Campus Free Speech

Students at Lewis and Clark College Shouted Down Christina Hoff Sommers: 'We Choose to Protest Male Supremacy'

"Microaggressions are real. The gender wage gap is real."


Screenshot via Andy Ngo / Twitter

Student-activists at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, made good on their threat to disrupt a Christina Hoff Sommers event at the Law School yesterday afternoon.

Sign-wielding protesters rushed to the front of the classroom where Sommers was attempting to speak and drowned her out. The leader, a woman wearing a jacket that said "stay woke" on the back, shouted "mic check." The gathered protesters then repeated the line. And so it went, with the crowd echoing the leader's claims:

"Mic check. We choose. To protest. Male supremacy. Not give it. A platform. Christina Sommers. Has repeatedly. Delegitimized. The suffering of women. Worldwide. We believe. Our siblings. And our comrades. Women are not. Liars with victim mentalities. Rape culture is not a myth. Microaggressions are real. The gender wage gap is real."

There's actually considerable disagreement, even within mainstream circles, about whether microaggressions and the gender wage gap are real, despite the student-protesters' cultish protestations to the contrary. But these activists' minds were already made up, well in advance of Sommers's appearance at Lewis and Clark. A day earlier, the Portland National Lawyers Guild, Minority Law Students Association, Black Law Students Association, Women's Law Caucus, Immigration Student Group, Jewish Law Society, Latino Law Society, OutLaw, and Lewis & Clark Young Democratic Socialists of America issued a joint-statement condemning the Federalist Society for inviting Sommers.

They described Sommers as a "known fascist." (If you're not with antifa, you must be with the fascists, I guess.) They said that "because of the way systemic oppression manifests, we know those who live at intersections of oppression—cis and trans women of color, genderqueer and gender non-conforming women of color—bear the brunt of this attempt to legitimize gendered violence." They said "we now understand how language works, and how it can be used to reproduce the systems of oppression." This view leaves no room for free speech: all perspective that clash with those of the activists are inherently violent and oppressive, and thus unfit for public utterance.

Sommers was able to partly deliver her remarks, but she so incensed the crowd that a dean of diversity approached the podium and asked her to quickly wrap things up and progress to Q and A. The journalist Andy Ngo recorded the constant interruptions—his video footage will remind readers of the Sommers shut downs of years past.

"The chaos inside the lecture hall at Lewis & Clark Law School was only part of the problem," wrote Sommers on Twitter. "Protesters outside were chanting loudly… most of the students, conservatives & progressives, were civil. A noisy minority was willing to impose its will on everyone else."

This seems to be true in most campus censorship incidents I've covered. Many students want to listen to the speaker and ask questions at the appropriate time. A small cabal of illiberal activists are resolutely opposed to any speech that offends them, on grounds that said speech is itself a form of violence against marginalized people.