Middlebury College students block controversial speaker

Middlebury College, Charles Murray
Students at Middlebury College protest the appearance of Charles Murray, the author of the controversial book “Bell Curve.” Photo by Emily Greenberg/VTDigger

MIDDLEBURY — Students at Middlebury College demonstrated against a controversial guest speaker Thursday, ultimately shutting down the event and rousing administrators to take disciplinary action.

“Many of our students, and some of our faculty, decided to become a mob and prevent a point of view they disagreed with,” said David Stoll, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Middlebury since 1997. “For the first time in my life I’m ashamed to be associated with this institution.”

The speaker, Charles Murray, was invited to the college by the student run American Enterprise Institute club and co-sponsored by the department of political science. Murray is best known for his controversial 1994 book, “The Bell Curve,” in which he and a co-author wrote about racial differences in intelligence. His book, “Coming Apart,” is about class division in the United States.

Murray has also been identified as a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The lecture sparked campuswide protests. Six hundred students and faculty signed a petition condemning Murray’s invitation to speak. The event location was changed to a 400-person capacity auditorium and limited to Middlebury College ID holders.

The number of people lined up to get inside exceeded the available seats and many were turned away. Hundreds of protesters turned out.

“We are having this protest to make sure we refute the college giving him a platform to speak,” said sophomore Ceryn Schoel, who was armed with rebuttals to many of Murray’s claims. “But we need to make sure we refute this intellectually as well.”

Middlebury College
Students at Middlebury College protest the appearance of Charles Murray, the author of the controversial book “Bell Curve.” Photo by Emily Greenberg/VTDigger

Middlebury College President Laurie Patton addressed the boisterous crowd before Murray took the stage.

“I would regret it terrible if my presence here is read to be something that it’s not —an endorsement of Mr. Murray’s research and writings,” Patton said. “If there was ever a time to take on arguments that offend us, the time is now.”

That discourse, however, never happened.

When Murray came to the podium, students turned their backs and began reading in unison from a statement. They chanted slogans like “racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray go away.”

Murray stood silently on stage, apparently dumbfounded, for nearly 30 minutes until he was moved to another room for a live stream presentation of his remarks.

As the large screen on stage projected Murray’s image, his voice was drowned out by protesters chanting, pulling fire alarms, and unplugging electronic devices.

Murray later posted on Twitter reacting to the event.

American Enterprise Institute club members who had helped organized the event were disappointed by their fellow students’ behavior.

“It’s truly unfortunate that two sides can’t listen to each other,” said Ivan Valladaves, AEI club member and senior at the college.

Wenhao Yu, a student who stayed until the end of the event, said he doesn’t agree with Murray’s claims, but he hoped to listen to the author speak in order to get a better understanding of Murray’s arguments and develop a more refined counter argument of his own.

Alec Fleischer, Middlebury College
Alec Fleischer, a freshman at Middlebury College, protests the appearance of Charles Murray, the author of the controversial book “Bell Curve.” Photo by Emily Greenberg/VTDigger

“Instead of allowing us to access this information though, many protesters tried to censor the talk and strong-arm other students to leave,” Yu said. “Those who tried to shut down the event are not the heroes that they believe themselves to be. They’re bullies, and my refusal to leave is my own act of defiance.”

Before the event began, Bill Burger, vice president of communications for Middlebury College, reminded the audience of the school’s code of conduct for demonstrations. Banners that block views and noise intended for disruption are prohibited, he said, and violations of the college policy could result in suspension or other disciplinary action.

“We know who the students are,” Burger said when asked if protesters would be punished for interrupting the event. “There will be disciplinary actions.”

Freshman Alec Fleischer, a senator with the student association who participated in the protest from beginning to end said he wasn’t worried that his actions could result in retribution.

“I won’t speak for everyone, but I’m not concerned. As the code of conduct states you have to be warned and asked to leave. We were never warned or asked to leave,” he said. “The days of sitting back and doing nothing are gone. Resistance takes guts.”

Middlebury College, Charles Murray
Students at Middlebury College protest the appearance of Charles Murray, the author of the controversial book “Bell Curve.” Photo by Emily Greenberg/VTDigger
Students at Middlebury College protest the appearance of Charles Murray, the author of the controversial book “Bell Curve.” Photo by Emily Greenberg/VTDigger
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  • Veronica Ciambra

    If they are that good at protesting why can’t they get Middlebury to divest from fossil fuel.

    • Brian Vogel

      That’s a great idea. They have apparently turned off the lights on free speech and diversity of opinion, they should divest of fossil fuels and turn off the rest of the lights, literally.

    • waltermoses38

      They really like to stay warm in the winter. They are stupid, just not THAT stupid.

  • Ron Jacobs

    Good for the students. Racism, even when it’s cloaked in academic speech, must never go unchallenged. Murray wasn’t blocked. He chickened out

  • John MacGovern

    There you have it, in plain sight, the totalitarians we need fear most are of the left. In the Academy, where freedom of speech and expression should be most defended, they are now trampled on. It’s time to pull Federal funds from these once elite institutions which have become sinkholes of ant-intellectual barbarism. The American people need not be complicit in this anymore.

    • David Bell

      Free speech goes both ways and the right to protest is a pretty big part of our history.

  • John farrell

    Thank you to ALL the Middlebury College students who protested against the white supremist Murray and prevented him from speaking. Keep up the good work. It seems that unrest always starts with the colleges and universities in our country.

    • You should not be congratulating these students, their actions are antithetical to everything academia is supposed to represent.It’s intellectually lazy to censor people you disagree with.

      • Christopher Daniels

        Academia requires rigorous debate of ideas. When those ideas get debunked and proven to be based on fraudulent analysis, the person holding those ideas no longer should be considered up for debate. A survival of the fittest, and his ideas have been considered unfit for a long long time.

      • Jarrod Smith

        Please don’t pretend Mr. Murray’s, or similar, arguments have never seen the light of a college auditorium. The intellectual inferiority of Blacks to Whites was argued, adopted by U.S. leaders, and weaponized to promote slavery and persisted generations to discourage support of the Voting Rights Act. That case was long settled. Repackaging it doesn’t make it intellectually stimulating or challenging.

        Academia is a place for discussing the newest, brightest ideas, not where longstanding, racially-charged sentiments from a bygone era go to die. We shouldn’t disparage these students for exercising their First Amendments rights to extinguish bigoted, discredited claims by a White Nationalist sympathizer.

        • I’d propose a bad-books lending library: a repository of used ‘Bell Curves’ and other scholarly dross to be shared for study and examination and preserved from reprint.

          The problem with burning the book — which I was tempted to do when I finished reading it in Wellstone’s Poli Sci 10 — is that it just means one more book gets published and sold. Probably more effective to dog-ear every single page and put it back up on Amazon.

          • Allan Wylie

            Mr. Murray makes an adequate defense of his work in responding to a similar affair at VMI. His documentation and attention to detail require refutation if the assertions of many of the commenters herein are to be sustained. See

            As relates to the whole idea of this protest, it strikes me as little different from schoolyard bullying. I wonder if we should handle disputes with our children or spouses in the same manner. In children, it’s called a temper tantrum. In marital relations, I would guess it often leads to divorce. It certainly doesn’t lead to greater understanding.

        • Neil Johnson

          It may have brought about a discussion on the inner cities and their effects; poor nutrition, poor-prenatal care, parental skill sets, violent surroundings, drug use, broken families and terrible schools have a negative effect upon ANY HUMAN BEING, regardless of race. But since we couldn’t discuss any of these topics, looks like we won’t be able to find the truth nor solve our problems. Would have made for a nice discussion on Vermont Digger and perhaps enlightened us all.

          As it is we know nothing, other than two groups were fighting each other, calling one racist and the other mob rule. Where’s that going to get us? The truth is often timeless, the idea du jour is often very fickle and shallow.

  • Wow.

    • robert bristow-johnson


  • It’s worth noting that Murray’s ‘Bell Curve’ was a distinctly unimpressive piece of scholarship — the racist argument was rightly controversial, of course — but the controversy actually concealed the fact that the statistical underpinnings were sloppy: bad ideas supported by bad science.

    Murray’s work was fraud, not scholarship.

    • Allan Wylie

      If this is true, and I don’t deny that it might be, why not discuss it in an open forum and demolish the man? It is supposed that we are rational creatures and that the ability to reason separates and elevates us from the animals. This demonstration did nothing more than indicate that the students and some faculty were unhappy and contributed nothing to assessing the validity of Mr. Murray’s views.

      A valuable opportunity was lost by the protesters to, at a minimum, hone their argumentation skills, and perhaps demolish Mr. Murray’s work. Blind emotion and name calling are not useful tools of persuasion.

