw

    Hi everyone, crazy debate thread again. I am asking the following question(s) in order to clarify all this in my mind, not to get weird hostile reactions, as seems to be happening all over the thread.

    So my question is this: Doesn’t this agreement hinge on the idea that while the “liberal” position says “market place of idea, bad ones will lose” is totally correct in the abstract, or in a perfect world, we don’t live in an abstract perfect world. In this world, ideas that promote things like white supremacy (still an objective material fact) aren’t competing in a market place of ideas, but are reinforcing a violent state of affairs, and treating those ideas simply as discourse misses the bigger picture (of a white supremacist reality). In other words the liberals see violence meeting words here. I think the other perspective might be that those words are already violence, and asking someone to meet violent discourse from a person in a relative position of power with there own discourse is disingenuous at best. Does that accurately describe all this?

    • I would say that some forms of discourse are oppressive, which is why they should be protested. Shutting down talks is not something that a university can allow as a matter of principle, but no principle requires a university to invite someone who will use the occasion to promote racism, and if a university does that it should be protested.

    • LeeEsq

      I think most people on this site think that Murray’s ideas are shit and do not believe that they will loose simply because they are shit in the market places of ideas. What the more liberal or cautious are worried about is whether the tactics used against Murray actually work in favor of the liberal/left cause or whether they do not and what is the drawing line in who gets to speak and who gets not to. The people more in favor of the protesters believe that Murray’s ideas are simply so repugnant that shooting them down is a good idea with no down side.

    • jpgray

      It all sounds so sensible. Until you realize that others think differently from you, and, with just a little twist, can justify denying you speech on the same grounds.

      In this world, ideas that promote things like Islam (still an objective material fact) aren’t competing in a market place of ideas, but are reinforcing a violent state of affairs, and treating those ideas simply as discourse misses the bigger picture (of a bloodthirsty hate-filled reality).

      In this world, ideas that promote things like abortion (still an objective material fact) aren’t competing in a market place of ideas, but are reinforcing a violent state of affairs, and treating those ideas simply as discourse misses the bigger picture (of a mass murdering reality).

      There’s a reason the shitty ideal of a polite marketplace of ideas has still some cachet, despite all its flaws. The reason is that the alternative is the Terrordome of ideas. I’m sure we’ll be the best at drowning out the others, right? Because we have right on our side! Christ.

      • LeeEsq

        Seconded. Liberalism has its issues but its better than the alternatives.

  • mathpunk

    I tend to agree with just about anything Paul writs for some reason, and I think I do here as well. I teach a college similar to Middlebury, and I honestly just don’t care anymore. I teach math, so this stuff doesn’t t really creep into the classroom unless they cancel classes to talk about our feelings, which happened last year. This year they had Newt Gingrich come and speak to celebrate diversity (this was before the election). God what an asshole. I’m not sure what purpose that served, as he has the intellect of a reptile, but hey our hyper-liberal college had diverse viewpoints aired, I’m not really sure what to think of the state of higher ed, but William Deresiewicz is on to something in his book Excellent Sheep. Kids these days want to save the world by majoring in economics somehow, but mostly don’t want to be bothered with thinking. So everyone is too busy being angry and yelling to think seems to be a problem. I’m all for punching nazis in the face, but at least think about stuff.

    • Origami Isopod

      Kids these days

      Yawn.

  • Pingback: Are college campuses growing more intolerant of free speech? The numbers say no. – Live List()

  • milx

    That being said, the notion that the behavior of a handful of idiot undergraduates at one event at one hyper-elite college is a true harbinger of an authoritarian future — as opposed to say the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States — is dangerous nonsense.

    Consider that the election of Donald Trump *and* the behavior of these idiot undergraduates are both harbingers of an authoritarian future and are actually linked. Both represent the prioritization of political faith over reasoned fact, force/passion of opinion taking precedence over nuance, and the veto of the ideologue.

  • Nick056

    Great post.

    I’d only addd that these violent incidents are valuable to the right because they are used to delegitimize university’s civic and cultural output and the undermine the importance of the humanities in general. It’s not solely or sometimes primarily about the students’ behavior; like so many other uses of radical or left-wing violence in reactionary rhetoric and imagination, the real targets of the hand-wringing are the professors and administrators — the agitators — who apparently encourage or permit violence this type of violence. Without the radical left-wing professors telling kids that violence is okay, they’d never act out like this, goes the thinking. And if that’s what professors encourage, are their courses and scholarship of any value?

  • Dilan Esper

    Here’s the data on my points about privilege, First World Problems, and that this doesn’t happen at schools which aren’t full of rich kids:

    http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2017/03/14/illiberal_arts_colleges_pay_more_get_less_free_speech_102586.html

    https://twitter.com/DHalikias/status/841681512424734720

    The upshot is that these disinvitations and protests clearly correlate with how wealthy the student body at the college is. It basically only happens at very privileged elite institutions. At Cal State LA (my alma mater) or other similar places, nobody protests Charles Murray. The students (most of whom are minorities at CSULA) are too busy trying to get their degrees while holding down two jobs and attempting to find decent child care.

    I really would urge that even if you disagree with me about the free speech issues involved, defending Middlebury students and supporting actions of this sort against conservative speakers on campus is an absolutely terrible use of the left’s resources. This is absolutely a battle between two incredibly privileged groups– conservative authors hitting the rubber chicken circuit, and students at highly selective colleges that are full of rich kids.

    There’s just all sorts of real significant oppression of women and minorities out there, which costs people jobs, forces them to have unwanted sex, throws them in jail, and gets them beaten up by the police. If you are moved by the fact that a bunch of rich college students might have to listen to a speaker they don’t like, I’m sorry, you are fighting the wrong battles.

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