Patterico's Pontifications


Middlebury College: Violent Protestors Will Now Decide Who Speaks at Our Campus

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 am

This is the logical end point of the insanity we have recently witnessed across campuses nationwide. Middlebury College has announced an “interim” policy that enshrines the Heckler’s Veto, putting the power of who will speak at their institution in the hands of people who would threaten to disrupt events:

Interim Procedures for Scheduling Events and Invited Speakers

Until it is replaced or superseded, the following procedures will be in effect for all of Middlebury’s locations.

. . . .

4) In the event of a credible likelihood, based on prior incidents or current evidence, that an event is likely to be the target of threats or violence, the Threat Assessment and Management Team will conduct a risk assessment of the event, consulting with local law enforcement as needed, in order to advise the administration.

5) Representatives from Public Safety/Campus Security and Risk Management will review the risk assessment and determine resources or measures that might be necessary to ensure that the event can proceed without undue risk to the speaker and/or members of the community. This review will include a consideration of Middlebury Emergency Preparedness Plan and Emergency Operations protocols.

6) In those exceptional cases where this review indicates significant risk to the community, the president and senior administration will work with event sponsors to determine measures to maximize safety and mitigate risk. Only in cases of imminent and credible threat to the community that cannot be mitigated by revisions to the event plan would the president and senior administration consider canceling the event.

It all sounds so reasonable . . . until you think about what they’re saying. If they believe there will be violence, “based on prior incidents or current evidence” (i.e. threats of violence or previous incidents of violence), their response will not be to beef up security and promise arrests of anyone who tries to disrupt an event. It will be to “consider canceling the event.”

I understand the desire to maintain public safety. But let’s have some clarity here. When groups violently protest an an otherwise peaceful speech, public safety is threatened by the protestors, not the speaker. Yet not one word of the policy is devoted to warning people who threaten violence that there will be a crackdown on them. Instead, they announce ahead of time that they may punish the speaker and the people who want to hear the speaker’s message.

I don’t think I’m saying anything controversial or unfair when I point out that such a policy disfavors speech by conservatives, and favors speech by leftists. Every sentient observer of political life can see that these disruptions at college campuses are invariably carried out by leftists.

The worst thing about this is the incentive it creates to threaten and engage in violence. One thing the right finds frustrating about the left is the left’s seeming inability to understand the concept of incentives. What do you think leftists hear when you tell them that the more violence they threaten, and the more violence they engage in, the greater chance they have of getting a conservative speech cancelled? They hear this: if you threaten violence, and engage in violence, you will win.

I have always been in favor of more speech. (The First Amendment is one of the things in life that has never let me down!) When I went to school, there was a giant outcry when Meir Kahane came to speak. (Kahane was an ultra-orthodox rabbi who argued that Israel should follow Jewish law and be reserved for Jews. He was later assassinated by an Arab gunman.) Activists tried to get the speech cancelled, and stood outside and shouted at attendees on their way in. I wasn’t terribly interested in Kahane’s ideas, but I went — mainly to piss off the activists. I smiled at the shouting sign-wavers as I strolled by them, and felt that simply by attending and listening respectfully, I was doing something for the freedom of speech.

That is the attitude school administrators need to have. The greater the threat of violence, the greater the need to ensure that the show will go on. The solution is not to cancel a speech. The solution is to increase security, and to arrest anyone who tries to throw the event into chaos.

Why do schools not seem to understand this? I’ll leave that as a philosophical exercise for the reader.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

35 Responses to “Middlebury College: Violent Protestors Will Now Decide Who Speaks at Our Campus”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  2. The schools understand this. This has been the great project of university administrators for decades.

    johnl (4dd332)

  3. Thank you for this post. I am in complete agreement. The schools get it, I think. They are protecting their own speech, not free speech.

    also, you accidentally double posted.

    felipe (023cc9)

  4. As Ben Shapiro says, they’ve replaced the heckler’s veto with the rioter’s veto, while the media, which can no longer hide the violence of the fascist left, pivots and says the violence is coming equally from both sides.

    This has been a lie since they smeared the Tea Party (which assembled legally, peacefully and cleaned up after themselves with about 10 total arrests) while covering for the Occutards who had thousands of arrest for trespassing, violence, mayhem, assault, rape, etc. while leaving mountains of garbage for someone else (i.e. Taxpayers) to pay for the cleanup.

    harkin (fc9aef)

  5. but what if they say boobs

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  6. also, you accidentally double posted.