      • Christopher Daniels

        Two botanists go into the woods and find a tree that neither knows what it is. One botanist says ‘a new species of maple’; the other says ‘it’s an ash’. They bring a specimen back to campus, hold a debate. At which point, it is definitely determined to be an ash. The first botanist was wrong, proven so. 10 years later the botanist still is going around saying it’s a maple, now using statistics to prove his point. He publishes a book, which is widely read and analyzed. Turns out the statistics were fraudulent, conclusions were drawn based on partial and selective data, and the first botanist is now declared a pseudo scientist. Would you invite him back to speak? And say his words warrant debate?

        • Neil Johnson

          Pretty easy argument to rebuff then huh? And yet botanists argue about species and change groups of flora into different categories on a continual basis…..because they find out more information. BTW……you don’t debate, you use the scientific method. No botanist would prevent another scientist from making a claim, they would refute it. I’m not taking sides on weather the speakers research deserves merit, but that the process you’re suggesting is invalid in which to search for the truth. It doesn’t allow for an open and free discourse among people.

      • Ann Randall

        An open forum, Yes. But I see no indication that this was an open forum, with a scientist scheduled to debunk Mr. Murray or debate him. This was a platform for a man identified as a racist by the Southern Poverty Law Center ( and debunked by no less than Stephen Jay Gould (

        • Allan Wylie

          Some of us don’t necessarily think the SPLC is the most objective organization in this discussion. Putting that aside, it seems that the point of free speech is that speech is to be permitted. In this case it was clearly denied. Mr. Murray is apparently entitled to express his opinions in the Wall Street Journal and, as has been noted, has written a number of books which have sold more than two.

          If he is a racist, which I doubt, he should be exposed and this sort of demonstration does nothing to expose him. This demonstration was nothing more than muzzle someone with whom the demonstrators disagreed. They are entitled to their disagreement and, if they truly believe in their position, they should confront Mr. Murray with, as I stated earlier, reasoned arguments rather than muzzle him. What does their demonstration contribute to the evaluation other than “We disagree?” I would hope that an academic environment would attempt to advance the discussion and add something to the issue by which a further evaluation of the situation might be made. Sadly, the academic support of this demonstration seems to affirm that debate is to be denied if we disagree. While it is true that the sponsors of this event represent a relatively small segment of the student population, we should remember that this nation was founded by a relatively small segment of the colonists. Perhaps the proposition is that they founded a nation in which you do not wish to live, i.e., absent free speech?

          • David Bell

            “Putting that aside, it seems that the point of free speech is that
            speech is to be permitted. In this case it was clearly denied. ”

            No, it was allowed, others simply chose to exercise their right to protest and to respond. Free speech does not obligate anyone to sit quietly and smile graciously to someone else lying to push an overtly racist agenda.

            “If he is a racist, which I doubt, he should be exposed and this sort of demonstration does nothing to expose him.”

            This might be a valid argument if this Murray’s first time speaking in public. He has been exposed as a racist many times over. The SPLC, among others have demonstrated his racism quite clearly.

            You act as though Murray was going to be part of a debate between himself and those who have exposed his racism in the past. He was invited to discuss his racist views, likely using the same misleading arguments he typically engages in.

            Others found this offensive and exercised both their right to free speech and freedom of protest. Would you have these people “muzzled”?

            Trying to turn those exercising their right to free speech into an attack on free speech is an extremely Orwellian argument.

          • Allan Wylie

            Do you acknowledge that he is the father of mixed race children?

          • David Bell


            Do you deny that Murray has argued extensively that specific ethnic groups, notably blacks and latinos are of lower intelligence due to genetic inferiority?

          • Allan Wylie

            No, I do not deny it. Neither does the American Psychological Association:

            The mean scores for all kinds of mental tests vary by ethnicity. No one familiar with the data disputes that most elemental statement. Regarding the most sensitive difference, between Blacks and Whites, Herrnstein and I followed the usual estimate of one standard deviation (15 IQ points), but pointed out that the magnitude varied depending on the test, sample, and where and how it was administered. What did the APA Task Force conclude? “Although studies using different tests and samples yield a range of results, the Black mean is typically about one standard deviation (about 15 points) below that of Whites. The difference is largest on those tests (verbal or nonverbal) that best represent the general intelligence factor g” [p. 93].


          • David Bell

            Your link is to a right wing “think tank”, not the APA.

            Can you link to the APA making such a claim?

            Can you link to them stating inherent biases in standardized testing?

          • Allan Wylie

            The original URL I provided does indeed reference the American Enterprise Institute. However, what it contained was an open letter to President Sands of Virginia Tech from Dr. Murray responding to President Sands open letter regarding the protests at Virginia Tech. That is was found on the AEI website is of little consequence to the content of Dr. Murray’s letter. In fact, I would submit that the exchange between these two individuals more closely represents the kind of academic conversation that actually illuminates an issue such as this.

            The link to the APA study given in Dr. Murray’s letter appears to be dead, but I found the study fairly easily at the APA’s website. You may find the paper at

            I note as well that the Boston Globe apparently reports that “students and professors at Middlebury College were ashamed and embarrassed,” which is more than can be said for some commenters.

            Dr. Murray illuminates another interesting point at the National Review Online (conservative though it is, I give them credit for an accurate transcription of his comment):

            “That leads me to two critical questions for which I have no empirical answers: What is the percentage of tenured faculty on American campuses who are still unambiguously on the side of free intellectual exchange? What is the percentage of them who are willing to express that position openly? I am confident that the answer to the first question is still far greater than fifty percent. But what about the answer to the second question? My reading of events on campuses over the last few years is that a minority of faculty are cowing a majority in the same way that a minority of students are cowing the majority.”

          • David Bell

            So, to summarize your first paragraph, the answer to my question is no, you are not referencing the APA. Thanks for acknowledging this.

            To provide a few quotes from your second link:

            “It is sometimes suggested that the Black/White differential in psychometric intelligence is partly due to genetic differences (Jensen, 1972). There is not much direct evidence on this point, but what little there is fails to support the genetic hypothesis.”

            For another look at things, please see the summary of the book linked below:


            “The fact is intelligence test scores are going up everywhere in the world; what’s more, the Black–White gap in the school achievement of American children has closed substantially in recent years. These encouraging trends have been established beyond any doubt; this book is about what they mean.”

            So, to summarize; yes the APA does in fact disagree with Murray’s views.

          • Larry Rudiger

            Shorter version: concern trolling.

      • I basically agree; the pattern goes back to the Bell Curve, where an essentially lazy but sensationalistic book prompted equally sensational responses… and, predictably, few were willing to hold their temper long enough to dissect the sloppy scholarship at the guts of Murray’s charlatanism.

        There are a number of ways that the academy is ailing… and sadly the character of conversations over Murray and meta-Murray serves as a fairly accurate trace of this decline.

    • Ron Jacobs

      Yet it is considered scholarship by some in academia and many in business because it justifies their racism.

  • James Rude

    Liberal education appears to be dead at Middlebury College.

  • Robert Spottswood

    Wow, I feel as proud of these students as I was of those from my own Carleton College when Oliver North was invited to speak nearby (excellent protest), or when Reagan’s U.N. ambassador, J. Kirkpatrick, tried to address the U. of Minnesota back in the day (even better). The folks who have rationalized binary mindsets about human beings for years already have tons of publicity and media access, and we’ll never move into the future trying to ride on the backs of dinosaurs.
    Can Middlebury get some fact-based speakers with hopeful visions to share about human survival? Naomi Klein? Barbara Pressman? Deborah Luepnitz? Judith Herman? John Berger….(wait, too late; RIP)
    Thanks to all who responded to what was going down.

    • Barry Kade

      I remember that Nixon was virtually a prisoner in the White House, as had been Lyndon Johnson before him, both so because of the Vietnam War protests. Fine with me.
      It is not “speaking truth to power” when the person being shut down is some discredited academic with no power.

      • Larry Rudiger

        Oh, please. He’s discredited, yes. But he’s never been an academic, by any meaningful measure of the term. You can have a doctorate–I do–but that does not make you an academic. In this context, I know that I am not.

  • John Skalecki

    The extreme liberal left is quite vicious indeed. Any opinions that differ from theirs are squashed and censored. Free speech is not allowed. They stomp their feet and cover their ears when someone says something they don’t like. Its really quite sad. These students should be ashamed of themselves. Amazing that these elite high dollar college kids don’t understand that free speech is one of the things that makes the US a great place to live.

    • Eric Kamm

      Oh stop with the hyperbole and labeling. Of the two, Mr. Murray or the students, which of them is more published and therefor has a far greater distribution of ideas? The answer is Mr. Murray.
      In your post now you’ve clearly sided with Mr. Murray, whose views are racist.
      First Amendment guarantees ALSO extend to students, not just to Mr. Murray. A small group invited Mr. Murray to speak. A larger group protested. That sir, is democracy in action, and everyone had their constitutional rights upheld.

