Entitled Stanford Law students, egged on by DEI dean, demolish the free speech of a visiting judge

March 12, 2023 • 9:45 am

A bunch of students at Stanford Law school, egged on by a DEI dean, managed to shut down a talk by Judge Kyle Duncan, who’s on the Court of Appeals of the Fifth Circuit. That’s one of the 13 appellate courts of last resort before the final one: the U.S. Supreme Court. The Fifth, headquartered in the southern United States, is known for the conservative tenor of its decisions, and nearly all its judges were appointed by Republicans.

Stanford Law School, on the other hand, is known as Left-wing, indeed, in many ways it’s woke. Ergo there was bound to be trouble when the student branch of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization, invited Kyle Duncan to speak on a topic one would think would interest SLS students: “The Fifth Circuit in Conversation with the Supreme Court: Covid, guns, and Twitter.” It’s not often law students get to hear an appellate court judge discuss interactions with the Supreme Court (justices tend to keep their views private), so this would be something I’d want to hear, too.

The SLS student didn’t. They are incurious about views contrary to their own, and showed it.

First, a poster appeared, produced by SLS students, showing all the officers of the school’s Federalist Society. It’s a way of doxing them, but it’s legal. Still, it was meant to intimidate them by urging other students to demonize them.

Below is another one indicting Judge Duncan (not all the accusations are accurate, and of course “fought” really means “ruled on the issue”). It is true, however, that he’s a conservative justice, and was appointed by Trump. That alone makes him anathema to most SLS students.

Finally, the talk was further attacked in advance in an email sent to the students by Tirien Steinbach, the Law School’s Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. You can see that email, and a pretty balanced summary of all the issues and events around Duncan’s visit, in the Substack article below by David Lat, a legal journalist who also leans to the right. (He does, however, call out Judge Duncan for his own juvenile behavior during the Q&A session.)

Click to read:

Lat reproduces Steinbach’s email, which is too long to repeat here. It does, however, throw gasoline on the fire. At the same time she assures students that Stanford favors free speech, she also reminds them how odious Judge Duncan is:

While Judge Duncan is not expected to present on his views, advocacy or judicial decisions related directly to LGBTQ+ civil rights, this is an area of law for which he is well known. Numerous senatorsadvocacy groups, think tanks, and judicial accountability groups opposed Kyle Duncan’s nomination to the bench because of his legal advocacy (and public statements) regarding marriage equality, and transgender, voting, reproductive, and immigrants’ rights. However, he was confirmed in 2018. He has been invited to speak at SLS by the student chapter of the Federalist Society.

A coalition of SLS students have expressed their upset and outrage over Judge Duncan’s invitation to speak at SLS.  For some members of our community, Judge Duncan, during his time as an attorney and judge, has “repeatedly and proudly threatened healthcare and basic rights for marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ people, Native Americans, immigrants, prisoners, Black voters, and women,” and his presence on campus represents a significant hit to their sense of belonging.

And while she reminds students that SLS will not censor Judge Duncan, that’s exactly what happened. Far more students showed up to protest Duncan’s appearance than to listen to him. They held up signs and, as Duncan began to speak, repeatedly interrupted him and shouted him down.

Below: one tweet from Aaron Sibarium’s twitter thread, showing a protest sign (“Duncan can’t find the clit”, presumably referring to his stand on abortion) and some of the student reaction.

Unfortunately, when Duncan asked the SLS administrators to restore order (three were in attendance), the one who stepped in was DEI dean Steinbach, who proceeded not to restore order, but to lecture Duncan for nine minutes about how he was causing “harm” to the students. She also questioned whether Stanford’s free-speech policy wasn’t itself harmful—whether “the juice was worth the squeeze”. Apparently Steinbach had prepared written remarks for such an occasion, anticipating that she’d get to chew out the Judge.

Steinbach’s patronizing lecture to Duncan can be seen below in the Twitter thread by legal writer Ed Whelan that begins here. See below, or you can watch Steinbach’s remarks on Vimeo.

As Lat recounts, Duncan’s talk ended without students being able to listen:

As you can see from the video, about half of the protestors eventually left at the direction of a student protest leader, with one of them charmingly calling the judge “scum” as she walked out. Yet the heckling continued, and still the administrators did nothing to intervene. Eventually, the student-relations representative tried to intervene once it had become clear that the event was out of control—but Judge Duncan then criticized him, telling him that he should have acted sooner.

