Derb Re-Defenestrated At Williams College
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At tony Williams College up there in northwest Massachusetts there is a student group named Uncomfortable Learning, whose stated mission is to bring controversial speakers to the campus.

The group invited me to address them next Monday, and I agreed.  I had some cordial email exchanges with the group, settling on length and topic of my talk, directions to the venue, presentation facilities, . . . the usual stuff.

Then around midday today a friend sent me this:

John Derbyshire's Scheduled Appearance at Williams

To the Williams Community,

Today I am taking the extraordinary step of canceling a speech by John Derbyshire, who was to have presented his views here on Monday night. The college didn’t invite Derbyshire, but I have made it clear to the students who did that the college will not provide a platform for him.

Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard. The college has a very long history of encouraging the expression of a range of viewpoints and giving voice to widely differing opinions. We have said we wouldn’t cancel speakers or prevent the expression of views except in the most extreme circumstances. In other words: There’s a line somewhere, but in our history of hosting events and speeches of all kinds, we hadn’t yet found it.

We’ve found the line. Derbyshire, in my opinion, is on the other side of it. Many of his expressions clearly constitute hate speech, and we will not promote such speech on this campus or in our community.

We respect—and expect—our students’ exploration of ideas, including ones that are very challenging, and we encourage individual choice and decision-making by students. But at times it’s our role as educators and administrators to step in and make decisions that are in the best interest of students and our community. This is one of those times.


Adam Falk


The college won’t "cancel speakers or prevent the expression of views except in the most extreme circumstances"? Does President Falk [Email him] really think that my mild musings represent "the most extreme circumstances"?  Has he spent much time on the internet?

He likes that word "extreme," too.  "Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard," he avers.

Here is the primary definition of the word "extreme" at

extreme:  of a character or kind farthest removed from the ordinary or average.
The regard in which President Falk holds freedom of speech is of a character or kind farthest removed from the ordinary or average, he believes.

Regard-for-free-speech-wise, he considers himself to be way out in the far tail of the distribution.  Practically no-one has higher regard for free speech than he has!  Uh-huh.

The naked, shameless totalitarianism on display here ought to be shocking, but at this point is just depressing.  That a closed-minded mediocrity like Falk, who speaks in the threadbare cant diction of Cultural Marxism ("hate speech"—whom do I hate, President Falk?  where is the evidence of my hatred?), should be President of a well-regarded college like Williams speaks volumes about the degraded condition of our intellectual life.

I had prepared some notes for my talk.  I shall post them here on at the weekend.  I apologize in advance for the extreme discomfort they will surely cause to any Williams College student whose eye chances to fall on them.

[President Falk's disinviting of me has just been written up at the FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) website.]





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