      • Neil Johnson

        That sir is Mob rule, you have your government and rights sadly mixed up. Being the intellectual power house they are, they could have debated him, refuted racist claims and poor math.

        Mobs also used to rule the south in dark corners. It wasn’t until peaceful protest came about, following reasoned, powerful thought that those mobs were brought to light and some peace within this country.

        Don’t confuse real leaders, like King with organizers like Alinsky. Saul Alinsky will never be held in high regard, he was all about power and money for himself, not the groups he organized with. Our students seem to be learning more about disruption and chaos than good debate and how to bring up the truth. Follow the tactics of Alinsky, you’ll get a place like Chicago, run and governed by said radicals and community organizers for 50 years.

        • David Bell

          Does literally everything you personally disagree with somehow get traced back to Saul Alinsky?

          • Neil Johnson

            It wasn’t until I read the book 6 months ago, when I found out how much chaos and mayhem are done through the teachings of
            Saul Alinsky, it’s everywhere. It’s the sole reason for grid lock in US Government. This “protest” is classic Alinsky. Pulling fire alarms? Seriously? When you read the book you’ll understand, I’m hoping by pointing it out others will read the book. It’s been around for decades and I’m feeling a bit ignorant for having just read it. So now I’m like a smoker who just quit, telling everyone how bad smoking is for them.

          • David Bell

            “It’s the sole reason for grid lock in US Government.”

            No, the reason for gridlock in the US government for the past 8 years is the GOP declared their only goal in life was reflexive, lock step opposition to Obama.

            “So now I’m like a smoker who just quit, telling everyone how bad smoking is for them.”

            This analogy makes no sense. You claiming every problem in existence is the masterful work of a dead man and his book makes you more like a religious zealot telling everybody so and so is the prophesied devil.

      • John Klar

        Mr. Kramm, you do not comprehend the First Amendment at all. Do you have the right to crowd into my living room and disagree with me? The University has rules, which were disregarded. By your logic, to permit him to speak would make the University “clearly sided with Mr. Murray.” I do not agree with his views, but the freedom of respectful exchange of ideas is more important than the issues. The quote (misattributed to Voltaire) is apt: “I disagree with what you say, but defend to the death your right to say it.” I accordingly object strenuously to this perversion of the First Amendment, by the extremely intolerant. But I defend your right to say it….

        • Phil Greenleaf

          John – what part of the first Amendment are you talking about? And in what way could someone make the case that Murray’s rights were infringed upon? Unless you have some nugget of insight on the 1st A that I haven’t read or heard I believe you are just talking about Middlebury school rules as they pertain to student discipline. If the town of Middlebury made up a statute making it illegal in some way for Murray or others to speak, there might be a passable case. Scenarios like I just suggested have been making it to the Supreme court in dribs and drabs for 40 years and usually the town or state law is “struck down”. But let’s start with just what in the heck you are talking about.

          • John Klar

            To impose on others’ freedoms by intimidation is not a private right, enabled by “Free Speech.” I am not referring to government action, but the idea that you are free to attack or intimidate others in the name of “free speech.” That is a perversion of the very concept. That’s what the heck.

          • Phil Greenleaf

            John – I understand you to be talking about the Student disruption of the speech and also the rowdy associated acts. I agree that the College has rules which may have been disregarded (although I don’t have details on that). Of course the town does as well and I’m not sure where the alleged assault took place, but I have heard of no arrests at this point. Students then might be subject to campus discipline, which anyone of them could appeal on the grounds they were within their rights (not saying they would win that case, but it might be an argument.) But what you are talking about sounds more like possible trespassing, mischief, vandalism, assault, disorderly conduct, etc. These are not 1st Amendment issues. I am asking you what you think should happen at this point with anyone involved and describe how that relates to the 1st amendment.

      • John Skalecki

        I’m not denying anyone’s right to protest anything. Free speech works both ways of course. These kids went way beyond peaceful protest. They blocked the speaker from being heard and then one of them physically attacked a staff member. That is democracy in action?? Fair is fair. Let the other side be heard. That is democracy. What these kids did is fascism. How ironic, eh?

    • David Bell

      Let’s see…. so someone you apparently support speaking is a guaranteed right, others voicing their opposition is some sort of fascist censorship?

      Must be nice to believe that makes sense.

      • Don Dalton

        The issue is about rational discourse. Is it dead? Or does screaming and shouting and ad hominem arguments substitute for rational discourse? A rational protest is fine, but I don’t consider what Middlebury students did as rational. It was mob rule– unthinking, emotional, and self-righteous. Is that what we really want, especially since Murray, by some accounts, is so easy to refute. Let reason do its work, not mob rule. It’s a slippery slope from refusing to let someone we “know” is wrong speak, to refusing to let anyone who disagrees with us speak.

        • David Bell

          No, the issue is about giving legitimacy to an outright racist whose views have been thoroughly refuted dozens of times over.

          People took issue with their university pretending this man had a legitimate point of view when he clearly does now.

          “A rational protest is fine, but I don’t consider what Middlebury students did as rational.”

          Ok, I am curious. What would you define as a rational protest?

          “Is that what we really want, especially since Murray, by some accounts, is so easy to refute. ”

          If he was being asked to be part of a debate in which credible experts would be providing a step by step analysis as to everything that is wrong with his arguments, the dishonesty of his claims and the voluminous data refuting his beliefs then you would have a point. In this case, he would simply be giving a lecture in which he could regurgitate his debunked positions and then say that since a prestigious university wants to hear his views, they must be legitimate.

          Reason would not be allowed to do its work here any more than at a creationist rally where professional pseudo scientists are given free reign to misinform listeners.

          “It’s a slippery slope from refusing to let someone we “know” is wrong
          speak, to refusing to let anyone who disagrees with us speak.”

          Actually, it is pretty easy to draw lines on this. A charlatan whose views have been laughed out of his profession for decades on end should not be provided a forum in a major university to spout said ideas; because doing so gives people the false impression said views are legitimate.

          The same would go for a 9/11 truther, birther, gay basher, creationist, etc.

          • Don Dalton

            This “legitimacy” is all from your point of view, and it seems to me that others have a different view of what’s legitimate. “Legitimacy” is what’s up for debate. Obviously there were people at Middlebury College who believed that Murray had a legitimate right to be heard, while others believed that he didn’t even deserve that courtesy. It seems to me that civil society depends more on courtesy than on mob rule.

          • David Bell

            ‘This “legitimacy” is all from your point of view, and it seems to me that others have a different view of what’s legitimate.’

            Actually, it is based on the point of view of the dozens of researchers who have gone to great lengths to point out the flaws and dishonesty of Murray’s work.

            “It seems to me that civil society depends more on courtesy than on mob rule.”

            So, you believe that someone, no matter their history of dishonesty, lies, etc. deserves the courtesy of a platform to lend themselves legitimacy in their efforts to mislead the public. That sounds more like a misinformed society than a civil one. Though I admit the two are not mutually exclusive.

      • John Skalecki

        You call what these kids did voicing their opinion? Wow, way to spin it. No, no no. Voicing their opinion would have been letting him speak and then peppering him with questions that challenged the validity of his statements. That would have required some civility though. One would think that the students at Middlebury would be proficient in civility by the time their applications were accepted. Apparently not.

  • Edward Letourneau

    If these people are the best and the brightest, America is in serious trouble.

  • Barry Kade

    Being on the right side of history and in the majority does not give you the right t silence the minority view, no matter how offensive. Acting like a mob convinces no one that your point of view is correct.

    • Eric Kamm

      Fair point. Here’s the counter. Who is more published with greater distribution of views, Mr. Murray or the students? Mr. Murray has far greater reach of his views. The students were not a “mob” they were exercising their rights of free speech and assembly, because while Mr. Murray has his rights, so do the students.

      • Larry Rudiger

        Mr. Murray has published nothing, NOTHING, in the peer-reviewed literature that advances his peculiar interpretation of the relevant facts. He is not a scholar. He is a hireling of the right wing. If his musings were that great, then there would be traction in the academic discussion. But he chooses to not attempt to engage there. Fine. He sells books. Fine. He’s not a scholar. End of story.

      • John Klar

        They were exercising intolerance, and preventing others from voicing (or hearing) different views. “Who has more distribution” is not germane to the issue, at all.

        • David Bell

          They were exercising their right to protest.

          • John Skalecki

            That wasn’t a protest. It was an attempted lynching.

          • David Bell

            While that is an impressive hyperbole, you might want to look up the word lynching, and which group has traditionally engaged in it.

