The cowardice of Middlebury College faculty

As I reported a few days ago, Middlebury College recently disinvited speaker Ryszard Legutko, a right-wing Polish professor, from speaking to the College. The reason given by the Dean and Provost, in an email to the campus community, was that they could not “ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff and community members.”  That may be true, but it’s their responsibility to make sure that safety is ensured, for if it’s mainly the Left who disrupts speakers, this excuse will guarantee that only Left-wing speech will be heard. It amounts to a tacit kind of censorship—viewpoint restriction.

A reader sent me what is said to be a transcript of a discussion between faculty and a group of students about Legutko’s appearance in a class, which was livestreamed and his only “talk” at Middlebury. I can’t vouch for its authenticity, but it sounds authentic. If it is, it speaks poorly of both the students of Middlebury, who are deeply offended and DEMAND that the college apologize for Legutko’s appearance. And listen how the faculty capitulates to these demands, debasing and abasing themselves and promising to “do better.” If this is real, it sickens me.

Here are you YouTube notes:

A Middlebury College student contacted me with an audio recording of a student/faculty meeting. He was concerned about what took place and wanted help to get it out so I put a video together for him.

Officials at Middlebury College in Vermont have cancelled a planned event featuring a talk by conservative Polish politician and philosopher, Ryszard Legutko.

Legutko is often subject to fierce opposition to his right-wing views. Protests of the Legutko event at Middlebury were planned, before the college cancelled his appearance, citing safety concerns.

An email signed by provost Jeff Cason and deen Bashakhi Taylor was sent out to the campus hours before the appearance by Legutko saying, “In the interest of ensuring the safety of students, faculty, staff and community members, the lecture by Ryszard Legutko scheduled for later today will not take place. The decision was not taken lightly. It was based on an assessment of our ability to respond effectively to potential security and safety risks for both the lecture and the event students had planned in response.”

An open letter circulating on campus had earlier questioned sponsoring “a speaker who blatantly and proudly expounds homophobic, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic discourse.” Bringing such a speaker to campus amounts to “shutting out large swaths of the Middlebury community, all of whom are engaged, critical and rigorous thinkers whose energies would be better spent not combating degrading and dehumanizing rhetoric.”

Many disputed this argument, disavowing some of his stances but saying it was important for the college to have speakers with a wide range of views.


Here’s a link to the entire recording of the meeting, though for some reason I haven’t been able to open it.

h/t: cesar


  1. Jon Gallant
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Everything about the great awokening on US campuses falls uncannily well into categories defined long ago in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. For example, the way “liberal” faculty and administrators abase themselves before wokies, as at Middlebury, fits perfectly with Dependent Personality Disorder. Its symptoms include: “is unable to make everyday decisions without an excessive amount of advice or reassurance from others…agrees with people even when he or she believes they are wrong, because of fear of being rejected…is easily hurt by criticism or disapproval”.

    Some of the loudmouths behind the eruptions of wokeness at Evergreen State and Williams College revealed themselves as virtually clinical examples of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and/or Histrionic Personality Disorder, as set out in the DSM. Symptoms of the former disorder are: “has a grandiose sense of self-importance…believes that his or her problems are unique and can only be understood by other special people…has a sense of entitlement: unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment…requires constant attention and admiration”. Symptoms of the latter include: “expresses emotion with inappropriate exaggeration… is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center attention…has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail”.

    The great awokening thus seems largely an exercise by a subpopulation of narcissists among one or another minority group, using their claimed victimhood status as an attention-getting device. They are aided by “allied” narcissists among the majority population, and by the entrepreneurs of the Diversity Consultant/Robin DiAngelo category (who have taken up wokie noisemaking as a business plan), and then indulged by the dependent personalities in the faculty and administration.

    • Posted April 20, 2019 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Describes are current president to the ‘T’.

      • Jon Gallant
        Posted April 20, 2019 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. Curious that narcissism of both Left and Right seems more extreme here than in, say, Canada or northern Europe. Could the USA’s more extreme weather explain other extreme phenomena?

        • Filippo
          Posted April 20, 2019 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

          More evidence, I suppose, of “Amuricun Exceptionalism.”

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 20, 2019 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

          Everything seems to be opposite extremes in the US. The two Americas theory seems to hold for a lot of things. Perhaps it’s the extreme individualism or it’s the weirdness of religion but it just is that way.

    • Posted April 20, 2019 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      “has a grandiose sense of self-importance…believes that his or her problems are unique and can only be understood by other special people…”

      So all intersectionalists fall into this category? One more reason not to take them seriously.


  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Back in the early 1970s, about the time the chief justiceship of the US Supreme Court passed from Earl Warren to Warren Burger, the Court was hearing a series of cases presenting issue regarding whether certain movies constituted unlawful “obscenity.” The films ranged from mainstream fare like Mike Nichols’s masterpiece Carnal Knowledge,” to European art films, to “blue movies” fit only for stag parties.

    The justices, or most of them, felt they had to watch the films to pass upon the legality vel non of their contents. To accommodate this need, a screening room was set up in the basement of the Supreme Court building, and on Friday afternoons, at the end of their work week, the justice would assemble there to have a look. (Those screenings were closed off to all outsiders, but according to the reporting in Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong’s book The Brethren, the viewings were marked by a fair amount of puerile poking and pointing and joking among the justices, all of whom at the time were men.)

    The Supreme Court’s two great free-speech absolutists of those (or any other) day — Justices Hugo Black and William O. Douglas — never attended these Friday afternoon dirty-movie screenings. It wasn’t that they were prudes, but the opposite: they were of a mind that whatever was on the reels of celluloid contained in the canisters submitted as exhibits by the parties, it was damn well protected by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, content notwithstanding.

    That pretty much sums up my feelings about these campus speech issues. I don’t need to know the identity of the speaker or the content of the proposed presentation to come down on the side free expression. I gather that most of the speakers stirring controversy are on the right side of the political spectrum, so I no doubt disagree with almost all of them on almost everything. Some seem to be responsible conservatives; some, reactionary extremists; and some, punk provocateurs. Doesn’t matter. If a university creates a limited public forum to which it permits its students to invite speakers of their choice, the students have a right to hear the speakers of their choosing speak. Full stop.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted April 20, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Once again you put it so well. +1

    • davelenny
      Posted April 20, 2019 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Great story about the Supreme Court. Yes, disinvitations are an attack by one group of students on their fellow students’ freedom to listen to and question speakers of their choice.

      Perhaps the solution for spineless administrators worried about security costs and unwilling to discipline speech disrupters would be a policy of mutually assured destruction. If a left (or right) wing group successfully disinvites or disrupts a speaker from the opposite political spectrum, then right (or left) wing groups get a free disinvitation or disruption of any two speakers they oppose.

      Certainly not my preferred solution and probably unworkable, but the consequences of frequently rewarding bullying and forceful suppression are obvious and dreadful.

      • BJ
        Posted April 20, 2019 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Mututally assured destruction is what it will come to. It’s amazing to me that they don’t seem to understand this. How long do they think they can get away with using violence, rioting, threats, obstruction, and sabotage before the other side reciprocates in kind?

        It’s the same with the antifa idiots. They seem to think they can keep showing up at conservative rallies with weapons and hitting people and that nobody will fight back. Unfortunately for antifa, conservative groups are starting to form to “protect” conservative protests and public gatherings. And I put “protect” in quotes because these groups really just want an excuse for a fight. People in groups like antifa have given it to them, and things might get very, very ugly in the near future.

        Of course, when all of this inevitably comes to a head, I expect much of the media to blame the Right.

    • max blancke
      Posted April 20, 2019 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Very well put. The political views of the invited speakers are pretty much irrelevant to the real discussion, which should center on the issue of people who so easily voice the demand to ban this or that thing, thought, or person.

      Clearly, some percentage of the population are not teaching proper civics to their kids.

      Every time I venture back into civilization, I encounter viewpoints and practices that differ markedly from mine. But the idea of banning all those things just does not fit into what I believe our country is about.

      One thing these folks seem to believe is that allowing the existence of any concept or object means endorsing everything about it.

  3. DrBrydon
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    This is characterized as a “crisis management” meeting. That seems hyperbolic. It would be easy to scold the speakers about freedom and democracy, but I think it likely that they are not actually interested in those things, and—to the extent that they prevent the speakers from enforcing their views—are probably hostile to them. We are perhaps in our Weimar moment. We have cuckoos in the nest.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 20, 2019 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      And woe be the person who opposes deplatforming for that person will forever be known as a “Nazi”, “alt-right” sympathizer if not an outright member.

    • Deodand
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 1:14 am | Permalink

      A better description would be ‘struggle session’. I’m reminded of accounts of China’s “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”, where the Red Guards subjected lecturers at universities to public humiliation and then sent them to work in the fields so that they would ‘learn humility’.

      Combine that with the attitude that the purpose of free speach is to promote equality and that any disagreement strips those who disagree of all their rights and you have a recipe for something pretty ugly.

      • max blancke
        Posted April 21, 2019 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        The methods and tactics used by the Maoists were effective for them as a means of consolidating power, but they had the numbers and force to back it up.

        In the West, these people are in the minority, and really are nothing but “paper tigers”, to stick to the theme.

        I see toddler behavior. They always explore the limits of their power. If you allow them to do so, they will just keep pushing. Once they learn where the boundaries lie, they usually become content to live within them. Yes, they are going to throw a tantrum when you finally say “no”. But that will pass, and as long as you are firm and consistent, life will be easier for everyone.

  4. Posted April 20, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Sigh…..this just sickens me.

  5. dd
    Posted April 20, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I have only read small excerpts from Legutko’s book, “The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies”, but the blurb from amazon below gives a good idea what his concerns are.

    Alas, what nasty irony that his Middlebury experience is exactly the kind of thing he writes about in his book.

    “Ryszard Legutko lived and suffered under communism for decades—and he fought with the Polish anti-communist movement to abolish it. Having lived for two decades under a liberal democracy, however, he has discovered that these two political systems have a lot more in common than one might think. They both stem from the same historical roots in early modernity, and accept similar presuppositions about history, society, religion, politics, culture, and human nature.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 20, 2019 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      Are you endorsing Legutko’s views here?

      I can’t speak to his ideas specifically, since I’ve never read Legutko. But I can say that it’s typical of Fascists of every sort to bemoan the decadence of liberal democracy and to long for the perceived superiority of some pre-modern state (albeit with all the advantages of industrialization and other technological advances). Hell, the Nazis sought a return to the pre-modern purity of the Nordic/Aryan bloodline. Islamofascism seeks restoration of a different kind of religio-ideological pre-modern purity.

  6. Posted April 20, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Zachary Wood, “Uncensored” describes similar issues at Williams when he pushed to have speakers present whose conservative views were different from most.

  7. tr jackson
    Posted April 30, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    This looks like a typo to me, but it may be just something I fail to understand:

    “Here are you YouTube notes:”

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