Not getting traction trying to give a speech, Judge Duncan moved on to the question-and-answer session, and the protestors quieted down enough to ask a few questions. The questions—and answers—were generally contemptuous. As the judge put it to me, while he’s usually happy to answer questions when he speaks at law schools, the questions he received at Stanford were not asked in good faith; in his words, they were of the “how many people have you killed” or “how many times did you beat your wife last week” variety.

According to Lat, Duncan himself lost his cool and responded angrily to the students:

After around ten minutes of trying to give his remarks, Judge Duncan became angry, departed from his prepared remarks, and laced into the hecklers. He called the students “juvenile idiots” and said he couldn’t believe the “blatant disrespect” he was being shown after being invited to speak. He said that the “prisoners were now running the asylum,” which led to a loud round of boos. His pushback riled up the protesters even more.

I can understand Duncan’s anger, but a federal judge should be able to restrain his temper under fire.

Duncan has remained angry in later interviews, “saying that the protesters behaved like ‘dogs**t’ and that Dean Steinbach should be fired.” At the very least, I think Steinbach’s behavior was execrable—far, worse than the Judge’s, and she should be disciplined if not fired. She knew full well what her actions would cause, for she’d prepared remarks for that very occurrence.

The next day, Jenny Martinez, Dean of the SLS, wrote an email to the community saying, in effect, that “mistakes were made”, and that Judge Duncan should have been allowed to speak. But she made no mention of DEI Dean Steinbach’s role in the whole thing.  Lat reproduces Martinez’s email in his Substack post,

I found Martinez’s “apology” okay but insufficient, and I emailed her directly (copying it to Stanford’s President), saying that at the very least Steinbach deserved a reprimand. It is not the purpose of a DEI dean to create even more division and disunity, and Steinbach, who should have behaved more professionally, acted like a frothing ideologue. “Harm” indeed!  Can we replace this “harm” word for what it really means in these situations: “offense”?

FIRE also wrote a letter to Stanford’s President about the treatment of Duncan; here’s a bit:

In the video, Dean Steinbach—who ostensibly was brought into the event to restore calm, and arguably did so—repeatedly praised the hecklers and accused the speaker of “harm.” She also muses about whether, in regard to Stanford’s permissive free expression policies, the “juice is worth the squeeze.” She suggests the university “might need to reconsider these policies” to prevent speakers like Duncan from sharing their views on campus in the future because they may upset some students.

. . . When the university allows speakers like Judge Duncan to be silenced, it sends the message to all in the Stanford community that those who engage in unlawful, disruptive conduct have the power to dictate which voices and views may be heard on campus. If reports about last night’s disruption are accurate, Stanford must take immediate steps to reaffirm its commitment to expressive rights for all. Failure to do so quickly and clearly will be to Stanford’s lasting shame.

Yesterday, both Stanford’s President, Marc Tessier-Lavigne and SLS Dean Martinez personally apologized in a joint letter to Judge Duncan. Eugene Volokh posts those apologies here. It’s a good letter, and does refer indirectly to DEI Dean Steinbach. They also promise to do better. I’ll believe it when I see it. From the letter:

We are very clear with our students that, given our commitment to free expression, if there are speakers they disagree with, they are welcome to exercise their right to protest but not to disrupt the proceedings. Our disruption policy states that students are not allowed to “prevent the effective carrying out” of a “public event” whether by heckling or other forms of interruption.

In addition, staff members who should have enforced university policies failed to do so, and instead intervened in inappropriate ways that are not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech.

The only person that last paragraph could refer to is Dean Steinbach.

So that’s the story, and it’s been all over the media—the Right-wing media, mostly, for it’s not in the Left-wing media’s interest to show bad behavior of those on its end of the ideological spectrum.

The Big Lesson: As Christopher Hitchens observed in his marvelous talk in Toronto on free speech, if people have an opinion that is grossly different from the “prevailing wisdom,” that makes it even more urgent to not only allow those persons to speak, but to listen to them. Judge Duncan should have been listened to quietly (I also don’t think signs should be allowed in the lecture room, as they are designed to discombobulate the speaker), and the post talk questions, if confrontational, should at least have been polite.

But it’s not just the fault of the Stanford Law students, for their school apparently failed to instill in them the meaning of the First Amendment and how it should be respected on a campus. I’d suggest to Dean Martinez that a first-year’s orientation at SLS should include a unit on freedom of speech.


