California State University, Long Beach – September 7, 2016

Long Beach, CA

College administrators cancelled an on-campus performance of the satirical play, N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK (N*W*C), scheduled to take place in the Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) on September 29, 2016. The play, written and acted by three former college debate teammates, Rafael Agustin, Miles Gregly and Allan Axibal, was created with the intention of speaking about race in contemporary America. Using comedy, they crafted N*W*C using their own experiences with immigration and racial intolerance, slurs and stereotypes. Although N*W*C had been successfully staged and sold out in 2015, it was cancelled the following year because unspecified members of the campus community expressed concern over whether or not the show was adequately contributing to an educational dialogue. The show’s cancellation prompted Michele Roberge, the executive director of the performing arts center, to resign.

Key Players

Michele Roberge served as the executive director of the Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts for 14 years. She resigned upon learning that the performance would be shut down, telling the OC Weekly, “I just couldn’t come to work every day to work at a place that condones censorship.”

Further Details

The Carpenter Center for Performing Arts is technically a professional theater, although it is owned by the university. N*W*C is a play that has been touring the country for approximately 12 years. The small cast of writers visits college campuses in an attempt to foster conversation about real-life experiences with racial intolerance, integration, and immigration. The production has sparked protests of all kinds, including picketers, Neo-Nazi threats, and oppositional flyers, The New York Times reports.

In 2015, the NAACP penned a letter protesting CSULB’s decision to stage the show on its campus. In addition, many students objected to the play’s title. However, despite the criticism, University President Jane Close Conoley held firm and allowed the production to go forward.

But in 2016, the outcome was different. The performance was cancelled after numerous students and CSULB community members expressed concerns about it. Whereas the protests in 2015 had been primarily concerned with the title, those in 2016 objected to the content, OC Weekly reports.

Michele Roberge denounced the cancellation of the show as censorship. Upon resigning, she said, “by censoring this show, we’re depriving students of the opportunity from hearing a different point of view about race relations and making up their own minds about what’s in the news every day, from Black Lives Matter to police brutality. And as a professional presenting theater on a university campus, I think our job is to bring topics like this to the campus to be seen and discussed. But the university has curtailed my ability to do that, and I have enough integrity that I couldn’t accept [the decision],” the OC Weekly reports.


Show cancellation

The show was cancelled, though the performers were compensated, OC Weekly reports.

Roberge resigns

Michele Roberge resigned from the position she had held for 14 years, because she was uncomfortable with what she considered censorship.

N*W*C tour continues

Although unable to perform at CSULB, a cast member of N*W*C said that the production would continue the tour as planned.

External References

Long Beach St. Pulls Plug on N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK Show. Cancellation, or Censorship?, OC Weekly

What’s in a Slur? A New Play Searches for Answers, The New York Times

Prepared by Bridget McElroy ‘18

November 16, 2017

Middlebury College – March 2017

Middlebury, Vermont

Charles Murray was shouted down by student protesters during his appearance at Middlebury College on March 2, 2017. Administrators then took Murray to a video studio in the same building where he had attempted to speak and livestreamed his remarks. After Murray finished the livestream, he went to a car accompanied by Allison Stanger, a Middlebury professor; the two were attacked by a group of protesters, who began pounding and climbing on the car. Stanger went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion after the incident.

Key Players

Charles Murray is an author and political scientist best-known for his 1994 book, “The Bell Curve,” which he co-authored with the late Richard Herrnstein, a psychologist and specialist in animal behavior. The book has been criticized ever since its publication for what many have perceived as racist overtones and empirical shortcomings. One of the book’s arguments concerns the idea that race plays a role in shaping an individual’s IQ, and that IQ is at least somewhat heritable. Since the book’s publication, its findings have been debated, critiqued, and debunked. Critics have argued that its conclusions are based on oversimplifications of science, and that “genes” for IQ are barely existent, if they exist at all. Questions have also been raised whether it is appropriate to hold Murray responsible for observations that were really developed by his co-author. Murray was invited to speak at Middlebury by the American Enterprise Institute Club, a politically conservative student group.

Allison Stanger is a professor of politics and economics at Middlebury College. She said that she had planned on asking difficult questions of Murray after his speech in the auditorium, but never got a chance to do so because of interruptions by protesters. She did engage in a back-and-forth with Murray after he delivered his remarks via livestream.

Laurie L. Patton is the president of Middlebury College. During her introduction of Murray prior to his speech, she condemned him, stating specifically that she would “regret it terribly” if her presence in the hall seemed like an endorsement of Murray’s beliefs. The day after the incident, Patton issued an apology to everyone who attended the event, and to Murray as well, saying that Middlebury had “failed to live up to [its] core values.” She wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal three months later, titled “The Right Way to Protect Free Speech on Campus.” She described the interruptions of Murray’s speech as “disheartening,” writing, “As a community of learners, we must extend the same privileges and rights of speech to others as we would ask others to extend to us.” The op-ed provided a prescriptive list of potential methods to ensure rights for both free speech and protest, including embracing freedom of inquiry as an educational value for all, moving beyond a false dichotomy between free speech and inclusiveness, and reminding students that educational institutions have a primary obligation to foster open and civil discourse.

Further details

Stanger wrote later in a Facebook post that it had been difficult to maintain the conversation with Murray when students were banging on the windows outside and pulling fire alarms in an attempt to stop the livestream.

