A Williams College Education Doesn’t Require Random Acts of Racist Speech – Sam Crane, W. Van Alan Clark ’41 Third Century Professor in the Social Sciences

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on the author’s blog, Useless Tree, and has been re-published here with the author’s approval.

I am a teacher. Every day I make decisions about what my students read and write, and what kinds of speech are intellectually meaningful in our classroom discussions. Within the limits of my pedagogical goals, I encourage them to freely explore arguments, push and pull ideas in unexpected directions, make mistakes. When it works well, it’s like John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things: marvelous innovation within the limits of the melodic structure.

From that perspective, I can see why President Adam Falk was right to cancel the planned appearance of a speaker widely recognized, on both left and right, for his racist views. Williams College does not have an open-ended obligation to provide a platform for unmediated racist speech, nor is it a place of absolutely unlimited speech. Because we are an institution of higher education, our mission is to promote and support speech, and writing and learning, that is intellectually meaningful. The planned event did not meet that standard and, thus, was rightfully cancelled. Indeed, it should never have been scheduled in the first place.
Let me provide what might seem to be an extreme example as a starting point. Assume that I am teaching a class on Chinese politics, my field. One day I ask a question about the assigned reading and a student responds, “Fuck you.”

Clearly such a speech act would be out of line. I would be shocked if it happened, and I would ask the student what he meant. Suppose he repeated it. Suppose further that this behavior persisted for weeks, that he was in his right mind and was determined to say what he wanted regardless of any external constraint. Obviously, I would talk to the student, tell him to desist or a penalty would be imposed: he would get a zero on the “participation” portion of his final grade. I would also tell him that his behavior is disrupting the learning environment for other students.

Although highly unlikely, this example brings to light two criteria that might be used in a college classroom to limit speech: irrelevance and disruption.

In the abstract world of free speech absolutists, the student has a right to say “fuck you” if he wants. Indeed, the First Amendment guarantees that the power of the state cannot be invoked against him. Yet in the particular context of a college classroom more specific criteria are used to judge what is intellectually meaningful speech, and it is the duty of the teacher to engender such speech, even if that means limiting other speech acts that he or she deems irrelevant or disruptive of the learning process of other students.

We can see those criteria at work in a somewhat more likely scenario. When I teach about the horrendous violence of the Rape of Nanjing, I give my students readings from a variety of perspectives. We talk about historical details and the politics of interpretation. I tell them that, just like Holocaust deniers, there is a fringe group of writers who argue that no violence at all was perpetrated by the Japanese military against the people of Nanjing. I inform them of the existence of these arguments but I do not give them the book I have on my shelf that runs down the rabbit hole of denial (were a student doing an independent project on holocaust denial, I would certainly provide all relevant sources to her). The reason for my not spending more time and attention on those arguments in class is, simply, they are empirically wrong. To dwell on them at length would be to slip into irrelevance and dissoluteness.

Furthermore, if a student were to write a paper that argued, as a matter of fact and without providing some hitherto unknown evidence, no violence at all ever occurred in Nanjing in 1937, I would, at first, be bewildered. After speaking with the student and urging revision in light of clear historical error, should the student persist, I would give the paper a very low grade, perhaps a failing grade. I would, in this sense, punish speech that was irrelevant. And if that student decided to stand up in class and repeat these erroneous arguments, I would limit him on grounds of disruption.

Again, this example may seem far-fetched (though something rather close to this has happened in my experience), it illustrates something essential about teaching, an endeavor that involves the daily judgment of countless speech acts and the occasional limitation of some of them.

Notice: occasional limitation. Our jobs involve encouragement of a very wide range of speech. Students are free to challenge the arguments we put forth and the texts they confront. Many times inaccurate or morally dubious statements can be pedagogically useful. But though the latitude is very wide, it is not unlimited. All teachers must occasionally reject some speech acts as irrelevant or disruptive to learning. That is what teaching entails.

The crux of the matter is: who decides what might be irrelevant or disruptive? Academic freedom, the freedom of the teacher to define his or her pedagogical goals and to decide what texts will be read and how the classroom will be managed, is the foundation of American higher education. I, the teacher, decide. Not the politician or the hedge fund manager or the newspaper editor, who have no experience of actually teaching and no obligation to the specific students in my classroom. And that tradition of academic freedom has produced the world standard in college and university education. We know what we are doing when we occasionally limit speech in the service of our intellectual purposes.

We can scale-up this dynamic to think about invited speakers. Here, again, we take into account how such events relate to our broader educational mission. We are very much attuned to the extraordinarily wide variety of intellectual trends and specialties not commonly found in general American discourse, ranging across many disciplines and fields: French literature, contemporary performing arts, neuro-biology, ancient Chinese philosophy, ethnomusicology, and on and on. Our purpose, as a liberal arts college that creates and preserves knowledge of myriad sorts, is not to proportionally represent current political debates, most of which are amply available to our students through various media. Most of our invited speakers, beyond the odd celebrity appearance, are academics doing what might appear to be obscure intellectual work. That is the goal: to present something new, something seemingly obscure, and learn from it.

When we make decisions about who might fulfill these criteria we do so collectively because we are a community of learning. If I have an idea for a speaker, I consult with my colleagues. If funding is needed, I ask the Chair of my department or other departments for support. A wide variety of student groups engage in collective decision-making to come up with proposals for speakers. When those discussions involve faculty, we encourage outcomes that will be intellectually valuable.

Attendance at such events is not compulsory, so disruption is not the same as in a classroom. If a person doesn’t like a particular talk, he or she can just walk out. But disruption of a different sort might still be a factor. It depends on the context and expectations of the event.

Let’s return to the person who repeatedly says “fuck you.” Perhaps if, as a staged event, this were framed as some sort of performance art, it might have a certain intellectual value. If, however, it were a famous anthropologist expected to expound on his recent fieldwork, we would all look askance, and wonder what happened to the poor fellow. Some might take offense. If the anthropologist took off his clothes and engaged in a sex act while repeating the expletive, more would likely take offense. At some point the scale of offense would disrupt the community. If a sufficient number of colleagues and students were outraged, legitimate questions would be raised about the intellectual value of the event. And, knowing this, should a student group suggest a return visit by the anthropologist, a rejection of this proposal, on the grounds of disruption and irrelevance – irrelevant because lacking in intellectual value – could be acceptable.
Of course, such a situation is very rare. Most decisions about speakers on campus fit comfortably within community expectations of intellectual relevance and civility. Sometimes lines are crossed, and offense is taken by some. We tolerate most such instances because others, maybe many others, might find value over and above offense. Although we generally err on the side of including potentially offensive speech,there may be rare moments where offense lapses into harassment.  Balancing relevance versus disruption is a tricky business, one that we confront every day in the classroom. We are, at times, criticized by activists and commentators outside our campus for getting that balance wrong. That is their right. And it is our right, exercised through our academic freedom, to be the final arbiters of when racist speech of minimal intellectual value can be prohibited on our campus.

In the unusual case of the invited racist, President Falk decided that insufficient intellectual value would be gained against the great deal of disruption and harassment it would cause.

