Two Christian Princeton professors, Robert George and Cornel West, men of the right and left respectively, have come together in the wake of the Middlebury mob’s physical assault on two scholars to issue a ringing Princeton declaration in favor of free speech:
Our willingness to listen to and respectfully engage those with whom we disagree (especially about matters of profound importance) contributes vitally to the maintenance of a milieu in which people feel free to speak their minds, consider unpopular positions, and explore lines of argument that may undercut established ways of thinking. Such an ethos protects us against dogmatism and groupthink, both of which are toxic to the health of academic communities and to the functioning of democracies.
The statement is open to all to sign. According to Prof. George, one of the first to sign was Prof. Allison Stanger, the liberal Middlebury scholar who ended up in a neck brace the night she tried to serve as an interlocutor with Charles Murray at a Middlebury College event.
I’ve written about the violence of that night, and about the fact that police were not called to protect these two scholars, even after the mob that attacked them hunted down their dinner location, leading a Middlebury College official to tell them, not that it would be best to call 911, but rather that it would be best to get out of town. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that this event appears to have shocked the liberal conscience, which is important because, of course, liberals dominate campus culture.
You can read the full Princeton Declaration here.
Photo credit: Meg Stewart via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0