UPDATE: A new article in The Stanford Review, the university’s conservative newspaper. Click to read:

An excerpt:

Stanford’s apology to Duncan stated the obvious: this shouldn’t have happened. Judge Duncan graciously accepted the apology. In doing so, he reiterated that he never should have been shouted down in the first place and that staff members who should have enforced university policies failed to do so. He reiterated how poor the behavior of Steinbach was, stating that “the administrators’ behavior was completely at odds with the law school’s mission of training future members of the bench and bar.” The apology also said that Stanford would take steps to ensure this does not happen again. However, it is unclear what Stanford plans to do to prevent such disruption in the future. Firing Dean Steinbach is a good start.

The university’s apology will be completely meaningless unless concrete actions are taken to rid the administration of anti-speech zealots

They’re right: unless there is action, all we have is meaningless words. I am not a “cancel culture” advocate who normally calls for somebody who makes a misstep to be fired. But what Dean Steinbach did wasn’t a misstep: it was a deliberately planned and timed provocation to push back on Stanford’s free speech policy and prevent the students from hearing “offensive” speech like that proferred by Judge Duncan. This was not a misstep but sabotage of Stanford’s policies, and, upon reflection, I think they should give Dean Steinbach her walking papers.

42 thoughts on “Entitled Stanford Law students, egged on by DEI dean, demolish the free speech of a visiting judge

  1. Outside the BBC’s headquarters in London is a statue of George Orwell along with a quote: “If Liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

    The SLS should take heed of that.

    1. With all due respect to Orwell, a corollary might be; “If Liberty means anything at all, it means the right to hear what you do not want to hear.”

    2. Protest is also a form of free speech. Duncan was just as immature as some of the protesters. Why should Stanford spend even more of the students tuition money on someone the students have made clear they didn’t want to hear from to begin with. Free Speech doesn’t mean coddle Fascism. Isn’t the right to tell someone that what they have to say doesn’t want to be heard also free speech? The coin of free speech. has two sides.

      1. Ryan Plouffe / Free speech for only those you personally agree with? How convenient!
        Clearly more than a few of the students did want to hear him, but those tuition-paying student’s rights didn’t matter, because… why?

        No one was forced to hear this speaker, they were entirely free to not go and hear him. Or have their own protest outside. But their deliberate actions were meant no one else would hear him either. The righteous mob made sure of that. (All mobs consider themselves righteous.)

      2. Protestors have the right to protest, but how can you know what to protest if you don’t listen to what your opposition is saying?

        Furthermore, you can protest without disrupting other people’s right to free speech.

      3. Whether students “want to hear” an appellate court judge speak is irrelevant. Since their entire profession is based on interacting with such judges and responding with subtlety to adversarial arguments, perhaps they should start practicing this skill before graduating from law school … unless, of course, they are setting us up for a judicial system where one side is not allowed to present a case, which seems to be indeed part of their vision (and not just at Stanford). Considering the kids from these elite law schools will soon be running the system, their immaturity in this regard is alarming.

  2. I was with you right up until the end. Firing Dean Steinbach for this specific incident is not a good idea. Staff, assuming she does not have a faculty position, do not have tenure. Considering her behavior over the entire evaluation period would likely yield evidence that, on the whole, her actions were not consistent with Stanford’s policies and expectations or her administrative obligations. This may be cause for her not to be continued.

    If she is a tenured faculty member, she could still be removed from her administrative position, but not removed from the faculty. I think making exceptions to Academic Freedom and Tenure Guidelines promoted by the AAUP is a bad idea especially when it is an action taken in the heat of the moment against those with whom we disagree. As Ghandhi put it: we must become the change we hope to see in the world…

    1. As far as I can determine, she is not a tenured faculty member and has no faculty position. She is an associate dean for DEI, and deans are not tenured. If she were, I wouldn’t call on her to be fired because she couldn’t be fired for this.

      Why didn’t you look this up, as I did, before you lectured me about what could or could not be done to her?

  3. I’d love to see someone perform Christopher Hitchens’ free speech talk live – like a piece of classical music repertoire – and take questions and answers after.

  4. This is so unbecoming of an institution of higher education. Disrupting a talk in order to curtail speech is all too common. It is also so disappointing. The unfair piling on by the DEI administrator sets a terrible example.

  5. The so-called “heckler’s veto” is becoming increasingly common on many campuses, nor is there much to hope for in rational criticism of such childish antics from either the faculty or the bloated, absurdly-overcompensated DEI nomenklatura.