To appreciate this very rare occurrence (in my twenty six years as a faculty member at Williams I cannot recall an analogous case), it is necessary to understand its particulars.

The decision to invite the racist was not taken by the usual processes of community deliberation. The group involved is not a duly recognized student group at the college and thus it does not stand for or represent “Williams College”. It is a small but unknown number of students in league with a coterie of anonymous alumni who operate outside of the standard organizational and financial procedures of the College that other student and faculty groups follow. A key alumni organizer is well known for his conservative ideology, and that appears to animate the actions of the group. Their access to tens of thousands of dollars of funding, unavailable to any other members of the Williams community, has led me to characterize them elsewhere as representing a certain“conservative privilege.” They have chosen to establish themselves outside of customary practices of the community and it was that from vantage that they extended this invitation.

So this group decided that it would be a good thing to hear a racist speak, a racist whose writings are readily available. No context was provided for the talk. No public framing that might suggest why it might be good to hear a racist speak or what the specific educational goal might be. The working assumption seems to have been that any speech at any time will have intellectual value above and beyond its possible irrelevance to the College’s educational mission or the disruption it might cause to the community, an assumption invalidated by the daily classroom experience on campus.

As it turns out, the College’s educational mission does not require that we hear the racist speak. Racist speech is not novel or intriguing, it is, unfortunately, common and abusive. With so much intellectual material out in the world, so much of it of greater value than a run-of-the-mill racist, and so much more of it not present in our current academic life, we can do our jobs very well without the racist.

Then there is the matter of disruption. In this case, it really is like the person saying “fuck you.” That is what statements like “African Americans are genetically inferior to White Americans and thus should be avoided by Whites” “John Derbyshire’s execrable article “The Talk: Nonblack Version” are. They are a “fuck you.” They are intellectual disruptions on several levels. They roil the community at large in intellectually unproductive ways.

We might be able to think of some carefully constructed contexts where confrontations with racist statements could be made intellectually meaningful: an artistic performance with a particular purpose or a reading in a class designed specifically to engage with such speech acts. But care must be taken in such instances to ensure that the disruption does not overwhelm the intended intellectual value. None of that was happening with the invitation extended to the racist.

Williams College has no obligation to support racist speech that falls outside of, and might undermine, its educational endeavors. We limit speech in many ways, in the classroom and in events on campus, because we are focused on a particular academic mission: to encourage our students to “…explore widely and deeply, think critically, reason empirically, express clearly, and connect ideas creatively.” As teachers we are daily engaged in decisions about what particular kinds of speech acts best promote those goals in a wide range of disciplines with a diverse set of students. There is much excellent material to draw upon in the pursuit of this objective. Random acts of uncontextualized and unmediated racism do not serve our mission.

President Falk was thus right to take the decision he did. Faculty will legitimately question the abrupt use of executive power in this regard, something we have not seen before. He is not the single teacher of a campus-wide classroom, but one member of a community of learning who happens to have certain administrative duties and authority. He was confronted with a highly unusual case, where the distinction between offensive speech, which might be acceptable, and harassment, which might reasonably be prohibited, had to be adjudicated very rapidly. Given the unusual circumstances of this case, the lack of prior community consideration of the invitation and the short time frames involved, his choice was reasonable.

Some will disagree with his decision, as is their right. But we will continue to exercise our academic freedom, as a community of learning, to make the many decisions required to maximize intellectually meaningful education for our students.

And now, with that discordant note out of the way, it’s time to get back to Coltrane’s My Favorite Things.

72 thoughts on “A Williams College Education Doesn’t Require Random Acts of Racist Speech – Sam Crane, W. Van Alan Clark ’41 Third Century Professor in the Social Sciences

  1. You cannot justify the unjustifiable. John Derbyshire is a race realist, alt-right thinker whose views are grounded in facts, supported by his own common sense, and widely popular among numerous readers. It is only the vicious desire of the left to limit politically incorrect speech which is at stake here. To responsible educators, an intelligent look at the relationship between IQ, culture, and public policy (or self-protection) should be seen as an essential part of being fully alive in the present moment, alive to the actual debates taking place in our nation. For Adam Falk to ban Derbyshire is an example of pure, hateful leftist censorship. Are we going to burn Derbyshire’s book next, Mein Führer?

  2. 1) Not only professors can add intellectual value. Just as they do in the classroom, students create their own and invoke others’ ideas on campus. Comparing something disruptive to the experience of clients paying for an expensive service (“fuck you” in the classroom) with an optional campus speaking event is somewhat ridiculous. Similarly, comparing empirically incorrect statements (“Japanese soldiers didn’t kill”) made in the classroom with moral statements most disagree with (“I think black people are worse and should be avoided”) made during a campus talk is an imperfect analogy.

    2) You admit that racism is common in America, yet refuse to acknowledge that hearing outspoken racist views could have intellectual value. Understanding where racism comes from is critical to counteract it. Surely learning how to better counter racism by getting to know your enemy could be considered intellectual value, no? Additionally, the idea that only a select group of evil hyper-conservatives judge on the basis of skin color is almost certainly empirically inaccurate, as demonstrated by Harvard’s Implicit Association Test. As you admit, “inaccurate or morally dubious statements can be pedagogically useful.” While Derbyshire uses some inaccurate, and some accurate, facts to provide support for his, in my opinion, morally objectionable conclusions; it is much more possible for his talk to be of pedagogical use than someone being disruptive by yelling “fuck you” repeatedly in the classroom. Racism is a serious problem that must be addressed, and censoring its outspoken advocates because their speech makes us feel uncomfortable is counterproductive.

    3) The idea that an optional speech in a confined space for an hour by a man who will then leave the state can constitute harassment is insulting to victims of legitimate harassment.

    4) The size of UL is known; it is two students. If you think conservative voices have privilege at Williams College you are misdefining one of those two words. Campus and external funding that has supported campus speakers left of center almost undoubtedly far exceed funding that has supported speakers right of center.

  3. “That is what statements like ‘African Americans are genetically inferior to White Americans and thus should be avoided by Whites’ are. ”

    Could Prof. Crane please provide a link or reference to where the quoted words were originally spoken or written? Thank you.

    • Mr. Derbyshire,

      I did not attribute the sentence to you. The quotation marks were used to mention the sentence itself, as per the use-mention distinction in analytic philosophy as here:

      “When language is used to attribute properties to language or otherwise theorize about it, a linguistic device is needed that ‘turns language on itself’. Quotation is one such device. It is our primary meta-linguistic tool. If you don’t understand quotation, then you can’t understand sentences like (1)–(4)[1]

      ‘Snow is white’ is true in English iff snow is white.
      ‘Aristotle’ refers to Aristotle.
      ‘The’ is the definite article in English.
      ‘bachelor’ has eight letters.

      reference: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/quotation/

      and more specifically: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/quotation/#2.2

      • Prof. Crane:

        Context, context. We have not been having a discussion about propositional calculus; we have been having a discussion about what I think, as revealed by what I have said.

        Any fair-minded person, reading the sentence I quoted from you, would assume that the words you put into quotes were spoken or written by me, just as they would assume that that sentence of yours that I put into quotes in my comment, was written by you. Which it was.

