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First Annual Disinvited Dinner
June 28, 2017 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
The First Amendment protects freedom of speech and press, freedom of religion, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. First Amendment freedoms lie at the foundation of liberal democracy and especially the mission of higher education, which is teaching and pursuing Truth through intellectual excellence and freedom of inquiry.
On campuses across the country, however, university leaders and ideologically zealous students often abridge this freedom. Pressure and threats from both the left and the right turn speaking engagements into disinvitations. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education documents 43 disinvitations in 2016 alone. From Mumia Abu-Jamal to Ben Stein, from Jeff Sessions to Joe Biden, no First Amendment rights seem safe from what Alexis de Tocqueville calls “the tyranny of the majority.”
The CSLD’s Disinvited Dinner is an effort to re-offer a podium to individuals whose First Amendment rights have been abridged elsewhere. In other words, this is an exercise in applied First Amendment theory. While we may disagree with the content of our speakers’ talks, that is no matter. With this dinner we celebrate and affirm First Amendment principles, the importance and meaning of academic freedom, and the search for Truth.
The keynote speaker at our first annual Disinvited Dinner will be Dr. Charles Murray, the W. H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, whose 1994 New York Times bestseller The Bell Curve (1994) sparked heated controversy for its analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America’s class structure. Dr. Murray’s other books include What It Means to Be a Libertarian (1997), Human Accomplishment (2003), In Our Hands (2006), Real Education (2008), and the New York Times bestseller Coming Apart (2012).
Dr. Murray has the honor of being disinvited from Azusa University in 2014, and Virginia Tech in 2016. More recently activists drove him from the stage at Middlebury College and put a political science professor in the hospital in so doing. Although our invitation to Dr. Murray long preceded this event, it nevertheless underscores the principle we are pursuing. During our dinner, Dr. Murray will deliver a talk called “Coming Apart: Trump’s Transformation of the Right.”