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The Left and Right Agree on Free Speech

Two of our finest men of letters have issued a call for free speech and the respectful toleration of others’ ideas. Cornel West, the Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy in the Divinity School and the Department of African and African-American Studies at Harvard; and Robert P. George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton, have published an on-line petition that merits your attention.

The petition’s first signatory was Allison Stanger, the Russell J. Leng ‘60 Professor of International Politics and Economics at Middlebury, who was concussed and had her neck injured by violent students protesting Charles Murray’s visit to her school.

Let’s hope that the Middlebury incident represents a high water mark in the sad series of intolerant protests by college students opposed to the ideas advanced by visiting speakers.

Addendum: As I have noted, both Charles Murray and Milo Yiannopoulos spoke and performed, respectively, at the College without incident within the last year.

Addendum: Inside Higher Ed reports that the petition has received “thousands” of signatures.

Addendum: A Dartmouth professor writes in:

I read the March 15 piece on the Left and Right Agree on Free Speech that points to a public statement by Professors George and West, posted on Princeton’s James Madison Program, and then went to that letter, read it and perused the list of signatories. Unless I missed the few of them, conspicuously absent from the long list are professors in program such as women studies, gender studies, and environmental studies, people we might generally associate with activism. Doesn’t this tell us something?


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