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    USA Today Op-Ed: My pro-free speech views made me a target at Vassar College

    USA Today Op-Ed: My pro-free speech views made me a target at Vassar College

    “The students who smeared me got a safe space complete with coloring books and markers.”

    I have an Op-Ed today at USA Today on the campaign by student activists at Vassar College to shut down my lecture on “hate speech” and free speech, based on fabricated claims that my appearance posed a danger to student safety.

    You can read these two posts for background:

    The students behind the campaign are explicitly anti-free speech. They claim there is no individual right to free speech, only a collective right to be free from harmful speech, as I documented in my post, Vassar activists: Free Speech rights invalid “in our white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist society”.

    In addition to rejecting the individual protections under the Bill of Rights, the activists have created a sideshow claiming that a change in the name of the speech was the problem. It wasn’t, as I wrote at the Cornell Sun, Setting the record straight on the attempt to silence me at Vassar.

    I have an Op-Ed today at USA Today about my Vassar experience, and the implications for freedom of speech on campuses, My pro-free speech views made me the target of a smear campaign at Vassar College.

    Here is an excerpt, but of course, head over to the Op-Ed for the full discussion, and feel free to tweet and share on Facebook:

    … I’m not a household name. And I’m not particularly controversial, although I do stick out at Cornell as one of only a small number of openly politically conservative faculty members.

    So despite my campus speeches and conservative politics, I never really thought the anti-free speech mob would come for me. Until they did, at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y….

    Because I committed to discussing free speech and the constitutional protection of even hateful speech, I was made the object of hate by student activists who whipped the campus into a frenzy.

    Why would any right-of-center student, faculty member or guest speaker want to endure what I had to go through? For that matter, why would any liberal defender of free speech want to undergo such a smear campaign?

    And isn’t that the point? While I was permitted to speak, the message was sent that support for the 1st Amendment and freedom of speech is not welcome. To get to speak on these sensitive yet critical topics means you have to run the gauntlet of anti-free speech progressives.

    Here is what the student activists didn’t want to happen on campus:



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    Arminius | November 5, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Ow. That’s how you want to remember me by.

    It’s amazing that students attending a college that charges $52,320 just for tuition would be protesting against a patriarchal, capitalist society” that they benefit from.

    Sometimes you can cut through the hypocrisy with a knife.

    Paul In Sweden | November 6, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    This Playbook looks awfully familiar:

    Columbia Law Professor Lays Out Methods for Banning ‘Threatening’ Guest Speakers – Breitbart
    by Tom Ciccotta6 Nov 2017

    In an essay for the Knight First Amendment Institute, Goldberg laid out three possible options concerned students can take if they decide to shut down an upcoming guest lecture event. Goldberg argues that students should embrace the “heckler’s veto,” or the notion that threats of violence from those planning to attend controversial events should justify administrative decisions to cancel such events.

    First is an approach that looks to past events to predict future costs. Here, a school might exclude speakers whose recent events have been accompanied by violence or severe disruption or perhaps by protests that are large, vigorous, and non-violent.

    Second is an approach that seeks to predict event-management costs based on the risks posed by a speaker’s message. Here the focus on would be on the extent to which a speaker’s usual message encourages violence and harassment either generally or toward specific groups within the community, even though the message has not previously prompted violence or large, unruly protests.

    Third is an approach that focuses on costs over time from messages that community members experience as threatening, not necessarily of imminent violence but of longer-term harm. More particularly, this approach would potentially exclude speakers who are known to express derogatory messages that leave certain community members feeling threatened and exposed to increased risk as a result.

    Another Ed | November 9, 2017 at 1:25 am

    “The students behind the campaign are explicitly anti-free speech. They claim there is no individual right to free speech, only a collective right to be free from harmful speech…”

    The parallels to the Second Amendment collective vs. individual rights arguments are intriguing.

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