  6. This entire situation (and all situations similar to this) makes me sad. It’s a failure to communicate like thinking, empathetic adults and respect the rights of others. It’s as if we grew physically since we were children, but never grew emotionally. :'(

  7. So that’s the story, and it’s been all over the media—the Right-wing media, mostly, for it’s not in the Left-wing media’s interest to show bad behavior of those on its end of the ideological spectrum.

    I find this interesting, in that the “capture” of the mainstream/left media doesn’t seem to be complete. If it were, we’d see dueling accounts of what happened at Stanford Law with the stories on the Left emphasizing how brave students exercised their autonomy and civil liberties by trying to minimize the harm being done to vulnerable minorities. There’d be a show of neutrality blanketed by the subtle tricks of a vocabulary which draws a conclusion.

    Instead, they don’t cover it. Either the Left-wing media recognizes that this boorish behavior makes them look bad because it is bad, or it doesn’t trust its readership to react appropriately.

    1. Protest is also a form of free speech. Duncan was just as immature as some of the protesters. Why should Stanford spend even more of the students tuition money on someone the students have made clear they didn’t want to hear from to begin with. Free Speech doesn’t mean coddle Fascism. Telling someone, whose only there to troll, that they don’t want to be heard from is also free speech. Coin has two sides.

      1. Disrupting a speaker is not a form of free speech, not by Stanford’s rules. And each group gets a pot of money to invite speakers; otherwise wouldn’t never hear anyone a majority vote of Stanford students wouldn’t favor. It would be an echo chamber.

        Duncan wasn’t there to troll, he was there to deliver a speech. Nor he’s a fascist; he’s a conservative. All in all, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Virtually every sentence in your comment is wrong

  8. Steinbach should certainly be fired. She’ll have plenty of other places to go, since the universities are hot for DEI flimflam. And some of the students who led the disrupting should probably be expelled, though I’m sure Stanford will prefer to continue receiving their tuition. Now that universities are run like a business, the customer is always right.

  9. Short of being silent and working hard to put on a beneficent facial expression, I wonder if a federal judge can say anything in response to such abuse. (I’m reminded of the verbal abuse congressional witnesses receive from posturing “performative” popinjay politicos, the former put upon to bite their tongues in response to “badgering the witness” from the latter.)

    When these Stanford law students start practicing law, will they bring that behavior into the courtroom? If so, they’re in for a bloody rude awakening from the presiding judge. They might be well-advised to watchg a few Youtube postings of judges boring Philistine human primates a new one.

  10. In regard to Comment #2: Once upon a time, university Deans were always regular faculty members doing temporary duty in an administrative role. But nowadays, the role of an Associate Dean is taken to to be so important that a purely administrative rather than academic rank and background is normal. This is especially the case for Deans of DEI, whose practices are now defined as paramount for the university—and of course require no acquaintance with any academic subject, but only specialized training and experience in DEIship.

    1. Your “once upon a time” perspective is pretty much mine as well. The best Chairs, Associate Deans, Deans, Provosts and Chancellors that I have worked with have all been excellent scholars and tenured Full Professors. Fortunately I am a retired Professor Emeritus who served in several administrative positions and never had to interact with a Dean of DEI.

  11. … one of the 13 appellate courts of last resort before the final one: the U.S. Supreme Court.

    There are 11 enumerated federal appellate courts, plus the court of appeals for the District of Columbia (sometimes referred to as “the second highest court in the land,” given its jurisdiction over so much of the business conducted by the federal government). These 12 courts have general jurisdiction over all cases, criminal and civil, arising under federal law.

    In addition to these dozen federal appellate courts, there’s also something known as the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. It is a court of limited, specialized subject-matter jurisdiction. I admit to knowing fuck-all about what they do there — something to do with patents and trademarks (yawn), I hear. 🙂

    Point being, although it’s technically correct to say there are 13 federal appellate courts, it’s more accurate to think of it as a 12-plus-1 system.

    Public service announcement over.

  12. Now on to the topic at hand, raised by this post:

    It’s increasingly clear that US law schools need to require a seminar class on the First Amendment Free Speech and Free Press clauses, to supplement the cursory treatment given these topics in most Con Law courses. What happened at Stanford was a flat-out national disgrace.

    That said, let me reiterate a position I’ve stated in comments before. In a limited public forum, the opponents of a speaker should have rights coterminous with the speaker’s supporters. If Judge Duncan’s fanboys with the Federalist Society were going to be able (as I assume they were) to applaud and cheer and offer the occasional “attaboy!”, then those opposed to Duncan should have had the exact same opportunity to offer the occasional boo or hiss or Bronx cheer. And although the sponsoring society had the right to ban signs of any kind from the speaking hall, if they were going to allow signs saying “Duncan Rules!” they had a similar obligation to allow signs (assuming they were displayed from the back row and didn’t obstruct anyone’s view) saying “Duncan sucks!”