          • John Skalecki

            I believe it was the Democrats of the antebellum south that made lynching famous.

      • Barry Kade

        I don’t think I am denying you your right to control over your body when I say that your right to throw a punch ends where my nose begins.

  • Jarrod Smith

    When students remember free speech and peaceful assembly are equally protected under our Constitution….

    • Eric Kamm

      Actually, the Constitutional protections and rights DO extend to students.

      • Jarrod Smith

        That was my point

      • Barry Kade

        Yes, but only when exercised in a public forum according to time, place and manner rules. Making it impossible for the person designated to speak by the organizers is not within the bounds of manner of speech.

  • Skyler Bailey

    I have to lay the blame for this shameful incident at the feet of certain members of the faculty, as I would hazard that not one of those students had heard of Mr. Murray a month ago, nor would they have had any inclination to behave so poorly had they not been told this was an excuse to do so.

  • Laurie Grimm

    Wonder if any of those students who protested actually read anything this man has written prior to the protests or if they are just followers…taking the word of anyone just to be against something. Not saying this in support of either side but just saying that people have stopped doing their own research before speaking for or against.

    • Zachary Kent

      I’d bet money not a single one has, other than excerpts on Tumblr.

  • RestonLyons

    Mary Sue Lyons What if the table was turned, and it was the view of the students who were being attacked? Free speech is for everyone. There could have been a peaceful demonstration. No one was required to attend. Given our present circumstances there views are not acceptable to many people. What they accomplished was to demean their view and make it even less acceptable.

  • Brian Vogel

    Disciplinary action is definitely called for.

    • Eric Kamm

      Why? They exercised their right of free speech and assembly, which guarantees extend to students.

      • Nachman Avruch

        Not to belabor the point too badly, but the rights you are referring to protect you against interference from the government. A private entity like a college, or an employer, or a private landower, is free to place restrictions on speech on its property (and, in the case of an employer, on its employees in some circumstances). So no; this is not an example of students using constitutional protections. If you have any special privileges to speech that protect you in these circumstances, they are extended to you by the college not the Constitution.

        • Barry Kade

          The Constitutional right to freedom of speech can be limited by time, place, and manner. Even if this were a government sponsored event, or an event on a traditional “public forum”, the manner of the protesters exercising their speech is in no way protected. Try going to a meeting of the House of Representative (regardless of the ideology of party in power at the time) and start shouting down the speaker. The First Amendment will not protect you.
          That said, it would have been wiser on the part of the organizers to have Murray part of a panel, where he could express his ideas and experts on the other side could refute.

          • Phil Greenleaf

            Agree that a different forum would have possibly solved problems – but I’d like you to clarify your 1st A ideas. I agree on your time place and manner statement, but in your hypothetical, why would those shouting down a speaker need 1st A protection? What would they be protected from?

      • Neil Johnson

        by shutting down the rights of others? They didn’t allow others to speak or assemble, how is that exercising their right to free speech or assembly? They could have done it anywhere on campus. If BLM comes to campus and the KKK fills their hall and doesn’t allow them to speak, what are your thoughts on that?

        • David Bell

          “by shutting down the rights of others”

          What right?

          Both parties exercised their rights to free speech.

          Or does that right only exist if you approve of it?

          • Neil Johnson

            I’m suggesting that people who are scheduled to speak and have fire alarms pulled multiple times while attempting to give a speech is not allowing someone the freedom to assemble and speak.

          • Glenn Thompson

            Shouting down other’s right to speak is NOT free speech!

          • David Bell

            Please look up the definition of free speech; and a few applicable court cases. You may not like this speech, that does not prevent it from being free speech.

  • Scott Greene

    This was the inevitable outcome. Predictable cause and effect. The College felt obligated to host this particular racist, in this particular political climate, to honor the decision of one of its departments and to prevent a “denying free speech” argument. The students clearly had an obligation to counter his point of view. The college then had a crowd management “situation” to deal with. It seems to have gone almost exactly as one could realistically plan for.

  • rosemariejackowski

    The First Amendment died in Vermont a long time ago. These students not only prevented someone from speaking, but they also trampled on the rights of others to hear. They need a course in Democracy 101. Have any of them ever read the US Constitution?

    • Eric Kamm

      Are Mr. Murray and his views well published? Yes. Absolutely, YES! So how are his rights to free speech “trampled”? In being well published, he has greater access to people than do the students of the university. The students who protested exercised THEIR First Amendment rights to both free speech and assembly. A small group of students invited Mr. Murray, a far larger one, protested him. That sir, is democracy exemplified. The Constitution, applies equally, not to just those with whom you agree.

    • Zachary Kent

      I think the funner point is that I and many, many others had never heard of him before this protest. All that free publicity! I bet his books sales spiked big time.

      Now the kids, who likely never read his book and never will, will move on to their next life-changing protest, and Murray will continue to do his thing.

      • Sadly, free publicity and sage charlatanism basically describes Murray’s career.

      • Phil Greenleaf

        Murray will continue to do his thing – which will allow him to be on call to be charged up and used like the tool of the dominant culture he is. Just read a romantic nostalgia-novel pining for simpler times and you’ll get the gist.

  • David Pratt

    I’m not “proud” at all. This is what happens when students are coddled. Grow up, kids; this is the real world, and you need to learn how to deal with it responsibly!

    • Eric Kamm

      The students are not “coddled”, they are exercising their first amendment rights of speech and assembly which are protected even at schools. One small group of students invited Mr. Murray, another and far larger group protested him. That is democracy in action.

      • Skyler Bailey

        That is also precisely why the founders were extremely wary of democracy, and so instituted a constitutional republic; to protect the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority.

        • Nachman Avruch

          Another misunderstanding. Democracy vs constitutional republic is not an either or; our form of government is both democratic and republican. It isn’t a direct democracy, but a pure direct democracy has hardly ever existed (and even then, only by defining the “citizens” very narrowly to exclude most of a population).

          • Skyler Bailey

            I never said they were mutually exclusive.

          • Nachman Avruch

            Uh, you implied that a republic is a regulator for the risks of a democracy — and in favor of protecting minority interests. Neither makes any particular sense.

          • Skyler Bailey

            Yes. A republic with a constitution is a regulator for the risks of, and channel for the positive aspects of, democracy. What about that doesn’t make sense?

          • Nachman Avruch

            All of it. You might try to draw that conclusion based on the nature of our republic, and our constitution, but to say as a blanket statement that republics and constitutions protect the interests of minorities or mitigate the inherent risks of democracy is nonsense.

      • Nachman Avruch

        Your first amendment rights of speech and assembly are actually not protected on private property at a private institution. Your student code of conduct and college policy may give you certain privileges. It appears those privileges don’t extend to disrupting school events and barring invited speakers, so you may pay for your demonstrations with school disciplinary action.

  • Renée Carpenter

    Thanks for reporting on this, and for publishing comments–whether I agree with them or not.

    Much information was not reported and should have been inserted by vtdigger editors to place this protest in an appropriate context: What is the American Enterprise Institute, when was it developed and for what purposes; and who is it funded by, with what end goals?

    When this information is also placed in the context of the current shift to the far right of our U.S. government and how we got there (look to the Koch brothers’ supported American Enterprise Institute–and others–for some of these answers) ONLY THEN does the extreme nature of these students’ emotions become perfectly clear and superbly validated.

    (It takes only about 20-30% of a population manipulated by propaganda to over-throw a government. Joseph Goebbels led the way for Nazi Germany … )

    • Jim Manahan

      So, apparently the previous shift to the extreme left of our U.S. government was ok, when you look at Soros and his ilk who support such things. That’s the kind of out-of-touch thinking that has created the current shift to the right.

      • David Bell

        So, racism is ok because the government shifted to being less racist at some point?

        That’s your argument?

        • Jim Manahan

          You should be ashamed for suggesting racism is ever ok. I hope you’re not always so easily confused, that’s just disgusting.

          While ranting about context in a pathetic attempt to validate their actions, conveniently like any good liberal lemming, you apparently neglect to realize the shift to the right is a direct result of this kind of left wing elitist nonsense promoted by the most racist and divisive POTUS in history, Try reality for a good context.

      • Phil Greenleaf

        Soros is the extreme left? Our government shifted to the extreme left? Don’t think so Jim. That’s the big problem here: you are making a bloated idealized argument that can’t recognize the obvious philosophical disagreement in the Democratic Party. Soros is a decent guy but hardly represents the true left.

        Once again David Bell I have said in dozens of words what you said in just over one (dozen that is). You are the LOL king (though it’s a dark comedy we are observing here) – keep it up. Thanks.

        • David Bell

          Phil, thanks.