Stanger wrote two separate op-eds, both in The New York Times. In the first, published on March 17, 2017, titled “Understanding the Angry Mob at Middlebury That Gave Me a Concussion,” she described the analyses of the situation as “incomplete.” She detailed her experience being attacked by protesters after the speech, writing, “I feared for my life.” She also stressed the need for reason, not emotions, to prevail, and she said she believed the student protesters were well-intentioned in their desire to support oppressed communities. In the second op-ed, titled “Middlebury, My Divided Campus,” published on April 3, 2017, Stanger compared Murray’s speaking engagement with a public Skype interview she had conducted with Edward Snowden, who leaked a trove of secret documents from the National Security Agency in 2013 and 2014. Her interview with Snowden occurred without incident, she said, and she noted that Middlebury did not issue a disclaimer before that event, whereas the president of Middlebury had disassociated herself from Murray’s views while introducing him. She continued that she believes those in the political middle at Middlebury are reluctant to support free inquiry because they are afraid of being labelled as racist.

No students were suspended or expelled for their roles in the Murray protest. The Times reported that 67 students were eventually disciplined to some degree, ranging from probation to official rebukes that would go on their permanent records. Patton’s op-ed in The Wall Street Journal stated that a total of 74 students were sanctioned. The details of the sanctions were purposely left vague, due to privacy concerns. Although more than 100 students were involved in the initial protests during Murray’s speech, many could not be identified because photos of the event covered only part of the auditorium.

The Times also reported that the protesters who had rocked the car back and forth and pulled Stanger’s hair may not have been affiliated with the college, but had come from off campus. The Middlebury Police Department said it did not plan on bringing criminal charges against any of the protesters who could be identified. The chief of police said it was not possible to identify some of the individuals who attacked the car and assaulted Stanger because they were wearing masks.

Immediately after the incident, Murray tweeted that the administration at Middlebury had been “exemplary” and that the students “were seriously scary.” He described the protesters as an “out-of-control mob.”

On May 3, 2017, professors from across the country signed an open letter addressed to Laurie Patton. It criticized the punitive measures taken against the students involved in the protest, arguing that the administration “sorely mishandled” the situation and that “students have a right to reasonable protest; and protest by its very nature is a challenge to an authority that refuses to listen.” The letter concluded by saying that Middlebury should be protecting the rights of the students to free speech, not just Murray’s rights. “To punish students and to defend Murray is to degrade the meaning of academic freedom and free speech,” it said.

Additionally, more than 40 Middlebury faculty members published a statement of principles in The Middlebury Campus on May 10. It said that “speech that justifies, naturalizes, and reinforces the positions of the privileged vis-à-vis the marginalized should be rigorously scrutinized and critiqued, and speech that challenges such opinions and prejudices should be encouraged.” The statement also endorsed the necessity of civil disobedience in defining the values and relationships that construct a community.

Following the incident at Middlebury, Murray visited Columbia University on March 23, where almost 150 faculty members signed an open letter supporting his right to speak. However, their letter also condemned him as producing work that “justifies the ongoing disenfranchisement of African Americans and other people of color, and, more recently, poor and working class white people.” They added that they supported the rights of campus student groups to listen to whatever speaker they invite to campus. Murray was able to speak despite protesters holding signs with statements like “No free speech for racists” outside the event. About 60 faculty members and students attended.

Murray appeared at Harvard University, his alma mater, on September 6, under heavy security. Flyers were handed out ahead of the event which described Murray as a white nationalist and advertised a competing event titled, “White Nationalism Unchecked: Why Inviting Charles Murray Was a Mistake.” The Harvard Crimson reported that Murray did not discuss his work in “The Bell Curve,” but instead talked about President Trump’s election and his book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010.” The Crimson also reported that midway through Murray’s talk, approximately 10 students stood up and displayed protest signs before walking quietly out of the auditorium. Murray commented that the events at Harvard were “better than Middlebury.”

In September, Addis Fouche-Channer, an African-American student who had graduated from Middlebury in May 2017, denied taking part in the protest after she was accused of involvement by a campus public safety officer. The officer said that that she had been climbing on the car in which Murray and Stanger were sitting, and that he had pulled her off and identified her. Fouche-Channer went through the college’s judicial process prior to graduation and was cleared of wrongdoing, reports The Middlebury Campus. Later, she filed a formal complaint with the university, claiming she had been a victim of racial profiling. After an investigation by Middlebury’s Title IX office, a college official denied this allegation and said the college now believed Fouche-Channer was at the protest after all, contradicting its earlier decision. Fouche-Channer continued to deny that she was in attendance, reports the Campus. After news of the allegations broke, a Middlebury faculty group called “Middlebury Faculty for an Inclusive Community” published an op-ed in the Campus in support of her.


Reaction from national publications

In the wake of the incident, a myriad of articles were published, both defending Murray’s right to free speech and defending the rights of students to protest his speech.

An article by Peter Beinart in The Atlantic compared the incident to an earlier conflict involving Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California, Berkeley. Beinart noted that Murray had been invited by a small group of students on campus, an ideological minority, but that the minority viewpoint deserved protection. Denying Murray the right to speak would set a precedent under which other conservative speakers, such as Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, would not be allowed to talk, he argued. Beinart concluded that students willing to shut down Murray could also turn against figures on the political left, and that fact should cause liberals to take notice and be concerned about denying Murray’s right to speak.

A column by Richard Cohen in The Washington Post argued that the protesters used a “culturally appropriated” form of fascism by refusing to allow Murray’s speech to proceed. He pointed out that Benito Mussolini’s rise to power in Italy took the form of violent protests that silenced opponents and interfered with the opposition’s meetings.

Students Sanctioned

A total of 74 students were disciplined for their roles in the protest. None were expelled. The protesters who attacked the car were apparently never definitively identified.

Murray Made Appearances at Other Universities

Murray appeared at Columbia and Harvard after the Middlebury incident. His appearance at Columbia was undisturbed except for protesters outside. Columbia faculty wrote an open letter clarifying that they did not endorse Murray’s views, but did support his right to speak. At Harvard, about 10 students stood up, displayed signs, and walked out.

