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Middlebury caves to ‘heckler’s veto,’ will cancel speakers over threats

(AP Photo)

While some universities are attempting to promote free speech with controversial speakers, Middlebury College is moving in the opposite direction, regressing to a new policy that silences speech.

According to the new policy posted on Middlebury’s website, an event that receives an imminent or credible threat will be canceled rather than going through with added security presence.

“In the event of a credible likelihood, based on prior incidents or current evidence, that an event is likely to be the target of threats or violence, the Threat Assessment and Management Team will conduct a risk assessment of the event, consulting with local law enforcement as needed, in order to advise the administration,” the policy reads.

It continued. “In those exceptional cases where this review indicates significant risk to the community, the president and senior administration will work with event sponsors to determine measures to maximize safety and mitigate risk. Only in cases of imminent and credible threat to the community that cannot be mitigated by revisions to the event plan would the president and senior administration consider canceling the event.”

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer wrote on Twitter in response to the new policy, stating, “Speakers will not be allowed on campus if groups on campus say they will shut down the speaker. Midd[lebury] will actually legitimize hecklers veto.”

Looking at what took place at UC-Berkeley in the past eight months, speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter were threatened by Antifa and their scheduled speaking events were canceled. Meanwhile, the university finally decided to start taking the issue seriously and worked with local and state law enforcement to protect conservative commentator Ben Shapiro in a talk last week.

Middlebury is doubling down on the former, rather than the latter. Earlier this year, conservative author and columnist Charles Murray attempted to give a talk at Middlebury, only to be shouted down and shut down by liberal protesters.

After hearing that the cost of protecting Shapiro approached nearly $600,000, it’s possible that universities are realizing that the price to pay for free speech is nowhere near close to free.

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