If You’re Pro-Gay but Offend Progressives, You’re ‘Anti-Gay’

An ugly and violent protest at Middlebury College in Vermont kept scholar and author Charles Murray from addressing students and put him in danger—students tried to overturn his car as he left, and they physically assaulted the professor who had agreed to serve as the event moderator, pulling her hair and twisting her neck; she emerged from a hospital emergency room wearing a neck brace.

Murray had come to discuss his ground-breaking book about class in America, Coming Apart (reviewed here by the New York Times), which contends that the white working class is, literally, falling apart while the wealthy elites profit mightily. He draws a distinction between residents of what he calls “Fishtown,” who are down and out of work, and those of “Belmont,” who are getting richer.

You might think this would be an interesting topic to discuss and question him about given recent political developments that caught the left off-guard, but the students decided otherwise, shouting Murray down as a “white nationalist.” This was apparently triggered by Murray’s 1994 study The Bell Curve, in which he argued, as the New York Times review above puts it, that “that those with high I.Q.’s have replaced the old WASP elite in a modern economy that rewards brains over bloodlines.” And yes, he presented data on I.Q. distribution by factors including race. The findings and their accuracy were not at issue (although the objectivity of the I.Q. test itself has been debated). Following the angry response that The Bell Curve received from the left, in Coming Apart Murray looked only at the white working class and elites.

(Last year, Murray responded to distortions being spread about The Bell Curve by those who’ve never read it.)

Here’s why I’m blogging this. As noted in a roundup of press reports by the Unz Review:

Several groups in the audience stood as Murray began to speak. They turned their backs and spoke over him. Single voices merged into a call and response that included “Who is the enemy? White supremacy,” and “Charles Murray go away. Racist. Sexist. Anti-gay.”

Here’s the deal: Murray has been an advocate of marriage equality within conservative circles, even making the case for recognizing same-sex marriage at CPAC, as the New Yorker reported.


Whatever anyone might think of Murray’s arguments on I.Q. and economic success in modern America, he is certainly not “anti-gay.” The Middlebury students, ignorant as they are, just assumed he was.

Also, I liked the Unz Review commenter who noted: “The children of Belmont don’t want to hear about the woes of Fishtown.” Indeed.

More. In response to those alleging that the students seeking to prevent Murray from speaking were possibly small in number or outside agitators, in the comments below Josh remarks that “none of the students are reported to have responded by shouting back ‘let him speak,’ did they.”

Also, prior to his speaking, “More than 600 Middlebury College students and faculty have signed a letter to President Laurie Patton condemning the invitation of Charles Murray to speak at the college….”

Furthermore. From Murray’s own account of the event, which clarifies that he had been invited to speak by a small group of conservative students:

About a week before the event, plans for protests began to emerge, encouraged by several faculty members. Their logic was that since I am a racist, a white supremacist, a white nationalist, a pseudoscientist whose work has been discredited, a sexist, a eugenicist, and (this is a new one) anti-gay, I did not deserve a platform for my hate speech, and hence it was appropriate to keep me from speaking. …

Some were just having a snarky good time as college undergrads have been known to do, dancing in the aisle to the rhythm of the chants. But many looked like they had come straight out of casting for a film of brownshirt rallies. In some cases, I can only describe their eyes as crazed and their expressions as snarls. Melodramatic, I know. But that’s what they looked like. …

I didn’t see it happen, but someone grabbed Allison’s hair just as someone else shoved her from another direction, damaging muscles, tendons, and fascia in her neck. I was stumbling because of the shoving. If it hadn’t been for Allison and Bill keeping hold of me and the security guards pulling people off me, I would have been pushed to the ground. That much is sure. What would have happened after that I don’t know, but I do recall thinking that being on the ground was a really bad idea, and I should try really hard to avoid that. …

The pressure to refrain from suspending and expelling large numbers of students will be intense. Parents will bombard the administration with explanations of why their little darlings are special people whose hearts were in the right place. Faculty and media on the left will urge that no one inside the lecture hall be penalized because shouting down awful people like me is morally appropriate.

A progressive education.

Finally, Prof. Stanger’s account of the attack.

Ok, one more addendum. Andrew Sullivan writes:

They then expel the heretic in a unified chant: “Hey hey, ho ho! Charles Murray has got to go.” Then: “Racist, Sexist, Anti-gay. Charles Murray, Go away!”

