Campus Free Speech

Montana Dean Worried About 'the Risk of Offending Students,' Dis-Invites Conservative Speaker

Can't have that

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Montana
Edward Blake

Mike Adams, a conservative writer and professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, was invited to give a lecture at the University of Montana. But the dean of Montana's journalism school has allegedly rescinded this invitation because he was worried about "running the risk of offending students."

According to an email from the journalism dean, Larry Abramson, to Maria Cole, who arranged for Adams to speak as part of the annual Jeff Cole Memorial Scholarship programming each year, Adams appears "to be siding with Christians in the 'culture war,'" and talking "about the prevalence of 'cultural Marxism.'"

"I think we can find a speaker who will talk about free speech issues, without running the risk of offending students," Abramson wrote in the email published by Newstalk KGVO in Missoula. "We can still have a conversation with him if you want, but he is pretty extreme in his views."

Abramson subsequently defended himself to KGVO:

When KGVO news asked Mr. Abramson about refusing the Mike Adams speech, Abramson said his "chief concern" was that Mr. Adams is not a journalist. He followed up by saying "[Adams] has attacked members of the LGBTQ community in public forums and, in my view, belittled people who would characterize themselves or that he would characterize as feminists and I think that some of those remarks could be interpreted as hate speech."

Abramson says he doesn't believe there is any legal requirement to bring Mr. Adams to campus and indicated that Mr. Adam's "values" were not in line with the J-school.

"I'm not a lawyer, but I'm sure our lawyers would tell you that there are requirements that we accommodate different people's views, but the J-school does not have to invite people that we think don't match with our priorities or are values as a tolerant, welcoming school," Abramson said.

I reached out to Abramson for comment; he did not immediately respond.

The dean is correct: the university is not compelled to extend a platform to any specific speaker. Moreover, administrators could find someone to defend the principles of free speech who does not hold bigoted views toward members of the LGBT community.

That said, if your goal is to avoid "running the risk of offending students," you have set a very high bar for any intellectual not of the left to speak on campus. Recall that students at William and Mary recently shut down the American Civil Liberties Union with cries of "liberalism is white supremacy." Just a few days ago, it was reported that a Mississippi school district was pulling To Kill a Mockingbird from its library shelves because the book "makes people uncomfortable."

Every time school officials cave to pressure from students—or, as it seems to be the case in Montana, proactively move to prevent emotional harm before students even have the chance to complain—they help normalize the idea that learning should be completely free of intellectual discomfort.

If nothing else, the cover-schools-in-bubble-wrap approach seems to be sabotaging chances of students developing resiliency. A recent New York Times piece found skyrocketing rates of depression and anxiety among young people who are growing up under hyper-protective conditions. By constantly weighing whether a speaker, book, event, idea, rally, sign, or outburst will negatively impact students' emotional well-being, we are doing them no favors.

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  1. “I think we can find a speaker who will talk about free speech issues, without running the risk of offending students,” Abramson wrote in the email…

    Probably not if he’s speaking for free speech rights.

  2. Brendan O’neill is right, censorship makes you dumber.

  3. State approved speech is free speech. Unlicensed speech is hate speech and doesn’t fall under the 1st Amendment. Freedom truly is slavery. Ignorance is indisputably strength.

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

  4. Fucktard “J-School.”

    Nuke it from orbit.

    1. Thank god she’s 18.

      1. *And* she loves to receive feedback.

      2. What’s wrong with 18 year old assholes? I’ve seen whole websites dedicated to this.

      3. I would find her blog more interesting if she mentioned being curious about sex and older men.

  5. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m sure our lawyers would tell you that there are requirements that we accommodate different people’s views, but the J-school does not have to invite people that we think don’t match with our priorities or are values as a tolerant, welcoming school,

    I’m not a lawyer either, but I’m sure my lawyers would tell you that you there are requirements to accommodate different peoples’ views and that you should stop molesting your students. My lawyers might have something else to say about inviting someone and then un-inviting them.

  6. Adams appears “to be siding with Christians in the ‘culture war,'” and talking “about the prevalence of ‘cultural Marxism.’

    I, for one, am shocked, SHOCKED to find that Mike Adams, an evangelical Christian, is siding with Christians in the culture war.

  7. or are values as a tolerant, welcoming school

    Welcoming as in “GO AWAY!!”

  8. That said, if your goal is to avoid “running the risk of offending students,” you have set a very high bar for any intellectual not of the left to speak on campus.

    While I agree that students should be challenged, let me know when someone like Sam Harris is invited to speak at a wingnut school like Liberty U or that shitty little Hillsdale Day Care for conservative snowflakes.

    1. Or maybe a state school like U Montana could host a Christian-right speaker from another state school like UNC-Wilmington, where they regularly have far-left speakers.

      1. They should! There should also be a Q&A session where the students could question the speaker so that it is not an indoctrination ceremony.

        I hold some very ANTI progressive views that would be shouted down on some left wing campuses. I am all FOR Open Society.

        1. Certainly your very pro-rape stance would raise some eyebrows in most universities.

          1. ITS NOT RAPE TIL YOU STICK IT IN!

            1. Yeah, that’s what Bill Clinton said.

        2. When Bernie Sanders spoke at Liberty U, nobody was allowed to ask questions???

          1. Bernie is not in Sam Harris’ league. Harris is an intellectual heavyweight. Bernie is a finger-wagger marshmellow.

            1. Sam Harris gets chewed out by Progs constantly because he notices that Islam has a bit of a violence problem. Not many colleges would want him now, either.

              1. Harris is among the few intellectually honest.

            2. Comrade Bernie is also the greatest comedian I’ve heard since Joan Rivers.

    2. While I agree that students should be challenged, let me know when someone like Sam Harris is invited to speak at a wingnut school like Liberty U or that shitty little Hillsdale Day Care for conservative snowflakes.

      Liberty hosted Bernie Sanders. With to outbursts by the students.

  9. I reached out to Abramson for comment; he did not immediately respond.

    Maybe slow it down and give him a little bit of time then.

  10. worried about “running the risk of offending students.”

    Well, he just offended *me*!

  11. That picture though is really beautiful to me. Man, I love Montana wish I could visit more often.

    1. Just stay away from university of Montana. It’s apparently ugly inside.

  12. A recent New York Times piece found skyrocketing rates of depression and anxiety among young people who are growing up under hyper-protective conditions. By constantly weighing whether a speaker, book, event, idea, rally, sign, or outburst will negatively impact students’ emotional well-being, we are doing them no favors.

    Yet both the far left and right want exactly that.

  13. RE: Montana Dean Worried About ‘the Risk of Offending Students,’ Dis-Invites Conservative Speaker

    “I think we can find a speaker who will talk about free speech issues, without running the risk of offending students,”

    Who would that be?
    Peter Pan?

  14. The dean is correct: the university is not compelled to extend a platform to any specific speaker. Moreover, administrators could find someone to defend the principles of free speech who does not hold bigoted views toward members of the LGBT community.

    I think I missed the link to his “bigoted” views towards LGBT. I guess you might’ve overlooked them, so I’m just providing a friendly reminder, Mr. Soave.

    1. Mr Rogers?

  15. “Moreover, administrators could find someone to defend the principles of free speech who does not hold bigoted views toward members of the LGBT community.”

    Robby, did you contact Mike Adams before running your article, seeking his response to charges of bigotry?

    I ask because you say you reached out to the university administrator, but didn’t mention reaching out to Adams.

    His official email is adamsm@uncw.edu – he’s a professor at the Department of Sociology and Criminology at UNC-Wilmington.

    Here are his columns, to make it easier for you to find examples of bigotry.

    1. I read a couple of them.

      Yeh. So extreme. So nasty.

      Not.

      The dean is another gutless cuck.

      1. Come now. Don’t give in and use that damn term.

        1. What have you got against beavers?

        2. Look, let’s just get it out of our systems…

          cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck cuck

          There, now nobody has to say “cuck” any more. Except in the context of saying that we don’t say “cuck” any more.

          1. Good call. It is the classic “I do not think that means what you think it means” word.

            When I first saw it used, I thought it was an abbreviation of the word cuckold, but it almost never is used in any context where that makes sense. I quickly realized that most who use it don’t know what it means, but probably figure that since it looks like a cross between “cunt” and “fuck”, it must be really dirty.

            For example, Rufus wrote “gutless cuck”, which would be redundant if he meant cuckold, as the term already contains the pejorative meaning of not reacting to being cheated on, which is cowardly or gutless.

            George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” should be required reading before being allowed to post.

            “Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration:”

            That man was a freakin genius.

            1. Ah.

              That was WAAAY too many words to say that you don’t understand what the word means. At All.

              Why not just say so? That way someone who does can enlighten you.

              I particularly liked you trying to cloak your own ignorance in the idea that it’s everyone else who doesn’t know how they’re using the word.

              Classic.

              1. I do not understand the meaning of a made up word that has no consistent usage among people who vomit it up other than as an undefinable insult.

                Is that better?

                Try reading Orwell’s essay instead of mocking people who advocate for precision in language in order to facilitate understanding.

                Plus, you didn’t even “enlighten me”, asshole.

  16. Most people, by the time they are say 60, look back on their college years and roll their eyes at how stupid they were. They have changed their mind about many things, including serious issues (not just which music group is super groovy). To hold college students up as the standard for hurt feelings it to prevent them from learning about facts that might change their minds or at least help them understand the world better. Even if they are avowed leftists, it might be good for them to understand deplorables, at least a little.

  17. “[Adams] has attacked members of the LGBTQ community in public forums”

    “belittled people who would characterize themselves or that he would characterize as feminists”

    “some of those remarks could be interpreted as hate speech.”

