Middlebury College students’ “peaceful” protest against Charles Murray

As I reported the other day, the author and political scientist Charles Murray was attacked at Middlebury College in Vermont, where he was invited to speak by the school’s American Enterprise Institute Club. Not only did the students shout him down, so that the talk had to be moved to a sequestered room and livestreamed (even then the students pulled fire alarms to cause further disruption), but then they mobbed him and his host as they left the venue, injuring the neck of the woman who was accompanying him.

As the Boston Globe and Inside Higher Ed report, it was indeed students who protested, though some “outside agitators” could have been part of the group that mobbed Murray. The 44-minute video below (the College president gives an introduction emphasizing civility and free speech) shows how exercised the students were; Inside Higher Ed reported this:

As soon as Murray took the stage, students stood up, turned their backs to him and started various chants that were loud enough and in unison such that he could not talk over them. Chants included:

  • “Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray, go away.”
  • “Your message is hatred. We cannot tolerate it.”
  • “Charles Murray, go away. Middlebury says no way.”
  • “Who is the enemy? White supremacy.”
  • “Hey hey, ho ho. Charles Murray has got to go.”

The scene was recorded and posted to YouTube. Murray appears around minute 19.

This behavior is reprehensible, and I wonder how many of these students read anything Murray ever wrote before they went wild. I suspect not very many.

I haven’t read The Bell Curve, so I’ll make no pronouncement about Murray’s topic, but I doubt that Murray was even going to talk about that old book. Regardless, I don’t have to know what he said to vehemently defend his right to speak without disruption (or physical attack!) since he was invited. IHE adds this:

Murray has said that critiques of The Bell Curve are incorrect. He issued a letter defending the book last year — at a time when some wanted Virginia Tech to call off an appearance there (it did not).

Via email Friday morning, Murray declined to comment on what took place at Middlebury, but he posted several comments on Twitter, including this one.

The good news is that the students are showing some contrition, and Middlebury’s administration has issued a strong statement in support of free speech. The Globe reports this:

Many on campus, including the college president and leaders of the student organization who invited him, disagree vehemently with Murray’s views on social welfare programs and race, but on Saturday they said the campus failed in its duty to exemplify how to debate unpopular ideas with civility.

Donald Trump’s presidency formed the backdrop for the protest, students said. The election has made people on campus dig their heels in ideologically, said Sabina Haque, a junior from Westford, Mass. They’re less willing to accept conflicting viewpoints, she said.

But you can’t blame this on Trump. Yes, he’s a narcissistic bully and a godawful President, but the students should be conducting themselves honorably, and in accordance with the First Amendment, which undergirds much of the social progress made in America. It is true, though, that Trump’s election is making many Americans not just rightfully upset and prone to activism, but actually unhinged (see HuffPo for an example). That leads to demonstrations, like those at Berkeley and Middlebury, that are counterproductive, further damaging the credibility of the Left.

Kudos for Middlebury, though, for issuing this statement:

In a statement Friday morning, Middlebury said, “We’re deeply disappointed that Charles Murray was not permitted to give his talk in the way it was intended. A large group of students took it upon themselves to disrupt the event, which forced us to move Mr. Murray and Professor Allison Stanger, the moderator of the Q&A, to another location. Thanks to some advance planning, we were able to livestream Mr. Murray’s talk and his conversation with Professor Stanger. We will make a recording of that available as soon as possible so the members of our community who came to the event wanting to hear Mr. Murray will be able to do so.”

The college is investigating the incident, and I think any students involved in the mobbing of Murray should be expelled or suspended. The rest of the College should be given some lectures on freedom of speech.


UPDATE: A group of students have responded, blaming, of course, the College, Murray himself, and the security personnel. They show no contrition, and refused, like the cowards they are, to give their names. You can read their pathetic defense here; an excerpt is below:

The administration’s support of a platform for white nationalist speech was an intense act of aggression towards the most marginalized members of the Middlebury community. Though President Laurie Patton stated her disagreement with many of Murray’s views, by sharing a stage with him and designating his non-peer reviewed work as academically valuable, she effectively legitimized him. Furthermore, peaceful protest was met with escalating levels of violence by the administration and Public Safety, who continually asserted their support of a dangerous racist over the well-being of students.

Note that the “peaceful” protest included disrupting Murray’s talk and pulling the fire alarm several times during his subsequent livestreamed presentation.

UPDATE 2: Murray’s account of the scrum is here, and differs from the student account. Even for a man used to protest, Murray was surprised:

Absent an adequate disciplinary response, I fear that the Middlebury episode could become an inflection point. In the twenty-three years since The Bell Curve was published, I have had considerable experience with campus protests. Until last Thursday, all of the ones involving me have been as carefully scripted as kabuki: The college administration meets with the organizers of the protest and ground rules are agreed upon. The protesters have so many minutes to do such and such. It is agreed that after the allotted time, they will leave or desist. These negotiated agreements have always worked. At least a couple of dozen times, I have been able to give my lecture to an attentive (or at least quiet) audience despite an organized protest.

