A major beachhead in the debate over free speech on campus opened on March 2, when a conservative student group at Middlebury College, a Vermont liberal arts college, invited libertarian social scientist Charles Murray to speak on campus.
Well, at least the co-author of the highly controversial book, The Bell Curve, attempted to speak. Shortly after an introduction and taking the stage, students in the audience began to loudly protest.
And according the Associated Press, as Murray left the auditorium, he and a female Middlebury professor who was moderating were accosted by an angry mob (the moderator’s hair was pulled and her neck twisted, giving her a concussion; read her recent op-ed on the situation in The New York Times).
This came on the heels of a particularly violent protest in Berkeley, California, back in February, when a conservative student organization invited former Breitbart contributor Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus. Chaos ensued.
Both situations have raised a lot of questions about what constitutes free speech, especially on college campuses—and the blood is still fresh, so to speak, from the latest incident.
Now, two professors from a couple of the most prestigious universities in America have done something about it.
Per the Wall Street Journal, Robert George of Princeton University and Cornel West of Harvard University have started an online “petition in defense of free speech.”
What makes their joint statement even more powerful is that George, a conservative, and West, a socialist, are joining hands from opposite sides of the political spectrum.
“The more important the subject under discussion, the more willing we should be to listen and engage — especially if the person with whom we are in conversation will challenge our deeply held — even our most cherished and identity-forming — beliefs,” they wrote in their joint petition.
Take a look at the statement here.