External References:

Charles Murray, American Enterprise Institute

The Real Problem with Charles Murray and ‘The Bell Curve,’ Scientific American

Charles Murray speaks at Columbia, with support of nearly 150 faculty members, USA Today College

Allison Stanger’s Facebook Post

Understanding the Angry Mob at Middlebury That Gave Me a Concussion The New York Times

Middlebury, My Divided Campus, The New York Times

Dozens of Middlebury Students Are Disciplined for Charles Murray Protest, The New York Times

Middlebury College punishes students who disrupted Charles Murray talk, The Boston Globe

A Painful Lesson, The New Criterion

Open Letter to President Patton, The Middlebury Campus

An Initial Statement of Our Principles, The Middlebury Campus

More Sanctions (and Debate) at Middlebury, Inside Higher Ed

A Violent Attack on Free Speech at Middlebury, The Atlantic

Protesters at Middlebury College Demonstrate ‘Cultural Appropriation’ – of Fascism, The Washington Post

Protesters Disrupt Speech by ‘Bell Curve’ Author at Vermont College, The New York Times

Charles Murray Event Draws Protest, The Harvard Crimson

Accused Student Alleges Racial Profiling, The Middlebury Campus

Faculty Support Wrongfully Accused Student, The Middlebury Campus

The Right Way to Protect Free Speech on Campus, The Wall Street Journal

Prepared by Graham Piro ‘18

November 14, 2017

University of Colorado – Boulder – June 2017

Boulder, CO

Phillip P. DiStefano, chancellor of the University of Colorado-Boulder (UCB), was suspended for 10 days without pay after failing to report to authorities an allegation that an assistant football coach had committed domestic violence. Rick George, the director of athletics, and Mike MacIntyre, the head football coach, were both fined $100,000 for failing to report the allegations.

Key Players

Phillip P. DiStefano has served as chancellor at UCB since April 1, 2009. When DiStefano first learned from MacIntyre of the allegations against assistant coach Joe Tumpkin, he reportedly did not believe there was sufficient evidence to warrant informing the relevant authorities, the Daily Camera reports. He later defended his actions, claiming that based on his reading of the university’s policy, he was not required to disclose the allegations. He said he had read the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance’s “Processes and Procedures” document, and determined that it was best to “err on the side of caution,” reports The Denver Post. However, on February 16, 2017, he said that employees should “err on the side of reporting” in the future. DiStefano was suspended for 10 days for his role in the incident.

Joe Tumpkin previously served as the safeties coach for UCB’s football team. On December 9, 2016, his ex-girlfriend called the head football coach, Mike MacIntyre, and alleged that Tumpkin had physically abused her. Tumpkin was promoted to defensive coordinator on December 16, but four days later, a judge granted his ex-girlfriend a temporary restraining order against him, the Camera reports. Tumpkin then coached in a December 29 bowl game. On January 6, 2017, George and MacIntyre learned of the restraining order and suspended Tumpkin. A day later, the local police department opened a criminal investigation into the allegations, reports the Post. Tumpkin was suspended indefinitely and then resigned at the request of the university on January 27, 2017.

Mike MacIntyre is the head football coach at UCB. He says he received a phone call from the victim on December 9, and informed George immediately afterwards. George reached out to DiStefano, and they deemed that official action was not necessary. MacIntyre made the decision to promote Tumpkin to defensive coordinator for the bowl game in December, a decision that George and DiStefano both approved. When asked why he still decided to promote Tumpkin, MacIntyre said that he was not aware of any official legal action or complaint, and that the decision was approved by his superior. MacIntyre and George were both fined $100,000 for their failure to report the allegations to law enforcement.

Rick George is the director of athletics at UCB. He approved of the decision to promote Tumpkin for the bowl game and was fined $100,000. Both he and MacIntyre paid the fine to charities that work against domestic violence.

Bruce Benson is the president of UCB. He, along with the Board of Regents, made the decision to suspend DiStefano and fine MacIntyre and George.

Pamela Fine is Joe Tumpkin’s ex-girlfriend. She alleged that Tumpkin began abusing her in early 2015, and that the last instance of abuse took place in November 2016, after which she left Tumpkin permanently. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, reports Deadspin. In September 2017, Fine filed a lawsuit against UC Boulder for failing to report the abuse allegations.

Further details

Former U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, who conducted an investigation on behalf of law firm WilmerHale, identified three major breakdowns in DiStefano’s decision-making: failure to report domestic violence allegations, failure to report to law enforcement officials, and mishandling of Tumpkin’s role as a coach, reports the Post. However, Salazar said that there was no “bad intent” or cover-up, but instead a series of mistakes made by the individuals involved.

President Benson said in a statement that the university “did not handle this matter as well as [it] should have.” He acknowledged that some would find his punishments too harsh and others would find them too lenient.

“I kick myself every day,” DiStefano said about his decision not to report the incident, reports the Camera. He added that “all we had is an allegation from a lady that we don’t know very well who had one or two phone calls with [MacIntyre] — that was it — I wish we knew then all the information.”

The Board of Regents issued a statement directing Benson to outline necessary changes to university policy in order to avoid similar incidents from occurring in the future.


DiStefano suspended, George and MacIntyre Fined

Chancellor DiStefano was suspended for 10 days without pay, and Rick George and Mike MacIntyre were each fined $100,000 for their role in the incident.

Tumpkin resigned and is facing felony charges

Joe Tumpkin faces five felony counts of second-degree assault and three misdemeanor counts of third-degree assault. His ex-girlfriend accused him of biting and choking her on occasion, and threatening to kill other men in whom she had expressed interest. On June 21, 2017, the Camera reported that proceedings in Tumpkin’s case could be delayed for months due to arguments between his defense attorneys and the prosecution over how much access the defense team should have to Fine’s cell phone records.

Fine files lawsuit against UC Boulder

Deadspin reported on September 6 that Fine is suing UC Boulder for failing to report her abuse allegations to the police. The suit is ongoing.

