Letter: Making Space for Counter Arguments

By CHARLES TILFORD

Canceling the Ryszard Legutko lecture at the last minute may have been prudent from a security perspective, but it again got us scorched in the national media. As I read The Campus, it wasn’t threats from the protesters that were the concern; it was the projected size of the audience, and concern about lack of adequate security staff.  If a contingent in ski masks were to appear, could order and safety be maintained?  

It seems to me that, given the way Middlebury has become the Whipping Person (gender neutral) for illiberal treatment of conservative/far right/wingnut speakers: Dean Taylor, Provost Cason, and President Patton must have a strong “Plan B” for rapidly escalating the security team, rather than bailing out at the last minute. Also, there should be plenty of time after the speaker’s lecture for scheduled protesters/debaters to come to the lectern, make counter-arguments and question the speaker. Middlebury should strive to take exemplary action, and become a beacon for how to do this correctly.

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