Middlebury tried to negotiate such an agreement with the protesters, but, for the first time in my experience, the protesters would not accept any time limits. If this becomes the new normal, the number of colleges willing to let themselves in for an experience like Middlebury’s will plunge to near zero. Academia is already largely sequestered in an ideological bubble, but at least it’s translucent. That bubble will become opaque.


  1. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    It has to stop.
    But how?

    • Newish Gnu
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      If I found out that my kid did this, I would suggest to him that he doesn’t seem intellectually prepared to engage in the world of ideas and I would save the money I had set aside for him for that purpose until I felt more confident that my money would be well spent.

    • Marc Aresteanu
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      As long as Feminist/Gender Studies departments are around, this won’t stop.

      • somer
        Posted March 6, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        and there are so many more high metaphysics MALE Philosophers of the french and other (especially the modern) schools that have so adversely impacted the humanities.

    • BJ
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      The how is that the administrations of these schools need to start punishing students who do things like this. They haven’t at any incident so far over the last few years.

      And is there any doubt that if a right-wing mob took actions like this they would be dealt with swiftly and harshly?

      • Cindy
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        Check out the Johnathan Haidt video here:

        Social Justice Warriors – why Universities became crazy and how to fight back – Jonathan Haidt


        He basically advises that you threaten to send them to jail. Their zeal for misbehaviour tends to evaporate after that. They aren’t willing to *really* put their asses on the line.

        Starbucks Marxists!

        • BJ
          Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. But the school administrations know that if they punished these students in any way, they would have riots and demands to resign on their hands.

          “These students were just protecting themselves and their rights as oppressed peoples (at $50,000 a year liberal arts colleges)!”

          • Cindy
            Posted March 6, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

            “As somebody who escaped Lebanon and actually hid under desks to avoid death squads, I don’t take well to these idiots from Wellesley College who say, ‘I’m scared to go and buy my hamburgers now that Trump won,’ because it trivializes what true trauma is.” — Gad Saad

            So it’s a really morbid, grotesque psychological desire to draw attention to yourself because you enjoy the sympathy you receive.

            Everyone who is suffering from collective Munchausen and mass hysteria are obviously of a particular political bent — the ultra-Left (who typically belong to the Democratic party). And these people have built their whole ethos, edifice, zeitgeist on Identity Politics. Identity Politics leads to victimology poker and the oppression olympics. These groups just end up competing to see who is more oppressed because it is the mechanism through which they attempt to solve problems. If you and I are having a genuine debate, I would present my evidence and you yours. The better evidence would win out.


            I”m so tempted to troll these illiberal leftists and ask them when they think the death squads are coming. Alas, I have better things to do.

            • Posted March 6, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

              After you are done trolling the illiberal left, go troll the reactionary right. You’d probably get the same satisfaction.

              In truth, there are so many opportunities to nail one side or the other based on their most crazed wings that real discussion is not taking place in any meaningful way in way too many forums.

              • BJ
                Posted March 6, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

                Cindy and I go after the illiberal left because we want them to be stronger and stand for true liberal and left values!

            • BJ
              Posted March 6, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

              Excellent, excellent post!

        • Craw
          Posted March 5, 2017 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          I love that phrase, Starbucks Marxists.

  2. Cindy
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    that Trump’s election is making many Americans not just rightfully upset and prone to activism, but actually unhinged

    Trump Derangement Syndrome

    Milo Derangement Syndrome

    Anyone who disagrees with me is litruhlly Hitler syndrome

    By all means, argue against those you disagree with. Engage in non-violent protest. But for d*ds sake, don’t throw violent temper tantrums.

  3. Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    “…They’re less willing to accept conflicting viewpoints…”
    At least in that position, they’re in perfect agreement with Trump.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Someone was physically injured by this mob and the mob justifies its behaviour because Trump and because security? Oh, I became violent toward a person I’ve never met because I don’t like the president and security tried to stop me – grow up kids, you’re not 2 anymore! I hope the expel those violent students because they are a danger to others on campus.

  5. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I just checked out a bit of info on this Charles Murray.

    I didn’t know anything about him other than the title of that book.

    Now I know a little and the little I know tests my resolve as to the condemnation of the students behaviour.

    He seems a loathsome morally vacuous creep who’s policy inputs have resulted in great poverty and suffering for a large number of people.
    As I said, I know little, perhaps he has a better side.

    I agree then with the students sentiments, but still disagree with the tactics.

    Tactics that must stop, to allow conversation, to prevent violence.

    i was just listening to Sam Harris , who says that there are really only those two options in resolving differences.

    It could be said that Douglas’s conversation has visited violence on many, but still, only counter conversation can prevail against loathsome or disagreeable or even only different ideas.

    • Martin X
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      “morally vacuous”

      Evidence for this?

    • BJ
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      So, because you don’t like secondhand accounts you’ve read of his views, this violence has become less worthy of condemnation in your eyes?

      This is how fascism or dictatorship or police states start. “Sure, they took them away/tortured/jailed/killed them, but did you hear about their views?” And, of course, you didn’t read what Murray himself wrote, you read secondhand, biased accounts of it.

