'This Is Free Speech 101': Professor 'Horrified' After Campus Speaker Silenced
A Vermont college professor upset with the disintegration of discourse on his campus released a "statement of principle" for staff to sign to highlight the importance of free speech on campus.
Middlebury College English Professor Jay Parini said on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" that he does not agree at all with the ideology of controversial author Charles Murray, but that Murray should not have been silenced by students.
Murray was to speak at Middlebury, but was overpowered by chanting protesters in the auditorium, and a professor who escorted Murray out after his event was forced to be canceled was injured by the demonstrators.
"Nothing I wrote was brain surgery," Parini said, "I was frustrated and horrified by what happened at Middlebury last Thursday."
Some of the principles Parini laid out in his statement include:
Only through the contest of clashing viewpoints do we have any hope of replacing mere opinion with knowledge.
The incivility and coarseness that characterize so much of American politics and culture cannot justify a response of incivility and coarseness on the college campus.
Exposure to controversial points of view does not constitute violence.
A protest that prevents campus speakers from communicating with their audience is a coercive act.
Parini said he was "distressed by the unwillingness of students to hear from opposing views."
People are fed up with the coarseness of discourse in the United States, he added, calling the context of his petition "enlightenment values."
He said he met with several colleagues after the Murray incident, and the group eventually agreed with the basic principles of free speech.
"This is Free Speech 101," he said.