The Corner


Cooke Defends Free Speech in Rollicking Debate

In a debate at Kenyon College September 28, “Hate Speech and the Limits of Free Expression,” Charlie Cooke debated two would-be campus censors, Stephanie Fryberg and Ulrich Baer.

I saw the video last night and found myself unable to stop watching — it’s riveting stuff, as NRO’s David French noted of it. Fryberg argued, among other things, that “my people need protection” from “hate speech” so that they may gain “a seat at the table.” Baer argued that it is the university’s job to discriminate — to identify speakers who undermine the humanity of certain groups of people and to make sure that such speakers are denied a public platform and the prestige conferred by appearing on campus. The anti-free-speech duo raised and burned a legion of strawmen, including one “Charles Murray,” depicted as a heartless man who enjoys mocking his opponents. While Baer was not willing to let Murray speak freely on campus, he said that Murray would be welcome to attend one of his lectures or courses, where Baer “controls” the debate. During the Q&A, one member of the audience delivered an impassioned soliloquy about the weight of her pain and the burden she carries daily as an oppressed individual. Heather Mac Donald also made a surprise appearance during the Q&A. The whole debate is worth a listen. Needless to say, it was not a fair match — perhaps a ten-to-one lineup would’ve given the anti-free-speech contingent a fighting chance.