Middlebury College fails to discipline violent protesters at Murray speech
More than two months after Charles Murray went to Middlebury College in Vermont to give a lecture and was shouted down and roughed up on his leaving, school authorities have concluded their review of the incident and will not suspend or expel any students involved.
The school announced that 67 students had received various slaps on the wrist. The eight masked demonstrators who violently attacked Murray and a professor from the school when the two were trying to leave could not be identified, so police will take no action.
While the department said that "it had identified a number of other people who were in the crowd of more than 20 people outside the event venue, on consultation with the Addison County State’s Attorney it was determined that there was insufficient information to charge any specific person who participated in damaging the car or interfering with or blocking the car’s progress as it exited the parking lot."
Ever since the Murray visit, Middlebury has been subject to national scrutiny over how it would punish those involved. Some have argued for tough punishments, while others have said that no punitive sanction would be appropriate. Murray is the co-author of The Bell Curve, a book widely denounced as racist for its conclusions on race and intelligence, but he was not planning to speak about that book. Stanger was the professor selected to lead questioning of Murray. While she defended his right to speak, she never endorsed his views.
Middlebury policy permits protests of speakers but not activities that prevent someone from speaking. While many were involved in doing just that (and were seen on social media doing so), still others were involved in what has widely been seen as a more serious incident after the talk, when Stanger was attacked outside and the car carrying her and Murray from the event was attacked. Middlebury announced early on that it asked the town police to investigate that part of the incident. In addition, college officials said early on that they believed some of those involved in the more violent portion of the protest were not students or otherwise affiliated with the college.
Middlebury officials have refused to answer detailed questions about the punishments, citing privacy issues with regard to the students. But they have indicated that they expected to have different punishments for different groups of students, depending on their level of involvement.
The college's announcement Tuesday said of the more serious "college discipline" punishment that some received that it "places a permanent record in the student’s file. Some graduate schools and employers require individuals to disclose official college discipline in their applications."
So ends one of the more shameful episodes of suppressing free speech on campus in recent history. What made this incident so damaging was the actual, physical violence that erupted following the event's cancelation that was reminiscent of Nazi storm troopers suppressing opposition speech. The irony of referring to Murray as a "fascist," as many protesters did, was lost on the troublemakers, whose knowledge of history is deficient, as were their manners.
If colleges were serious about enforcing the free exchange of ideas, they would have suspended most of those 67 students and expelled others. Until universities show these fascists that they are serious about protecting free speech, the suppression of opposing viewpoints will continue – and get worse.