    Free speech in the USA is a rough-and-tumble affair; it ain’t tea with the Queen (I guess I should change that to “with the King” now) and needn’t be conducted according to the politesse of Emily Post .But what the protestors at Stanford had absolutely no right to do was to shut down Duncan’s speech. (I realize that this can be a tough line to draw in a particular circumstance such as this, but free speech deserves no less.)

    I think Duncan made a big mistake by ceding control of the situation by asking the SLS administrators to remove the protestors. If you’re going to speak in public, be prepared to handle your own “wet work.” It’s like a comic asking a bouncer to remove a heckler from a comedy club; once that happens you’ve lost control for good. If you’re gonna go into the lion’s den — as Duncan had to know he was — best come equipped with your own verbal whip and chair. Or, as Harry Truman put it, if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

    In this regard, let me offer that I think that anyone going into a profession that calls for public speaking would do well to spend some time in a comedy club. (Not necessarily the 10 years the Cunk wasted there, but a few round at open-mike night would tend to toughen ’em up.)

    Let me also offer (perhaps a bit gratuitously) that, as a group, federal judges are the biggest snowflakes in the country. Everyone in their professional orbit constantly kisses their asses. (You can bet your bottom dollar that no one parks in their reserved spaces.) People who have the power to hold those who appear before them in direct contempt aren’t used to putting up with any backtalk.

    1. If you’re going to speak in public, be prepared to handle your own “wet work.” It’s like a comic asking a bouncer to remove a heckler from a comedy club; once that happens you’ve lost control for good. If you’re gonna go into the lion’s den — as Duncan had to know he was — best come equipped with your own verbal whip and chair.
      Excellently put, as always, Ken.

    2. I think it was incumbent on the inviting organization to remove those hecklers once they made it impossible for the judge to speak. It’s their venue, their private property, they know the security situation, the security guards are in their employ and take their direction. The speaker has none of those powers. For the judge to bring his own verbal whip and chair is a cute metaphor but what does that look like in practice? I agree he put himself in a weak position by appealing to the admin for help. If the circumstances are as they seem, the DEI dean had set him up and was not about to call in security, which is what makes this so disgraceful.

      The University of Lethbridge failed utterly to protect Frances Widdowson’s right to speak last month but at least it wasn’t a set-up. It was a sincere invitation from a colleague that the mob decided it wasn’t going to allow to happen. The university rolled over but at least it hadn’t invited her to come down from Calgary to ambush her. Frances ceded gracefully. A whip and a chair are useful only if the lions are tame and behave as trained.

      I hope Whatzername gets fired but I’m not holding my breath. No heads have rolled in Lethbridge, or in a similar episode at McGill Law reported here, and perpetrators on both campuses are considered heroes fighting again harm and hate.

      1. It may be that the administrators should have removed the protestors on their own, Leslie, once things started to snowball out of control. What’s crucial in such situations, I think, is that the ground rules (and the consequences for their violation) be clearly established in advance, especially where, as here, trouble is expected.

        All I’m really saying about Duncan is that it’s a weak-ass move to ask for help in front of a hostile crowd, sure to make matters worse. It’s the kind of thing someone encased in the protective cocoon of a lifetime judicial appointment (or maybe a tenured professorship) would pull. Me, I’m more of a street guy — at least in heart and mind, if not so much in actual praxis. 🙂

    3. It would suffice for the judge to say, “Let me finish without interruption” or “I’ll take questions or answer comments later,” to make him control the situation. If he engaged in an to-and-fro argument with the audience during his talk, he would not have been able to deliver it. That doesn’t happen when the aim of the audience is to make someone unable to deliver his talk, as with occasionally clapping students (there weren’t any so far as i know).

      Frankly, I’m surprised that you think it’s fine to have a speech like heckling in a comedy club, with a prepared speech turn into a fracas–all in the name of free speech. As you know, the Judge could NOT have stopped the heckling. I am not sure, in other words, how you would guarantee that someone could give a talk that others could listen to. An announcement at the beginning that questions and comments could be deferred to the end is sufficient. THEN you can call in the bouncers (Deans, cops, whatever).

      1. The First Amendment (or a private university’s agreement to be bound by it) guarantees an invitee to a limited public forum the right to speak and the audience the right to hear what the speaker has to say. It doesn’t guarantee anyone an easy ride or a warm welcome.

