Colleges are ground zero for mob attacks on free speech, lawyer says

Robert Shibley:

Free speech on campus is facing a profound threat.

Not at the hands of President Trump, nor even at the hands of the administrators and lawyers who have done so much to erode academia’s respect for freedom of expression.

No, as highlighted by the violent disruption and end of Charles Murray’s visit to Middlebury College in Vermont last week, the immediate crisis comes from one of freedom’s most ancient enemies: the angry mob.

It’s time for college leaders and law enforcement to take a stand: In our nation, this is not what democracy looks like.

While Americans rightly tend to focus on threats to freedom of speech from the authorities, we cannot overlook the danger of allowing people to be silenced by groups prepared to be violent.

History is littered with such warnings, from Diogenes to Robert F. Kennedy, who, on the day after the Rev. Martin Luther King’s assassination, said, “A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.”

That voice of madness led to Murray being forced to give his talk on social stratification in America by videolink after disruptive protesters made Murray’s actual presence before the audience impossible.