Yesterday, I noted that George Will had been disinvited from Scripps College, and proposed that the widespread “suggestion that Will was disinvited from addressing “a program designed to promote conservative views on campus, because of his conservative views” wasn’t quite right. “Rather,” I wrote,
Will appears to have been disinvited because a particular view he expressed fell foul of the arbiters’ rarified tastes. “It was in the works and then it wasn’t in the works,” Will told the Independent yesterday. “They didn’t say that the column was the reason, but it was the reason.” In other words, then, the invitation was rescinded not because of who Will is per se, but because the regime decided that it was inclined to be tolerant of anybody who agreed to stay within what it considers to be appropriate bounds, but not of those who erred.
Today, Scripps has confirmed that this is exactly what happened, President Bettison-Varga writing that the college
invited George Will to speak as part of our Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program because he is a prominent conservative commentator, and we believed our community would benefit from the healthy intellectual debate that has been the hallmark of the program since 2006. Over the past eight years, the Malott Public Affairs Program has diversified the educational environment for our students by featuring conservative thought leaders in a widely publicized and well-attended event series. We do not shy away from bringing strong conservative viewpoints into our community.
Sexual assault is not a conservative or liberal issue. And it is too important to be trivialized in a political debate or wrapped into a celebrity controversy. For that reason, after Mr. Will authored a column questioning the validity of a specific sexual assault case that reflects similar experiences reported by Scripps students, we decided not to finalize the speaker agreement.
This is quite an astonishing statement. Why? Well, because what Bettison-Varga is essentially arguing is that if anyone dares to suggest that the numbers used within the debate over rape are inflated, they should no longer be welcome in polite society; that if anyone disagrees with the use of “rape” as a catch-all term for any unwanted sexual attention, they are not fit to address college students; and that, if a writer sees fit to note that the celebration of victimhood naturally creates both perverse incentives and a certain amount of dangerous hysteria, he is to be blackballed and his case is to be buried. In other words, that Scripps has decided that there is one truth and one truth only in this area, and that all dissenters are therefore inadmissable.
This is the college’s prerogative, certainly. George Will has no right to speak at Scripps. Nevertheless, the president should recognize that her approach is wholly incompatible with the campus’s professed desire to bring “irregular speakers to campus” and to expose their students to “a range of opinions about the world — especially opinions with which we may not agree, or think we do not agree.” One can, after all, always pretend that one wishes to have an open debate but that each particular debater happens to be beyond the pale.