by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Samuel Mangold-Lenett writes for the Federalist about a lesson to be learned from a recent controversy at Stanford.
The culture of free speech that for so long characterized American academia is dead. Increasingly, struggle sessions and violent eruptions are how the nation’s best and brightest choose to handle the ideas, individuals, and situations that make them uncomfortable.
Earlier this month, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Kyle Duncan was invited by the Stanford Federalist Society to their law school to give a talk titled “Covid, Guns, and Twitter.” What ensued is what has become the norm. A coalition of the dysgenic and well-dressed filled a lecture hall to shout down and demean a federal judge while a school diversity administrator chastised him with prepared remarks.
Disagreement is OK and clearly would have been welcomed by Duncan, but when students feel emboldened to tell a federal judge, “We hope your daughters get raped,” as one individual allegedly did, a course correction is desperately needed.
On Friday, Duncan addressed this very topic in a talk titled “Free Speech and Legal Education in Our Liberal Democracy” at the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government.
“This is a talk about another talk,” Duncan quipped to inform those in the audience who were unaware that he would be, in part, discussing the incident at Stanford.
In a general defense of student protests, Duncan stated, “It’s a great country where you can harshly criticize federal judges and nothing bad will happen to you. … The students at Stanford and other elite law schools swim in an ocean of free speech. … Has any group of people ever been so privileged?”
Continuing, the judge referenced a memo published on March 22 by the dean of Stanford Law, Jenny Martinez, in which she condemned the disruptions and “threatening messages directed at members of [the Stanford Law] community” and pledged to adopt stricter policies regarding event disruption.