        • Fair enough. I will revise the statement in light of your comment. I will strike the phrase ““African Americans are genetically inferior to White Americans and thus should be avoided by Whites” and replace it with the phrase: “John Derbyshire’s execrable article “The Talk: Nonblack Version” .

          I will keep the deleted text as strikethrough, so readers can see the revision for themselves, and I will not link to the article, since I do not want to personally drive traffic to a racist site. Curious readers can google for themselves.

          • This might take some time on this site, which I do not edit. The changes have been made on my blog, the original source. I will request the editors of this site to make the change.

    • The gentle way John Derbyshire snapped back Prof. Crane is a great example of why it was wrong for Williams College to censor Derbyshire’s planned speech. Crane’s misuse of quotation marks is a great example of how liberal academics may take any and every opportunity to abuse their power and influence over vulnerable undergraduates to misrepresent the ideas of their ideological opponents. If you had a chance to appear on campus, I’m confident the students would see that you are a truly thoughtful, charming and common sense fellow. They would also start to question the ethics of someone like Crane who seems to believe that misquoting someone is completely okay just as long as you really, really hate them.

      • Mr. Drew,

        I tend to avoid your comments because I find them unproductive, but I must correct you on one point. I did not “misuse” quotation marks. You apparently are unfamiliar with the use-mention distinction and incapable of reading the links I provided to the Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy. Mr. Derbyshire suggested that that use – not a “misquote” – in this context lacked clarity. As a courtesy, I revised the text in the interest of clarity. Please be more careful with your accusations.

        • We both know you avoid my comments because you can’t take the heat from a peer who used to be a member of the same political science department as you. You’d rather push around undergraduates and members of the general public who lack your seemingly endless supply of unproductive free time.

          Back when I taught at Williams College, you would be fired for making up a quote about what another person wrote or said even if that person was a hated race realist. Frankly, no amount of holier than thou linguistic double-talk can disguise the fact that you took a cheap shot at John Derbyshire. I’m glad he caught it and forced you to knuckle under.

          Unfortunately for the cause of intellectual honesty, I’m afraid you are surrounded by colleagues who do not care about the quality of your work or your academic integrity. As long as you hate the right people, your job is apparently quite secure.

        • "You seem to think that this is not a prqYmel?&ouot;bou missed my point, which is that jews have much more influence over US political policy than Christians. If tomorrow every Christian decided they didn't support Israel US foreign policy toward Israel would hardly change.

  4. Dear 16,

    Thank you for your comments. I will respond to each in turn:

    1) I mentioned that students are certainly involved in adding intellectual value, both in the classroom (they supply the notes of the Coltrane riffs) and in regard to outside speakers (student groups take the initiative for a variety of events). Perhaps I did not stress this enough, but, yes, I agree with you on this point. Regarding the relationship of intellectual activity in the classroom versus that campus events, again, I agree that they are different contexts. My point is that similar criteria – relevance to our educational endeavors and disruption of the community – can be used, although slightly adapted, across the different contexts. The simplest formulation might be: what is the intellectual value of this speech act? And, yes, students should be involved in those discussions.

    2) Engaging with “outspoken racist views” could be intellectually valuable. But it is not automatically intellectually valuable if some attention is not paid to managing the disruptions that such views can produce. Notice: I am most concerned with “random” and “unmediated” and “uncontextualized” racist speech. Of course, we do talk a lot about racist speech here. The topic is covered seriously in a variety of courses, taught by faculty well versed in the controversies. Hearing a real, live racist might add some value to that, but doing it the way “UL” has done it guarantees the minimal possible intellectual value.

    3) While I agree that the line between offense and harassment is debatable, I would simply point out that the argument that racist speech, and racist symbolism, is a kind of harassment is widely expressed. It is experienced that way by those who are denigrated by it. One response (and I am not saying this is your response) is to say something like: “African Americans should just toughen up” strikes me as simply ignoring a social fact, the fact that racist speech is, indeed, experienced as harassment, or something close to it, by a significant number of people. Indeed, if we use “toughen up” as a criteria for responding to such controversies (and I am not saying that we should, but simply exploring an argument here), then why shouldn’t that criteria also be used all around. For example: “Oh come on, free speech absolutists, a banned speech here or there does not destroy the First Amendment, toughen up”? My point is: what may appear to be a clear distinction (mere offense v. harassment) to some is interpreted very differently by others. The problem is: how do we manage those differences to maximize the intellectual value of what we do here?

    4) My argument about “conservative privilege” is not about numbers of participants but about access to large amounts of money that no one else can access. It is the money that confers privilege.

  5. This is a forthright (if in my view, wrong-headed) abandonment of free speech principles in the context of a liberal arts education. It stands in stark contrast to the principles embodied in the Yale Woodward Report, which is often viewed as a model for free expression on campuses. (http://yalecollege.yale.edu/faculty-staff/faculty/policies-reports/report-committee-freedom-expression-yale). It is worth noting that the Woodward Report, like this post, was prompted by a student group’s invitation of a racist speaker. It seems to me that Yale stood up for free expression, and Williams abandoned it.

    • Mr Adler,

      Yes, the Woodward Report is instructive. Note:

      “Third, the University could be more effective in discharging its obligation to use all reasonable effort to protect free expression on campus. We submit that this obligation can be discharged most effectively in the following ways:

      “1) The University and its schools should retain an open and flexible system of registering campus groups, arranging for the reservation of rooms, and permitting groups freely to invite speakers.”

      This suggests that when “group” is discussed in the report, it is referring to a group that has been officially registered or recognized by some standard procedure.

      “Uncomfortable Learning” violates this provision of the Report. It has never been formally registered by the College. It does not follow the standard procedures that other student groups follow. It is not a student group of Williams College.

      Here, too:

      “6) Much can be done to forestall disruption if sufficient notice is given of the impending event. The administration and others can meet with protesting groups, make clear the University’s obligations to free expression, and indicate forms of dissent that do not interfere with the right to listen. The inviting group can work closely with the administration to devise the time, place, and arrangements for admitting the audience (if there are any limits on who may attend) that will best promote order.”

      “Sufficient notice” was not provided in this case and, I believe, in most cases. Indeed, having spoken with campus staff responsible for scheduling events they have for some time noted the problem created by furtive manner in which “UL” operates. Its events have obviously caused “disruption,” indeed, they are designed to do so. But the events have not been responsibly organized.

      • Your argument citing (1) is implicitly circular.

        UL is unregistered specifically because no group trying to bring in Suzanne Venker – let alone John Derbyshire – would ever get through the official bodies that fund student groups. The Dean’s Office is unabashedly leftist. College Council has contemplated speech codes at multiple points in the past. Other pools of money mostly come from the Minority Coalition, the Dively Committee, etc.

        Mr. Wood is exposing Williams as an institution that is hostile to free speech. We saw this clearly born out in how The Record and many other students spoke and wrote about Venker. If UL tried to push its speakers as a registered student group, they would get blocked.

        Taking the alternative route of being unregistered is completely reasonable. It’s always been allowed at Williams.