External References

CU chancellor Phil DiStefano says he wasn’t required to report domestic violence allegations against Joe Tumpkin, The Denver Post

Joe Tumpkin, former CU football assistant coach, investigation timeline, The Denver Post

Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre punished for handling of domestic violence allegation, SB Nation

Colorado suspends chancellor, reprimands coach Mike MacIntyre, AD Rick George, ABC News

Phil DiStefano given 10-day suspension in CU’s Joe Tumpkin investigation, Daily Camera

Failure to Report, Inside Higher Ed

Colorado Football: Joe Tompkin’s alleged victim tells her story, Sports Illustrated

Former Colorado assistant Joe Tupmkin charged with felony assault, The Denver Post

Joe Tumpkin criminal case stalls as attorneys fight over access to ex-girlfriend’s cell phone, Daily Camera

Former Colorado assistant Joe Tumpkin’s ex-girlfriend sues over school’s failure to report abuse allegations, Deadspin

Prepared by Graham Piro ‘18

November 14, 2017

Religious monument at Arkansas State Capitol destroyed – June 2017

Little Rock, AR

Michael T. Reed drove his car through a large stone monument of the Ten Commandments located in front of the Arkansas State Capitol at 4:47 am on Wednesday, June 28th. He was arrested outside the building and charged with criminal trespass, first-degree criminal mischief, and defacing objects of public interest.

Key Players
Michael T. Reed is a 32-year-old man who was arrested for driving his car through the monument. He was involved a previous incident involving a monument outside the Oklahoma State Capitol in 2014.

Jason Rapert is a Republican Arkansas state senator who originally led the movement to have the monument displayed outside the state capitol. The Washington Post reported that he said a replacement monument had been ordered shortly after Reed destroyed it.

Further Details

On October 24, 2014, Reed was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for ramming his truck into a similar monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol. ABC8 Tulsa reported that he was “charged with destruction of state property / improvements, indecent exposure, making threatening statements, reckless driving, and operating a vehicle while license revoked.” He was also charged with four counts of felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for his actions during his detention by police. Reuters reported that after the incident, Reed ran into a nearby federal building where he made threats against President Obama before he was arrested. Tulsa World reported that after that incident, Reed was sent to Norman’s Griffin Memorial Hospital as part of an agreement with Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. There, he received therapy, and was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. On June 30, 2015, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court ordered that the Ten Commandments monument on display in Tulsa be removed.

Little Rock Patch reported that Reed was streaming the Little Rock incident on Facebook live as he drove his car into the monument at a speed of more than 20 mph. He reportedly shouted, “Oh my goodness. Freedom!” on the broadcast.

Trent Garner, a Republican Arkansas state senator, tweeted after the incident, “We will rebuild. In fact, we should build the monument bigger and higher to show that we will not be intimidated.”

The Washington Post reported that a 2015 law was passed in Arkansas requiring the state government to allow the display of the monument outside the capitol. The article also stated that groups criticized the monument as a violation of the separation of church and state.


Reed taken into custody, replacement ordered for destroyed monument

The Washington Post reported that State Senator Rapert said a replacement monument was ordered for the Arkansas State Capitol after Reed drove his car into the original one and destroyed it.

External References

Letter from many who destroyed Ten Commandments monument gives insight into his illness, Tulsa World

Man smashes Arkansas Capitol’s new Ten Commandments monument, Reuters

Driver Arrested After Running Over Ten Commandments Monument, ABC8 Tulsa

Michael Tate Reed: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know, Heavy

Arkansas 10 Commandments Monument Destroyed On Facebook Live: ‘FREEDOM!’”

Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments statue must be removed, state supreme court says, The Washington Post

Why one man keeps ramming his car into Ten Commandments statues on government property, The Washington Post

Arkansas’ Ten Commandments Monument Lasted Less Than 24 Hours, NPR

Prepared by Graham Piro ‘18

October 24, 2017

Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte assaults a reporter – May 2017

Missoula, MT

Greg Gianforte, a Republican candidate for a special election to fill the at-large U.S. House of Representatives seat for Montana, assaulted a reporter for The Guardian named Ben Jacobs on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. The assault occurred two days before the election results were finalized. Gianforte won the seat and apologized to Jacobs in his acceptance speech. Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to 20 hours of anger management sessions and community service, along with a $385 fine.

Key Players

Greg Gianforte is the current representative for Montana’s at-large congressional district. He amassed wealth working as a tech entrepreneur prior to running for public office. On the evening before the voting took place, Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, was questioning Gianforte on the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate attacked him. According to Alicia Acuna, a Fox News reporter who witnessed the incident, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.” In an audio recording of the incident, Gianforte yells, “I’m sick and tired of you guys,” and “Get the hell out of here,” after assaulting Jacobs. Gianforte won the special election with 49.9% of the vote, CNN reports. At his victory rally, he apologized to Jacobs, saying, “I should not have responded the way I did, for that I’m sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I’m sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs.” The crowd responded, “You’re forgiven,” CNN reports. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.

Ben Jacobs is a reporter for The Guardian. Immediately after the incident, Jacobs tweeted, “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses.”

Brian Gootkin is the Gallatin County sheriff in charge of the investigation into the incident. He said in a statement, “Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin County sheriff’s office it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault … The nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault.”

Further Details

The special election was being held to replace Ryan Zinke, who had been appointed Secretary of the Interior by President Trump. CNN reports that early voting played a large role in Gianforte’s victory in the election, so that many votes had already been cast before the incident.

The New York Times reported that Jacobs went to the hospital for x-rays. The article also reported that Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said that Gianforte should apologize and that the incident “should not have happened.” But Ryan also said that he would not block Gianforte from taking office.

Three newspapers in Montana, The Billings Gazette, The Missoulian, and The Independent Record all rescinded their endorsements of Gianforte after the incident.

