Scholarship News

Middlebury Students Shout Down Speaker; Professor Injured


March 7, 2017 9:52 AM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
Hundreds of Middlebury College students turned their backs on, and shouted down a prominent and controversial writer and scholar, Dr. Charles Murray, preventing him from giving a public lecture. The violent attack on free speech left one college professor injured and Middlebury’s President disappointed with the deep and troubling divisions that were on display [that] night.

Hundreds of Middlebury College students turned their backs on, and shouted down a prominent and controversial writer and scholar, Dr. Charles Murray, preventing him from giving a public lecture. The violent attack on free speech left one college professor injured and Middlebury’s President disappointed with the "deep and troubling divisions that were on display [that] night."

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Middlebury College's American Enterprise Club - a politically conservative group - invited Dr. Charles Murray to give a speech. Murray's writings are fairly controversial, especially The Bell Curve, which argues the differences in intelligence are partially genetic and that there may be genetic differences between races. His most recent book, Coming Apart, "analyzes the struggles of the white working class."

Leftist protestors stood up during Murray's speech, turned their backs to him and started chanting loudly so much so that he could not speak, according to PBS. Chants included "Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray, go away" and "Who is the enemy? White supremacy." Murray and his interlocutor, politically-liberal Professor Allison Stanger, moved to a secret location to continue their speech and dialogue, but were disturbed once again by protestors who began pushing and reportedly "grabbed [Stanger's] hair and twisted her neck." Stanger ended up at the hospital and received a neck brace for her injury. Finally, when Murray, Stanger and their escorts departed, protestors 'pounded on [the waiting car], rocked it back and forth, and jumped onto the hood."

In response to the incident, Middlebury President Laurie Patton stated students "failed to live up to our core values.' Although Patton openly disagrees with Murray's views, prior to Murray's appearance, she reminded students that they were permitted to "protest but not to disrupt the talk." Professor Stanger was similarly concerned that, "some faculty colleagues who had publicly acknowledged that they had not read anything Dr. Murray had written joined the effort to shut down the lecture." In your opinion, was the protest justified? Is there a better way to argue against those of varying political ideologies? Leave us your thoughtful comments below.

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Patricia R  on  4/9/2017 8:06:54 PM commented:

Intelligence is genetic somewhat and comes in my areas of intelligence and it is from your parents. However I take issue about Caucasians being more intelligent than other races. We are not. I am white.

TimF  on  3/21/2017 6:36:36 PM commented:

It seems odd to me that the liberals/leftists who preach inclusivity have such a deaf ear when conservatives speak. Shouting down anyone, especially on a college campus, sort of implies that you're afraid there might be nuggets of truth in what is being said...otherwise a bit of rational discourse and study would reveal the truth and be perfectly sufficient. That presumes, of course, that truth is something worthy of pursuit (sigh).

Victoria R.  on  3/11/2017 2:25:18 PM commented:

Wow, that's horrendous. Though, the people of America have their choice to protest, I think it may have went crazy. And maybe, if the speaker was more of a radical person, this problem won't persist.

Jason C  on  3/9/2017 5:59:01 AM commented:

Even controversial speakers have the right to speak freely. I don't agree with the speakers line of thinking, but he should have the right to speak. Protests are fine, but they should be cordial.

Anon  on  3/8/2017 6:30:54 PM commented:

Good. Racist, sexist and other hateful rhetoric should not be given a legitimized public platform, as its normalization is a threat to those whom they target as "enemies". Deserved worse.

Thomas Brown  on  3/8/2017 5:08:54 PM commented:

Schools in general used to be a place where students and professors could question conventional wisdom, without fear of reprisal. Students were graded on the strength of their position, supported by the data. Today they are (generally) overpriced organizations focused only on politically correct liberal narratives that do not challenge a students ability to critically think about, support, or refute differing viewpoints. Colleges & Universities today are a disappointing reflection of intolerant, liberal, one way thinking, providing little value for their inordinate pricing. The institutions of higher education in the north east abandoned objectivity long ago in favor of an overtly liberal agenda. If an individual (or individuals) believes it necessary to shout down, intimidate, or physically attack another individual (or group of individuals) to make a point, they have only demonstrated their complete inability to pursuade others thru the use of intelligent, fact based, concepts.

Denise M  on  3/8/2017 4:29:04 PM commented:

What an embarrassment of a University

Axel S.  on  3/8/2017 1:11:05 PM commented:

Unfortunately, our media and academia force feed historical and political narratives to such an extent that the kids are brainwashed and self censor instead of thinking critically and logically. If one can disprove Murray's theories, then do it in appropriately and in the venue the university provides. If one can't, then trying to suppress it is wrong. It is an idea in the marketplace of ideas. The school has responsibility not only to educate students in their required or chosen curriculum, but also educate them about citizenship in our democracy. It seems to have failed in this case. As for the professor who was injured, the it bears major liability. The kids who attacked the professor and her guest should be identified and charged with assault. This does not detract from the fact that the country has been corrupted and the system rigged, or that racism is still alive, but unless one is fighting in self defense, there is no place for this type of violence.

Jeff P  on  3/8/2017 11:24:19 AM commented:

As more and more colleges display their outrageous bias and their disdain for anyone who voices an opinion even remotely at odds with theirs, it makes me wonder why I'm working hard to send my child into this maelstrom.

Lisa w  on  3/8/2017 10:56:42 AM commented:

What happened to going to college to broaden your mind and learn different views and debate? You cannot have a debate if every point of view cannot be expressed. This mob mentality that there is only one point of view and that is the only correct one or your a horrible person is out of control. Free speech is gone in this country and that is sad. These professors are just as bad as the ignorant students who don't look into the facts but just jump on the next outrage issue because that's the popular thing at the moment.

Kim B  on  3/8/2017 10:53:26 AM commented:

Thank you for the information. We can cross this college of the list of all of my kids. The violent offenders weren't arrested? Why? I also love the fact the the COLLEGE PROFESSOR has not even read this guys material, but he objects to it. The material may well be offensive, but how would you know if you haven't done any actual research. You expect families to pay 10's of thousands of dollars for an education from a lazy professor like this. No way.

Max G  on  3/8/2017 10:09:36 AM commented:

Parents of these children should be so proud of how they are wasting their money. This country was built on free speech. That means regardless of how you disagree with whomever is speaking, they have the right to speak, not the right to be attacked, molested, injured or harmed in any way. These entitled children should be marched over to the nearest prison and be made to stay there a few nights to think of how disgusting they really are.

Rhonda L.  on  3/8/2017 10:00:25 AM commented:

I don't want to attend a school where faculty are so close-minded that they don't even read material to evaluate it....and aren't willing to consider other perspectives. They sound lazy to me!

Pete O  on  3/8/2017 9:22:58 AM commented:

Another reason why my kids won't go to this institution or any of these left leaning colleges that dont value a diversity of opinions.

Lisa w  on  3/8/2017 9:12:32 AM commented:

What happened to going to college to broaden your mind and learn different views and debate? You cannot have a debate if every point of view cannot be expressed. This mob mentality that there is only one point of view and that is the only correct one or your a horrible person is out of control. Free speech is gone in this country and that is sad. These professors are just as bad as the ignorant students who don't look into the facts but just jump on the next outrage issue because that's the popular thing at the moment.

Becky B  on  3/7/2017 6:43:05 PM commented:

One more college to cross off the list of schools I would spend money on. When college discourse devolves to mob rule and violence, that's not a place I'd send my kid.

Kelly  on  3/7/2017 4:12:34 PM commented:

Let's not [beat] around the bush: this is terrorism. People who think certain opinions (stupid ones included) should be silenced with violence always lead to the darkest parts of history.

Lori C  on  3/7/2017 4:08:02 PM commented:

The way these students behaved is beyond disgusting. Perhaps this school and their parents should teach them a little bit more about the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We have a little something called the First Amendment. Physically attack a professor because they do not agree with the speakers views and then attack the waiting car? Spoiled privileged kids who threw a temper tantrum! They should not only be expelled but arrested for assault! I hope this professor presses charges.

Brittany W  on  3/7/2017 1:16:40 PM commented:

No matter who is speaking, violence is never necessary. They were told not to disrupt the speech and did, that was something rather small, although incredibly rude. But the fact that they harmed Professor Stranger is unacceptable. For that alone, they should be expelled.

Jakai T  on  3/7/2017 12:59:56 PM commented:

I definitely would have protested against the dude, but not INJURED anyone. That's just makes us look extra out of our minds. We've got to learn to protest without making people glare down on us even more because of the violence a few caused.

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