    • Posted March 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Who has implemented policies based on Murray’s works?

    • aljones909
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      “He seems a loathsome morally vacuous creep who’s policy inputs have resulted in great poverty and suffering for a large number of people.”

      What policy inputs?

      How have they resulted in great poverty and suffering?

    • Craw
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

      You agree with the sentiment: he must shut up. Not that you’ve read anything he wrote. Why bother?

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted March 6, 2017 at 12:48 am | Permalink

      I actually have something to add here! I have never read anything by Murray; certainly not The Bell Curve. For many years, I have just assumed, from what I’ve heard about the book, that he’s yet another racist asshole. He may be, but my opinion has not been based on facts, but rather on hearsay.

      So, right now I’m reading Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is probably #1 in my personal pantheon of heroes, and here, verbatim, is what she wrote (page 110):

      “I quickly felt that I belonged at the American Enterprise Institute. The week I arrived in Washington I was introduced to a man I had long hoped to meet, Charles Murray, who in 1994 cowrote The Bell Curve. When his book was published I was still a student at the University of Leiden, where it seemed everyone was talking about this horribly racist book that argued that black people were genetically of lower intelligence than white people. I read it, of course, and I found it to be the opposite of racist, a compassionately written book about the urban challenges that confront black people more than white. All black people should read it.

      When I as introduced to Murray, I couldn’t help thinking that even his head was shaped like a precise bell curve. While we exchanged greetings, I mentioned that I recognized his name from reading his book, at which point he gritted his teeth, no doubt bracing himself for another attack from an offended black person. When I said how great I thought his book was, his smile was so broad and surprised. We became instant friends.”

      So, now I probably have to read both The Bell Curve and Stephen Jay Gould’s response, The Mismeasure of Man. Such is the cost of overcoming ignorance.

  6. Historian
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    As long as “hate speech” is not acknowledged as a component of free speech, we can expect to see more of this type of incident. This incident is an example of a larger and more disturbing trend in society: the breakdown of respect for the nation’s institutions, including the education establishment, the press, government, and, yes, religious institutions. When people feel they can no longer count on institutions to look out for their needs, they are compelled to identify with non-mainstream movements that challenge the established authority. In our heavily polarized society, we such a trend on both the left and the right. For those on the left, calls for censorship is their chosen mode to feel “safe.” On the right, we have seen the rise of “Trumpism” with its quasi-fascistic elements.

    This trend did not start overnight. It has been percolating for decades and may have reached the boiling point. The result of this increasing destabilization represents a real threat to democracy. At the moment, the future of democracy in the United States and other countries is uncertain. Democracy has survived other great challenges, particularly in the 1930s, so one should not give up in despair. However, what happened in the past is no guarantee that similar results will take place in the future.

    • BJ
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Are you saying we should ban “hate speech,” in part to placate people like these?

      I’m not accusing you of this view. I want to make sure I properly understand your post.

      • Historian
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Not at all. I was trying to present a dispassionate analysis of a disturbing trend in our society. I thoroughly agree that “hate speech” needs to be tolerated in a country that has the First Amendment.

        • BJ
          Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          Ok, gotcha. Thanks for the clarification.

    • Posted March 5, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      I just finished a book by Amy Tan published in 2003: “The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life” It is non-fiction pieces from throughout her writing career. One of the pieces is titled, “Required Reading and Other Dangerous Subjects”. It starts on page 299 and ends on page 323.

      I quote: “I hear that my books and essays are now on the required-reading lists for courses in ethnic studies, Asian-American studies, Asian-American literature, Asian-American history, women’s literature, feminist studies, feminist writers of color, and so forth. I am proud to be on these lists. What writer wouldn’t want her work to be read? But there’s a small nagging question that whispers into my ear once in a while: “What about American literature?””

      She asks: “…Who decides what is American fiction> Why is it that works of fiction by minority writers are read mainly for the study of class, gender and race? Why is it hard to break out of this literary ghetto?”

      • Posted March 5, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Dang! The main point I was trying to get to is that while Amy Tan views herself as an American writer, some of her reader’s expected her to teach them about Chinese culture but not to depict the bad old days or men behaving badly, etc. She expected her readers to be capable of drawing their own conclusions from what she wrote.

        It seems to me this need some students have to not show the bad side of certain people or bad history has been coming on for far longer than I had been aware of.

      • Posted March 6, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Also, if her work is really good, just fiction.

        This is the problem with affirmative action that philosopher Susan Haack (and my sister) has!

  7. Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I wish i could share the outrage here, but it seems that Charles Murray is simply a right wing advocate for social Darwinism.
    As a matter of free speech perhaps he should have been allowed to give his presentation…but i hardly think anything other than Conservative Libertarian dogma wrapped in pseudo intellectualism would have come from him.

    College students in the US have traditionally been the first protectors of social justice. If you dump on a significant (and often disenfranchised) portion of humanity, you should be aware that you’ll be disliked because of it.

    • Cindy
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      As a matter of free speech perhaps he should have been allowed to give his presentation…

      And then destroy his ideas with superior logic and reason.

