Last week, I wrote about Polish Catholic philosopher Ryszard Legutko being ceremoniously un-invited from Middlebury College by Provost Jeff Cason and Dean of Students Baishakhi Taylor.  Liberal students and professors didn’t want the professor of philosophy at Jagiellonian University and a member of the European Parliament to come, because he didn’t line up precisely with their political views.   So, the college canceled his speaking event just hours before it was to occur.

His lecture was going to be on – ahem – totalitarianism:

Legutko was scheduled to speak Wednesday at the Vermont college’s Alexander Hamilton Forum, delivering a lecture entitled “The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies.” A member of the anti-Communist Polish resistance during the Cold War, Legutko warns that western democracy is also susceptible to creep towards totalitarianism.

The activists were upset because of “Legutko’s pointed critiques of multiculturalism, feminism, and homosexuality, calling them “homophobic, racist, xenophobic, [and] misogynistic.” 

Middlebury’s email which explained the cancellation cited “potential security and safety risks for both the lecture and the event students had planned in response.” 

What happened next was remarkable. One student proposed sneaking Mr. Legutko on campus and proceeding with his lecture in a political science class. Professor Matthew Dickinson said he’d allow it if every student in his class approved the idea on a secret ballot. All nine students voted yes. Word got out on social media, and other students trickled in. Mr. Dickinson estimates about 45 students attended. 

“I have never been more proud in my 30 years of teaching than to watch these students engage with the speaker, push back on him, engage with him. It was a marvelous example of how free speech facilitates learning,” Mr. Dickinson said.

“During the days of communist totalitarianism, scholars from the West traveled to Eastern Bloc nations to give underground lectures and seminars,” said Keegan Callanan, who directs the Alexander Hamilton Forum and invited the Polish politician. “On Wednesday, Mr. Legutko returned the favor.”

What a great story!  Good for the students who stood up for freedom, regardless of whether they agreed with Legutko. 

May the students and faculty rise up against the left’s desire to silence them and limit their exposure to ideas.

That’s what free speech is, that’s what America is about.  

Hat Tip: Wall Street Journal

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.