        (6) Is slightly interesting, but Falk never gave it as a justification for banning Derbyshire. *If* true, it’s relevant on a practical level, but it doesn’t pertain to the principle here. The school still would have banned this talk.

      • Professor Crane:

        This is a disingenuous reply. President Falk did not cite any such concerns in deciding to cancel the talk, nor (as you are well aware) has the college enforced a consistent policy against UL inviting speakers on these grounds. There is a world of difference between the imposition and consistent enforcement of rules, ex ante, to ensure notice and prevent disruption, and the ex post actions taken here.

        The items in the Woodward report you cite are arguments for engagement, not for barring a speaker the opportunity to speak. It speaks volumes that, instead of acknowledging your disagreement with the principles in the Woodward Report, you try to find other reasons to justify the cancelation of this event.

        For those interested, I’ve written more about this issue here:

        • Hi Jonathan,

          It is not disingenuous to those with “local knowledge” as your post columnist Dan Drezner put it when discussing the Yale incidents last semester. In this case, the critique has long existed of UL as being, in effect, a well-funded act of trolling of the campus. In this case, perhaps they have succeed. But the Woodward Report is instructive in indicating why UL’s very existence should have been questioned before it got this far.

          As many alumni on social media have discussed, Williams used to have a thriving debate union that invited seriously conservative speakers–from Pat Buchanan to John Lott–for debates. UL is a different beast, one that was predicted to cause problems like this from the moment it was created in part because it does not adhere to the Woodward Report’s approach to creating a communal commitment to free speech.

          • 1. UL has had some fantastic speakers, especially last year. Accusing them of “trolling the campus” implies that either UL is just trying to create a spectacle, which is blatantly false, or that you somehow have a problem with a group being provocative. The first amendment specifically protects speech that is unwanted.

            2. UL is a different beast why? Because it doesn’t use a debate format? Radical left-wing speakers can give lectures and Q&A sessions without a problem at Williams. You are asking for a different standard for radical right-wing speakers. UL can invite and fund whoever they like. I doubt that Pat Buchanan could get through this iteration of Williams’ official funding structure.

          • this will be my last post. Life is interfering with my slacking from my work :)

            1. My wording was not clear, for that I apologize. I do not believe Zach is trolling the campus. I do not believe the students are, but the funding mechanism and selection process behind them I do believe had that intention. That is, I do not believe the funders who proposed this radical intervention at Williams were acting in full good faith. I do not believe that their position as an unofficial group that gives little notice and does not collaborate w/ the administration (a heads up before requesting the room, for example) is in full good faith. I do believe Zach and colleagues may not have the experience to do this in the most productive way and I believe the funders created a program designed to prove their point re:conservative speech, not a program designed to promote intellectual engagement.

            2. UL is a different beast largely for the reasons above. The debate union I recall knew that provocative speech should be on campus, but in order for provocative speech to be intellectually beneficial–regardless of political position–it should be presented in a thoughtful way. Those of us inside the academy–again, regardless of political position–have practice speaking to students who agree and disagree, who are emotional and not in an intellectual capacity. Those from outside the academy often do not have that experience (the other major conservative I remember coming to campus was Jonah Goldberg, and that was not a debate, but it was very smartly organized to be as productive as possible). The one time I saw Derbyshire speak on a campus (which was before his infamous “talk” column came out) he was the manifestation of trolling–off topic and purposefully provocative.

            Anyway, sometimes that comes as a debate, but I also met many conservative/right-of-center speakers through the leadership program while I was on campus as well that was not as a debate, but was in a setting very different from Derbyshire’s invitation.

        • Mr. Adler,

          If you care about consistency, then I would imagine you would agree that student groups who invite outside speakers, all student groups, should play by the same rules. The fact is that “ul” does not play by the same rules. As the comment by 13 above suggests, they claim status as an aggrieved minority and with that claim, and privilege access to tens of thousands of dollars of money unavailable to any other student group, they operate outside the standard procedures of the College. Indeed, their avoidance of reasonable organizational procedures has contributed to two of their event failing, one on their own accord and the other by the president’s intervention.

          The Woodward report is clear: reasonable organizational steps should be taken precisely to facilitate events that are likely to be disruptive. So, yes, I am suggesting something that will promote engagement: if the “ul” group plays by the same rules as everybody else, and if they are open and transparent about their funding and aims, then, I suspect the kinds of problems we have seen with their disorganization might be overcome.

  6. As usual, Crane doesn’t have a clue about the real world. Derbyshire’s critique is based on IQ studies showing blacks under-performing other races and enormous amounts of data showing gaps in black vs. white school performance, single parenthood, and criminal behavior. To suggest that the only intellectually engaging response to these numbers is racism strikes me as unproductive, silly, and purely political. Race realists are an important part of today’s national debate. It isn’t helping anyone to deny them the opportunity to make their case.

    • Mr. Drew, I usually just scroll past your barefaced attempts at trolling the Williams community, but this time I’ll reply. I know there’s simply no convincing you that “race realism” – or, as it’s more commonly known, scientific racism – has no place on this campus, but let me at least attempt to communicate to you (and perhaps other alums who read this site) why the overwhelming majority of Williams students and faculty have no problem dismissing the vacuous ideas propagated by people like yourself, Mr. Derbyshire, Charles Murray (whom you mentioned on another post), and similar thinkers. I’ll quote New York Times writer Bob Herbert:

      “[Murray’s book The Bell Curve] shows that, on average, blacks score about 15 points lower than whites on intelligence tests, a point that was widely known and has not been in dispute. Mr. Murray and I (and many, many others) differ on the reasons for the disparity. I would argue that a group that was enslaved until little more than a century ago; that has long been subjected to the most brutal, often murderous, oppression; that has been deprived of competent, sympathetic political representation; that has most often had to live in the hideous physical conditions that are the hallmark of abject poverty; that has tried its best to survive with little or no prenatal care, and with inadequate health care and nutrition; that has been segregated and ghettoized in communities that were then redlined by banks and insurance companies and otherwise shunned by business and industry; that has been systematically frozen out of the job market; that has in large measure been deliberately deprived of a reasonably decent education; that has been forced to cope with the humiliation of being treated always as inferior, even by imbeciles — I would argue that these are factors that just might contribute to a certain amount of social pathology and to a slippage in intelligence test scores.

      “Mr. Murray says no. His book strongly suggests that the disparity is inherent, genetic, and there is little to be done about it.

      “Most serious scholars know that the conclusions drawn by Murray and Herrnstein from the data in “The Bell Curve” are bogus. The issue has been studied ad nauseam and the overwhelming consensus of experts in the field is that environmental conditions account for most of the disparity when the test results of large groups are compared.

      “The last time I checked, both the Protestants and the Catholics in Northern Ireland were white. And yet the Catholics, with their legacy of discrimination, grade out about 15 points lower on I.Q. tests. There are many similar examples. Scholars are already marshaling the evidence needed to demolish “The Bell Curve” on scientific grounds.”

      As much as I would love to respond to your inevitable criticism that I’m a brainwashed puppet of Adam Falk’s far-left, free-thought-hating, safe-space-obsessed PC dictatorship, I won’t be commenting here further – I have a problem set to work on.