      • Dave
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        “As a matter of free speech perhaps he should have been allowed to give his presentation”

        By deleting the word “perhaps”, along with the passages that come before and after the above sentence, you get to the crux of the matter.

        “…but i hardly think anything other than Conservative Libertarian dogma wrapped in pseudo intellectualism would have come from him.”

        If you disagree with this supposed “dogma”, then don’t listen to it, or challenge it with better arguments. However, neither you nor the student snowflakes have any right to prevent others from hearing it if they wish to do so.

    • Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I guess it’s okay with you to disrupt, shut down, and censor anybody whose speech you don’t like, eh? “Should” have been allowed to give his presentation. Should we give lesser protection to those whose speech we don’t like?

      Remember that it used to be “hate speech” in white southern colleges to call for integration.

      I’m defending the principle of free speech here, not Murray’s views. You don’t seem to realize that. And yes, it’s outrageous to violate the First Amendment.

      • Posted March 6, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        “Remember that it used to be “hate speech” in white southern colleges to call for integration.”

        This is one of my favorite points and I’m surprised people don’t make it more often. When we want to limit speech we seem to believe that we have reached a pinnacle of moral achievement and are no longer fallible in our judgements.

    • Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      I am sure Murray expects to be disliked. But should he expect to be shut down and threatened by a mob because they don’t like what he has to say?

    • BJ
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      So your answer is basically, “he deserved it.”

      I’m sure if a system like the one you’d like was put in place, everything would work out juuuust fine.

    • Martin X
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      — you should be aware that you’ll be disliked because of it.—

      You’re committing what’s called a “Motte & Bailey Defense”.

      It’s perfectly understandable that someone might dislike Murray, but defending that dislike does not defend shutting down his speech.

    • Posted March 6, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      As far as I can tell, that might be correct as a description of Murray. But so? Again, free speech, once granted by a trigger or intrinsically, should include odious, stupid, etc. views.

  8. colnago80
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read the book which was co-authored by Murray and Hearnstein but I have read the book by Stephen Jay Gould entitled The Mismeasure of Man refuting it.

    • Malgorzata
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      I read the Murray and Herrenstein book and I read Stephen Jay Gould’s book as well as a lot of critics of “The Bell Curve”. I had the impression that most critics didn’t like the data presented by Murray & Herrenstein, so they distorted what the authors had to say and put their own words and conclusions into the authors’ mouths. It reminded me very much of Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein’s campaign in 1984 to discredit Joan Peter’s book, “From Time Immemorial”. They, too, didn’t like the data and tried to destroy the author. Never mind that historians like Barbara Tuchman endorsed the book, never mind that further research in archives confirmed the data collected by Peters.
      To this day both books are treated as if their authors were lepers – people don’t read them but they “know” that the authors are beyond the pale.
      Critical thinking shouldn’t be about second hand opinions.

      • dabertini
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        Fist pumping last sentence!!

      • FiveGreenLeafs
        Posted March 6, 2017 at 1:33 am | Permalink

        Very well said!

        People really need to start to engage with the evidence, go to the primary sources themselves, read the books and scientific articles, not just stack 2nd, 3rd or nth hand opinion pieces on top of each other.

        That is just an exercise in futility, which (to my mind) is the grown up equivalent of the favorite sandbox game… my father has a bigger one than your father… look, my pile of articles are bigger than your pile… oh noe, mine has a Nobel price winner in it, it counts as 5… oh yeah, mine has 2 PhDs and an assistant professor… argh… tjoff… smock… “&#(!?

        And especially when it comes to such ideological hot spots like this. Any modicum of psychological self-awareness aught to light up the control room of the critical thinking module like a Christmas tree.

        Why should I trust this or that person? Do I trust his opinion because he belong to the same political tribe that I do? Do I believe this because I would like this to be true, or because the available evidence actually make such a belief justified?

        To add one observation to yours, is that it feels like in every generation since the beginning of intelligence testing, opponents have often reference authors in the previous one in a very selective way. And, with every generation, the original picture gets a little bit more warped and distorted.

        It feels a bit like the telephone game children plays at parties, whispering in each others ears, but here stretched out over 80 years:

        The child disobeyed the caretaker at the training school for the feeble minded, so he was spanked and was not allowed to play outside and did not get his pudding after lunch on Saturday…

        Children at the training school were spanked and not allowed to play outside and did not get pudding after lunch on Saturdays…

        Children at training schools were spanked every day and only allowed to play outside on Saturdays, and they got no pudding after lunch…

        Children were spanked every day, never allowed to play outside, only got lunch on Saturdays and they never got any pudding… what basturds

    • David Duncan
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Gould didn’t refute M&H. Although I’m usually highly sympathetic to him, Gould’s book was flawed.

    • BJ
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Stop relying on SJG to tell you what Murray’s real views are and read the original author’s book. You’ll find that SJG had a clear ideological agenda to completely discredit Murray, and that much of what SJG wrote was misrepresentation, prevarication, and outright lies.

    • Martin X
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      “The Mismeasure of Man” was written long before Murray wrote “The Bell Curve”.

