Middlebury: Thoughtcrime and Punishment

by Andrew Stuttaford

Paul Crookston has already discussed yesterday’s attack on free speech at Middlebury College, but it’s worth adding how it concluded. After Charles Murray had been forced to abandon his speech, he was escorted to a separate room where he was interviewed by Allison Stanger, a Middlebury professor of international politics and economics. The interview was livestreamed.

And then, The New York Times reports:

Once the interview began in the second room, protesters swarmed into the hallway, chanting and pulling fire alarms. Still, the interview was completed and officials, including Ms. Stanger, escorted Mr. Murray out the back of the building.

There, several masked protesters, who were believed to be outside agitators, began pushing and shoving Mr. Murray and Ms. Stanger, Mr. Burger [a spokesman for the college] said. “Someone grabbed Allison’s hair and twisted her neck…”

After the two got into a car, Mr. Burger said, protesters pounded on it, rocked it back and forth, and jumped onto the hood. Ms. Stanger later went to a hospital, where she was put in a neck brace.

Appalling, but revealing too. Murray was leaving the campus, and yet the fracas not only continued but also degenerated into outright violence. The ‘justification’ for disrupting his speech was that opinions such as Murray’s should not be given a hearing on campus, but this was something else. Murray was not about to speak, he was about to depart, and yet he and Ms. Stanger were attacked. It was not, apparently, enough to stop Murray from expounding on his views. He had, in addition, to be punished for them, and so (if Stanger’s assailants were doing more than lashing out at anyone in Murray’s vicinity) did an academic who evidently understood the importance of free expression.

These last protestors were masked. If they, and those like them, prevail, they will, one day, be wearing uniforms.

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