          I find it interesting Jim is willing to go on at length insulting me without actually responding to my question.

      • Renée Carpenter

        Many people (maybe most) would say that previous policies that you characterize as “the previous shift to the extreme left” are really closer to centrist, since mass media narratives tend to leave out the entire far left discussion–especially regarding economics. Given your remark, you likely can’t even imagine what I’m referring to. And Left-Right polemics is an unreliable characterization, intended to polarize these kinds of “discussions.” Think about it.

    • Skyler Bailey

      Are their emotions valid? That’s not for me to say. Do their emotions excuse bad behavior? No.

  • Tim Vincent

    No news here.
    Affluent snowflakes feel that their precioius little world might be threatened by….
    wait for it……another idea.
    Just more disconnect between academia and it’s enemy – free and open thought.

    • walter carpenter

      Affluent snowflakes feel that their precioius little world might be threatened by….

      “wait for it……another idea.”

      It is not just “another idea,” but an idea that goes back to our days of slavery/Jim Crow, used to justify both, and I’m glad that these students protested that, as well as the group that brought them here.

    • David Bell

      Yeah, how dare these people protest and exercise their right to free speech.

      Those rights are reserved for the “special people” you approve of.

  • Bruce Wilkie

    Sad when free speech and willingness to listen to opposing viewpoints dies. Stalin would have been proud.

  • Howard Dindo

    And these students aren’t smart enough to figure out why the working class of this country voted for Trump. They have been listening to too many “Nam” stories of old! They don’t realize the “Conservatives” are using such violent actions as a tool to prove “Conservatism” is the correct philosophical way. Keep up the violence, children, it’s just what your opposition needs to prove their positions and to get Trump a second term.

  • David Usher

    No safe spaces at Middlebury.

  • Eric Kamm

    One small group of students invited him with University Administration approval. A larger group of students chose to protest that invitation. With multiple protests, 600 students signing a petition, and a decision to limit the lecture to only students with an ID – the university KNEW there was a problem and KNEW, from all the prior actions, that students would protest at the event. Sorry Dr. Stoll, but the students were NOT a “mob” they were citizens exercising their rights of speech and assembly under the 1st Amendment. No punishment should is warranted. The university had more than sufficient cause to cancel the event and should have done so. The actions here are NOT stifling free speech, because Mr. Murray is (regrettably) well published in his views.

    • Nachman Avruch

      You seem to think your right of free speech is unlimited. It isn’t. You can protest outside the building without obstructing the rights of others. You picked civil disobedience over peaceful protest; that’s fine, just accept the consequences (disciplinary action) in the same way demonstrators have for decades when using civil disobedience as a tactic.

    • Ann Randall

      Thank you for this background on the event, Eric. VTDigger needs to write a follow-up article that includes sufficient digging to tell the whole story. As it reads now, the protest sounds like a surprise by a few rude, raucous students. Without the whole story, criticisms of the students’ actions are ill-informed.

  • Let’s hope the administration keeps its promise to discipline those who deny free speech to others. If faculty members broke the rules in this way, they should be dismissed. Of course punishment where merited should only be for what people did – not what they said.

    • Scott Greene

      The violence was uncalled for.

  • Jerry Kilcourse

    “The surest way to build someone up is to try to shut them up. By raising
    objections to Murray’s appearance at the college, the protesting
    professors have awarded him thousands of dollars worth of free
    publicity.” Vt. Digger -Jon Margolis.

    Margolis was was right. Not a smart way to protest and probably counterproductive. First Amendment belongs to everyone no matter how obnoxious the message.

    • Ann Randall

      The First Amendment prevents government from interfering with our free speech; a few students at Middlebury are not the government. Criticize their methods all you want, but please don’t make this about the free speech protections of the First Amendment.

      • rosemariejackowski

        Yes, but the SPIRIT of the First Amendment includes all of us, not only the government.

      • Jerry Kilcourse

        So where does “free speech” end and “censorship” begin? One can’t be be for free speech only some of the time. This is especially true at a college or university.

      • Jamie Carter

        If a school can not celebrate christmas because as an entity that accepts public dollars they are bound to protect religous freedom then as an entity that accepts public dollars, they should be bound to protect freedom of speech.

        • David Bell

          Can you cite any court case to that effect?

  • StephenMcArthur

    My gut tells me the protesting students were right, and that had I been a student at Middlebury I might have joined them. My intellect tells me that we must give everyone the opportunity to speak, to share alternative viewpoints. But I also worry that there is a line we must sometimes draw as to what a “viewpoint” is, and when expression of that viewpoint is intolerable and must be resisted. Is what Charles Murray contends, what he has written about and what he promotes, a mere “viewpoint?” or is it something else? Is it actually the propaganda of a racist, extremist, white nationalist (The Southern Poverty Law Center says he is) who is using false history, false data, and phony analysis to endorse a racialist historical and socio-political position that is anti-democratic and unjustifiable, and which proposes a world where we determine who is inferior and who is the master race?

    In Germany, this kind of hate speech is against the law. (From Wikipedia) “Volksverhetzung, in English “incitement of the masses”, “instigation of the people” (the official English translation of the German Criminal Code uses “incitement to hatred,” is a concept in German criminal law that refers to incitement to hatred against segments of the population and refers to calls for violent or arbitrary measures against them, including assaults against the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning, or defaming segments of the population.” Is this not incitement to hate? Is this not defaming a segment of the population?

    I say RESIST, but I am not fully convinced that shutting him down was the right strategy. In my heart, I wan him to never be heard from again. But, In talking about this with my wife Rickey Gard Diamond, she said had she been a professor at Middlebury she would have given an assignment to all her students to go to the internet and find photos of African-American heroes and heroines, African-American political, religious, scientific, literary, social, juridical, and others and blow up their photos into posters to hold up to Murray during his entire speech, silently. I added that photo-posters of slaves who built Washington DC, of slaves who, under the harshest conditions of inhumanity, were forced to create an American economy,or a photo of a student’s grandmother who worked all her life doing white people’s laundry to support her family would be effective as well. Overwhelm him with the truth and expose his dirty lie for what it is: defamation. In the end, I think I land on the side of a more thoughtful strategy, and against what is ultimately an unproductive strategy. It’s not an easy question, and I admit how much my heart tugs on me to join those students in shutting Murray down. But I am imagining how different it would have been had 400 students confronted him fully with large posters that he would have had to look at constantly while defending his racist position?

    • Larry Rudiger

      Mr. McArthur, I’ve seen him. There’s no there there. He’s polite and largely well spoken. But nobody takes him seriously, because he’s never subjected his opinions to scholarly scrutiny. He is (I assume) well paid by the American Enterprise Institute to provide a gloss of credibility to a racist, right-wing agenda.

      Having said that, I think that Middlebury was played. There is nothing about this whole debacle that was unpredictable.

  • Glenn Thompson

    Apparently we have a small minority in this country who is all for “free Speech” until someone’s opinions differs from their’s…..and the end result is this kind of nonsense.

    For those in Middlebury who shouted down this speaker and then wonder why someone like a Donald Trump gets elected president? Try looking in a mirror!

    • David Bell


      You mean people exercising their right to free speech and protest?

      Yeah, let’s just have them all rounded up so entitled right wingers can have freedom to say what they like without the fear of someone daring to disagree or protest. Freedom for SOME!

      • Glenn Thompson

        Let us know, when you plan to speak somewheres so a bunch of us can show up and shout you down and see how you like it?

        You have no idea what ‘proper’ freedom of speech is by you own ignorant statement.

        • David Bell

          “Let us know, when you plan to speak somewheres so a bunch of us can show up and shout you down and see how you like it?”

          So, if I didn’t like someone doing that that nullifies their right to do it? Is that your argument?

          “You have no idea what ‘proper’ freedom of speech is by you own ignorant statement.”

          Or are you claiming free speech is only acceptable when it meets your own personal definition of “proper freedom of speech”?

          • Glenn Thompson

            So, you are giving readers here the impression shouting down a speaker is a proper course of action? Why are you defending this type of behavior?

          • David Bell

            “So, you are giving readers here the impression shouting down a speaker is a proper course of action?”

            No, I am stating it is a protected form of speech.

            “Why are you defending this type of behavior?”

            Let’s put it this way. I read a lot of comments insisting every racist, bigoted and factually incorrect statement this speaker makes is protected speech; usually something along the lines of “I don’t agree with what he says but he has a right to say it.”

            Most of these comments fail to point out the protesters had a right to respond to what he said and protest him saying it. Or actually seem to believe people do not have the right to respond or protest because… well, no reason is actually given.

            Hope that clears it up.

  • Ann Randall

    That demonstration sounds remarkably peaceful and orderly for a mob. No student violated the First Amendment—only the government can do that. To allege that free people have no right to drown out voices of racism is to pit free assembly against free speech.

