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Canty ’88 on Banning Speakers, 3

John Canty ’88, a former op-ed editor of the Record and CIA agent, kindly sent along these thoughts on banning speakers at Williams. Relevant past discussions here and here. Day 3.

Having sung the praises of the Chicago Principles, with their insistence on the importance of allowing speech which is “offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed,” Canty writes:

Please let me clear that I have no problem with colleges banning speakers who are not spreading ideas but really spewing hatred.

Arrrgh! No sentence could better illustrate everything that is wrong with out-of-touch alumni, muddle-headed American “conservativism” and the ideological drift of Williams College.

1) You can (intelligently!) believe that Williams should ban John Derbyshire or you can believe that Williams should abide by the Chicago Principles. You can believe the first (Hi abl!) or believe the second (Hi JCD!). But for Canty to profess both beliefs in a single essay is just nonsense.

2) Does John Canty ’88 have any objective way of deciding which speakers are “spewing hatred?” If so, he should share it with the rest of us! Needless to say (!), he doesn’t. He, like many alumni, just want their memories of Williams to lie undisturbed, shrouded in the gauzy haze of Purple Mountains majesty and beer-soaked fellowship. And that is OK! Alumni are free to leave the running of Williams to Maud Mandel and others, to leave the hard choices to her and the Williams Administration. However, at EphBlog, alumni incoherence will be treated just as ruthlessly as it would have been back in a Williams classroom.

Canty continues:

I understand former Williams College President Adam Falk’s decision to ban a lecture by John Derbyshire or University of California-Berkeley’s move to cancel a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos. But I have major problems with efforts by students to silence all opposing viewpoints. In all too many cases, students either have worked to rescind speaking invitations or to disrupt campus lectures, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Harvard University (2014), Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson at Georgetown (2016), acknowledged police scholar Heather MacDonald at Claremont-McKenna (2017), and respected social scientist Charles Murray at Middlebury (2017). (See Michael Bloomberg’s 2014 Harvard commencement address: “Don’t Major in Intolerance.”)

1) Yiannopoulos’s talk was cancelled. But then, after complaints, he did speak. Berkeley, after some backsliding, has abided by the standards expected, by the Supreme Court, of state institutions. Anyone invited is allowed to speak, even if they are “spewing hatred.”

2) Students don’t seek to “silence all opposing viewpoints.” They only seek to silence some of them. Just like Adam Falk! And you!

More from Canty below:

Open debate becomes particularly crucial in a campus environment that already is dramatically tilted to one side. Michael Bloomberg noted that in the 2012 Presidential election, 92 percent of campaign donations from Ivy League faculty and staff went to President Obama’s campaign, a hammerlock of opinion that he found disturbing—and he backed President Obama! In this context, I would argue that Williams must go to the lengths of its duty and beyond, for example, to recruit that rare conservative scholar to its faculty, to let a speaker address the issue of tackling gang-related urban violence, or to raise that novel argument that US foreign policy may have actually done some good for the world!

17 Comments (Open | Close)

17 Comments To "Canty ’88 on Banning Speakers, 3"

#1 Comment By 89’er On May 16, 2019 @ 10:02 am

Can you believe that the college should not have banned Derbyshire and also believe that Ephblog should censor comments?

Is the same person advancing the proposition that Derbyshire – neither a scientist nor a researcher – cannot be banned also remove comments that he alone deems lacking in substance do so without being hypocritical?

Or is this just a case that DDF and JC Drew believe some thought (with which they agree) should never be censored or regulated while thought with which they disagree should be regulated?

Is DDF and JC Drew’s position unprincipled hackery of the highest order or something else?

#2 Comment By dcat On May 16, 2019 @ 10:38 am

Ooh, ooh — 89’er, call on me! I know the answer!

#3 Comment By PTC On May 16, 2019 @ 10:48 am


My vote goes with hackery.

Otherwise, we might accuse EphBlog of some thought put into this new found hypocritical love of censorship.