    Whatcha mean

    Patterico (115b1f)

  7. the post is repeatered twice

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  8. One side is attacking reporters, police, people wearing red hats etc. while starting fires and breaking windows to protest speech they disagree with……and it ain’t the right.

    harkin (fc9aef)

  9. Oh, I see. Thanks, felipe. Trying to link to the cross-postings, I copied a lot of text.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  10. Let the inmates decide who gets paroled, let the fans decide who wins the game, let the truants decide the curriculum…what could go wrong?

    ropelight (4eddca)

  11. I’ve never watched “Survivor,” but it seams to work for them, ropelight.

    felipe (023cc9)

  12. No doubt Jester could offer some simple Simons on this topic from his experiences in academia.

    Middlebury is a small, private, liberal arts college and certainly not operating on the scale of say, a Berkeley or Ohio State. So rather than suggesting it’s a concerted effort to quash right or left speech it may likely have to do with simple day-to-day operations at a small school with a small student body in comparison to the Big Ten types. Having graduated from a small college of similar scale in a similar-sized town– albeit in another era– basic, real world costs of security [streakers were so quaint,] the fear of expensive lawsuits, property destruction such loomed as large financial concerns with a student body of 2,000 or so.

    But when it came to campus concerts and speakers, the students were left to the whims and wary eyes of aging administrators. In our case, from another era, they landed Springsteen by default ($4 ticket for four and a half hours) and Count Basie by choice. And for speakers, avoided the more liberal, Timothy Leary-types and went with the likes of Republican Dick Thornburgh as well as a more conservative engineer in a suit-and-tie: the Nazi.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  13. how do you square your criticism of middlebury with this comment what you made in the context of Evan McMullin’s vicious no-platform campaign against Mr. Milo Yapperlippernobulous

    Sidestepped are the questions about whether giving someone a platform at CPAC has any meaning, and whether inviting Richard Spencer or David Duke would be acceptable.

    If a platform at CPAC is not perceived as giving someone a platform to speak in behalf of conservative values then I suppose SWC would be OK with those fellas speaking there too.
    Patterico (9356e2) — 2/20/2017 @ 11:24 am

    this was a case where there wasn’t any violence threatened at all, but in the comments in this thread you suggest that speakers should be uninvited in certain circumstances

    Patterico, it is absurd to allege that the opinions of others represent me “as a conservative.”

    Is it absurd to suggest that an invitee to speak at a conservative gathering represent conservative views? If Richard Spencer were invited, would I be the one criticized here because Spencer speaking is not significant? Would SWC “find irritation” with me for suggesting Spencer is not who you want speaking at such a conference? How about David Duke? Is there anywhere we should draw a line?

    I might have though it would be at someone suggesting 13-year-olds can be sexually mature and capable of giving meaningful consent to sex with an older man. For some, that is no problem.
    Patterico (9356e2) — 2/20/2017 @ 10:03 am

    Is there anywhere we should draw a line? is basically the question Middlebury is trying to answer here

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  14. is U2 pulling a Middlebury right now by canceling their concert or are they being prudent?

    that’s a tough call i think

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  15. The Boob guy has questionable judgement as in he (Clay Travis) recommended a Trump-Rubio ticket; but given recent events, it would have saved a lot of sturm und drang.

    urbanleftbehind (847a06)

  16. Younger U2 would have stood in the street and sang to the rabble, but they now they are like this DC superhero in this meme.

    urbanleftbehind (847a06)

  17. “Heckler’s veto” is one of the most powerful two-word arguments I’ve ever seen or read. But of course, university administrators are far too intellectual and omniscient to take account of two-word arguments, especially the irrefutable ones like this one.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  18. Whether a small, private college is a free speech area at all is a matter of contract between it and its faculty and students. We can just choose not to go there, just as we can choose not to go to Brigham Young University if we don’t want to shave every morning.

    nk (dbc370)

  19. @nk:Whether a small, private college is a free speech area at all is a matter of contract between it and its faculty and students.

    Ought to be, but conditioning Federal student aid and loans on college policies is what make this in practice not necessarily so.

    Frederick (80401a)

  20. If I ran a college, I would allow only straight A students to bring in extracurricular speakers or to attend their lectures. The rest should spend their time and energy learning what they’re supposed to learn.

    nk (dbc370)

  21. My opinion of the present state of undergraduate education in the United States is that it is largely workfare for the faculty and administrators. Three-fourths of the students should not be there. Neither they nor society will benefit from the waste of their youth and their parents’s and the taxpayers’ money. Only the aforementioned faculty and administrators will.

