Adam Falk, President of Williams College, Joins the Fight Against Free Speech
Yesterday, Adam Falk, the president of Williams College, disgraced himself, the college that he leads, and the institution of free speech that he has claimed to support. He did this by disinviting John Derbyshire, the mathematician and commentator, from speaking at Williams for a student-run program called "Uncomfortable Learning," a series specifically designed to bring serious but alternative points of view to the expensive (this year's tab: $63,290) and coddled purlieus of Williamstown, Massachusetts, where nearly all the faculty are left-leaning and the students, with rare exceptions, are timid if irritable politically correct babies.
This is not the first time someone scheduled to speak for the Uncomfortable Learning series has been disinvited. Last fall, the author Suzanne Venker was first invited and then disinvited by the organizers themselves. Her tort? Harboring unacceptable opinions about feminism. Imagine, she even had the temerity to publish books with such inflammatory titles as The Flipside of Feminism and The War on Men. Everyone knows that feminism is a wild success and that the only social war in town is the supposed "war on women," punctuated every now and then by a "war on blacks."
Ms. Venker was disinvited by the crybullies who could not bear to contemplate the presence of someone with a different perspective on feminism present in the same geographical space as themselves. But the invitation to John Derbyshire required bigger ammunition. It couldn't be left to the students themselves to disinvited him. No, Adam Falk had to dust off his lofty horse, trot into the public square, and discharge a smug, emetic proclamation designed first of all to highlight his own greater virtue while also castigating John Derbyshire as the author of "hate speech."
In its way, Adam Falk's campus-wide email is a thing of wonder, a chiseled, gem-like epitome of the self-righteous intolerance that has so blighted academic life for the last couple of decades. "Today," Adam Falk wrote, "I am taking the extraordinary step of canceling a speech by John Derbyshire, who was to have presented his views here on Monday night. The college didn’t invite Derbyshire, but I have made it clear to the students who did that the college will not provide a platform for him."
Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard. [Yes, of course you do, so long as it challenges no aspect of the politically correct dispensation.] The college has a very long history of encouraging the expression of a range of viewpoints and giving voice to widely differing opinions. [Right. That's why, years ago, I was first invited and then disinvited from speaking there in a political science series and why, just a couple of years ago, the FBI was called when some unidentified person scrawled a racial epithet on a college dormitory.] We have said we wouldn’t cancel speakers or prevent the expression of views except in the most extreme circumstances. In other words: There’s a line somewhere, but in our history of hosting events and speeches of all kinds, we hadn’t yet found it.
We’ve found the line. Derbyshire, in my opinion, is on the other side of it. Many of his expressions clearly constitute hate speech, and we will not promote such speech on this campus or in our community.
You must be wondering what sort of monster this Derbyshire fellow is. Does he recommend murdering babies? No, no: that is the province of Planned Parenthood. Harvesting fetuses for fun and profit comes under the Orwellian category of "reproductive freedom," you see, and as such it's a progressive attitude that the brave souls at Williams College would doubtless endorse. Perhaps he suggests beheading people whose religious views differ from his own: nope, that would be the procedure undertaken by certain members of the Religion of Peace, to criticize whom is to be guilty of the unprogressive attitude of Islamophobia.