Such as involvement in propaganda …

Or a guessing game involving the color of a persons underwear …

#4 Comment By fendertweed On May 16, 2019 @ 1:55 pm

Where’s that “thumbs up ” icon when I need it…

#5 Comment By Dal On May 16, 2019 @ 3:21 pm

If all they are deleting are personal attacks, I have no problem with that.

Address the argument – not the arguer.

Or are they deleting your trenchant, longform critiques that, if released to the world, would upend the status quo as we know it? I somehow doubt it.

#6 Comment By 89’er On May 16, 2019 @ 7:40 pm

You help make my case.

Instead of my unhinged personal attacks destroying my argument we are left with your half baked suppositions in their place.

Or perhaps JCD just didn’t like someone’s “tone” and their facts and argumentation were embarrassing?

Alas, we are left with silence and half baked suppositions.

#7 Comment By fendertweed On May 17, 2019 @ 9:18 am

Cool how Dal slips snarky [weak] attempts at personal attack in a post complaining about personal attacks.

#8 Comment By Dal On May 18, 2019 @ 9:49 pm

But despite that – he skates past the censor anyway! YES!!!!!!!!

Guess it wasn’t a personal attack then.

Are you seriously telling me that posts of yours with no profanity and/or ranting about JCD have been removed? I’d seriously doubt it.

But if you can’t seem to post without being deleted, maybe it’s time to take a break and dig into summer reading instead.

#9 Comment By 89’er On May 18, 2019 @ 11:24 pm

More ridiculous and baseless innuendo.

Fact free speculation.

Do better.

#10 Comment By Abl On May 19, 2019 @ 12:25 am

Guess it wasn’t a personal attack then.
Are you seriously telling me that posts of yours with no profanity and/or ranting about JCD have been removed? I’d seriously doubt it.

110% yes, and more than once.

#11 Comment By fendertweed On May 19, 2019 @ 7:22 am


Ii’s not a contest, sprout. But maybe if you’re nice, someone will give you the prize from their Cracker Jacks box.

It’s amusing you’re so chuffed by escaping the wobbly and erratic swath of censorship in this little mouse warren.

#12 Comment By Dal On May 19, 2019 @ 11:47 am

It’s amusing because it’s called A JOKE, my bruvas! Lighten up.

The next time one of your posts is deleted, please email it to me. I’m interested to see what kind of content is getting eliminated.

#13 Comment By anon On May 19, 2019 @ 4:32 pm

Dal- Re-posted here from the “Toxic Self-Absorption” post above in case it is censored…

“Good grief. Holy walking contradiction of a blog post Boy Wonder.

The author, who defeats his own conclusion, points out in the same thread- No one was forced to sit and listen to anything.

As JCD writes- the CC chose to listen and do nothing. They made that choice. They could have spoken or left. They could have challenged the assumptions.

So… other than a false premise that people had to suffer through something that they did not have to suffer through- what are we left with?

1. A college student used some profanity towards his peers at a peer meeting.


2. Some people had to suffer through some “verbal abuse” from a peer because they chose to do nothing.


#14 Comment By 0xEph On May 20, 2019 @ 2:03 pm

Dal – I posted the following comment on the “Toxic Self-Absorption” post above (and John deleted it).

I think to many an “objective observer,” it would appear that the title of this post describes the author of the post.

If you believe that this is an insult unbefitting Ephblog–and that would be an entirely reasonable belief!–then you should also support John’s post being removed from this site.

#15 Comment By PTC On May 20, 2019 @ 3:13 pm



It’s only censorship when this kind of “unbefitting post” about a student is deleted.

When the same or similar remark is made about someone who is sixty years old talking smack about a student…. then it is abusive and simply must be deleted.

Get it?

#16 Comment By Fragesteller On May 20, 2019 @ 4:57 pm

As far as greivance studies go– what about JCD’s claims of being on the way to a Nobel, before he was discriminated against as a conservative white male at Williams College?

#17 Comment By 0xEph On May 20, 2019 @ 5:17 pm

Am I correct in observing that, after getting the last word, John has now fully shut off comments in the thread in question?

But I suppose he knows more than we do: any comment that would have been written would surely be too debasing and lacking in substance to be entitled to a space in the forum in question. No responsible and objective moderator could do anything but cut off future debate!