Murray’s old work on IQ demonstrates no meaningful difference between men and women, and Murray has long supported marriage equality. He passionately opposes eugenics. He’s a libertarian. But none of that matters. Intersectionality, remember? If you’re deemed a sinner on one count, you are a sinner on them all. …

The final climactic chant is “Shut it down! Shut it down!” It feels like something out of The Crucible. Most of the students have never read a word of Murray’s — and many professors who supported the shutdown admitted as much. But the intersectional zeal is so great he must be banished — even to the point of physical violence.

Along similar lines:

34 Comments for “If You’re Pro-Gay but Offend Progressives, You’re ‘Anti-Gay’”

  1. posted by Jorge on

    It’s a broken record.

    A letter in my local newspaper accused the Trump administration of “re-vilifying transgender youth” (among many other things) and implored people to attend the Pride rally (among others). I mailed a letter arguing that the country has a choice whether the transgender community and its allies are right about which civil rights law should protect them.

    Reply
    • posted by TJ on

      and I guess transgender people will “hold it’ until the state gets around to doing the right thing.

      Charles Murray is a charlatan. Some people on campus liked what he said, some didnt.

      If you have a large University community, you are going to have students with less tact and more “talk radio” theatrics. It aint limited to one political party.

      Reply
  2. posted by JerrelT on

    The article the author cites to attack Progressives in general, states that “hundreds of protestors, AT LEAST SOME OF THEM STUDENTS crashed Murray”s talk.” The article further states “One of the demonstrators pulled Prof. Stangers’s hair and twisted her neck.” Stephen says that students, plural, assaulted professor Stanger. The article he cites simply says ONE demonstrator from a group of whom at least some were students committed the assault. So, one demonstrator, not identified as a student, becomes in Stephen’s eyes, multiple students assaulting the professor. A group of anti speech demonstrators becomes representative of all Progressives in Stephen’s eyes. I despise violent protests. I despise speech being stopped. I also despise small unrepresentative groups of people and individuals being used to paint all Progressives as violent and intolerant; something this blog seems to do over and over again. I would never take radical conservative individuals and use their actions to paint all conservatives as violent and intolerant. Individuals do not accurately reflect larger groups. This is something the writer of this blog needs to learn, unless it is a fact he chooses to strategically ignore.

    Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Dead on.

      Reply
    • posted by Jorge on

      With Berkeley and now this incident, it seems this sort of event being blamed on “outsiders” is becoming a pattern.

      That leads logically to blaming the sympathetic liberal college admnistration for failing to properly instruct their security, which is a much older story.

      I’d wait for the aftermath first.

      Reply
      • posted by JerrelT on

        I am making no claims of who was involved. I am simply citing Stephens source material which does fit with all of his comments. In addition, my major point is that students at a small liberal arts college do not represent and speak for the progresssive movementioned or for progressives everywhere.

        Reply
        • posted by JerrelT on

          Oops….progressive movement as opposed to progressive movementioned.

          Reply
          • posted by Lori Heine on

            This blog has a very collectivist mentality. One does represent all–provided the group being judged is a leftist group.

            Identity politics, political correctness and other assorted evils are common human failings. They are often ascribed exclusively to the “other team.” That is also a very human failing.

    • posted by Josh on

      A small minority or outside agitators? None of the students are reported to have responded by shouting back “let him speak,” did they.

      “More than 600 Middlebury College students and faculty have signed a letter to President Laurie Patton condemning the invitation of Charles Murray to speak at the college…” (https://vtdigger.org/2017/03/01/faculty-students-protest-middleburys-plans-for-author-talk/)

      Reply
  3. posted by JerrelT on

    Lori, I consistently refuse to paint people or groups, be they liberal, conservative, libertarian, or whatever, with a broad brush for the actions of a few individuals. There are conservative and libertarian friends in my life who deserve to not be stereotyped by the actions of a few. Too many on both sides stereotype those they disagree with. I simply feel I deserve the same treatment which the author of this blog fails to do in regards to progressives. ( By the way, I tend to identify as a libertarian, with a small l, leftist.)

    Reply
    • posted by JohnInCA on

      When I’m feeling kind (and not petty or snarky), I soften my broad-brush generalizing with things like “you may not personally share such views, but you do enable them with your complacent votes and disinclination to effect change in your party.”

      Like I told the cute Mormon boys that tried to tell me they weren’t anti-gay, “it doesn’t matter. Your larger organization, collectively, behaves in ways that are harmful to me and mine. Your individual variances, while applaudable, are insignificant.”

      So saying all Conservatives/Libertarians/Democrats/gingers/midgets with the same brush? Nah. Pointing out that their actions support that broad brush whether they personally share it it or not? Well, it might be unfair, but it’s still true.

      Reply
  4. posted by TJ on

    I DID actually read the Bell Curve, and his book on Libertarianism. I certainly would disagree with several of his arguments.