Shane Scanlon, who was a press contact for Gianforte at the time and witnessed the incident, released a statement on behalf of Gianforte immediately afterwards, saying that Jacobs had “entered the [campaign] office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions … Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground,” as reported by Fox News. The campaign blamed the incident on Jacobs’ “aggressive behavior.”


Gianforte Wins Election, Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor Assault

Greg Gianforte pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault after he “body-slammed” reporter Ben Jacobs. He was sentenced to community service, 20 hours of anger management sessions, and had to pay a $385 fine. Gianforte won the special election that was held a day after the incident, and he took office soon thereafter.

External References

“Greg Gianforte: Fox News team witnesses GOP House candidate ‘body slam’ reporter,” Fox News

“Republican Greg Gianforte wins Montana special election, CNN projects,” CNN

Ben Jacobs on Twitter

“Republican candidate charged with assault after ‘body-slamming’ Guardian reporter,” The Guardian

“Who is Greg Gianforte?” CNNPolitics

“GOP candidate charged after allegedly ‘body slamming’ reporter,” CNN

“Greg Gianforte sentenced to community service for assaulting Guardian reporter,” The Guardian

“Montana Republican Greg Gianforte, Charged With Assault, Awaits Fate in Vote,” The New York Times

Gianforte Campaign Statement

Prepared by Graham Piro ‘18

October 20, 2017

Iowa General Assembly considers anti-protest bills – 2017

Des Moines, IA

Senate File 111, a bill that would increase penalties for those who block traffic on Iowa’s highways, is being considered by a State Senate Subcommittee on Transportation. The bill, co-sponsored by nine Republican lawmakers, would charge individuals who intentionally block highway traffic with a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison. A similar bill, SF 426, was approved and recommended for passage by two subcommittees.

Key Figures

State Senator Jake Chapman, a Republican, is the legislation’s lead sponsor. In addition to representing a portion of southwestern Iowa in the State Senate, Chapman also serves as the chief operating officer of Midwest Ambulance Services. Citing a recent protest against Donald Trump’s election as president, Chapman criticized demonstrations that negatively impact commerce and public safety. “We are concerned about the protesters. We are concerned about emergency medical services being able to get to calls. We are concerned about coming around a curve on the interstate and all of a sudden you have blocked traffic and someone slams on the brakes and a semi comes up from behind and hits them,” he told The Des Moines Register. “Look, we have the right to protest. No one disputes that,” Chapman continued. “We encourage that. But there is an appropriate time and an appropriate place to do so. Interstates are not one of those places. That is what this bill does. It aims to stop that.”

State Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat, opposes the legislation. He believes that the bill is a political reaction to anti-Trump protests and notes that Iowa already has laws in place to prevent disturbances on roads. “…I hope this bill doesn’t go forward. The last thing we need is more penalties on the books,” he told The Des Moines Register.

Rita Bettis, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, raised concerns about how the proposed law would be enforced. “We all know that this legislation was drafted to respond to protesters in Iowa City following the 2016 General Election, and specifically, out of an expressed disagreement with their viewpoints as well as methods,” Bettis told The Register. “What we can say is that even if the law as written is determined to be facially neutral; whether it would be neutral as applied or target First Amendment protected activity is a separate question that could ultimately prohibit its use by law enforcement against protesters or demonstrators, even if it advances into law.”

Further Details

SF 111, introduced in January 2017, was proposed in response to a protest that occurred in November 2016. On November 11, three days after Election Day, more than 100 protesters blocked Interstate Highway 80 to oppose Donald Trump’s agenda, The Register reports. The demonstration blocked all eastbound traffic for 30 minutes. Explaining the motivation of the protesters, one participant in the demonstration told The Register, “[Trump] doesn’t represent me or my values, and I’ve been crying for days.”

SF 111 would impose harsh penalties on those who impede traffic on highways with a posted speed limit of at least 55 miles-per-hour. Those who violate the law could be charged with a Class D felony, which carries a prison sentence and a fine of between $750 and $7,500. Under current law, individuals who create an obstruction on a road may be charged with an injunction and creating a public nuisance. Less severe than the proposed bill, the current law punishes violators with up to two years in prison and a fine of between $625 and $6,250.

While SF 111 remains under consideration by a subcommittee on transportation, SF 426, a similar bill, has gained approval by two subcommittees. This legislation, proposed by the Committee on State Government, also penalizes protesters who obstruct traffic on highways. However, it draws a distinction between first, second, and third offenses. The bill “would classify a first offense as a serious misdemeanor with punishment of up to a year in prison and fine of up to $1,875. Second-time offenders would be charged with an aggravated misdemeanor and third-time violators would face a Class D felony charge,” according to The Des Moines Register.


Bill remains under consideration by subcommittee

SF 111 was referred to a subcommittee on transportation in February 2017. The subcommittee has not taken any action on the bill.

Similar legislation approved by two subcommittees and recommended for passage

SF 426 was approved by subcommittees on state government and the judiciary, respectively.

External References:

SF 111

SF 426

Iowa bill: 5 years in prison for highway protesters, The Des Moines Register

Bill cracking down on protesters blocking highways heads to Iowa Senate floor, The Des Moines Register

Bill criminalizing highway protests clears Iowa Senate subcommittee, The Des Moines Register

Bills Across The Country Could Increase Penalties For Protesters, Iowa Public Radio

Prepared by Will Haskell ‘18

October 17, 2017

University of New Mexico – October 2016

Albuquerque, NM

On October 17, 2016, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the University of New Mexico (UNM) reached an agreement to refine UNM’s policies concerning sexual harassment and misconduct on campus. The agreement was the result of a process started by a letter DOJ sent to UNM on April 22, 2016, which criticized the university’s handling of sexual harassment cases.