      • So, let’s see.

        On this side we have two accredited scholars in the quantitative human sciences, who spent years immersed in a great mass of data, applying advanced statistical methods to it, drawing conclusions and comparing their conclusions with the work of others. They condensed their work into a book accessible to any intelligent reader, with the subtitle “Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life.” One of the book’s 22 chapters is titled “Ethnic Differences in Cognitive Ability.” The following chapter is titled “Ethnic Inequalities in Relation to IQ.” The first of those chapters contains the following sentence: “It seems highly likely to us that both genes and the environment have something to do with racial differences. What might the mix be? We are resolutely agnostic on that issue; as far as we can determine, the evidence does not yet [i.e. in 1994–J.D.] justify an estimate.”

        On that side we have New York Times writer Bob Herbert, who holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

        To which side should an interested lay person give more credence?

        As your President Falk would say: Not even close.

        • What a terrible argument from authority. Anyway, as an accredited scholar in social science who has spent years immersed in a great mass of data and knows the literature and methods used on this issue intimately, I’ll stand up as the person who says with that authority that the book’s argument re: race, intelligence and genetics is hogwash, as the overwhelming majority (damn near consensus majority) of research on race (btw, not a biological concept) and testing have shown.

          For those interested in just a few of the many better social scientific resources that directly responded to The Bell Curve, Inequality by Design is relatively accessible, but one might also be interested in Sanders, and Winship’s critique of measurement errors in the bell curve, and remember that the book was not peer reviewed. More recent research has moved well beyond these points as geneticists have shown the lack of a biological basis to our lay concept of race and social scientists have detailed the actual origins of that concept and its continued flaws in how society understands and uses the concept (see the most recent issue of Science for a piece written by geneticists and social scientists on that).

          As President Falk would say, not even close.

          R. Kramer ’03
          Ph.D Sociology

          • How else can a lay person form opinions about scientific matters, other than by listening to what the accredited authorities say and weighing it against reason and experience?

            In any case, my point was that in this area, Bob Herbert is no kind of authority.

            You want authorities? I got authorities: http://tinyurl.com/23r5sn

          • weirdly, i cannot reply to Mr. Derbyshire’s post, so i’ll place this here.

            I did not want authority, I was criticizing appeals to authority and using your definition of authority to be so (accredited? check. applies “advanced” statistical methods to quantitative social science data? check. compares my conclusions to other leading scholars? check). As such authority, I dismiss your claims. See how bad appeals to authority are?

            Anyway, even if we grant appeals to authority, an article in Intelligence from 1997 is a bit out of date as such. And beyond that, any appeal to authority in which Rushton and Jensen are the authority to which one is appealing is damning itself more than anything else.

            But if we’re counting numbers of names, I’ll submit the geneticists letter re: A Troublesome Inheritence hogwash as comparable criticism: :https://cehg.stanford.edu/letter-from-population-geneticists. Certainly much better than your letter with 52 signatures after appealing to 100…ahh…it’s not worth it. people should read, at minimum, the wiki page on that letter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainstream_Science_on_Intelligence

            What atrocious argumentation. What an inability to address the far more critical point that the Bell Curve relies on a false understanding of race, genetics, and heritability (we haven’t even gotten into the concept of epigenetics which didn’t even emerge until after the Bell Curve existed) that both social science and genetic science have long since shown as irredeemably flawed.

            I could go further and point to other authorities, but I reject this type of appeal and see no further reason to engage.

          • Wait: you’re suddenly talking about a different book. Why?

            And Wikipedia is **your** idea of an authority? Hoo boy.

            So we have Bob Herbert and Wikipedia. Who else you got? Larry King?

          • 1. because the statement on Troublesome Inheritence re: genes and race is true of The Bell Curve’s same basic flaw.
            2. No, the use of wikipedia was a mocking effort. Even wikipedia is able to show the gaping holes and flaws in that letter. It’s embarrassing to the letter.
            3. My authorities include, but are not in any way limited to myself, the authors of Inequality by Design, the former president of the APA who roundly criticized that letter of yours, the authors of the science piece I referenced, and the editors and authors of the edited volume Intelligence, Genes and Success. Need I go on, or is that enough of a list to prove appeals to authority are dumb?

            Your analytic skills disappoint. Unsurprising.

  7. In truth, you are a dangerous liberal totalitarian. From your comments, I can tell you are unaware of the depth of race realist studies and the surprising tests which demonstrate the usefulness of race realism as a hypothesis for black dysfunction and underachievement.

    You are an enemy of free speech and an opponent of the fearless exploration of controversial topics. Your willingness to sign off on Adam Falks censorship puts you on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of moral and intellectual courage.

    Lastly, my Armenian family suffered through a genocide and centuries of abuse at the hands of Muslims. They were subjected to now illegal housing discrimination in Glendale, CA. I grew up in poverty and overcrowded conditions. I was disadvantaged by affirmative action programs and professors who were both anti-white and anti-male. I was the first on my mother’s side of the family to even graduate from college. Thanks to my inherited IQ, however, I have enjoyed extraordinary success in both the academic and business world. My brother is a retired rocket scientist with NASA. My cousin’s daughter is a Harvard graduate.

    If the environmental arguments are so strong, then why do they under predict the success of me, my brother and my neice after our families endured far more brutal, demeaning or violent circumstances?

  8. @Prof Crane

    Thanks for your response.

    RE 2/3: I agree UL didn’t select the right format or even the right speaker, but I just don’t think banning discriminatory speech is effective in our campus’ common goal of liberal arts education and intellectual inquiry, especially if the power to do so is given unilaterally to the President of the College. Like you and President Falk, I would also draw a line and prohibit some speech, but I would be much more careful in what speech is prohibited. I think speech that is obviously unproductive as it disturbs the peace by inhibiting students’ everyday experience – e.g. “fuck yous” in the classroom or KKK occupations of Paresky lawn – should be prohibited. An optional talk by a racist is certainly offensive, but that offense can motivate productive intellectual thoughts, discussions, thoughts, and even solutions. You may construe this as an argument of “just toughen up.” I wouldn’t put it that bluntly, but in some way that is part of my argument. Not only does Williams have a secondary obligation to prepare students for cliched “real world,” but the College should also teach its students to confront ideas they find objectionable instead of running from them. If we refuse to confront the propagators of racism or other ideas we disagree with, then I fear there is no hope for eradicating those ideas. It is important to engage intellectually with those whom we disagree not only to potentially learn but also to try to teach.

    RE 4: I failed to articulate my initial point clearly enough. I’ll give you for the sake of argument that it is money alone that confers privilege. There is indisputably more money promoting left of center speakers than right of center speakers at Williams. I am not say that the College has an obligation to provide a balance of political views proportional to the political views in the broader country. However, there is conservative privilege because one group brings primarily right of center speakers with alumni funding is incorrect if you define privilege as access to funding. An analogy: even though there are more organizations that use private funds to promote specifically female speakers than there are organizations that promote specifically male speakers in the U.S., there is no “female privilege” because men give the overwhelming majority of paid speeches in the country.