    Neither book talked much about gay rights. I can’t recall him talking much about gay rights.

    I think that one of these books defended a libertarian view on the freedom of association, but he generally avoided the issue

    If you wonder why some students don’t know how to disagree with a political view within a civil framework, check out the cable news talking heads, the talk radio and now major elected officials.

    I realize why Stephen may not want to do so. Most of it involves Fox News, conservative and alt-right radio personalities.

    Yes, liberals have tried something similar – marketing wise – with Air America and MSNBC, but its had far less impact.

    Parliamentary debate is often robust, but if you look at Question Time in the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Austr

    Reply
  5. posted by JohnInCA on

    Tried to look up Charles Murray’s public statements on LGBT issues, and about all I could find was that one speech at CPAC a few years back where he says Conservatives need to let it go.

    What I did find is that he broadly thinks that disadvantaged groups are disadvantaged because they’re inferior. So unless he gives gay people an exemption there, he probably thinks we’re inferior too.

    I bring this up not to defend the violent protest. That’s deplorable. I bring it up to point out how low Mr. Miller’s bar is for “pro-gay”. Someone who (probably) thinks you’re inferior and only came around on gay marriage when he realized young people weren’t voting for Republican because of it.

    Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Tried to look up Charles Murray’s public statements on LGBT issues, and about all I could find was that one speech at CPAC a few years back where he says Conservatives need to let it go.

      Murray has ignored the issue for the most part, as you and others have pointed out. In fairness, though, I think that it is important to acknowledge that he has had a personal epiphany, driven by his relationships with gays and lesbians who run in his circle, and supports same-sex marriage in and of itself (voting for legalization in Maryland, for example), pragmatics aside.

      That is a distinct break with conservative thinking. Support for same-sex marriage remains a distinctly a minority view among conservatives (just under 30% among self-described conservatives, about 33% among self-identified Republicans, about 25-27% among white evangelicals), and is almost non-existent among Republican politicians responsive to that base. Even the President, who is touted as gay-supportive and a model for the future of the Republican Party, has consistently supported “traditional marriage” and opposed same-sex marriage.

      I bring it up to point out how low Mr. Miller’s bar is for “pro-gay”.

      Within the context of conservative politics, any public deviation from anti-equality orthodoxy is a step in the right direction, however low the bar.

      Reply
      • posted by JohnInCA on

        “Within the context of conservative politics, any public deviation from anti-equality orthodoxy is a step in the right direction, however low the bar.”

        I’m reminded of a joke. It goes something like this (apologies in advance, I’m not very good at jokes):

        A man is driving and comes to a stop sign, and does a “rolling stop”. You know, where you slow down and look both ways, but if there’s no one there you never come to a complete stop.

        So right after he goes through the intersection, the blinky lights come on behind him; a cop is pulling him over. He pulls over.

        The cop comes up to his window and says “You didn’t stop at the stop sign.” The man responds “C’mon, I slowed down!”

        At which point the cop yanks the man out of the car and starts beating him with his baton. The man shouts “ow! stop! Stop it!”

        Without breaking stride, the cop responds “do you want me to stop, or just slow down?”

        Reply
      • posted by Tom Scharbach on

        Nothing wrong with pointing out that the bar is low, and the bar Stephen consistently sets is indeed so low as to be almost nonexistent.

        But (in my view, anyway) the height of the bar isn’t all that important.

        We’ve got our hands full, with lawsuits challenging public accommodations laws and other laws of general application protecting gays and lesbians, and proposed legislation spouting up all over the country like garlic mustard attempting to roll back the gains we’ve made to date.

        We’ve got to fight, this year, next year and for at least a few years after that, if we are going to keep what we’ve earned.

        So what difference does it make, when you get right down to it, whether the “pro-gay” bar is set at “doesn’t actually froth at the mouth”?

        Reply
        • posted by JohnInCA on

          “So what difference does it make, when you get right down to it, whether the “pro-gay” bar is set at “doesn’t actually froth at the mouth”?”
          You say we should be gearing up for a fight.

          Would you trust Mr. Miller to correctly identify “pro gay” folks that are going to have your back?

          I wouldn’t.

          Reply
      • posted by TJ on

        He basically avoided the issue until (more recently) he expressed some personal support for gay marriage.

        Reply
  6. posted by TJ on

    He wrote a book about being a libertarian. He mentions gays, in passing, when talking about the libertarian view on the freedom to associate.

    Remember that the right-libertarians view civil rights laws (when applied to a business) as violating this right.

    I don’t think that he talked about gay marriage in the book .