      • David Duncan
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        There was a second edition written a year or three later which attacked TBC.

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    You can’t pin this on Trump; we’ve been watching these shenanigans since at least 2015 (Mizzou).

    I won’t be satisfied with Middlebury’s response until some students are expelled ann someone is arrested for assault.

  10. Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Is it not illegal to pull fire alarms without cause? And perhaps the students could be billed for the responders’ time.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Which could be quite expensive.
      I had a fire once.
      Insurance paid but it was thousands of dollars.

    • BJ
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      It is indeed illegal. And it has been happening to conservative speakers (or even those speakers whose lecture subjects were simply seen as incompatible with extreme social justice) for years on these campuses. Not one student has been punished.

    • Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      Ironically, the argument morons trot out most often to shut down speech they don’t like is the old ‘shouting fire in a theatre’ one.

      And then they actually set off fire alarms.

    • Craw
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      It is illegal. It is also dangerous, not just in possibly causing panic but also in crying wolf.
      And of course, when used to intimidate and censor it is fascistic.
      They should be billed, charged, and expelled.

  11. Cindy
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    A few months ago I watched an excellent documentary on the massacre at Kent State, where a # of students were killed by the National Guard during a protest.

    Media footage during and after the event was shown, in which people off the street were interviewed. What appalled me, is how many people said that the students *deserved* what they got for protesting. Yes, the students *deserved* to be massacred. They had it coming…

    The lesson here being that violent protest does *not* win you sympathy. From what I understand, the Kent State students did not engage in violent protest, yet they got little sympathy. This method is a loser, pure and simple. These kids will only harm their own cause, and many people will cheer the pushback that comes. If you want to defeat your own cause, this is an effective strategy.

    • mikeyc
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Without giving support to those who claimed the Kent State students deserved to be fired upon, the National Guard was called in because in the days preceding the shooting protests had been violent, including the fire bombing of a ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps(?)) building.

      • Cindy
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        Thanks mikey!

        I was too lazy to look it up 🙂

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        The student protest on the day of the Kent State shooting was completely peaceful when the National Guardsmen undertook to disperse it. The shootings occurred because the guardsmen were inadequately trained for such a mission and improperly commanded during it. The guardsmen panicked and fired indiscriminately into a crowd of students standing a hundred yards away.

        Of the four students murdered that day, two weren’t even participating in the protest, but were merely walking across campus from one class to another. One of them was himself a member of the campus ROTC.

  12. Heather Hastie
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure those who are blaming Trump are correct. This sort of thing was going on before he came along. There’s even an argument that he’s the right’s response to the far left’s failure to stand up for freedom of speech.

    Since Trump became a political force and even worse as president though, he has definitely made things much, much worse. He wasn’t the initial cause but now he represents all the bad stuff – racism, sexism, bullying, selfishness, extreme nationalism, xenophobia etc. He personally doesn’t appear to be anti-LGBT or anti-Semitic but his failure to deal with issues or to deal with then properly means he has those labels.

    Trump is incapable of providing the sort if leadership that might bring about change. His failure as a leader on all fronts will mark his presidency imo.

    • BJ
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think anyone could provide the leadership to stop the far left from doing these things. They believe they are “on the right side of history,” and anyone who disagrees with them even slightly stands in the way of progress toward their imagined utopia. Thus, any and all tactics are acceptable to them.

      • Cindy
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        A lot of these kids grew up under Obama. They don’t know anything *else*. They are used to always being right.

        I used to think that the world would be an ideal place if everyone was a leftist. “Reality has a well known liberal bias”. While I mostly agree with this (at least in regards to individual rights and so on) I now realize that if you swing too far to either side of the political spectrum that you risk echo chambers and fanaticism. I don’t want to live in such a world.

        The left needs the right to keep it honest and vice versa.

        • BJ
          Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

          ” I now realize that if you swing too far to either side of the political spectrum that you risk echo chambers and fanaticism.”

          Exactly. Once must always be vigilant, regardless of who’s speaking or what they’re espousing.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, true. :-/

  13. Posted March 5, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I sure disagree with classifying Murray’s works or talks as “hate speech” or branding him as “dangerous”. The students should have known better and should have planned their protests in a better fashion.

    That being said, is a flat-earther welcome to come and give and talks to Physics students on the latest findings on the theory of flat earth?
    What should the faculty and students in the Physics department do? Hold their own talks and “respond” to the flat-earther in a logical manner?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      A flat-earther would not be welcome to speak to a class of physics students — anymore than Charles Murray can show up on campus and speak to a classroom of students. But if a flat-earther were to be invited by a private student group to give a presentation — as Murray was invited to Middlebury by the American Enterprise Institute student club — then the flat-earther would be entitled to show up and give that presentation.

      The proper response to such a presentation, IMO, would be for the faculty and students in the physics department to ignore the flat-earther.

      • Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        I agree. But isn’t that something to worry about? Today it’s flat-earther. Tomorrow another “scientist” wants to discuss the Aether and “debunk” mainstream time-space theories. Then intelligent design “scientists” will show up demanding their ideas be presented to the students against all mainstream objections.



