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The Vermont Cynic

Colleges must stand for free speech


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Middlebury College recently received author Charles Murray to speak at an event hosted by a student group and co-sponsored by the school’s political science department.

I had never heard of Murray before the event became
a national news story; he is a conservative author and social scientist known for his controversial book “The Bell Curve,” which discusses his theory on IQ and society.

The protesters shouted Murray down, and Middlebury College professor Allison Stanger was even injured by protesters as she was escorting Mr. Murray off campus.

Once they got into the car to drive away, protesters violently attacked the car, trying to prevent them from leaving, according to the Washington Post.

We are seeing examples of this all across the country, where conservative speakers on campuses cause an uproar and violence breaks out to “protest.” Whether or not one agrees with Murray’s opinions is not the issue.

Our country was founded on the principles of free speech, freedom of expression and the need for open and honest debate.

In fact, these principles are enshrined in our First Amendment, which the left pretends to hold dear.

Shutting down free speech through violence goes against the very concept of our country, where debate and critical thinking are encouraged for the continued progress of our nation.

Resorting to violence every time we do not agree with someone is not only childish and irrational, but also promotes the idea that if someone does not agree with you, it’s okay to infringe on their constitutional rights, not to mention physically attack them.

It is important to listen to both liberal and conservative voices — indeed, all voices — thinking critically and making an informed decision based on the facts, not hearsay.

I only know the views of Charles Murray filtered through the protesters and the media, as I have not read “The Bell Curve.” I seriously doubt any of the protesters have either.

No matter his views, I defend his right to speak, and all colleges should too.

Especially as college students, we should be encouraging more speakers to come to visit our campuses, not less.

The speakers should present their ideas to the public, and then it is our job as intelligent and participating citizens of this country to make our own decisions and choices based on what we learn and the facts we know.

If you live in a bubble where everyone has the same view, and you not only refuse to hear another perspective, but you violently protest and riot to shut down the event when you think you disagree with them, you are not only attacking free speech; you’re shutting down the opportunity for debate and discussion.

So, I suggest that all the protesters go out and actually read “The Bell Curve” to learn what exactly it was Murray said, as I will be doing, and then try and form real opinions on the matter.

1 Comment

One Response to “Colleges must stand for free speech”

  1. stephen on April 20th, 2017 1:12 pm

    Free speech isn’t the only thing that colleges should stand for. Somewhere along the way scholarship plays an important part of the college experience. Charles Murray PhD. is a pseudo-scientist and the ideas expressed in his 1994 book ‘The Bell Curve’ have been roundly criticized and discredited.

    The university academic setting is not a public square where anybody can freely speak his/her opinion. A university lecture conveys on the speaker the imprimatur of credibility no matter how strongly the university disavows support for that speaker’s views. An academic institution has an obligation to its students, staff, faculty, and alumni to present peer reviewed science, not opinion or theory or pseudo-science dressed up as fact based science.

    Dr. Murray attempted to quantify by algorithm his ‘opinions’ and he did so base on poorly constructed data. His research was flawed and roundly criticized. It’s very sad in this day of Fox ‘News’ that folks can’t distinguish between factual ‘news’ events and ‘opinion.’

    There is a reason we don’t invite someone like Dr. Andrew Wakefield to speak about his ‘opinions’ of the connection between vaccines and autism. Because his scientific research was bogus. Yet his dangerous theories have frightened millions of parents into thinking vaccination might harm their children instead of helping them. Which in turn has led to an uptick in completely preventable childhood illnesses such as measles. Measles was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000, and it no longer occurs naturally here. Measles kills one or two of every thousand kids infected with it. In Minnesota, this week 11 cases of measles have been reported and nine of those children were unvaccinated. Hopefully none of those kids dies as a result.

    Speakers like Dr. Murray, or the avowed pedophilia advocate Milo Yiannopoulos should not be welcomed on college campuses to spread their hate speech and unlawful conduct advocacy. There are important roles universities play in public discourse and making the distinction between science and opinion or Free Speech and Hate Speech should be among them.


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The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883
Colleges must stand for free speech