    And yet they don’t want their students to see this ostensible specimen of right-wing hatred for themselves. You’d think they would want all their students to come and confirm with their own eyes and ears the overt and undeniable evil of the revanchist opposition, right?

    Unless they’re more interested in covering their own asses than actually promoting any allegedly genuine progressive or egalitarian agenda. Perish. The. Thought.

    1. So despite “attacking” the LGBTQ’s, his remarks only rate “could be interpreted” as hate speech? Sounds fishy. Anyone have the quote he is referring to?

  18. Charles Cooke took on two nitwit professors at Kenyon College who smugly stopped short of calling him extreme for merely defending….free speech. Interestingly, he was sandwiched between them as they took turns trying to use him as a punching bag. But since their arguments were hollow and weak he was able to hold his own; at which point they attempted to a) misrepresent his points, b) mock free speech and c) appeal to emotions.

    It was something to behold. Free speech is ‘privileged’ ergo it must face limits.

    I’ve no more words. We just have to keep fighting these reactionaries.

    1. Kenyon College? Is that where Obama went to school?

    2. Kenyon College? Is that where Obama went to school?

      1. He double-majored, I guess

    3. It’s a hard fight, it’s always bothersome that fighting for free speech includes enabling the person you are fighting with. But that’s the nature of the game.

      1. “It’s a hard fight, it’s always bothersome that fighting for free speech includes enabling the person you are fighting with. But that’s the nature of the game.”

        Dang! That is by far the most succinct and quotable thought I have seen about the battle for free speech.

  19. if your goal is to avoid “running the risk of offending students,” you have set a very high bar for any intellectual not of the left to speak on campus.

    Because nothing leftist intellectuals ever say could genuinely offend anyone.

    Great thinkers like George Ciccariello-Maher share Robby’s perspective here.

    1. Well, Sicario-Maher’s comments wouldn’t be offensive to the sorts that shut down these events, now would they?

    2. “Because nothing leftist intellectuals ever say could genuinely offend anyone.”

      Robby has reported on plenty other cases of left liberals running afoul of the student mobs. And indeed on many faculty who, despite being card-carrying members of the academic echo chamber, still live in fear of their students’ radicalism.

      That doesn’t counter Robby’s point, which is that Dean’s stated standard completely excludes half the political spectrum in the US from speaking on the campus.

      1. Half? More like 90%. These assholes are the fringe left. That they bully their way to appearing mainstream doesn’t actually make them so.

  20. It’s actually been pretty tame here (Missoula) on the leftard front save for some climate cargo cultists. Enrollment has been shrinking with ongoing personnel cuts, the STEM focused MSU is doing much better. Given the deep Red composition of the legislature I’m guessing we haven’t heard the last of this story. A guy I know was in the legislature for a couple terms prior to last year, he couldn’t believe how much the rest of the state held our little Burg in contempt, lolol.

  21. Journalism, including deans, is full of intellectual wusses who could never handle a basic STEM course.

  22. Interesting that the local rag hasn’t a peep about this on their website. Even mindless progs like their editorial board seem not to want the word spread.

  23. Shorter Robby Soave: “I’m a faux-Libertarian hypocrite who just LURVES me some government censorship and unequal treatment as long as it’s aimed at my kind of targets.”

  24. These college admnistrators need to read and teach classes on Nassim Taleb’s book “Antifragile”. The schools are creating snowflakes who will find no place in the real world and will be terrified at every turn This will become the lost generation.

  25. “If nothing else, the cover-schools-in-bubble-wrap approach seems to be sabotaging chances of students developing resiliency. A recent New York Times piece found skyrocketing rates of depression and anxiety among young people who are growing up under hyper-protective conditions.”

    The only way you become strong is to fight. In order to fight you have to confront those things that frighten you. If someone is always there to stand between you and the night monsters two things happen: (a) you never learn to take them on, and (b) you learn always to depend on someone else to do so. That’s a recipe for weakness, depression and anxiety. And that’s exactly what we are getting today.

  26. Sorry but “offending students” is the most specious excuse ever given to squelch the free speech rights of an entire group of people. Many of our colleges today insist on hiring and retaining totally incompetent lecturers and professors because they share the same Marxist mindset as their administrators – not because they are the most knowledgeable and/or are the most effective teachers from the applicant pools..

    As a result, the institutions of “higher education” are failing to prepare their students to function in the REAL WORLD once they graduate from a collegiate cocoon that insulted them from it for four or more years. Since when is the mission of any institution at any level to make students “feel more comfortable?” Isn’t their primary directive to increase a student’s skill set, to broaden their knowledge understanding of complex world events and to give them a solid foundation for the transition to adulthood and the world of work.

    Instead, our educational system is churning out a bunch of mindless robots who are incapable of problem-solving and adaptation having spent so much time on shielding students from the everyday stressors of modern life that exist outside of college campuses. Can you imagine how badly this nation would have fared during WWII if it had a population of young people like today who would’ve sought out safe spaces instead of joining the military to fight against real fascists bent upon world domination?

    I shudder every time I to think about it.

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