        This article reports that Murray and Herrnstein kind of evaded a rigorous peer-review process and employed a clever strategy for publicity which essentially brought them their fame and made the book what it is today. I see a serious problem here, namely, compromise of the peer-review process which eventually will lead to all kinds of quackery to have equal value with hard science.

        • BJ
          Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          We’ve been having speakers and debates for centuries. It’s not dangerous to let people speak, even if you vehemently disagree with them.

          Present better arguments. Write letters to the local papers. Make flyers refuting the lecturer’s talking about. These are just three of so many, many things you could do instead of no-platforming.

        • BJ
          Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

          And, though I haven’t read the article, Slate has a well-known bias toward supporting the far left and their actions. Maybe read Murray’s own book.

          Even if what you said from the article were true, how does that change whether or not he should be allowed to speak if invited? Should all sociologists not be allowed to speak because their “peer review” is so often a joke that just looks for the proper buzzwords and then, if found, they press “publish”?

          • Alex
            Posted March 5, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

            Slate is not “far-left” by any definition of the term.

            Based on what I’ve seen, the Bell Curve is largely considered pseudoscience by the scientific community and can safely be lumped in with creationism. Do I condone the behavior of the student protesters? No. But was inviting Charles Murray worth it? No.


            • BJ
              Posted March 5, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

              I didn’t say Slate was far-left. I said they have a tendency to support the far-left and its narratives when it gets into trouble.

              • Alex
                Posted March 5, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

                What exactly do you consider far-left? Has Slate ever promoted the type of stuff typically seen in say……CounterPunch? Or are you just simply calling a leftist ideology “far-left” simply because you don’t like said ideology?

              • BJ
                Posted March 5, 2017 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

                I’m a leftists, not a conservative.

              • Alex
                Posted March 6, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

                BJ, they were in fact peer-reviewed. http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=138617&highlight=Bell+Curve

            • Alex
              Posted March 6, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

              Sorry. Wrong reply.

            • BJ
              Posted March 6, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

              I don’t understand your point. And you haven’t answered my others. I guess we’ll just forget that you assumed I’m a conservative because I didn’t completely agree with you.

              • Cindy
                Posted March 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

                I’ve been accused of being both a Trump supporter and a Sanders Socialist simply by disagreeing with people, usually over *minor* issues.

              • BJ
                Posted March 6, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

                As have I! You know you’re thinking logically, being as objective as possible, and checking your biases when both sides call you the enemy with regularity for simple disagreement 🙂

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

          What you’re not getting is that no one has a right to “show up demanding their ideas be presented to the students[.]” The presentations at issue here are solely those in which the speaker has been invited by private student groups to give private presentations.

          I doubt these private student groups will start inviting a rash of crackpots speak. But even if they do, their views are so marginalized as to have de minimus effect on campus discourse.

          Moreover, the way to counteract such crackpot views is not to prohibit those who wish willingly to hear them from doing so.

        • Posted March 5, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

          Of course he should have been allowed to speak after he was invited. I already said that students’ form of protest was misguided.

          I was rather thinking out loud about giving platforms by respected scientific publishers or academic centers to quacks and charlatans of all colors thus validating their quackery in the eyes of the public.

          This is dangerous in the sense that it seriously undermines public’s trust in the scientific community.

          • BJ
            Posted March 5, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

            Letting people speak does not in any way legitimize them, nor do college lectures seen by a handful of students undermine scientific belief in the public.

            What does undermine such confidence in the public is not allowing people to speak.

            • Posted March 5, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

              What about publishing then? Should a well-known publisher in the field of biology publish the latest findings in the great scientific field of intelligent design (assuming such publication will bring financial, political, or other gain for the institute)?

              Of course no one should be allowed to prohibit them from such publication if they decide to go forward with it. It is their absolute right to say whatever they want to say.

              But do they have a moral responsibility to avoid publishing quackery on the grounds that it undermines the hard-built trust in the scientific community? Criticizing institutes for not upholding to scientific or moral values is different from calls for limiting speech.

              • Posted March 5, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

                You are right here.

              • BJ
                Posted March 5, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

                So, now that you’ve lost the argument, you’ve moved onto a business where profits, often shareholders, and other things are involved.

                Talk about moving the goalposts. You didn’t just move them, you put them in another country.

              • Alex
                Posted March 5, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

                “Criticizing institutes for not upholding to scientific or moral values is different from calls for limiting speech.”

                Thank you! Not providing platform for an author that is known for shoddy research is not censorship, but quality control. And even if Murray himself is not a white supremacist and didn’t intend to promote racist views, based on what I can find, white supremacists (mostly of the “Human Biodiversity” variety) have sometimes cited the Bell Curve to justify their opinions

              • Alex
                Posted March 5, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

                As for my above comment, replace every instance of “white supremacist” with “creationist” and you’ll see the problem that I am trying to point out.

              • BJ
                Posted March 5, 2017 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

                Alex, you know that scientific journals have “peer review,” since they’re more rigorous than a lectern and a student group or college who invited someone to speak, right?

