Allison Stanger, who was injured while moderating a Charles Murray event at Middlebury College in March, has said college students need to “challenge speech with more speech” in order to “develop both intellectually and emotionally.”
“National security depends on” college students being able to express themselves through words rather than violence, the professor told members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee on Thursday.
At the hearing, senators and free-speech advocates said even freedom of hateful expression must be protected from suppression, whether that is by violence or other means, The College Fix reports.
Chairman Lamar Alexander said he had a personal connection to the issue.
“When I was a student in the 1960s at Vanderbilt University, the John Birch Society wanted my political science professor fired,” the Tennessee Republican said during his opening statement. “They said he was a communist because he thought World War I was a mistake.”
Throughout the hearing, Senate Democrats blamed President Trump for the campus protests threatening free speech.
After the chairman said “deliberately inflammatory speakers” who appear on campuses push “freedom of speech to a limit that creates chaos,” Democrat Patty Murray claimed the focus should be to “push back against those driving an agenda of extremism, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny.”
The Washington state Democrat blasted the President for his remarks on immigration and other minorities.
“It’s no secret that leadership in this country have made disparaging public comments against Mexican Americans, women and Muslims,” Murray said. “This rhetoric has emboldened extremist hate groups” who had previously kept quiet, knowing they “would be shunned by their friends, neighbors, and communities.”
Democrats Michael Bennet of Colorado and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also took time at the hearing to attack the President.
Murray then introduced the president of American University’s student government, Taylor Dumpson, who became the first black female to hold that campus office.
The election win by Dumpson was followed by the hanging of bananas from trees. The bananas were inscribed with the initials of Dumpson’s historically African-American sorority.
An unidentified male was also captured on video posting Confederate flag fliers with cotton stalks on campus bulletin boards last month.
“While the FBI is investigating these incidents as hate-crimes, Taylor is speaking out to highlight the toll this is taking on the students being targeted by hate speech,” Murray said. “And this is just one incident [the cotton stalks]. There are so many more.”
All of the witnesses that testified were Democrats, however, they agreed Congress shouldn’t attempt to regulate campus speech.
Stranger, who moderated a Charles Murray event at Middlebury College in March, was injured by protesters, resulting in her being sent to ER with a neck injury.
Stranger detailed the incident in a Facebook Post.
We confronted an angry mob as we tried to exit the building. Most of the hatred was focused on Dr. Murray, but when I took his right arm both to shield him from attack and to make sure we stayed together so I could reach the car too, that’s when the hatred turned on me. One thug grabbed me by the hair and another shoved me in a different direction. I noticed signs with expletives and my name on them.
I told a colleague in my department that I felt proud of myself for not having slugged someone. Then [VP of Communications] Bill Burger charged back into the room (he is my hero) and told Dr. Murray and I to get our coats and leave—NOW. The protestors knew where the dinner was. We raced back to the car, driving over the curb and sidewalk to escape quickly. It was then we decided that it was probably best to leave town.
Stranger also criticized her fellow professors, who had admitted they had never read anything written by Charles Murray, for “cheering on the protesters.”
“We can and must do better” in encouraging students to accept and encourage diversity of thought, she said:
Students must feel free to speak their minds, make mistakes, and learn from them if they are to develop both intellectually and emotionally. They must learn to challenge speech with more speech, to think for themselves rather than relying on somebody else to tell them what to think or do, as well as to reflect on how their words and actions affect others.
University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer promoted his institutions “unwavering commitment to free expression,” and a prohibition on “limiting the rights of others to engage in free expression, work, and open discourse.”
“To limit free expression is to limit quality of education and limit quality of research,” Zimmer told senators.
New York Law School Prof. Nadine Strossen explained that protecting freedom of expression was incredibly important “no matter what [students] believe.” Strossen also dismissed the idea that “hate speech is not free speech.”
“We need civil society to speak out and to condemn,” Strossen said, noting that the only way to combat hate is with more speech, not censorship.
Featured Image Via Middlebury College