The dark punchline? The nixed talk was to be part of the school’s “uncomfortable learning” speaker series, wherein Williams undergrads are “challenged and made to think,” according to student organizers. Well, it seems as though certain subjects are just too uncomfortable to even be discussed. Well and truly pathetic:
Williams College students invited Suzanne Venker, a writer and longtime critic of feminism, to speak Tuesday night but changed their minds and took back the invite for her talk, “One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back: Why Feminism Fails.” Venker had been invited to participate in a student-run, alumni-funded speaking series at Williams called “Uncomfortable Learning.” The program’s purpose is to expose students to controversial voices and opinions they might not otherwise hear. Many of the speakers tend to be conservative or people whose views don’t square with those of most students. The students who run the series decided to cancel the event, co-president Zach Wood explained, after its Facebook page began to attract acerbic comments and “things got a little out of hand.”
“A little out of hand:”
The page has since been deleted, but one comment, which Wood quotes in an article he posted, said, “When you bring a misogynistic, white supremacist men’s rights activist to campus in the name of ‘dialogue’ and ‘the other side,’ you are not only causing actual mental, social, psychological and physical harm to students, but you are also—paying—for the continued dispersal of violent ideologies that kill our black and brown (trans) femme sisters … you are dipping your hands in their blood, Zach Wood.” The concern, Wood explained, was that “people would get riled up while she was speaking,” maybe even throw things, and there wasn’t time before the event to organize security. “You never know,” he said. “We’re just trying to think ahead here. The last thing we wanted to do was do something destructive.”
This is hysterical, insane nonsense. Having the option of listening to a dissenting voice against the Left’s prevailing orthodoxy on gender roles in no way represents an imposition of harm, let alone “physical harm.” Such intolerant, sub-moronic delirium must be aggressively defied and mocked, not coddled and indulged. Event planners warned Venker that her upcoming address was “stirring a lot of angry reactions among students on campus,” prior to its eventual cancellation. Williams had “never experienced this kind of resistance” to a speaker, she was informed. On America’s college campuses, the heckler’s veto is a distressingly effective method of stamping out opposing viewpoints and muzzling “wrong-thinking” opinions. Bruce noted earlier that many college students evidently view this as a positive development, endorsing their institutions’ stifling culture of speech codes and trigger warnings. As Mary Katharine and I argue in End of Discussion, elements of the ostensibly open-minded Left have no interest whatsoever in the open exchange of ideas. They seek to “win” debates by preventing them from happening. They seek to “defeat” ideas by ensuring they’re denied any hearing. Tragically, this trend is being exported from the ivy-dotted edifices of academia to all corners of American life. It’s toxic and unbefitting of a free society. In an op-ed on Fox News’ website, Venker reveals the opening paragraph the prepared remarks she never had the opportunity to deliver:
My goal for you all, my purpose in being here today, is to inspire you to think for yourselves. Do not be swayed by groupthink no matter what your friends, your family or the culture believe. Do not be afraid to ask yourself questions that may make you uncomfortable. And do not be afraid of the answers.
To its shame, the Williams community has shown itself to be utterly intolerant of intellectual discomfort, and throughly terrified of critical thought. This — this! — is the sort of “verbal violence,” or whatever, that the school’s Very Special Snowflakes simply couldn’t abide: