Violent Attack on Free Speech at Middlebury

Subject: Sociology
Type: Rhetorical Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 790
Topics: Community

Charles Murray author of “The Bell Curve” was attacked by angry university protestors at the Middlebury College as he prepared to deliver a speech to a group of conservative students that had requested for him through the school. Charles Murray was met with such hostility from the liberal students who believed that the author had no business in the school (Ceci, Wendy). They resented the author because of his sentiments in his book “The Bell Curve”, which had managed to get quite popular with controversy. The Middleburg professor was observed to apologize to the protestors for inviting Murray (Schow, Ashe, and Ashe Schow). As much as the protestors, who were mostly liberal students, had a right to disagree with the opinions of the author and what he stood for, they had no right to deny him the opportunity to make the speech. Speech is one of the important freedoms that every American should enjoy and by refusing to let him talk they not only denied his freedom of speech but also the freedom of the conservative students that had invited him to the school. 

The hatred from the students was focused on Dr. Murray. The students demonstrated their frustration on the treatment of minority groups in the society. The primary goal of the students was to adopt a stance on the protection of marginalized groups in the community. However, it is important to note that need for order and decorum as human beings, even on the issues that people disagree on passionately. Human beings need to demonstrate a significant level of reasoning in contrast to emotional responses. The students at Middlebury should have given Dr. Murray a chance to express himself and present his opinions on the subject. Subsequently, they should have challenged his sentiments in the Question and Answer session. In addition, there are numerous civil, but effective approaches that could have been employed by the students such as presenting protests outside, storming out of the talk and ignoring the invites to attend the talk. 

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The school principal put out a statement saying that he had no position refusing to invite the author to the school because the students who belonged to a group called the American Enterprise Institute Club had requested for him. Even though the conservative students only make up a small population of the school, they still had the right to choose who they wanted to be their speaker. The group also claimed that it had picked one of the schools’ conservative lecturers to challenge the author and she had prepared enough to create a debate. The lecturer who was also attacked by the protestors got a concussion trying to shield Charles Murray. It is important to note that the school environment and attitude towards Murray was flawed by the past events during the last month. The students and faculty at the university had judged Murray prior to reading his books and work. The individuals concluded that Murray was a white nationalist and an anti-gay protestor. 

The liberal students who were asked to sit and challenge the author rather than protest refused to listen and went ahead to even try and physically attack the author. This kind of behavior especially in a school where violence should not be condoned should not be acceptable. These should be held accountable in order to avoid such events from re occurring (Beinart, Peter).  Middlebury was not the first school to protest against conservative speakers and as the trend goes on soon even conservative students will be denied the right to even talk or express themselves in school. With the political tensions getting high in the country the school is one place where people should feel free to talk, debate and challenge each other.

At the end of the day, there is always two sides to a coin, as much as the students were wrong to protest against Charles Murray and his speech, their sentiments were protesting against the biased opinions presented by Murray. The Bell Curve by Charles Murray comes out as a very racist and discriminative book, and the authors go ahead to define classes of people according to their races and IQ. The book managed to spark up negative responses from different people and media outlets and the fact that it got more publicity than it deserved could be the reason the liberal students were so angered by it. Even though they actions might have been a bit over the margin what they stood for was understandable. They refused to let a racist and discriminative author speak in their school because they believed that he had no good to offer and his book was clear on that.

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  1. Beinart, Peter. “A Violent Attack on Free Speech at Middlebury”. The Atlantic, 2017,
  2. Ceci, Wendy. “Opinion | Charles Murray’s ‘Provocative’ Talk”. Nytimes.Com, 2017,
  3. Schow, Ashe, and Ashe Schow. “Middlebury Professor Apologizes To Rioters For Inviting Charles Murray”. The Federalist, 2017,
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