Key Figures

Robert G. Frank is the former president of UNM. His contract expired on May 31, 2017. He had announced prior to DOJ’s letter that he would not be seeking another term as president. When Frank received the letter, he initially defended UNM, according to a university statement. He pointed out that UNM was not alone in facing the issue of sexual assault on campus, and that DOJ provided an “incomplete and inaccurate” representation of the situation at the university. However, Frank also stated that despite what he perceived to be inaccuracies, the UNM took the letter “in a spirit of cooperation,” and that the university “[pledged] to continue our campus wide improvements to combat this complex issue.”

Chaouki Abdullah became the interim president of UNM on June 1, 2017, shifting into the role from his previous position as provost there. He said his priority in that role would be “calming the campus community and preparing it for its next president,” reported the Albuquerque Journal in an interview from December 2016.

Further Details

On December 5, 2014, DOJ began an investigation into UNM’s response to student allegations of sexual assault. It was the second time DOJ investigated a university’s policies regarding such allegations. The first began in May 2012, when DOJ performed a year-long inquiry into the University of Montana. That probe concluded with the announcement of an agreement between the University of Montana and DOJ to change the university’s policies.

Albuquerque Journal reports that the investigation into UNM began due to “multiple complaints” from students concerning how the university handled sexual assault cases. The investigation was conducted under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance.

During its probe, DOJ found that students, administrators, and faculty at UNM “lacked basic understanding” about reporting processes and protocols and that there were “significant gaps” in the response to allegations of sexual assault on campus. DOJ also critiqued a specific UNM policy stipulating that “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature does not constitute sexual harassment until it causes a hostile environment or unless it is quid pro quo,” reports The Washington Post.

Upon completing its investigation, DOJ prescribed a list of policy changes required for UNM to comply fully with Title IX. The list included training for students and faculty concerning UNM’s policy on sexual harassment, along with information and assistance on how to report violations. It also advised UNM to revise its policies “to provide a grievance procedure that ensures prompt and equitable resolution of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations,” and to “take prompt and effective steps to eliminate a hostile environment…”

On October 17, 2016, DOJ and UNM announced they had reached an agreement to improve the university’s handling of sexual assault allegations. A change in policy as to what constitutes sexual assault is also underway, as is refining the university’s procedures for providing impartial investigations into any allegations of sexual assault and for conducting regular campus climate surveys, according to a report from UNM’s compliance office.


Agreement Reached Between the UNM and DOJ

The agreement is intended to change UNM’s procedures for investigating sexual assault claims, conducting regular campus climate surveys, and organizing training for faculty, staff, and students about the handling of sexual assault cases. The developments were to take place over the course of three years, at an estimated cost $1.5 million to put the infrastructure, staff, and resources in place.

External References

Justice Department Releases Investigative Findings on University of New Mexico’s Response to Sexual Assault Allegations, The United States Department of Justice

Justice Department Blasts U. of New Mexico for Failing to Address Sexual Assault, The Washington Post

Re: Title IX and Title IV Investigation of University of New Mexico, The United States Department of Justice

Frank will not seek second term as UNM’s president, UNM Newsroom

UNM Provost Chaouki Abdullah: ‘I want to do a good job for the university, Albuquerque Journal

DOJ, UNM reach agreement on policies regarding sexual harassment, UNM Newsroom

Sexual Harassment, Newseum Institute

FACT SHEET: Agreement Between The University of New Mexico and the U.S. Department of Justice, UNM Newsroom

DOJ’s probe of UNM is second in nation, Albuquerque Journal

Prepared by Graham Piro ‘18

October 11, 2017

Elon University – October 4, 2016

Elon, NC

Students petitioned Elon University’s administration to retract an invitation for Washington Post columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Kathleen Parker to speak on campus in Elon’s McCrary Theater. Despite the effort by some students, the school administrators maintained the invitation and Parker spoke about politics, journalism and free speech on October 4, 2016.

Key Figures

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker was invited to speak at Elon as a part of the university’s Baird Pulitzer Prize Lecture Series.

Becca Nipper, a senior undergraduate student, spearheaded a petition to ban Parker from speaking on campus. Her petition was signed by over 300 students, alumni and others.

Dan Anderson, Elon’s vice president for university communications, released a statement supporting the role of controversial speakers on campus. “That is in keeping with the university’s mission of being an academic community that encourages freedom of thought and liberty of conscience,'” the statement read, according to the Elon News Network. “It is important to know that the university does not endorse or reject the ideas expressed by the speakers we engage,” the statement continued.

Further Details

Since 2001, the Baird Lecture Series for Pulitzer Prize Award Winners has hosted an annual lecturer from the varying categories for which the Pulitzer Prize Award is given. In 2016, Kathleen Parker was invited by the Elon University administration to deliver the Baird Pulitzer Prize lecture in October. Parker won the Pulitzer Prize Award in 2010 for Commentary. However, the invitation was met with some pushback from the Elon community when her visit was announced during the summer before her scheduled speech.

Elon student Becca Nipper circulated a petition to have Parker disinvited. In her petition, Nipper referenced Parker’s 2008 book titled, “Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care”. The petition, called “A Request for the Removal of Baird Pulitzer Prize Speaker Kathleen Parker,” received more than 300 signatures. It asserted that “Parker’s journalism is more than just her opinion, it’s a consistent attack on all of the things Elon has been working toward — ending sexual assault, increasing diversity and creating a safe and encouraging environment for all students regardless of gender, race, ethnic background or sexual orientation.”

As reported by National Review, Kathleen Parker’s columns have been published in 450 newspapers worldwide, and she frequently makes guest appearances on many major news networks.

Responding to the petition, Elon’s vice president for university communications, Dan Anderson, released a statement referring to Parker as an “accomplished individual” and saying “ While some may disagree with the views of speakers, we believe there is great value in holding our personal beliefs up to the tests of those who hold different perspectives” among other things. Ultimately, the university did not rescind its invitation to Parker. “We appreciate the initiative of the students who have raised questions and opened a constructive discussion about this fall’s Baird Lecture, and we look forward to the conversation about these topics before and after Ms. Parker’s appearance,” the university statement said, according to the Elon News Network. “That is the mark of a vibrant academic institution, and the Elon community deserves nothing less.”