        You think the Hitch never heard boos and hisses and the occasional raspberry? Seems to me he often sought out hostile crowds and took a particular pleasure and pride in addressing them. He didn’t have to be Don Rickles to cut a heckler to the quick.

      2. Ken’s Democratic Party partisanship always has to be factored into how you interpret his analysis of any speech question once he gets beyond his impeccable legal reasoning. His comparison of “occasional raspberries” to what actually happened here and at other events is disingenuous, like “mostly peaceful protests”. I understand he shows animosity to this speaker’s politics but he did say that what the students did was disgraceful, so full marks there. Being a private actor, not an agent of government, Stanford broke no laws in acquiescing in the speaker’s silencing. The university could have made it clear at the beginning that disruptors would be ejected but it seem not to have. Few do, these days. So, absent a framework of what the rules of this event on private property were, it does come down to how well he can shout down organized hecklers. I will say that in most comedy clubs, the hecklers don’t regard it as their moral duty to silence the guy or gal on stage. They’re just liquored up and think they are funnier than the comic is. Not the same thing.

        I have a live concert LP where Bette Midler silences a heckler with, “You shut your pie hole, Honey, ‘cuz mine’s makin’ money!”

  13. Clearly, Stanford should rearrange the event ASAP and make sure that Duncan is able to give the presentation that he had prepared. Anything less would be warm words with no serious intention behind them.

    1. I dunno, Jez. Having Duncan (I keep wanting to call him “King Duncan,” like the cat offed by the Thane of Glamis and Cawdor) sounds like a good idea, but I think the experience would be about as pleasurable as putting on a wet bathing suit.

  14. The judge was not allowed to speak. Steinbach gets up and gives a prepared speech about her disdain for the speaker. That is, she is allowed to speak. When the judge who is not allowed to speak tries to object to some nonsense she is spouting, she blithely and in a completely self-unaware manner, turns to the judge and says ‘let me finish speaking.’ The woke do not do irony very well.

  15. I agree with Jerry: Steinbach should be fired.
    She anticipated what actually happened, and was not prepared to do her job: to enforce the free speech policy of her employer. Instead, she tried to emotionally blackmail the speaker, and then called into question the free speech policy of her employer. This was all premeditated from her.
    Of course, I don’t expect her to get fired because, as a matter of fact, administrators at most top universities in the US don’t believe in free speech anymore. The letter from Stanford’s president and the dean of law is a good one because it isn’t beating about the bush. But that’s all the supporters of free speech and of the traditional mission of universities are going to get.

  16. Imagine allowing the judge to speak, then respectfully asking hard and probing questions regarding his views on jurisprudence. Imagine how much more effective that would have been for all involved.

    Instead, the students befouled themselves, the administrator embarrassed herself, and rather than confronting the judge with tough inquiry, the protestors hurled juvenile insults.

    What a woild, what a woild.

  17. So, an administrator at a law school is teaching the students to ignore the Constitution (that is, the law), and to proceed via mob rule.

    Am I understanding this correctly?

    1. Well, as a private university, Stanford doesn’t have to abide by the First Amendment in principle, but in reality it does because its own rules mandate free speech. On the whole, then, you’re correct.

  18. Looks like there are many videos and witness accounts that, as usual, present the full complexity of the event. (See, for example, Slate’s reporting (https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2023/03/trump-judge-kyle-duncan-stanford-law-scotus-audition.html)). It is never simply victim and bad guys. I have been to countless public events and NEVER did I read later what I personally saw there. Never. The actual events and intents of all the actors at Stanford being reported are no different.

    1. I read the article, and my conclusion remains: the students were the ones responsible for shutting down Duncan’s talk. (I’m sure he was told there would be protests in advance given the posters and email of the dean, so that’s a reason to film.). Slate’s “full complexity of the event” means “we’re going to put a liberal spin on it”. And don’t forget that one of the deans who was there apologized for the fracas. Had the students not heckled Duncan, he would have given a speech without interruption. And yes, he was rude in his responses in the Q&A, but who could keep their cool after being insulted with such vile words? I’m sorry, but I hold the students and not the judge responsible for the disruption. Of course Duncan is a far right-winter in his decisions and I oppose what I’ve heard about them, but this comment sounds like an attempt to exculpate the students (who had made posters in advance, and don’t forget those ones showing pictures of the Federalist Society officers) and the diversity dean, who had prepared remarks telling the judge how harmful and offensive he had been.

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