    Without more information, it is hard to critique the method students chose to combat Charles Murray, a man identified as a white nationalist by the respected Southern Poverty Law Center (; but I see no evidence that Middlebury planned a rebuttal as part of the event. That is not just irresponsible but a slap in the face to every black student who attends Middlebury—or is thinking of attending (I personally know some who were). Pseudo-science that claims people of African descent are less intelligent than whites is not just a “different point of view”; it is the basis of racism (

    A liberal arts college is indeed a good venue to discuss Murray’s discredited ( 1994 book. But it is certainly not an appropriate venue for Murray to promote his racist views. I agree with Mike Sheridan, chair of sociology and anthropology, that Murray should not be viewed as just another speaker, but “a scientific racist, pseudo-scientist” (

    • JohnGreenberg

      Ann Randall:

      Not to quibble, but ….
      “Pseudo-science that claims people of African descent are less
      intelligent than whites is not just a “different point of view”; it is
      the basis of racism (” This is particularly ironic in view of the fact that real science tells us that we are ALL of African descent. Human beings all belong to one race, skin color notwithstanding.

      • Ann Randall


    • John Briggs

      Must every controversial opinion be rebutted at once? One of the prime functions of a university is to teach students to listen, to reflect, to rebut calmly. Shutting down a speaker because he or she is wrong is surely familiar. We’ve seen it from China to Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Russia and, increasingly, in western Europe and the United State. The shutters-down, successful and flushed with the power of acting in a group, leave thinking exactly what they thought before they arrived. We saw a lot of that at Trump rallies.

  • Ron Jacobs

    Good job Middlebury. Racists should be challenged wherever they appear. Murray wasn’t blocked from speaking. He merely decided to speak away from his public.

  • John MacGovern

    Some time ago, Charles Murray was asked: reflecting on the legacy of “The Bell Curve”, what stands out? He replied: I’m not going to try to give you a balanced answer to that question, but take it in the spirit you asked it—the thing that stands out in my own mind, even though it may not be the most important. I first expressed it in the Afterword I wrote for the soft cover edition of “The Bell Curve.” It is this: The reaction to “The Bell Curve” exposed a profound corruption of the social sciences that has prevailed since the 1960s. “The Bell Curve” is a relentlessly moderate book — both in its use of evidence and in its tone — and yet it was excorited in remarkably personal and vicious ways, sometimes by eminent academicians who knew very well they were lying. Why? Because the social sciences have been in the grip of a
    political orthodoxy that has had only the most tenuous connection with
    empirical reality, and too many social scientists think that threats to the
    orthodoxy should be suppressed by any means necessary. Corruption is the only
    word for it.
    Now that I’ve said that, I’m also thinking of all the other social scientists who have come up to me over the years and told me what a wonderful book “The Bell Curve” is. But they never said it publicly. So corruption is one thing that ails the social sciences.
    Cowardice is another.

  • A better demonstration against Murray would be to gather 100+ used Bell Curves, dog ear every page, and place on ebay for auction. Time the auctions to conclude at the climax of his speech.

  • Mr. Yu appears to be the real hero in this story. I applaud his conviction both to disagree with someone’s point of view and his support of that person’s right to express it. His desire to more fully understand the point of view of someone he disagrees with in order to better craft arguments supporting his position is admirable.

    Shutting down someone’s right to speak (especially when they’ve been invited to) will only make them feel entitled to shout down your right to speak when they are on the other side of the power curve. You are not helping your cause, you are contributing to the achievement of exactly what you are most afraid of.

    • Wenhao Yu

      Thank you for the kind words, Tim. Here is the full portion of my statement on the incident:

      “My friends and I don’t agree with any claims from Murray’s studies, but we came here to listen to the topic and subsequent rebuttals in order to develop a more nuanced understanding and refined argument. Instead of allowing us access to this information though, many protesters tried to censor the talk and strong-armed other students to leave (i.e. pulling the fire alarm 3 times, heckling others). But who are they to get to decide what information we can access and can’t? Those who tried to shut down the event are not the heroes that they believe themselves to be. They’re bullies, and my refusal to leave is my own act of defiance.

      We really don’t think that our democracy should work this way. Those who are the loudest shouldn’t by default be the most righteous as well. If they have the truth, it should naturally come out through discourse. The behaviors of many protesters today really crossed the line, and they had a savor of the censorship practices of foreign authoritarian states that my friends and I grew up in, where silencing and persecution of dissenting opinions is rampant and nasty. The people trying to shut down the talk don’t realize that they’ll be on the wrong side of history.”

      I believe that what I stated above are the values held by a silent but liberal majority of Middlebury students. Despite the incident, I still have tremendous faith in the ability of my peers to reflect upon the situation, speak up, and continue to promote intellectual curiosity and intelligent discourse.

      • Don Dalton

        Well said! Censorship is alive and well right here on Vermont. One cannot talk about climate change, for example– it isn’t allowed because the science is supposedly “incontrovertible” and saying otherwise is giving “false information.” One cannot talk about vaccines harms, another example. Again, the media and general pubic have decided that this is “false information.” If these things are so “false,” why not let those who disagree speak out, so that those who have the “true” view can give us all the facts and reasons why the other side is so gravely deluded and has fallen for vicious rumors? Silencing of dissenting opinions is alive and well in Vermont.

        • David Bell

          ‘ the media and general pubic have decided that this is “false information.”‘

          Replace media with every credible medical organization on the planet and that would be an accurate statement.

          “If these things are so “false,” why not let those who disagree speak
          out, so that those who have the “true” view can give us all the facts
          and reasons why the other side is so gravely deluded and has fallen for
          vicious rumors?”

          Because doctors, climate scientist, etc. have been doing this for decades on end, and science deniers respond by crying conspiracy, re-stating the same utterly debunked claims and ignoring the views of legitimate researchers because said views fail to meet the standards of the science deniers confirmation bias.

          If you are going to discuss groups being “silenced”, you should add gay bashers, moon landing hoaxers, 9/11 truthers and creationists.

          I mean, these views are legitimate by your standards, right?

          The only reason to doubt them is because “the media has decided they are wrong”.

          • Wenhao Yu

            Please don’t associate my viewpoints with the climate change and vaccination debate. The previous two topics can be easily measured and studied with scientific precision (i.e. by measuring acidification of oceans, or through animal testing). Although you (Don Dalton) have the right to listen to and entertain ideas from alternative-scientific communities, it takes a serious lapse of judgement or scientific ignorance not to be convinced in the face of overwhelming evidence.

            But intelligence here is a more murky topic. 1) There is evidence of genetic involvement to intelligence, though their exact influences are wide-ranging and currently between 5 and 60% in studies. Genetic differences are also present between races, so by this logic, it is possible that there are racial differences with “intelligence”. But I refuse to entertain this idea for now, because 2) How do you objectively measure intelligence?? It is very difficult to establish an all-encompassing measurement. Some people may have brains built for artistic expression, while others are more suited for logical puzzles. Others argue of racial/gender biases to intelligence tests, because if they are written by people of a particular background, the test might favor those from similar backgrounds. I can entertain this claim too. 3) “intelligence” may be easily conflated with superiority, and this is a very dangerous slippery slope that would easily dehumanize whole groups of people.

            You can see that this is a very complicated topic. But I am also a student, and I am in college for the exact reason of being able to understand the complexity of a situation and develop my best judgement. While I sympathize with the concerns of many protesters, I disagree that this topic is as black and white as they paint it to be. But by not allowing me to access information on the other side, they are essentially attempting to control my thoughts without giving me the means to critically evaluate and give my own verdict. I am not a child, and I shouldn’t have to be treated like one through censorship.

            That’s all.

          • Don Dalton

            The point isn’t the “legitimacy” of my views (isn’t that what’s up for debate?) or of anyone else’s, but of the right, and necessity, to debate. Gay bashing would, I think, fall under “hate speech.” Some would say vaccines are beyond debate, but since, as Pediatrics has asserted in their summary of US statistics, vaccines didn’t “save us” from the diseases of the 19th century, we’re not going to kill children, as some suggest, by debating. (page 1315) I would wager that plenty of Vermonters feel this is a worthy topic.

            It’s true that VTDigger is overall fair in allowing comments, but it’s also true that my commentary on warming, which consisted almost entirely of quotes by physicists, was censored. It’s my firm belief that people need to hear this. Solid evidence says that CO2 isn’t causing our current warming; this evidence is being ignored, and hence the protest by physicists. Why is it we should not hear these protests?