    @Drew on response to 17
    Even if you don’t agree with the findings of the social science community, why call a student a “dangerous totalitarian” who quotes a perfectly reasonable (on its face) argument set forward by a NYT columnist that discrimination had led to achievement differences.

    In your reply allegedly seeking to protect freedom of speech and intellectual inquiry, you resort to an ad hominem attack against a student, an unsubstantiated claim that there is research supporting your position, and anecdotal evidence when you had the opportunity to exercise your right to freedom of speech and articulate your views in a sound manner.

    Not only did you fail to provide a sound argument against 17’s position, but you resorted to a vindictive attack against a student in your opening sentence. Remember, students attend the College to learn through intellectual inquiry, so resorting to a personal attack against one whom you disagree with seems contrary to both your promoting to freedom of speech and your former desire to teach. No wonder you were dropped as a teacher by the College.

    • @16
      You seem to be arguing that inviting a white supremacist speaker could be beneficial to our community because it might facilitate good discourse and “solutions.” While this sounds very nice in the abstract, it really breaks down when you look at the actual discourse that was likely with the invited speaker. For example, let’s say (as was fairly likely had President Falk not acted) someone gives an “academic talk” on the basis that our black students are inferior to our white and Asian students. You can try to provide all the evidence you want about how our society disadvantages black people, but at the end of the day you’ll be stuck trying to justify the humanity of your fellow students. I fail to see how this has any intellectual merit. “Are black students less intelligent than white students?” is not a question we should raise to the level of academic inquiry. It’s absurd. The point that Falk was trying to make is that the minimal benefit of such a discussion would not at all justify the amount of harm it would do to our community.

      You seem to be arguing that paying, inviting, and engaging a racist will provide a unique opportunity to engage with racist ideas at the college. What I find really sad about all this is that so many of our departments and student groups have already held many events addressing and debunking racist views & policies that at least are more interesting than what Derbyshire has to bring to the table. We’re already having better discussions about race on campus. It’s upsetting that so many just tune them out only to randomly decide that what we really need is someone to reiterate these ideas we’ve already heard and have put so much energy into fighting. If you haven’t had to deal with racist ideologies questioning your rights, then that’s wonderful. I envy you. But it’s a huge leap to assume that this is the same for other Williams students.

      • 1) If you want to leave the abstract and debate whether the content of the speech qualified as “intellectually valuable” enough by one’s subjective standards, it would be important to first note that Derbyshire was not invited to campus to advance an argument regarding race and intelligence. He was supposed to talk about national identity and immigration, if I remember the facebook event correctly.

        Also, you assert that it is absurd to consider on an academic level the difference in intelligence between different people from different genetic and environmental backgrounds. Why is this absurd? What makes you the final arbiter on this issue? I think such research could lead to real policy solutions in terms of addressing racial discrimination. Is the topic uncomfortable? Of course. Is it a reason to discriminate based on another’s skin color? Certainly not, in my opinion. But is the topic absurd to even consider? Of course not.

        i didn’t want the racist paid, and I assume he is paid no matter whether we disinvite or not. I did not assert this was a unique opportunity to engage with racist ideas. Inviting a holocaust commentator (whether they be a survivor or denier) would not be a unique opportunity to discuss the holocaust and might make people feel uncomfortable, but it doesn’t mean that we should prohibit speakers on the holocaust. I make no assertion that Derbyshire is someone we “really need” on campus; I am disappointed with his selection as speaker by UL. I just think President Falk made a terrible mistake by banning him from speaking.

  9. 16,

    Thanks, again.

    Re: 3/4 It seems the question is: how can speech that is offensive/discriminatory, etc. be managed to produce intellectual value? In the case of the uninvited racist (almost sounds like a Sherlock Holmes story) a big part of the problem was how the event was (dis)organized. If one wants to bring a racist, who has a track record of inflammatory speech, then one should anticipate disruption and think ahead about how to frame and contextualize the event. Would it be best to put the racist in dialogue with an intellectual adversary? How about announcing the event two weeks ahead and holding a discussion ahead of time to consider what the problems may be so that, perhaps, some of them might be dealt with beforehand? Just springing the racist on the community with very little warning (when was it announced? How was it announced? I was unaware of it until the night before it was cancelled) seems insufficient to gain intellectual value. All of this would be facilitated if the student group involved was a regularly registered student group that played by the rules everyone else plays by. But, alas, that is not the case here.

    Re 4: Perhaps the question should be: why are there no duly recognized students groups organizing to bring more conservative speakers to campus? What happened to the Garfield Republican Club? Why is there no Conservative Union or Free Speech Society? There in no formal barrier to any group of students getting together and doing it, is there? If there is some sort of social stigma attached to such action, then, I guess, the “toughen up” criteria might apply. Alternatively, the paucity of student activity might suggest there is just not a great deal of demand for overtly conservative speakers. You tell me. But along these lines: were such a group take shape, it would be problematic to keep the name “uncomfortable learning,” as that is the purview of the Gaudino program and many people associated with those efforts would likely say that the purposes of the group that has appropriated the “ul” name are not in keeping with the Gaudino legacy.

    • I agree with you that UL did it in the wrong way and that they should be thinking about how events can be held to maximize intellectual value. We can debate the possible intellectual value, but at the end of the day for a free speech advocate it won’t matter what we say. I disagree that it’s the role of the president to step in, make his own determination based on the history of a speaker who is holding an optional talk for an hour in a classroom on the intellectual value, and cancel the event.

      I don’t think registration is important. As long as UL took no money from the school via CC, I see no reason why being officially registered would cause the group to act any differently than it currently does.

      On 4, good question, I would guess because there are not many politically active conservatives on campus. That does not mean there is not a demand for conservative thought. I am by no means a conservative but find being exposed to conservative thought useful. On the Free Speech Society (which is an entirely different matter as to my knowledge neither mainstream conservatives nor mainstream liberals are anti-free speech), I think that is what UL is trying to do. By inviting an obvious racist, they lost most of their members and likely will not gain many more. In terms of the name, I don’t really care, but I think appropriating “uncomfortable learning” from Gaudino could be a political statement regarding their perceived view that the current Gaudino program lacks effectiveness and needs to be supplemented.

  10. I despise Derbyshire , but your argument is merely a justification for liberal censorship.

    You emphasize that one of the alumni supporters is a conservative, as though it matters whether the funders of a speaker are liberal or conservative. While the Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution does not allow for viewpoint discrimination, you seem to think conservative speech should receive less protection than liberal speech.

    You also emphasize that the students are being funded through non-collegiate resources, as though that’s a point in your favor. But in fact it’s an argument agsinst censorship, because no college funds are involved.

    Further, your argument suggests that speech at Williams College can only be legitimate if approved by the appropriate officials. Speech is not free if it must receive prior approval, and if the only allowable source of funding is from the approving officials.

    We should be teaching students to question and challenge authority, rather than allowing it to determine what ideas we are allowed to entertain.

    As a political scientist at a liberal arts college, I am appalled that you stand in defense of censorship and the use of authority to shut down students’ efforts at free speech and the presentation of challenging ideas, even if they are despicable.