    Reply
    • posted by Josh on

      No, he only made a plea to support gay marriage at CPAC, in the belly of the beast. That’s all, Nothing to see here (that makes progressives feel spiffy about themselves), so move along.

      Reply
  7. posted by Houndentenor on

    Another round of “look someone you never heard of before said/did something that doesn’t affect you in the least but you can be outraged about anyway!” Not playing. The country is in a death spiral and this is what gay conservatives care about? Pathetic.

    Reply
    • posted by Josh on

      What a sad comment from Mr. Houdentenor, both nasty and irrelevant. If you want to know “pathetic,” look in the mirror. This incident is resonating because it reflects so much about what’s gone so wrong both in terms of the U.S. college environment and progressive self-righteousness that increasingly is turning to violence akin to scenes from the Chinese cultural revolution. There is much here to debate and discuss, and this is the best response you can come up with. Sad, so very sad.

      Reply
  8. posted by Jorge on

    “From Murray’s own account of the event…

    I didn’t see it happen, but someone grabbed Allison’s hair…

    The pressure to refrain from suspending and expelling large numbers of students will be intense…

    Wow! Don’t get into war with someone who produces ink by the barrel.

    Fine. Maybe I’ll watch a video of the event (put it on my backlog).

    Not playing. The country is in a death spiral and this is what gay conservatives care about? Pathetic.

    Of course. Trump (or at least Trumpism) is the answer. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you can concentrate your full attention on Never Trump.

    Reply
  9. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    The pressure to refrain from suspending and expelling large numbers of students will be intense …

    As it should be. Criminal guilt or innocence is individual, not collective. The assault should be handled as a criminal matter, by the police, prosecutors and the courts, as should any other criminal acts that occurred.

    Reply
  10. posted by Jorge on

    But many more individual students violated the campus’s Safe Space for All Students Act and the Doctrines of Social Justice and Academic Freedom by disrupting an event paid for with the student activities fee of their peers (or one of their departments?) and advised by faculty.

    It would be perfectly reasonable for the college to demand that all students on its campus sign an affidavit condemning the violation of the Doctrines of Social Justice and Academic Freedom.

    Reply
  11. posted by Tom Scharbach on

    But many more individual students violated the campus’s Safe Space for All Students Act and the Doctrines of Social Justice and Academic Freedom by disrupting an event paid for with the student activities fee of their peers (or one of their departments?) and advised by faculty.

    And each alleged violation by an individual should be handled independently.

    It would be perfectly reasonable for the college to demand that all students on its campus sign an affidavit condemning the violation of the Doctrines of Social Justice and Academic Freedom.

    On what grounds? Each student has, presumably, signed on to the college policies and agreed to abide by those policies as a condition of enrollment.

    Are you now asking each student to determine the facts of the this incident, form an opinion as to those facts, concluding how and if a violation occurred, and then condemn that? I don’t think you’ve thought this through very carefully, Jorge.

    But then, as I recall, you went to one of these tiny ultra-liberal elite campuses, so I shouldn’t be surprised that you demonstrate so little regard for protecting freedom of thought.

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  12. posted by Jorge on

    But then, as I recall, you went to one of these tiny ultra-liberal elite campuses, so I shouldn’t be surprised that you demonstrate so little regard for protecting freedom of thought.

    Nay, it was merely small, not tiny.

    On what grounds?

    The maintenance of public order.

    Are you now asking each student to determine the facts of the this incident, form an opinion as to those facts, concluding how and if a violation occurred, and then condemn that?

    More like prohibiting them from expressing an opinion that it is permissible to excuse a criminal or prohibited action.

    I do not accept entirely your view that the fact-finding must be individual and not collective. The college can make an official decision that a criminal or prohibited action has occurred. Once it has made that decision, it can command a certain degree of obedience to that decision, and a commitment to adopt and embody values, behaviors, and even communication skills that are consistent with maintaining the minimum amount of order the college has a right and responsibility to protect. That might be even be testable at a public university.

    I don’t think you’ve thought this through very carefully, Jorge.

    The lore in the Pathfinder role-playing game explains that the mightiest of holy summoned monsters make outrageous demands as the price of their service even when the cause is just. The lore in one of my video games explains that the deity of destruction uses his power to see how much damage the world can take before it is destroyed (which doesn’t sound all that destructive to me). The news in the United States is that after President Trump’s immediate, no-Visa-exception, religious minority-specific executive order was struck down in the courts, the President wrote a new one with six of the same countries, a visa exception, and no mention of religion.

