Middlebury Students Shut Down Lecture by Charles Murray | Off Message
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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Middlebury Students Shut Down Lecture by Charles Murray

Posted By on Thu, Mar 2, 2017 at 6:16 PM

Charles Murray and his controversial book - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Charles Murray and his controversial book
Jeering and chanting Middlebury College students disrupted a planned talk Thursday afternoon by controversial author and lecturer Charles Murray.

Murray is the author of the 1994 book The Bell Curve, which sought to link social inequality to genetics.

As he took the stage in Wilson Hall, students booed, rose and turned their backs to the stage before reading a statement in unison. Students broke into chants of "Hey hey, ho ho, Charles Murray has got to go," and "Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray go away!"

Murray, wearing a suit and tie, stood at the lectern and waited to be heard. The shouts continued:

"Your message is hatred; we cannot tolerate it!"

"Charles Murray, go away; Middlebury says no way!"

After about 25 minutes, and when it became clear the chants would not abate, faculty came onstage and announced plans to move the lecture to a different location. The administrators said Murray's speech would be live-streamed so he could speak without interruption. Questions for Murray to answer could be submitted using a Twitter hashtag, they said.
click to enlarge Professor Allison Stanger with Charles Murray on the live-stream
  • Professor Allison Stanger with Charles Murray on the live-stream
The Southern Poverty Law Center considers Murray a white supremacist extremist. Murray, according to the site, "has become one of the most influential social scientists in America, using racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor."

The Middlebury campus chapter of the American Enterprise Institute sponsored the speech, which has roiled the liberal arts school for days. A letter signed by more than 450 alumni condemned the lecture as "unacceptable and unethical."

"It is a decision that directly endangers members of the community and stains Middlebury's reputation by jeopardizing the institution's claims to intellectual rigor and compassionate inclusivity," read the letter submitted to the Middlebury Campus newspaper.

Murray's daughter attended Middlebury, according to VTDigger.org, which wrote about the controversy on Monday.

"As for giving me too big a soapbox, I will have 45 minutes to indoctrinate the students with my pseudoscience," Murray told the news site. "The Middlebury faculty has had four years."

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Sasha Goldstein

Sasha Goldstein

Sasha Goldstein is Seven Days' deputy news editor.

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