          • David Bell

            “The point isn’t the “legitimacy” of my views (isn’t that what’s up for
            debate?) or of anyone else’s, but of the right, and necessity, to

            And when the debate has reached a certain point, say every credible scientific organization on the planet has independently reviewed the data and reached the same conclusion. Most of us would put the debate to rest until new evidence arises. Simply demanding the same disproved claims be re-hashed ad infinitum is a waste of everyone’s time and more likely to mislead than to educate.

            ‘Gay bashing would, I think, fall under “hate speech.”‘

            Actually, much of it falls under the same arguments Murray engages in. That gays are inherently mentally disordered, they have harmed society simply by existing, that they need to be openly discriminated against for the common good, etc.

            Are you saying gay bashers also deserve a platform?

            “vaccines didn’t “save us” from the diseases of the 19th century, we’re not going to kill children, as some suggest, by debating”

            According to the AMA, and pretty much every other credible medical organization, they did save us from preventable disease many times over. Debate won’t kill children, giving parents the false impression vaccines do more harm than good likely will.

            ” Solid evidence says that CO2 isn’t causing our current warming; this
            evidence is being ignored, and hence the protest by physicists.”

            Not according to every credible scientific association on the planet. This is like saying “solid evidence exists that the universe really is 6,000 years old”, you can certainly find people with scientific degrees who will tell you this; that does not mean their evidence truly is solid.

            Saying someone is a physicist therefore they must have a legitimate view is like saying someone is a geologist, therefore they must be heard when saying the earth is 6,000 years old.

            “Why is it we should not hear these protests?”

            For the same reasons a psychologist making the claims above regarding homosexuals does not deserve a platform.

          • Don Dalton

            See These are very interesting graphs that refute model predictions of catastrophic warming– and the model predictions are all we have to go on. This is data from millions of weather balloons and it corroborates data from two separate satellite source (RSS and UAH.) I think figures “2” and “4” are astonishing considering the importance of the tropical tropospheric “hot spot.” This is published, peer-reviewed science.

            So my point is we should be open to debate and not shut out information because we’re “certain” that we’re correct. It may be that, for political or other reasons, some people may not want us to know certain things, or some people may want to push their theory beyond the tethers of evidence. We should be vigilant.

          • David Bell

            Again, this is a blog post from a science denier site with as much credibility as the FRC has on the nature of human sexuality.

            For a more balanced view of John Christy’s credibility see the link below:


            “and the model predictions are all we have to go on”

            This statements is rather confused. This would be like saying the model predictions of an experimental rocket or transmission rates on a new disease are all we have to go on. Science is valuable mainly because of its predictive element. Most science is about making models to predict future events based on observable data. Isaac Newton is best known for modeling observable data and using that model to make describe events in the physical world; which was deemed accurate at the time because it provided the best explanation for observable data and could be used to make advanced predictions.

            “This is published, peer-reviewed science.”

            Then link to a respected, peer reviewed publication rather than a blog.

            “It may be that, for political or other reasons, some people may not want
            us to know certain things, or some people may want to push their theory
            beyond the tethers of evidence. We should be vigilant.”

            Again with the conspiracy theories.

            Are you really contending that every scientific organization of national or international standing is involved in a decades long conspiracy? That peer reviewed publications should be ignored i favor of blogs written by college drop outs with no credentials?

          • It is human nature to want to be correct, especially about things we believe to be critical to our well being and the well being of those we love. However, our understanding of our existence and the environment in which we live is constantly changing. The Scientific Method is not a “one and done” process. Any “settled science” is subject to being displaced at any time by a new revelation, experiment or observation. That is why good scientists are never 100% sure of any “fact”.

            It was common practice before about 1960 to use x-ray treatments for a variety of conditions including enlarged adenoids and chronic ear infections. That was, the professionals insisted, the gold standard treatment. Not too many years following my treatments, the evidence started to accumulate that there were unintended consequences for this magical treatment. Eventually, like many others, I developed hypothyroidism, chronic tinnitus and several other conditions that many believe resulted from irradiation.

            The bottom line is, the preponderance of evidence in support of any “settled science” does not eliminate the possibility that it could be immediately “proven” to be wrong tomorrow. The older you get, the more you see “settled science” become “unsettled”. I don’t disbelieve those who are on the side of climate change being predominantly caused by humans, but I won’t be surprised either if tomorrow something comes up that shifts the discussion 180 degrees.

          • Don Dalton

            As you should know, but apparently do not, model predictions of catastrophic warming ARE all we have to go on, according to climate scientists themselves.

          • David Bell

            Models are the basis of advanced predictions in pretty much all of science. If tomorrow morning, A comet that was supposed to pass by the earth suddenly stopped and reversed direction, it would mean physicists current models were incorrect based on observable data.

            I am genuinely curious, how do you think advanced predictions work in science?

          • John Skalecki

            Everyone deserves a platform, no matter what the topic or what the opinion. That’s really the whole point here, isn’t it? Who are you or who am I to say what can and can’t be debated? What makes a person or group not let someone voice their opinion or argument? You seen to think it’s ok to shut someone down when their opinion doesn’t make logical sense to you. What do you call that? There is a name for it. I’m sure you can let us all know.

        • JohnGreenberg

          Don Dalton:

          “One cannot talk about climate change, for example….” And yet, Don, you do so almost daily right here in these comment columns. Clearly, the censorship conspiracy is pretty inefficient here in Vermont.

          “If these things are so “false,” why not let those who disagree speak
          out, so that those who have the “true” view can give us all the facts
          and reasons why the other side is so gravely deluded and has fallen for
          vicious rumors”

          Most of the time, David Bell or I (and others) do precisely what you call for: we refute your claims point by point. You simply ignore all of the well-documented points we’ve made, and as David regularly points out “every credible medical [and scientific] organization on the planet,” and repeat the same nonsense elsewhere.

          Alas, there are only 24 hours in a day, and speaking for myself, my ability to research and document the falsehood of your claims can’t keep up with your ability (with the help of your selected blogging community) to make stuff up. Thankfully, David Bell is more up to the job than I am!

          • David Bell


            Thanks for the thoughtful words. What I find most interesting in Don’s prior responses is his absolute insistence that his science denial is different from other brands of science denial. It is simply a fact to him that every credible scientific organization on the planet is lying about AGW or vaccines. Yet the idea that the same argument, used by the anti-gay movement to justify open discrimination against homosexuals is just different somehow. The same would hold true for a 9/11 truther or a creationist. Both groups decry that fiendish “consensus science” and rely on blog posts and/or op-eds by people with absolutely no credibility, as he does. Yet he insists his doing so is reasonable, and their doing so is not.

            I expect his response to both of us will contain some insistence that we base our views on “consensus science”, which he will insist is utterly at odds with the “real science”… again based on blog posts and op-ed’s that insist this is true.

            At least he has started admitting his views require decades long conspiracies involving thousands, if not tens of thousands, of researchers across dozens of different countries.

            So, some progress.

  • David Austin

    College is a place where intellectual curiosity and the free exchange of ideas should be protected and promoted. Even if that means some people will be uncomfortable. Attending an elite school like Middlebury is an opportunity that is allegedly afforded only to the best and the brightest of students. It is a privilege that will potentially lead to positions of leadership in society. The behavior exhibited by some of these protesters is what one would expect from an angry two year old child, not young adults at a highly regarded liberal arts college. These actions do not bode well for the success of those involved once they enter the world after college. Life is full of thoughts, words, actions, and things which one may find objectionable. And life generally needs to be navigated without the benefit of “safe spaces”, coddling by well-meaning but ill-advised professors, and throwing of tantrums. Good Luck!

  • Wayne McClure

    Shameful display.

  • Lester French

    Students acting as reported should be expelled and the faculty fired. No place in this country for that type of behavior.

    • David Bell

      Yeah, those people have no right to speak or protest; better yet, let’s have the cops jail every one of them for 20 years. Freedom for SOME!

      • Steve Baker

        We know the liberal mindset, don’t have a conversation, yell
        your opinion so you sound like you’re winning the argument, be intolerant of people with a different opinion, call people racists and bigots that done agree with you.

        • David Bell

          While that is a lovely straw man, it leaves me with a question. When you say ‘ call people racists and bigots that done (sic) agree with you.’

          Why precisely is it wrong to call someone who is overtly racist or bigoted a racist or bigot?

          The speaker is identified as a racist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, he has made numerous overtly racist, bigoted and misogynistic arguments over his career.

          I do not say this because he doesn’t agree with me, but because his arguments fit these definitions.

          Yet somehow it is verboten to use such words, no matter if they apply.

          Why are you so afraid that people with these views be identified as such?

          • Steve Baker

            By the “Southern Poverty Law Center” ?
            I rest my case

          • David Bell

            “By the “Southern Poverty Law Center” ?”

            Yes, one of our nations most respected civil rights groups.