Parker delivered her lecture as planned. The Times-News reported that all 575 available seats had been sold out for the event. Tickets were $13 or free with an Elon ID. During the lecture, she spoke about her career, including her experience in the media industry. She also addressed the book that was the center of the petition to bar her appearance, saying, “I probably wouldn’t write that book today, and if I did, I probably would not be so snarky,” reports the Elon News Network. She also advocated for Free Speech, although the majority of the talk focused on the upcoming 2016 presidential election and the current political climate.


Free Speech supported by the administration

By refusing to abide by the demands in Nipper’s petition, the university administration upheld Parker’s invitation and advocated for Free Speech on Elon’s campus.

Parker delivered speech

Kathleen Parker delivered her speech as planned. She advocated for Free Speech and spoke about her history in journalism and the 2016 presidential election.

External References:

Kathleen Parker, after summer controversy and student petition, to speak Oct. 4, Elon News Network

Hundreds of Students Protest Female Speaker’s Invite Over Concerns It’s Too ‘Dangerous’, National Review

Pulitzer winner Kathleen Parker talks politics, free speech in Baird Lecture appearance, Elon News Network

Tommy Hamzik’s Tweet

Prepared by Bridget McElroy ‘18

October 11, 2017

Virginia General Assembly passes symbolic bill to protect Free Speech – 2017

Richmond, VA

House Bill 1401, a bill aimed at promoting Free Speech on college campuses, passed both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly and was signed into law by the governor in March 2017. This legislation inserted the following sentence into the Code of Virginia: “Except as otherwise permitted by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, no public institution of higher education shall abridge the constitutional freedom of any individual, including enrolled students, faculty and other employees, and invited guests, to speak on campus.”

Key Figures

Delegate Steve Landes, a Republican representing a district in central Virginia, was the bill’s chief sponsor. He believes that the legislation will enhance Free Speech rights for university employees and speakers on campus. “I think it will allow universities to be able to point to the law and say it’s our goal and the state’s goal to promote free speech and to make sure we’re actively trying to do that,” Landes told The Cavalier Daily, a student-run publication at the University of Virginia and the oldest daily newspaper in Charlottesville. Landes continued, “I think universities can comply with this pretty easily. A couple other statutes already on the books promote free speech for faculty and students, so it would be just a restatement of that policy but also expanding it to include the groups of employees and invited guests.” Referencing recent protests concerning controversial speakers on campuses across the country, Landes said, “There have been some issues, not in Virginia but on other campuses, where faculty or speakers that have been invited onto campus are not allowed to speak by groups infringing on their First Amendment rights.”

Delegate David Tuscano, a Democrat representing Charlottesville and minority leader in the House of Delegates, voted for the legislation. However, he called on his Republican colleagues to defend the First Amendment against alleged threats from President Donald Trump. “Free speech is a core value on which this nation was founded, yet it is indeed under threat by a new president who bullies his critics and threatens to jail his political opponents,” he said, according to The Cavalier Daily. “While the First Amendment protects campus speech, we hope the Republican caucus will join us in fighting to protect the First Amendment under President Trump.”

Delegate John Bell, a Democrat, voted against this legislation, calling the bill “a solution looking for a problem.” He believed the legislation was unnecessary, telling The Cavalier Daily, “The Constitution guarantees free speech, I don’t know why we would need to guarantee it a second time.” In explaining his opposition, Bell also cited concerns about protecting hate speech. Referencing unspecified hateful remarks, he said “I don’t want to encourage that and this bill in some ways could” do so, according to The Cavalier Daily.

Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the bill into law without releasing a statement.

Further Details

HB 1401 amended Article 1 of Chapter 9 of Title 23 in the Code of Virginia to include a sentence about First Amendment rights at public colleges and universities. The legislative language was amended in the Senate to include the word “constitutional.” The final version of the bill passed the Senate by a margin of 36-4 and the House of Delegates by a margin of 79-16. While the bill earned votes from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, every legislator who voted against it was a Democrat.

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, called the legislation “unnecessary.” She told RVA Magazine, “The First Amendment already limits the ability of public universities to ‘abridge’ free speech by anyone on campus.”

In an editorial for The Daily Progress, a student at the University of Virginia School of Law, Erich Reimer, also acknowledged the bill’s redundancy, but underscored its symbolic importance. “HB 1401, while a symbolic bill with no material legal impact, demonstrates firmly the united front that the commonwealth is stepping forward in defense of our fundamental constitutional values. While today it might be conservative speech that is being silenced, tomorrow when the scales have turned it might be liberal speech,” he wrote.

However, Joe Cohn, legislative and policy director for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), believes that the bill could impact university policies and increase compliance with the First Amendment. “One way to read this bill is that it’s simply a statement of what is already in the law,” he told RVA Magazine. “But if you’re in the compliance office of a public university of Virginia, not all of them are looking up common law, but they sure as heck know what the legislature said to them next term.” Cohn also predicted that the law’s implementation would be non-partisan. “Censorship is not a partisan action,” he told The Cavalier Daily. “People censor who they disagree with on both sides of the political spectrum.”


Governor Signed Legislation Into Law

Governor Terry McAuliffe signed this legislation without a statement on March 16, 2017. The bill went into effect on July 1, 2017.

