Middlebury’s Bad New Speaker Policy

by John McClaughry

Last year Middlebury College gave us a pathetic example of cowardice in the face of left wing protestors who objected to sociologist Charles Murray speaking on campus. Murray was driven from a campus stage, and both Murray and a Middlebury professor were physically attacked as they tried to escape the mob.

Now the college has announced a new guest speaker policy. Proposed events will be evaluated by a Threat Assessment and Management Team; if the Team feels that an event attracts an “imminent and credible threat to the community,” it could be cancelled.

A prominent Middlebury alumnus, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, objected that this gave disruptive protestors a “heckler’s veto”. Robby Soave, writing at reason.com, says “If protesters who oppose a certain speaker know that Middlebury will shut down the event if they threaten the community, this gives them an incentive to issue such threats. This is the heckler’s veto: giving the hecklers the power to choose whether an event proceeds.”

“The policy says event cancellations may occur when there is an ‘imminent and credible threat,’ but doesn’t specify what they mean by a ‘threat.’ People may interpret ‘threat to the community’ differently. If Middlebury intends to limit its policy to credible threats of imminent violence, it should say so. A university should make it clear that it will only cancel a speech, if ever, only as an absolute last resort to stop violence.”

Let’s hope Middlebury grows some backbone.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

A. Smith September 29, 2017 at 9:36 pm

Incredible. This is a perfect example of the tail wagging the dog, except the dog, in this case, is in sync with its tail.. The administration, as well as the students, have no interest in hearing an opposite viewpoint to ANY liberal idea. They are simply using this “Threat Assessment and Management Team” to fulfill their preference for not having alternative -i.e. conservative – ideas presented. And they call themselves ‘educators’. Disgraceful. They should all be removed from their posts.

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Jim Bulmer September 29, 2017 at 11:51 pm

In case you missed something, Middlebury is a “liberal”arts college. Is anyone surprised at the intolerance toward folks who in their view “do not toe the line.” Welcome to the mush that is being foisted upon the under grads. In cased you missed something, it cost upwards of $50,000/year to attend this open minded tolerant institution.

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j paul giuliani September 29, 2017 at 11:51 pm

I can think of something else the Middlebury administration should grow.

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The Resolute Voice September 30, 2017 at 1:11 am

This new policy is a convenient way for left-wing schools like Middlebury to get around the 1st Amendment and free speech. Just declare a potential speaker dangerous ( all conservatives presumably ) Disgraceful.

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Mark Shepard October 1, 2017 at 2:59 am

Are the alumni all as frail as the current administration and students?

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Robert October 2, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Putting the patients in charge of the asylum, as it were.

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