              • Craw
                Posted March 5, 2017 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

                Alex, you seem to think the Bell Curve did not use peer reviewed research. This is quite wrong. You rely instead on opinion pieces from political sites. Slate is peer reviewed? Sheesh.

              • Alex
                Posted March 5, 2017 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

                Craw, I have provided sources that have rebutted Murray and the Bell Curve. You insist that Murray was “misrepresented”. Criticism of Murray’s methodology (which is what Claudia Krenz did in one of my sources) is not “misrepresentation”.

                The Bell Curve has been thoroughly discredited by multiple researchers from various stripes. Many of which did not seem to be the “misrepresentation” that you claim, but actual critiques of the methodology. To continue to insist that the Bell Curve is 100% correct or even mostly correct nowadays is about as logical as clinging to other long discredited theories.

              • BJ
                Posted March 6, 2017 at 6:34 am | Permalink

                Alex, what sources were those?

                And, in other words, they weren’t peer-reviewed sources, huh?

        • aljones909
          Posted March 5, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          It must be borne in mind that the left:right bias among academics in the social sciences is a minimum of 14:1. Sometimes a figure of 40:1 is given. Any published work that challenges leftist ideology, e.g. intelligence has only a small heritable component, will get a massive negative reaction.
          The main criticism from the article you link to criticises the figure of 60% heritability assumed in the Bell Curve. It counters this with a paper that gives a figure of 34%.

          I think the figure of 34% is an extreme outlier in IQ studies. An article that gives credence to this, rather than the (mainstream) 60% figure, indicates a strong ideological bias.

          See here: http://thealternativehypothesis.org/index.php/2016/04/15/the-heritability-of-iq/

          ” Large reviews of more than 200 such studies have determined that the heritability of IQ lies somewhere between .5 and .7, meaning that 50-70% of IQ variance in the population is explained by genes (Bouchard and McGue, 2003; Hunt 2011 ). ”
          “When you do segregate the studies by age, a clear pattern emerges: the heritability of IQ rises with age, hitting around 85% in late adulthood, and the influence of the shared environment falls to around 0% by young adulthood.”

          • BJ
            Posted March 5, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

            And that’s exactly the way people like Foxer would want it….Thye just have to find that pesky few percent left who aren’t going along with the crowd.

        • Posted March 6, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

          I would worry about student clubs wasting their money, including any funds they get from the general pool or whatever. But that’s it. I would perhaps ask if I had the chance why they are bothering with such, but that’s their affair. If they lobbied to get more alma mater society money or whatever because they’d spent it all on David Duke, Deepak Chopra and Ted Holden, I’d deny it, because everyone gets the same treatment.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 5, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        I can’t imagine a flat-earther generating so much heat as e.g. Murray.

        But if one was invited, I’d certainly go to listen – out of curiosity, to see how he managed to make his theory fit the observed facts. And I’d like to see how they were refuted by any of the physics department who attended. I just can’t imagine any point to protesting.

        But then, I think maybe flat-earther was a poor choice of analogy, in that there is not the same degree of political ‘heat’ in the topic.


        • Posted March 5, 2017 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

          Yes it has become about politics more than anything.

          Maybe it is in fact the case that the young generation do not respect freedom of speech. But at least in their own defence, the students do not reject free speech. They blame the security for escalating the situation needlessly. I am not in a position to factually assess these claims. But it seems to me there are other factors for students’ frustration with Murray and other provocateurs than just a general uninformed progressive leftist totalitarian hatred of free speech.

          From what I have read so far, I don’t think Murray’s work warrants any serious scientific discussion. He is in fact a Social Darwinist with little evidence to support his extreme positions and proposals. But again, Murray’s defenders almost in all cases accuse “the media” and other academics of being politically correct and biased against him for talking about race. So we have a situation in which there seems to be no arbiter for upholding academic integrity (and truth, for that matter). The comparison with flat-earther comes from the fact that most charlatans also claim they are being silenced by the mainstream scientific community.

          In their defence, the students basically claim that the college administration did all students a disservice by inviting someone whose work has not been properly peer reviewed. So they essentially intended to right a wrong with their protests (in which they miserably failed, I might add).

          As Professor Coyne says, there is no need to really know what Murray has to say for defending his free speech rights. But to understand what the problem actually is, we need to address that question, or this kind of thing is bound to happen again.

          • BJ
            Posted March 6, 2017 at 6:36 am | Permalink

            Ummmm, go read the recent polling done last year and this year if you think students still respect freedom of speech. Not only will you be unpleasantly surprised, you’ll be afraid for the future of civil liberties in our country.

  14. Kelly
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Of course these students have to blame Trump for their actions in order to cling to their victim hood status. The student’s argument begins with their claim that they will be victims of Mr. Murray’s dangerous ideas and thus are in need of protection. When the talk goes ahead, and the student’s react violently, they still cling to being victims, now it’s all Trump’s fault. I guess it looked too ridiculous for some to keep asserting that Mr. Murray was the one harming them (although some still made that claim). The blame game. This is what children do.