    Placing limits at the extremes has a way of allowing moderate goals to be easily and quickly consolidated while the opposition divides itself between opposing two objectives. Even when it backfires, the result is usually moderation in the opposite direction.

    Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      The college can make an official decision that a criminal or prohibited action has occurred. Once it has made that decision, it can command a certain degree of obedience to that decision, and a commitment to adopt and embody values, behaviors, and even communication skills that are consistent with maintaining the minimum amount of order the college has a right and responsibility to protect. That might be even be testable at a public university.

      The difference between “commanding obedience” and “commanding agreement” is enormous.

      Requiring students to abide by school policies as a condition of attendance is an example of the former. Requiring “all students on its campus sign an affidavit condemning the violation of the Doctrines of Social Justice and Academic Freedom” is an example of the latter.

      Government, employers, schools, school, voluntary associations and so on have great (but not unlimited) latitude in compelling adherence to standards of behavior created to promote the common good and/or values the promote the goals of the organization. But none has any right to compel thought or to demand agreement.

      Reply
      • posted by Jorge on

        There is surely something in that agreement that requires cooperation with the investigation.

        (I doubt it.)

        So be it.

        Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Tom: But then, as I recall, you went to one of these tiny ultra-liberal elite campuses …

      Jorge: Nay, it was merely small, not tiny.

      Hand size is in the eyes of the beholder, I guess. Ask Marco or Donald.

      Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      There is surely something in that agreement that requires cooperation with the investigation.

      With respect to an investigation into criminal acts, the law requires cooperation. Students, even students at [tiny] [small] petite ulltra-liberal elite campuses, are have an obligation to obey the law.

      I have no idea what Middlebury’s Doctrines of Social Justice and Academic Freedom say or don’t say about requiring cooperation with a non-criminal investigation conducted by the school.

      But whatever it says or doesn’t say, it is irrelevant to the point I’m making.

      As is the case with requiring compliance with laws/policies/regulations, requiring cooperation with an investigation is a far cry from requiring “all students on its campus [to] an affidavit condemning the violation of the Doctrines of Social Justice and Academic Freedom”.

      I’m assuming that you got carried away with your own rhetoric when you made that statements. If not, you really do need to do some serious thinking about compelling students to sign statements to the effect that they agree with a particular policy/regulation and/or support/condemn particular acts.

      Reply
      • posted by Jorge on

        As is the case with requiring compliance with laws/policies/regulations, requiring cooperation with an investigation is a far cry from requiring “all students on its campus [to] an affidavit condemning the violation of the Doctrines of Social Justice and Academic Freedom”.

        If you say so. To me they serve the same purpose.

        I’m assuming that you got carried away with your own rhetoric when you made that statements.

        The hyperbole was intentional, as was the disdain toward student rights. The country can improve my disposition by proving that radical measures are not needed. That is better done by proving that no measures are needed than by proving that moderate measures are sufficient. Your power to change the culture of this country may be limited, but I hope you take note of my warning all the same.

        Reply
        • posted by JohnInCA on

          If you say so. To me they serve the same purpose.
          Thought vs. action.

          Reply
    • posted by Tom Scharbach on

      Tom: As is the case with requiring compliance with laws/policies/regulations, requiring cooperation with an investigation is a far cry from requiring “all students on its campus [to sign] an affidavit condemning the violation of the Doctrines of Social Justice and Academic Freedom”.

      Jorge: If you say so. To me they serve the same purpose.

      Really? It seems to me that the purpose of an investigation into criminal and other prohibited acts is to gather evidence about whether the acts occurred and who did them. Accordingly, it seems to me that the purpose of requiring cooperation with an investigation is to facilitate the process of getting the facts necessary to determine if, how and when particular individuals violated the law and/or the school’s rules/policies.

      It doesn’t seem to me that requiring “all students on its campus [to sign] an affidavit condemning the violation of the Doctrines of Social Justice and Academic Freedom” furthers that purpose at all. In fact, it doesn’t seem to serve any purpose other than to compel individual students to utter a particular belief.

      While I’ll grant you that private colleges and universities have a significant amount of latitude to compel students to sign statements of belief (e.g. Christian colleges can and do require students to sign on to doctrinal statements as a condition of enrollment), I think that it is important to recognize that such requirements are a intrusion into freedom of thought, particularly in the case of secular colleges and universities.

      If Middlebury can compel “all students on its campus [to sign] an affidavit condemning the violation of the Doctrines of Social Justice and Academic Freedom”, what is to stop Middlebury from compelling “all students on its campus [to sign] an affidavit” condemning or affirming any other issue/matter? And how does that further freedom of thought and/or academic inquiry?

      Reply

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