Faculty members at Columbia University felt compelled to dismiss the work of upcoming campus speaker Charles Murray as “tendentious dogma,” but at least they did so while reminding students and others that his presence on campus was no excuse for violence.

It’s unfortunate that any statement to that effect was necessary at all, but it could have been worse: Reason.com reports that the Commission for Ethnicity, Race, and Equity (CERE) at Wellesley recently sent an email discouraging “guest speakers with controversial and objectionable beliefs” without first considering the possible pain, injury, harm, and damage to the student body.

Yes, those are all words used in the email … about guest speakers.

Controversial speakers are also considered an imposition on the liberty of the disempowered, “who often feel the injury most acutely and invest time and energy in rebutting the speakers’ arguments.”

Can’t they just ignore speech with which they disagree, if it’s that painful to process? Apparently not: “Students object in order to affirm their humanity. This work is not optional; students feel they would be unable to carry out their responsibilities as students without standing up for themselves.”

Then what’s this talk about the need for faculty and administrators to step in on their behalf, as “the responsibility to defend the disempowered does not rest solely with students”? Actually, never mind. It’s not like we’d ever be allowed on campus anyway asking painful questions like these.

Any students concerned that they, in their zeal to encourage discussion, might actually “stifle productive debate by enabling the bullying of disempowered groups,” are welcomed to approach CERE for expert guidance.

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