    • Posted March 7, 2017 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

      After the summer of ’15 and the numerous sit-ins, etc. the idea that students felt genuinely threatened by conflicting opinions sounded like an excuse, but every new example is another reason to believe the loudest ones are truly afraid. Now I cannot help but wonder what their professors are teaching.

  15. Posted March 5, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Besides the invited speaker’s free speech rights, there are some other things that bother me about the college students suppressing speeches they don’t like. What about the students who showed up voluntarily to hear what the speaker had to say? The illiberal college students have appointed themselves guardians to decide for the other students what is safe for them to hear. Why do they get to override their fellow students choice on what they are going to listen to.

    There is also a double standard going on. Safe spaces and freedom of association for groups we approve of, but not for groups we don’t like. The illiberal left are saying we can invade the safe spaces of the AEI club or the college republican club and that’s OK. Or we can take over a public space and without any process declare it to be our safe space.

  16. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    even then the students pulled fire alarms to cause further disruption)

    I don’t know about America, but deliberate misuse of emergency equipment like that would certainly have had you up in front of the Senatus (insert name of your university’s governing body here) with the potential for expulsion, and might have triggered criminal charges if the local HSE office felt like persecuting a fresh offender “pour encourager les autres”.

    • Posted March 6, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      Normally there would be consequences here in the U.S. as well. That there have not been consequences is part of the reason conservatives are complaining about a double standard.

      Personally, I find this all so emotionally confusing. All of my life I’ve been somewhere to the left of center, but the left, at least in the U.S., has gotten so radical I find myself being sympathetic to conservatives with whom I normally disagree. The conservatives are right when they say they are not treated the same way.

      The authorities (in this case I don’t know if it’s the school or the town) are choosing to not punish an action they would normally punish.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted March 6, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        I shouldn’t worry over-much about the description of these dick-heads (of any and all anatomical and identity genders) as being “leftist” in some sense. I don’t see anything that marks them as being particularly “left” in any absolute sense. They might seem “left” in America, where the sort of right-wing lunacy that would likely get one a holiday in a padded room in the civilised world passes for normality, but in any other country these people would have been characterised as dickheads, not “left”.
        They remind me of “animal rights campaigners” who claimed to have no compunction about killing people to reduce animal suffering, and who couldn’t understand that there was a problem in their position.
        Just because they’re at university doesn’t stop them from being idiots.

  17. Cate Plys
    Posted March 5, 2017 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    I clicked on the link to the full student defense of the mob/riot, hosted by what looks like the Middlebury student newspaper’s website. And I was pleasantly surprised to find the overwhelming majority of the comments there, from current students and alumnae, could just as easily be read here at WEIT.

    Re Charles Murray: The Bell Curve came out after I was out of school, and I never did go get it to see if everyone who hated it was misinterpreting it, accidentally or on purpose. And part of me does not want to bother now, either, because whether he is or is not a white nationalist is completely beside the point when it comes to defending free speech. But I’m beginning to think that perhaps it’s my responsibility, as a believer in free speech, to try to find the time to do so. Malgorzota and others here have made a compelling case that Murray was deliberately misinterpreted. If so, he is being demonized in the same way as, say, the SPLC is now demonizing Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz. And again if so, it’s not fair to simply say maybe he’s a white supremacist, but he should still be allowed to speak. I hope this incident will spur someone to write a reasoned, fair analysis of Murray and save me the time of reading The Bell Curve.

    • Craw
      Posted March 5, 2017 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Fwiw, I read it long ago, and agree with Malgorzata etc all that he was grossly misrepresented. But in principle, I don’t think you should take my word for it. Nor the word of any possible anonymous internet commenter!

      Misrepresentation is a common, easy tactic. You can I think see that even in the videos of the protest. How many of the mob read his book do you think? Or could evaluate the statistical arguments if they did? Yet “racist, sexist anti-gay”: they apply it to anyone and everyone they want to shut up.

      • Tom
        Posted March 6, 2017 at 12:48 am | Permalink

        It may be worth remembering that the Nazis did not worry about disruption at their local street rallies it suited their violent ideology to be bring the struggle onto the streets. However, what really did worry them was when very few people bothered to attend.
        Perhaps the students should bear this in mind?

    • Posted March 6, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      I read it too and also agree that it was misrepresented. This doesn’t mean I entirely agree with Murray. I was very aware of the controversy around it when I read it, but I suspect if there hadn’t been any, my reaction would have been to shrug. It should be noted that he was not invited to speak about The Bell Curve. He was invited to speak about a more recent book.

      There’s also plenty of interviews with him on YouTube. You can watch a bit and decide if his books are worth your time.

      That sounds like I’m discouraging you from reading it. I’m not. That’s accidental.

  18. Michieux
    Posted March 6, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Why do phone/tablet cameras have this sort of aspect ratio?

    Sorry if this seems ignorant.

  19. Posted March 6, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    At the point, the way to deal with it is criminal prosecution. Denying others’ freedom of speech and physical assault aren’t protected speech.

  20. Posted March 6, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t watch the video at first but then I read Murray’s description and thought he might be exaggerating. All of those students chanting slogans like a bunch of brainwashed zombies – it was creepier than it sounded.

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