            Glad to see we are in agreement.

      • Lester French

        You should read Mr. Yu’s comments below. In my opinion sir, you are way off base.

  • Bravo! This is how you deal with white supremacists.

    • Justin Boland

      Murray is not a white supremacist.

      • Michael Doane

        Weeellll, just a leeetle bit there, Justin.

      • Ann Randall

        He may not label himself such and has tried to distance himself from more blatant forms of white supremacy, but Murray’s views are its very foundation. The SPLC discusses Murray here:

      • David Stoll

        Justin, you’re right. It would be closer to the mark to call Murray a bio-determinist or genetic determinist. The problems with that are easy enough to explain. Calling him a white supremacist is like calling an abortion doctor a baby-killer. It’s a dehumanizing move that can quickly justify violence. Which is what happened at Middlebury College. I would agree with critics that bio-determinism can put you at the top of a slippery slope that can lead to white supremacy. But judging from what I’ve seen of Murray’s statements–I’m still catching up on this–I have yet to see anything that I would call white supremacy.

      • Christopher Maloney

        White nationalism is a type of nationalism or pan-nationalism which holds the belief that white people are a race and seeks to develop and maintain a white national identity. Its proponents identify with and are attached to the concept of a white nation. So, yeah, kinda…

        • Edward Letourneau

          If you took the time to actually look at the book, you would see he says same thing about whites with a lower IQ. It wasn’t about blacks only. It was about IQ and that the gene pool.

          • David Bell

            “If you took the time to actually look at the book, you would see he says same thing about whites with a lower IQ.”

            Actually, he argues extensively that specific ethnic groups are inherently more intelligent than others and race is a defining factor in intelligence.

            He has subsequently argued that whites become poorer by emulating blacks culturally.

            ” It wasn’t about blacks only.”

            No, it was about making overtly racist statements about blacks in comparison to other ethnic groups.

    • Tedo

      By assaulting people?

      Have you read any of his books? If you had, you would have realized that that accusation is laughable.

  • Frank Leister

    Middlebury has obviously failed. They have failed to successfully teach civilized respect for those that disagree with their students, proper way to respond to disagreement and to instill the the intellectual skills to articulate a reasoned argument. Shame on Middlebury.

    • John Skalecki


    • Phil Greenleaf

      Obviously other views on that: Hugely successful at empowering students of all backgrounds to be fearless in the face of the mouthpieces of the dominant culture.

      Civility, in this context, was thrown out the window when Murray wrote (and then again,,,and again) a boring purely fantastical self-righteous version of capitalist serving economic pop-study. His thesis added another chapter to the lengthy volume of American cultural demonization and oppression.

      If AEI at Middlebury was really interested in inviting serious thinkers who challenge orthodoxies they might well have asked ex-AEI staffer David Frum (who shredded Murray’s latest work as insipid nostalgia). Unfortunately Middlebury AEI appears to be cued to invite whichever speaker is in the current graces of the think tank board.

      There are many proper responses to this kind of regressive “scholastic” pandering- one of which was a rude welcome, signaling much greater disgust than could have been expressed through a polite forum.

  • It’s not about freedom of speech, it’s about freedom itself.

    Making me proud to be a Midd alum, well done!

    • Tim Vincent

      Drawing a line between freedom and freedom of speech doesn’t say much for your (expensive) Middlebury “education.”

      • Zachary Kent

        I got a nice LOL out of this.

  • John Briggs

    What a change. In the 60’s, the free speech movement surfaced at Berkeley at a time when the tide was moving the other way. Then, college administrators tried to block speech which offended them. Students–good students–wouldn’t allow it. It wasn’t pretty. It never is. Intolerance quickly surfaced in student groups, and self-appointed judges shouted down those with “wrong” opinions.
    I expected a discussion at Middlebury, not a Trump-like shut-down of conversation. Mobs are always self-righteous, it seems, regardless of the target.
    This is a blot on the school’s reputation. It happened. It can’t be undone. Unpopular speech was suppressed.
    (A word for the reporter. This sentence didn’t belong: “Murray has also been identified as a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center.” If you wish to editorialize, buy a newspaper.)

    • John McClaughry

      As a grad student at Berkeley during the early stages of the “Free Speech Movement” in 1963, I can attest that EVERY campus political organization was united in outrage at the stupid rules imposed by the weak-kneed University’s trustees.- YPSL, YAF, YRs, YDs, John Birchers, and more. By the time the movement became a national story, the Left had smoothly taken it over, and the YRs, YAF and Birchers had tiptoed out. (I was only a spectator).

    • Phil Greenleaf

      Phhhh…perfectly acceptable sentence. Qualified Context is a hallmark of good reporting. That’s the difference between Digger and ________(insert any right wing web “news” organization).

  • David Dempsey

    97% of the students at Middlebury are from out of state. Tuition and room and board cost around $64,000 this year. The average percentage of students who take out loans and/or get grants at all other Vermont colleges and universities is nearly 80%. At Middlebury college, the percentage is around 40%. If I was one of the 60% of the students whose parents are shelling out $64,000, I would hope that I would appreciate the opportunity I’ve been given to help me open my mind, not close it.

    • Madeline Rockwell

      Admissions are need blind
      7.1% are Vt residents
      Tuition/room/board is $64k
      About 50% get grants averaging $42k
      44%receive financial aid
      See for more actual facts.
      Not excusing the protesters’ behavior, but I thought a few facts may be in order.

      • David Dempsey

        Thanks Madeline,
        I was using the graphs from their website. I’m sure your numbers are more accurate than mine. Thanks for correcting me a polite way.

        • Scott Williams

          Thank u both, David and Madeline, for civil discourses

        • JohnGreenberg

          My thanks to you both.

          To Madeline, for setting the record straight with correct facts, and to David for admitting his error.

          IF only all commenters would do either of these things regularly. Sigh.

  • robert bristow-johnson

    if they had done nearly exactly the same thing, except no signs and no spoken word, but if they had simply stood up and turned their backs, i think that would be the totally honorable thing to do for the occasion.

  • Edward Letourneau

    I think the premise “Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life” has been proven by these students. And here I thought Middlebury were the cream of the crop.

    • Steve Baker

      Well said

    • Glenn Thompson

      Middlebury College in the past has had a good reputation. This event has given that institution a ‘black eye’. Having this story now reach the national stage has now made Middlebury College famous, but not in a positive way. Only because a small group of self-centered juveniles can’t stand the thought that someone else has a different point of view outside of their narrow thinking minds.

  • Don Dixon

    It is my hope that all received Participant ribbons.

  • Jimmy T. Tomczak

    Repression from the left; repression from the right. Whats an anarchist to do?

  • Phil Greenleaf

    Ann Randall so far has the coolest head and is the deepest thinker in this discussion. Right wing reaction is in lockstep and left leaners are a bit all over the map (which cleanly describes my earlier statements on the intransigent ideology and self-righteousness of the conservative “movement”).

    Clearly this does not appear to fall into 1st amendment territory as neither Middlebury College, nor the town, nor the state made any proscribed ban on speech.

    In hindsight, Murray elicited a much stronger reaction than I imagined and I think many of us probably underestimated how polarizing even a fringe figure like Murray can still be.

    As I posted in the days leading up to this, I encountered the Bell Curve only months after it was published in a graduate Education Studies classroom setting. Readings from it were presented (grudgingly) as examples of “alternative” views: along with technology based learning, common core curriculum, and compartmentalization/”tracking” (all resulting in cultural bias in education as has been shown over and over). Murray met no academic acceptance over the years not because he was scorned or censored by liberal faculty but because his ideas were simply pulp fiction; mythological meanderings of a terribly self-righteous observer.

    Murray and others stand as guardians of what I hope is a dying dominant culture that protects and somewhat glorifies well tested coded and overt bigotry. Should we construct statutes that limit his speech? Separate topic – but the Supreme court actually already has allowed that in some cases. It’s an evolving interpretive subject.

    • David Bell

      Very well said, Phil.

  • Paul Johnson

    Racism under the thin cloak intellectual discourse is not and should be accepted by People anywhere. Those who perpetuate it are insulting those who recognize it and refuse to tolerate it. What is of particular interest is that definitive protests of this nature are happening at places such as Middlebury. This gives full validation to the anti racist, anti intolerance movement underway in most parts of this country and wherever free speech and assembly are not met with punitive and or brutal repression in the rest of the world. Whatever one’s politics may be, that’s their business, but when you lead with pure racism and pronounce one set of People more worthy than the next, then it’s all People’s business. That is, the People who accept the premise that we are all created equal and should be valued as such. So bring it Middlebury, stand up for what’s right this time, next time and every time. Yes, the world is watching and it is smiling upon you today.