Readers comments 7-28-17

What is free speech?

Dear Editor:

In regard to “CMC issues sanctions to Athenaeum student protestors,” by Marc Rod, published in the COURIER on July 21:

First off, I compliment the mature response of CMC. This phenomenon of left-wing aggressiveness is not, however, restricted to Claremont. College campuses around the country, and in fact around the Western world are experiencing an increasingly vitriolic opposition to alternative opinions. 

Until the mid-1900s, roughly, colleges prided themselves on being centers of intellectual inquiry within the broader society. Today, however, a very destructive trend is afoot. 

Campuses are becoming centers of harsher and harsher intellectual suppression; an intensity of suppression in some places that would make the old Soviet Bolsheviks proud. Last May, in Berkeley, for example, a man supporting President Trump was smashed in the head with one of those heavy U-shaped bike locks by, of all people, a former college professor.

There are people who disagree with Heather Mac Donald’s opinions and positions. Yet, those people must comprehend that yet other people will disagree with the opinions and positions of college-sponsored speakers who are not opposed or blockaded by these so called “protesters.”

Many of us will recall what used to be a commonly uttered expression, “I disagree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

These CMC protesters and blockaders especially, and all of us generally, would do well to reflect upon the words of John Stuart Mill, who admonished us, “We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.”

With penalties of one year or one semester suspension, or “conduct probation,” I think these six student blockaders should consider themselves very leniently dealt with.

Douglas Lyon



Athenaeum protest

Dear Editor:

I was pleased to learn from the COURIER issue of Friday, July 21 that Claremont McKenna College has issued sanctions to several of the students involved in blockading a speech by what the COURIER described as “conservative pundit” Heather Mac Donald, better described, in my mind, as a raving hate-monger.

I was at the CMC’s Kravis Center at the time a large number of students, several of whom I recognized from classes I had audited, with great, though artificial, bravery blocked my visibly elderly (76 years old) and visibly handicapped person (I require a cane for walking, though I still stumble badly) from entering the building.

As a child of the 1960s, when protests took place about much more important things, I was almost amused by their pretensions at participatory democracy, knowing that the overwhelming majority of them have never bothered to even register to vote.

I was also amused by their assumption that I was an admirer or Ms. Mac Donald, evidently because I am not a person of color. This, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of these brave students were also as white as I am.

These guardians of anarchy refused, by yelling their slogans in my face, to even hear my truthful explanations that I was there to attend a special event being presented for the class I was auditing that semester, unrelated to their anti-democratic blockade.

I still wonder whether any of these pseudo-brave children has ever been so brave as to leave the premises of their hallowed halls of ivory to engage in a serious protest of greater importance than that of depriving the despicable Ms. Mac Donald from expressing her right of free speech.

As it occurred, the student protestors made Ms. Mac Donald look better than she deserves by their behavior. By their actions, they became the bad guys rather than the good guys.

Don Fisher



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