    Students do not need you to protect them from ugly ideas. They need to learn to listen and challenge them, rather than hide behind the paternalism of you and Williams’ president.

    • I suspect your hatred of Mr. Derbyshire is misplaced, Mr. Hanley, as it seems your feeling that his ideas are ugly, assumes that he were the author of them. You can’t blame Darwin for the facts of evolution and you can’t blame Mr. Derbyshire for the facts of HBD.

  11. There is an even more evil side to this censorship of John Derbyshire and his race realist perspective. If a paternalistic Williams College administration insists that students are not allowed to be exposed to race realism as a hypothesis, then the administration is left with only one major avenue for discussing black dysfunction – extended and repeated investigations of the supposed racism, ignorance, hatred and cultural constraints caused by contemporary white Americans. In this new Adam Falk era of liberal intolerance, an ambitious professors’ only hope for advancement is to take part in abusing young whites by insisting they are so inherently racist and privileged that they are individually or collectively responsible for overwhelming amounts of black dysfunction. As we know from the Communists of the last century, liberal totalitarians don’t give a damn how many young white people they hurt or disadvantage simply because they fear their liberal allies will attack them for simply being open-minded about race realism. This latest episode is compelling evidence that intellectual diversity is finally dead and unwelcome at Williams College.

  12. I propose a new club at Williams that will host a daily chess match between Prof. Crane and Dr. Drew. They are natural adversaries but seem to share the common bond of having way too much time on their hands.

  13. -benjaminl

    I was interested to see that John Derbyshire includes a link to Ephblog in that article. I’m glad that he can read in the blog the level at which many of us are disgusted by Adam Falk’s censorship activities. I suppose those of us who love intellectual liberty need to buy up copies of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations before the liberal totalitarians toss those books on the hate speech fire.

  14. Memo to Zach Wood –

    Please invite the following people to campus.

    It will be instructive to see how Prof. Falk finds reasons to support their racist/anti-Semitic/sexist and heinous views as a worthwhile tool for a liberal arts education.

    Here is the partial list of the paragons of virtuous thinking:

    Haters of Jews/Israel
    Ali Khamenei – Iran Supreme Leader
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – Former President of Iran

    Haters of White America/Jews/Zionists
    Jerimiah Wright – Trinity Church Chicago
    Louis Farrakhan – Nation of Islam
    Malik Zulu Shabazz – Black Panther

    Haters of “Men”
    Robin Morgan
    Andrea Dworkin

  15. There was plenty of conservative opinion on the Williams College campus while I was teaching there in the 1980s. We had a conservative newspaper, a conservative radio show, and a conservative television program. Students debated the merits of affirmative action, welfare reform and pro-life perspectives. At the time, I was the only Republican in the political science department. For more about those brief moments, see my recent article in The College Fix. http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/24821/

  16. So how is it that anything John Derbyshire might have to say to a group of college students (gathered at a campus venue of their own free will and not pursuant to a compulsory classroom assignment) might be equivalent to some snot-nosed sophomore yelling “Fuck you” at the instructor over and over in a classroom on “the paid semester hour” clock?

  17. I’d like to ask the author and all of the folks who’ve commented here in favor of this censorship: what if you’re wrong? In my understanding, one of the main reasons we hold freedom of speech to be worthwhile is because individual humility is an extremely important tool for our society to progress towards discovering the truth.

    You talk about fostering a healthy atmosphere for intellectual debate, but you squawk “racist” every time someone even suggests there might be some contribution of biological/genetic factors to explain group differences. If you think that’s hyperbole, just read up the details of (just for one example) the Larry Summer’s controversy. You say that race realists are the extremists, when (as Murray and others repeatedly point out) you are the only ones who are making absolute, extreme claims about the nature/nurture debate: 100% nurture, everywhere, always.

    And you should consider that if you are wrong, the consequences are not benign. I know you all think that you are morally superior to us race-realists. A lot of people argue that even if there were genetic reasons for group differences, they shouldn’t be studied, because it couldn’t possibly do any good have that information. That’s just mind-bogglingly anti-intellectual and wrong-headed. It’s only by acknowledging the truth that we can properly deal with the intractable problems we have in this country, especially with regards to race relations.

    The wrong-headed policies based on the mistaken belief that everyone has identical intellectual potential has done, and continues to do enormous, incalculable harm, to every facet of our lives. Including, I daresay, destroying the hopes, aspirations, and even the lives of the people that you think you care about more than we do — those of other races. It’s you, with your small minds, that are the moral cripples in this debate.

    • Dear Chris,

      I’m quite frankly confused by your claim that treating all people equally “has done, and continues to do enormous, incalculable harm, to every facet of our lives.” Who are you referring to when you say “our lives”? As a person of color, I find it hard to believe that you could possibly be including me as well. Please also clarify what you mean by “destroying the hopes, aspirations, and even the lives of […] other races.” I can personally tell you that every time I’ve been discouraged, I have expected less of myself, and consequently accomplished less. I can attribute many of my successes to the times when I’ve been encouraged to aim high and work hard. Please tell me where my professors at Williams have erred in encouraging me.

      Also, while we’re here, please also explain to me how you can be so certain that there is unequal intellectual potential among races.

  18. So hearing inconvenient truths would cause the audience to be disruptive. In other words, the monkeys will riot if they hear things they don’t like because they can’t control themselves.
    But we’re all equal. Got it

  19. Perish the thought than any of this dirty thought police business has anything to do at all with the almost unprecedented early acceptance of Malia Obama to Williams College. That new acreage for safe spaces was behind any of this.

  20. Moderator: why did you delete my comment? I spent a lot of time drafting it, I thought it was reasonably well written, and now it’s gone and I don’t have a record of it. This is pretty ironic, given that this is a post about free speech. Maybe the way I expressed myself was a bit strong, but the point is an important one, I think, and I haven’t seen it made clearly in the comments above.

    The main thrust of the comment was that the reason for “free speech” is that it facilitates discovering the truth, and that it’s related to individual humility.

    I’m asking the author of this post, and the commenters in support of censorship, what if you are wrong? I tried to point out that this is an important question to ask, because, it matters very much, in this debate, who is right and who is wrong. The consequences are enormous, and I think that it’s something that folks on the anti-race-realism side don’t consider often enough: you think that you are on the side of the angels, but *if you are wrong*, then the policies promulgated as a result have enormous negative consequences – they do a lot of real harm. I’d encourage you all to try to practice some humility, and open your minds to this possibility.

  21. @ Sam Crane: “The Woodward report is clear: reasonable organizational steps should be taken precisely to facilitate events that are likely to be disruptive.”

    The organizational steps should be taken by both UL and the College, perhaps by some responsible faculty members. It appears the difficulties this year can be laid at the foot of Zach Wood (who has gained media recognition from this latest incident). While they should follow the rules, it is the ethical responsibility of the College to consistently enforce the rules (given whatever “local knowledge” is needed), and not adopt an impromptu and un-American “No Platform Policy.”

    The current situation needs cooperation from all parties, who should all read the Woodward Report. A designated “free-speech absolutist” could even read it aloud in every classroom for every class on campus as an impromptu Free Speech Day. I do think that would lead to some genuine uncomfortable learning, for students and faculty alike.

  22. My bad different ’16. Sometimes things just sort of fly over my small mind.

    So where do suppose Princess Malia will matriculate?

  23. It’s in the power of the President to ban people from speaking, but for goodness sake please don’t pretend that he or his supporters highly esteem the value of free speech. This is proven to be manifestly false by the banning and such a declaration only serves to make you all look ridiculous.
    The ban was obviously done because the left wing narrative has it that all races are equal in every conceivable way, and any deviation from this narrative is taboo in the West and must be suppressed. Everyone knows this.

  24. Will-

    The only way to book Andrea Dworkin for an appearance nowadays is via Ouija board. She’s off and joined the Womyn’s Studies Center Invisible, over ten years ago.

  25. > I’m quite frankly confused by your claim that treating all people equally “has done, and continues to do enormous, incalculable harm, to every facet of our lives.” Who are you referring to when you say “our lives”?

    Thanks for the question! But first, I have to point out that it’s a bit ill-formed, in the vein of “When did you stop beating your wife?” I never said anything about treating all people equally, and depending on exactly what you mean, I’m all for it. But what we have now is a situation (and I think this is incontrovertible, no matter which side of the debate you are on) that people are treated unequally, based on race; i.e., affirmative action. (A policy prescription that was expressly rejected, you should know, by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.)

    The fact that you aren’t even aware of the many compelling assessments of how destructive our current affirmative action policies are, serves to demonstrate how suppressed honest debate on this issue is (here’s just one reference from among hundreds I could provide: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/opinion-jason-richwine-95353_Page2.html), and how urgent it is that people start respecting the rights of others to talk honestly about their beliefs. Right now, I’m posting anonymously, because I have a family to support and I’m worried that otherwise, I would lose my job. Let me ask you: is that fair? I consider myself an honest, moral guy, and I’m convinced that Derbyshire is, too, and countless others. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to express opinions without fear for losing our jobs?

    As to the costs: they are incalculable …. I just started to make a list, but then realized that it is pointless. I have no doubt that for every point I would try to make, you will have handy rebuttals — talking points that you’ve ingested from our hopelessly biased media and “education” establishments. I don’t know you, and maybe I’m wrong; but I’ve had the experience too many times in the past. So all I’ll say is to repeat the plea to fearlessly open your mind, and broaden the scope of your reading material.

  26. Dear Professor Falk,
    Thank you for sharing with us the link to Derbishire’s address.

    It indeed contains thoughtful and interesting ideas, and has nothing to do with white supremacy.

    The address simply tells us the truth. Take, for example, this excerpt:

    “The boat people, if they settle in sufficient numbers, will reduce the host nations, or significant enclaves within them, to the wretched condition of the nations they are fleeing.”

    If you have doubts about this fact, please take a walk through the suburb Seine-Saint-Denis near Paris. If you manage to finish that walk in one piece, you will agree that Derbishire is right.

    My understanding is that you banned the guy from the campus exactly for the reason that he was going to spell out some truths, to which you and your colleagues would have no counterarguments. Hence the banishment.

    It is a pity that our best colleges are nowadays setting ideology über alles, and are running short on academic freedom and integrity.

    Having been raised behind the Iron Curtain, I find this to be quite a déjà vu

  27. From an Antipodean position of detachment from what Europe and the US have been doing to themselves (if “doing” is not too suggestive of vigour and activity) I have derived one lesson from this depressing thread. I shall advise a friend who still thinks of America’s glory as being the greatest universities in the world not to waste his money if his children can’t win scholarships to Caltech, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, or a handful of others with elements of excellence, by paying fees to an American liberal (sic) arts college without doubly due diligence to check that it is not like Williams staffed by self-satisfied not specially bright (presumably tenured) hacks like Crane. True, he writes grammatical English but not perhaps to the level of lucidity which would enable him to appreciate a man of Derbyshire’s rapid intellect and wit. He could try getting out “Prime Obsession” from the college library and feel humbled by Derbyshire’s ability to bring life and intelligibility to the story of the last of Hilbert’s great unsolved problems of mathematics, the Riemann Hypothesis that “all non-trivial zeros of the zeta function have real part one half”.

    Allow me to add that I have had plenty of experience with people whose IQs have been measured at 140 to 200+ and some of them, with no obvious excuse, have been both foolish and unsuccessful by most standards, but it doesn’t mean that, after making the best allowances you can for the Flynn Effect, there is practically no activity requiring even moderate cognitive ability which won’t have better outcomes on average and as a matter of high probability if the people engaged in it have on average what it takes to score high rather than 5 or 10 points lower on well designed IQ tests.

    It doesn’t much matter whether one supposes that say Ashkenazim, Parsees, Igbo or whatever have a genetic basis for high IQ performance in cognitively demanding activities or prefers to emphasise nurture as might result from African-American family structure, the fate of nations and civilisation is perhaps as much at stake as when the Goths, perhaps pushed by the Huns, migrated in large numbers into the Western Roman Empire. (It is not consoling to recall that there was not even a question then of genetically lower IQ people outbreeding the old sophisticates…)

    My claim to complacent objectivity is based on the comfort an Antipodean can take in the very small numbers of pre-European-invasion people being mostly on their way to assimilation, and anyway just about enough in weight of numbers and problems to provide well paid employment or psychological reward for those who would really like to think of themselves as SJWs in America’s racial/ethnic maelstrom. That is, when combined with smart Chinese and Indians already exceeding in number our problem ethnies and likely to go on keeping the age balance comparatively healthy and making up, for some years, for the dysgenic fertility of white Antipodeans.

  28. I should have added encouragement to see the merit of Derbyshire’s lucid undelivered address because I have a memory which makes me see it as just what might be needed to stir late adolescent minds to think for themselves on matters of some weight. At the matriculation level at school I had a young history teacher who gave the extracurricular History Club a paper on “The Myth of National Character”. I can’t recall much detail but many years after he and I laughed about his youthful earnestness, by which time he had served as a senior government lawyer in black African states and elsewhere before becoming Chief Justice of a small Pacific Island state….

    He had been a university academic too. Perhaps Professor Crane should follow my old friend’s example and get out a bit.

  29. My posts were said to be awaiting moderation. I can’t believe they would have been censored but, as I have no copies of the precise words and don’t want to misrepresent what has been refused space if that has happened and my incredulity is expressed in other forums I would be obliged if you would send me copies with or without explanation of the offence the moderator detected.

      • I am being asked to underwrite the cost of possible acceptance of a couple of young family members’ applications to American colleges. I have told them not to bother about Williams or any othrr college which may employ Sam Crane. (I bet he’s been called “Slippery Sam” but that would be by his friendly detractors). Of course I am prejudiced by having read John Derbyshire’s books and met him too. He is a lot smarter and much more amusing than 90 per cent of academics, including tenured full professors.

        The idea that Williams kids need to be protected from hearing a particular articulate, nuanced and sophisticated version of views widely held from someone who can then be effectively cross-examined is just too cringe makingly pathetic. With what disdain must Chinese, Japanese and Indian educated people read the PC witterings of the likes of Crane and Falk.

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