Skip to comments.The Battle of Middlebury: What happened at the small college is a harbinger of what's to come
Posted on 03/07/2017 10:26:58 AM PST by SeekAndFind
At Middlebury College last week, Charles Murray needed a safe space literally.
In a significant escalation of the campus speech wars, protesters hooted down the conservative scholar in a lecture hall and then roughed up a Middlebury faculty member who was escorting him to a car.
The Middlebury administration commendably tried to do the right thing and stand by Murrays right to be heard, but was overwhelmed by a yowling mob with all the manners and intellectual openness of a gang of British soccer hooligans.
Sometime soon, we may yearn for the days when college students were merely childish and close-minded. If campus protests of speech begin to more routinely slide into violence, Middlebury will be remembered as a watershed.
First, there was the target. Charles Murray is controversial mainly for his book The Bell Curve, about IQ but he is one of the most significant social scientists of our age. He is employed by the prestigious conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, and his books are highly influential and widely reviewed. His latest, which was to be the topic of his Middlebury talk, is Coming Apart, a best-selling account of the struggles of the white working class that illuminated some of the social forces behind the rise of Donald Trump.
No one is bound to accept any of Murrays ideas, but they are inarguably worth engaging. He exists in a different universe from Milo Yiannopoulos, the alt-right provocateur infamous for saying or doing anything to try to get infamous. That Middlebury protesters cant tell the difference between the two shows that their endeavor to know or understand nothing outside their comfort zone has been a smashing success.
Second, there was the venue. No one has ever mistaken Middlebury, a small Vermont liberal-arts college founded by Congregationalists, for Berkeley. It doesnt have a reputation as a hotbed and training ground for rabble-rousers, and yet has given us one of the most appalling episodes of anti-speech thuggery in recent memory. If it can happen at Middlebury, it can happen anywhere (or at least at Swarthmore or Bucknell).
Finally, there was the violence. The students who brought in Charles Murray framed the evening as an invitation to argue, and in that spirit asked professor Allison Stanger, a Democrat in good standing, to serve as Murrays interlocutor. When chanting students commandeered the lecture hall, Stanger and Murray repaired to another room for a live-streamed discussion. Protesters found the room and pounded on the windows and pulled fire alarms. When Murray and Stanger exited at the end of the live-stream and headed for their get-away car, protesters assailed them. They shoved and grabbed Stanger, who was shaken up and later went to the hospital, and pounded on the car and tried to obstruct it.
Stanger wrote afterward that she feared for my life. And for what offense? Talking to someone who thinks differently than the average Middlebury faculty member or student.
Political correctness has been a phenomenon on campuses since the 1980s, but now has become much more feral. The root of the phenomenon is the idea that unwelcome speech is tantamount to a physical threat against offended listeners. If this is true, it follows that dissenting speech needs to be shunned (in safe spaces) and attacked (in protests). Shutting down a speaker and literally running him off campus is, from this warped perspective, an entirely justifiable defensive action.
Of course, speech doesnt threaten anyone. The appropriate response to an erroneous argument is counterargument. And the free exchange of ideas always allows for the possibility that someone will actually learn something.
If campuses arent to sink further into their current miasma of illiberalism, administers will have to actively fight the tide of suppression. Its not enough to say the right things about free speech; they have to punish thuggish student agitators. Otherwise, college campuses may become increasingly unsafe spaces for anyone departing from a coercive orthodoxy.
Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review
Just once, one of these speakers needs to stand his (or her) ground and continue making the presentation. Deny the “heckler’s veto.” As long as we keep running away, they’ll keep doing it.
They should go down the street to Northfield.
That place is pretty civilized.
So hunt down the assaulters on the teacher and kick out of school all the kids in the auditorium.
The Middlebury administration created the Frankenstein's monster that attacked Murray. It created the environment that allowed this Leftwing lynch mob to develop and feel empowered to violently shut down Murray's lecture. These riots don't spring up out of nothing. The seed were planted over the course of years by these administrations.
the problem is that schools are afraid to use their expulsion policies when it comes to violent liberal student- but let a child chew a poptart into an “L” shape and by golly it’s ‘time to act”
VT should expel EVERY last one of those involved in this incident to send a very loud clear message that hate and violence will NOT be be acceptable anyone! Stop being pansies VT- EXPEL them!
By not expelling these students, VT is allowing the inmates to run the asylum-
I’ll bet there are tons of video out there. But they aren’t.
I wonder why not?
Then these colleges deserve what they get. I wish we could bring back the nuns of the 1950s - they’d straighten out this mess in ten minutes.
School administrator are weak-kneed cowards. They got their positions through politics, not merit. Not one can stand up to this evil.
“Feral” is a good word for it. Actually, that is a bit mild.
“Rabid” would be more apropos.
There is no free speech in this country. Hasn’t been for a long time.
In 1962, there was an infamous and violent riot against de-segregation at the University of Mississippi. Two people were killed in the riot. 55 years from then we have these new anti-fascists that use the same tactics as did the racist protestors back then. They are of similar DNA sotospeak. #SadRustyIrony
You’re right. I speak from first hand experience. :)
Expel them all. Every single miscreant who can be identified....
Well, of course not, they will do nothing much about it. Maybe a mild admonition at best.
One of the idiocies of this fiasco is that the prof who was assaulted is a liberal Democrat who in no way associates herself with Murray’s ideas — she was merely asked to to serve as “moderator” and interlocutor to ask him questions, etc. She wasn’t even associated with planning the event — student planners simply thought that she was a fair-minded person to help lead the discussion. Even that turns out to be a crime for these most ILLIBERAL of libtards.
VT should expel EVERY last one of those involved in this incident to send a very loud clear message that hate and violence will NOT be be acceptable anyone!
The concept of ‘hate’ should be removed from the discussion altogether, as they think they’re fighting hate. Speech is not hate, & the only response to ‘bad speech’ is good speech. An idea these snowflakes have never been taught.
ALL stifling of speech is bad.
Always and in every context, anyplace.
I’ve said it before. The Leftists are creating, partly intentionally, a generation of Red Guards who love the power thrill of righteously enforcing their orthodoxy.
And the Christian Brothers. They’d pop you with a chalk board eraser.... or worse. Lol.