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. Last day.

Canty concludes with a series of questions. Allow me to answer them, as if I were an opponent of the Chicago Principles. (abl and other opponents should feel free to provide betters answers if they don’t like mine.)

I address the following questions to those opposed to adopting the Chicago Principles: Do you think your lives will be “echo chambers” where everyone will lie down supinely before your viewpoints?

No. What does that have to do with anything? We just prefer an approach in which speakers at Williams are “curated,” chosen by the College to maximize the quality of the education we receive. Is that insane? We expect to agree with some speakers and disagree with others. In fact, we disagree among ourselves every day, in every class. As best we can tell, you agree! You don’t want John Derbyshire to speak at Williams. We agree! And that means that both you and we reject the Chicago Principles.

If I disagree with you on free market vs socialism, are you so nervous about your position that you can’t stomach debating why socialism hasn’t worked in Cuba, Venezuela, or the Soviet Union?

Happy to debate! Have you ever taken an economics course at Williams? Let us assure you, many of our faculty (and our fellow students) are free marketers par excellence.

Do you think at age 20 you really have all the answers?

No. Do you have all the answers at age 53? We doubt it! We all want what is best for Williams. And you and we seem to agree that the adopting the Chicago Principles — which would necessarily allow hatred-spewers like John Derbyshire to speak at Williams — would be a mistake.

If McCarthyism of the 1950s was about silencing and purging leftist dissidents, is the McCarthyism of 2019 seeking to stifle legitimate debate by accusing conservative viewpoints of (pick your insult) “racist/homophobe/mysognist”?

Weren’t you the one who wrote “I have no problem with colleges banning speakers who are not spreading ideas but really spewing hatred?” We agree! Moreover, is “accuse” the right word? Do you disagree, as an empirical matter, that Jon Derbyshire is a racist? We think he is. And we think that racism, which is a particularly troublesome example of “spewing hatred,” has no place at Williams.

What objections do you have to the Chicago Principles?

The same as you! They require us to allow John Derbyshire to speak at Williams. You don’t want that. We don’t want that. The Chicago Principles require it.

Does Williams suffer or thrive from an environment of intellectual diversity and mutual respect?

Thrive! Again, we agree with you! How many times do we need to say it?

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