Colleges must stand for free speech


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.