    Eliminating that three-fourths should be enough to solve all the problems on college campuses, because the one-fourth who do deserve to be there will be serious persons, there for an education and not a pastime. Further, more resources will now be allocated to students who deserve them as well as to the deserving smaller faculty and administration who remain to serve them.

    nk (dbc370)

  22. Was any of this covered at Trump university?

    mg (31009b)

  23. @nk:My opinion of the present state of undergraduate education in the United States is that it is largely workfare for the faculty and administrators.

    You almost have it right. Faculty and administrators are just a portion of who is employed there. At public universities there are also the classified staff, who generally have the full panoply of civil rights protections and benefits.

    In every state, the higher education system is the largest government employer.

    It certainly acts as a jobs program, but not primarily for PhDs.

    Frederick (80401a)

  24. “civil rights protections and benefits” should be “civil service protections and benefits.”

    Frederick (80401a)

  25. how do you square your criticism of middlebury with this comment what you made in the context of Evan McMullin’s vicious no-platform campaign against Mr. Milo Yapperlippernobulous

    I do not remember Evan McMullin’s campaign. I speak for myself. In the context of my own opinions regarding the two situations, here is how I easily square them.

    A group that has an entitlement to a particular space for someone to speak should be able to choose who they want without interference.

    There’s your principle. Easy!

    Patterico (115b1f)

  26. I would have guessed that the largest government employer in each state is the Postal Service.

    DRJ (15874d)

  27. Thank you, Frederick.

    There are some PhDs who have worked very hard to build a career teaching and doing research. My job is many things, but “workfare” is not one of them. This is a reminder I shouldn’t judge other professions without knowing something about them.

    But being snide is our new normal. Especially in service of a narrative.

    Simon Jester (fbd5ad)

  28. What is particularly sad is that middleboro is know for foreign language but apparently antifa is the only language on tap.

    narciso (d1f714)

  29. The question of the day;

    Rev.Hoagie® (6bbda7)

  30. sORRY, BAD LINK. iT’S AT mOONBATTERY TO SEE. I’M typing in the dark, can you tell

    Rev.Hoagie® (6bbda7)

  31. “Largely” does not mean “entirely”. And the PhDs, or most of them, will likely be included in the top fourth of the faculty we keep to teach the top fourth of the seekers of knowledge. A lean mean education machine is what I have in mind. I like the Brigham Young model although I wouldn’t go there. No five o’clock shadow and no coffee, either? That’s sadistic.

    nk (dbc370)

  32. @DRJ:I would have guessed that the largest government employer in each state is the Postal Service.

    Federal employees, perhaps, thought I’d imagine the military is larger. But for state governments, the higher education system is by far the largest component of those employed by the state government, and the K-12 public schools come next.

    @nk:I like the Brigham Young model although I wouldn’t go there. BYU is bankrolled by the Church, so funded in a different way.

    As Simon points out, there’s a lot going on besides teaching. Besides football, of course you have scientific research which is mostly done at the bigger universities, public and private. That’s something that grew up around the time of WWII and has just been getting bigger and bigger.

    Research is income for a university, not expense; universities get compensated by the grant (generally 50% of the grant) for the time their faculty puts into research as well as “overhead”; actually paying research staff and equipment and the like is paid for by the other 50% of the grant.

    Whether that is how research SHOULD be paid for, and whether universities are the best place for it to be done, I don’t have any strong opinions about it. At any rate, research subsidizes teaching, not the other way around.

    Frederick (80401a)

  33. i can see your point but at the same time i think the tactics that were used against Mr. Milo were very much those of a heckler’s veto

    the intent of that campaign was to prevent Mr. Milo from speaking and it succeeded

    this is no good

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  34. 26. DRJ (15874d) — 9/16/2017 @ 7:58 pm

    I would have guessed that the largest government employer in each state is the Postal Service.

    It might be that whoever came up with that statistic doesn’t consider the United States Postal Service to be a government entity – it’s now a special corporation. It’s, not

    Also they were probably only looking at people working for the state or commonwealth [Pennsylvania and Massachusetts] governments.

    Sammy Finkelman (58e1fc)

  35. Regarding Brigham Young University: BYU has a clear web page outlawing beards. Is there any university at all that has a web page outlawing all speech offensive to the extreme left? Because that is the understanding at many if not most universities.

    LTEC (7100a8)

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