Campus Free Speech

Stossel: Harvard Caves to Student Mob

Alan Dershowitz: "The inmates run the asylum."


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Harvard recently fired a residence hall dean, law professor Ronald Sullivan.

Some students had complained that because Sullivan took accused sexual harasser Harvey Weinstein as a client, they felt "unsafe."

John Stossel interviews lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who says Harvard's decision endangers academic freedom.

"They're lying," Dershowitz tells Stossel about the students who claim to feel unsafe. "They don't feel unsafe. They've learned the language of the New McCarthyism."

"He didn't get fired from his professor job," Stossel points out to Dershowitz. "Don't the students have a right to say, 'look, we're living with this guy. He creeps us out because of what he does. Get somebody else.'"

Dershowitz responds: "If they could say that, they could say it about somebody who supports Donald Trump for President, somebody who is a Muslim, somebody who's gay, somebody who's Jewish."

He adds: "We need to educate our students that free speech is for everybody. Due process is for everybody."

Fired dean Ronald Sullivan often represents unpopular people—not just the accused sexual assaulter, but also accused murderers and terrorists. He's explained why: "In order for the rights of all of us, the rights of the guilty and the innocent alike to be protected, we have to live in a system where we vigorously, vigorously defend the guilty."

Stossel agrees; only through that process can we be confident that the people punished are really guilty.

Harvard's student protesters didn't seem to care about that.

"Because of Dean Sullivan's decision to represent, I don't feel welcome here," one said.

"These students would have fired John Adams," Dershowitz responds, "because he had defended the people who were accused of the Boston Massacre."

Adams, a Harvard graduate, defended British soldiers who fired at Americans—and he got most of the soldiers acquitted.

Adams defended them even though he opposed the British, and risked his life by helping to lead the Continental Congress in its revolution against Britain.

"And yet," Dershowitz notes, "he thought the right to represent somebody transcends any of these other ideological or political issues."

Later in life, Adams called his defense of the British soldiers: "one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country. Judgment of death … would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of … witches."

At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen writes, "Harvard is basically right … It really is about helping students focus on their studies … removing distractions."

"They say [Sullivan's representation of Weinstein] distracts them. I can see their point … these people live together," Stossel tells Dershowitz.

"I don't see their point at all!" Dershowitz responds. "You live in a world where there are going to be many distractions. You're not going to live in a world where you can determine everything according to your own view. If you want to do that, move to China or Iran … [if] you want to go to an American university, you have to learn how to deal with distractions."

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The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

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  1. In the future, having a college degree will prevent you from getting a job.

    1. In the future, having a college degree from an Ivory League School will prevent you from getting a job.


      1. These Ivy League schools have been breeding grounds of anti-American Socialism and tyranny for over 100 years.

        This is just another example of how young authoritarians are taught and rewarded for their anti-American behavior.

        1. And they are soooo eloquent as well these days!…No profanity like the Deplorables use or the Bitter Gun Clingers use!

      2. “Ivory” League?

        Is that racist, or Pro-Elephant? Things have gotten so combobulated that I’m not sure.

        1. Tusk, tusk, tusk!!!!

  2. Harvard sucks. Fuck you ass hat SJWs.

    1. Spoken like a Yale man. Possibly Dartmouth.

      1. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Don’t blame the students, blame the Dean who gave in to them.

  4. I can see the headlines now: “Mob With Pitchforks Topples Statue of John Adams”

    1. Good one! Progressives and globalists are on the march.

    2. What a shame as he never owned any slaves!

      Slave owning was common among early presidents; of the first twelve, only John Adams (2) and his son John Quincy Adams (6) never owned slaves, although two of the others (Martin Van Buren and William Henry Harrison) did not own slaves while serving as president.

      1. Those Yankees… What a bunch of prude losers!

  5. You know, I wounder how many of these student know that they can be drafted and be forced into a battle zone. Plus does that make them feel safe, now knowing that a women can be drafted too. Some needs to tell them they are never safe. Could you see these people back in the cold war era. When we where told that world war 3 will start at any minute and your going to killed in a nuclear blast any moment now and if you survived it’s all going to be hell on earth. Plus we had to dooms day clock that was always 3 to 5 minute before midnight.

    1. The doomsday clock currently sits at 2 minutes due to the risk of nuclear war and (wait for it)…catastrophic climate change.

      We’ve only got 12 years left anyway. Or so I’m told.

      1. And I gots me a pet chikkin can fly to the moon and back in a week.

    2. SAFE??!!??? There is NOTHING about any guarantee of being “safe” in our Constitution. We are guaranteed that we are to be “secure in our houses, persons, papers, and effects” from government meddling/intrusion/seizure. It ends there.