External References:

HB 1401

Bill introduced in General Assembly to protect free speech at public colleges, The Cavalier Daily

McAuliffe signs free speech bill, The Cavalier Daily

Virginia Delegate Aimss to Secure Free Speech on Campus, No Matter the Subject, RVA Magazine

Defending free speech at Virginia colleges, The Daily Progress

Prepared by Will Haskell ‘18

October 4, 2017

Republican legislators shot at baseball practice; New York Times editorial corrected – June 2017

Alexandria, VA

On June 14, 2017, James Hodgkinson opened fire at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, VA. Five people were shot, including US Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA.), the House Majority Whip. Hodgkinson was shot and killed after exchanging fire with US Capitol Police. The Congressional Baseball Game took place as planned two days afterwards.

Key Players

Steve Scalise is a Republican representative from Louisiana and the third-ranking member of the GOP leadership in that body. He was the most critically wounded in the assault. After being shot in the left hip and rushed to a hospital, Scalise underwent surgery and was in critical condition. The Washington Post reported that the doctors described Scalise as being at “imminent risk of death” when he was first brought to the hospital. Following several surgeries, Scalise was discharged on July 26, and began rehabilitation. On September 28, he returned to the House chamber to a standing ovation from fellow lawmakers, and remarked that he was “a living example that miracles really do happen.”

James Hodgkinson was the apparent perpetrator of the shooting, and he was killed during the firefight that broke out after he fired at the Republican lawmakers on the field. Originally from Illinois, Hodgkinson was a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. Hodgkinson’s posts on Facebook included content such as “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.” and “Republicans are the Taliban of the USA.” Sanders acknowledged that Hodgkinson had volunteered for his presidential campaign, and he denounced the shooting as “despicable.”  After an investigation, the FBI determined that Hodgkinson had acted alone, reported The New York Post.

Further Details

The shooting began shortly after 7 a.m. on June 14, as the practice was concluding. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said that he encountered Hodgkinson moments before the shooting, as Duncan was leaving. Hodgkinson asked him if the people practicing on the field were Democrats or Republicans. Duncan replied that they were Republicans, then got in his car and left. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said one gunshot sounded, followed by a burst of gunfire. Scalise was near second base and dropped to the ground after being hit. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), who had been standing on the third base line, said he heard gunfire behind him, and turned around to see Hodgkinson pushing through the chain-link fence while firing toward second base and the outfield. The legislators ran for cover, and US Capitol Police, who had been standing guard, returned the fire and killed Hodgkinson; one officer was shot in the ankle. A staff member and a lobbyist who were helping with the practice were shot and hospitalized, and both recovered. Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) and another US Capitol Police officer suffered minor injuries. Officials found a list with the names of several Republican lawmakers in Hodgkinson’s pocket.

It was later revealed by The Washington Post that Hodgkinson had been “casing” the field for months prior to the shooting. He was spotted watching the Republicans play baseball on the day before the shooting occurred. The article also reported that Hodgkinson fired 62 rounds from his rifle, and that the officers fired at least 40 shots back at him, hitting him three times.

The New York Times ran an editorial in the wake of the shooting titled “America’s Lethal Politics.” It stated that the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in 2011 had been the result of incitement by former Alaska Republican Governor Sarah Palin’s political action committee. It specifically blamed a map the committee circulated that depicted Rep. Giffords and 19 other Democratic incumbents under cross hairs, as if they were targeted for attack.  After the editorial’s publication, the Times was criticized for misrepresenting the map. Two days later, the Times ran a correction in which it stated that no link between the map and Giffords’ shooting in fact existed. Two paragraphs in the middle of the editorial were edited.

The original paragraphs read:

In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs.

Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They’re right. Though there’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, liberals should of course hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.

The corrected paragraphs read:

In 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map that showed the targeted electoral districts of Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established.

Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They’re right. Liberals should of course be held to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.

The following statement appeared at the bottom of the editorial:

Correction: June 16, 2017

An editorial on Thursday about the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise incorrectly stated that a link existed between political rhetoric and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established. The editorial also incorrectly described a map distributed by a political action committee before that shooting. It depicted electoral districts, not individual Democratic lawmakers, beneath stylized cross hairs.

Sarah Palin filed a federal lawsuit against the Times, claiming the newspaper had “falsely stated as a matter of fact” that Palin had incited the shooting in which Giffords was injured. The case was dismissed by a federal judge, who stated that Palin “failed to show that a mistake in an editorial was made maliciously.”


Scalise recovered from injuries and returned to Congress

Steve Scalise made a recovery from his injuries and returned to Congress on September 28.

The Congressional Baseball Game occurred as planned

The Congressional Baseball Game proceeded on Friday, June 16, two days after the shooting. There were no further incidents.

The Times ran a correction of its editorial

The Times ran a correction of its editorial that withdrew the allegation that Sarah Palin’s political action committee had directly incited a shooting that led to the wounding of Gabrielle Giffords.

Palin’s lawsuit against the Times was dismissed

A federal judge dismissed Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against the Times over the editorial, because Palin failed to show that the mistake was malicious. “Negligence this may be; but defamation of a public figure it plainly is not,” wrote US District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

External References:

What we know about the congressional baseball shooting, ABC News

Steve Scalise shot: Gunman James Hodgkinson killed in shootout

Rep. Steve Scalise Discharged From Hospital, Now Begins Rehabilitation, NBC News

Congressman Steve Scalise, Three Others Shot at Alexandria, Virginia, Baseball Field, NBC News

Suspect in congressional shooting was Bernie Sanders supporter, strongly anti-Trump, CNN

FBI: Congressional baseball practice shooter acted alone, The New York Post

Shame on the New York Times. Shame. National Review

America’s Lethal Politics, The New York Times

NYT issues correction to Giffords editorial, The Hill

Sarah Palin sues New York Times for editorial on Steve Scalise shooting,

Sarah Palin’s Defamation Suit Against The New York Times is Dismissed, The New York Times

‘Miracles really do happen’: Rep. Steve Scalise returns to Congress 15 weeks after he was shot, The Washington Post

Gunman Had List of GOP Lawmakers’ Names, NBC News

Prepared by Graham Piro ‘18

October 10, 2017