      Someone needs to tell these snowflake dweebs that “the security of a free state” (society) is the responsibility of THE PEOPLE. that means, in this instance, THEM. The snowflakes on a whinge. And precisely BECAUSE each and all of them bear that resonsibility to see to “the security of a free state”, they each and all have the RIGHT to bear such arms as they choose to possess and use.

      A frighteningly high number of these melting snowflakes need either to grow up or go back to Mommie’s basement where things are always warm, cozy, and taken care of by the hired man. Or woman, as the case may be.

  6. I like that “New McCarthyism” epithet. It strikes right to the heart of the Left’s sanctimoniousness, though they’re seldom troubled by cognitive dissonance anyway.

  7. This is what Harvard says:

    “Among varied duties of the Faculty Deans, the role of academic officer in the residential college system is preeminent. In addition, Faculty Deans are responsible for all House staff, tutorial and Senior Common Room appointments. In short, Faculty Deans set the tone for the House in its activities and in its function as a close-knit community within the context of a larger college and university.”

    So it seems their duties include keeping the students on the straight and narrow (or supervising those who keep them on the straight and narrow) – focusing on studies, not getting into bad habits (or at least keeping the bad habits outside the residence – good luck with that, by the way).

    It seems it’s the faculty dean who’s suppsed to be the boss. Dare I say the deans are part of the diminished remnants of in loco parentis. So it’s for the students to put up with their dean, not vice versa, unless there’s a real communication breakdown (or he starts sleeping with the students or giving them drugs or whatever, which I’m sure is never an issue).

    (So in short, the students aren’t the U. S. Senate, examining the cases their dean dealt with as a lawyer.)

    1. Hmm, maybe I confused the positions involved.

      “Each House is served by an Allston Burr Resident Dean, who under the direction of the Dean of Harvard College and the Faculty Deans, is responsible for the well-being of the students in that House. The Allston Burr Resident Dean represents House members at the Administrative Board, is the primary liaison to academic departments on behalf of students, and serves as a key resource for students who encounter personal or academic difficulty. The Allston Burr Resident Dean contributes to the House as a scholar and participates fully in the life of the community.”

      1. Come to think of it, representing students with their departments sounds like a function for which an attorney who represents dubious clients is well-suited.

        “The dog ate my client’s homework, plus his grandmother died”

  8. What a bunch of snowflakes the ones complaining about the students!

  9. “You’re not going to live in a world where you can determine everything according to your own view. If you want to do that, move to China or Iran … [if] you want to go to an American university, you have to learn how to deal with distractions.””

    Methinks Dershowitz doesn’t get around much, at least to China or Iran.

    1. If you go to university in China or Iran, your own view is the same as everyone else’s, or it will be after a little re-education.

      1. Evidently you don’t get around much either. But don’t let that stop you from parroting Dershowitz or any other Harvard faculty Reason sees fit to interview.

  10. “They say [Sullivan’s representation of Weinstein] distracts them. I can see their point … these people live together,”

    I’m certain it would be difficult to locate a person who, should Mr. Sulllivan have REFUSED to represent Mr. Weinstein, would be seriously distracted, AND who at the same time would be so fearless (or naif) as to openly admit it.

    They ALL have to live together……. after all…….

  11. “caves”

    University administrations are the ones pushing campus totalitarianism. Students come and go. The Deep School remains.

    1. Well, the funny thing though is that it has somewhat gotten away from them.

      They totally created this problem, but as always happens the next generation pushes the radicalism further than those before. It’s like how those born and raise in the Soviet system or Maoist China were far more rabid than the guys who actually put in those regimes.

      This seems to have happened in the states… All the old leftist professors, but who at least legitimately held some classical liberal beliefs, now find themselves being pushed beyond their comfort zones by the monsters they created.

  12. Burn the witch! Burn the wiiiiiitch!!!!!!

    In all honesty though, I mostly fucking HATE Adams. He was a pretty big piece of shit 95% of the time… But he did do a few things that were pretty legit and principled.

    Jefferson was still the only thing that really sent this country on the right path though. If Jefferson had died of the flu in 1785 or some shit America would have probably gone to hell a full century or more before it did.

  13. When I was a freshman at Yale in the 70s, it was already a bastion of “progressive” bigotry and anti-free speech if speech disagreed with the “progressive” ideology. I transferred to Stanford and found it to be much more open to oppositional views. Unfortunately, it appears that Stanford is now being less open and more controlled by similar “progressive” views and tactics. One can only hope that this devolution in our universities (and creeping into even our elementary and high schools) is temporary.

  14. Hey – Isn’t that the same Alan Dershowitz that got Jeffrey Epstein his cushy sentence back in 2008? Why listen to the opinions of a scumbag who represents pedophiles? Disgusting.

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