FIRE Study: ‘Disinvitation Season’ Is Getting Worse


shutterstock_150667244It’s not just a question of perception; the push for speakers (commencement and otherwise) to be disinvited from campus has gotten worse.

As I wrote in a long piece today in the Huffington Post:

So far, FIRE has discovered 192 incidents in which students or faculty have pushed for speakers invited to campus (both for commencement and other speaking engagements) to be disinvited since 2000. Eighty-two of those incidents were “successful” in that ultimately the speaker did not speak. Of those 82 successful disinvitations, 53 occurred via the revocation of the speaker’s invitation to campus, 17 were from speakers withdrawing in the face of protest, and 12 were “heckler’s vetoes” in which speakers were shouted down, chased off stage, or otherwise prevented from speaking.

Of those 192 disinvitation efforts since 2000, 114 have happened since 2009, when we first noticed an uptick in the frequency of disinvitation incidents. Of the 82 “successful” disinvitation attempts, 50 occurred during or after 2009.

Notably, speaker withdrawals in the face of protest are overwhelmingly a recent phenomenon–11 of the 14 “withdrawal in the face of protest” incidents have occurred since 2009. In fact, just fewer than half of those withdrawals (6) took place since January 2013.

And of interest to the Ricochetti:

[T]here is no hiding the fact that conservative speakers are much more likely to face disinvitation efforts than others, and the overwhelming majority of disinvitation efforts come from the left of the speaker, even if that speaker considers herself a liberal (as in the case of Janet Napolitano, among many others). Of course, there are examples of speakers being opposed from the political right, including former Weather Underground leader and retired professor Bill Ayers. Nonetheless, the whole picture of disinvitations accords with conservative critiques of higher education that assert that the left has increasingly become intolerant of opposing points of view. While I think this is an incomplete picture (much of campus censorship in other contexts is not particularly political), if students don’t want this to be the narrative, they should stop playing into it.

You can read the full FIRE report here.


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  1. user_11047 Inactive

    These are toddlers banging their spoons on their high chair trays.  Me  Me  Me  I am the center of the universe and I will decide what is appropriate for commencement – and the classroom, and the entire campus.  So there.

    Free speech for me but not for thee…

    • #1
  2. MarciN Member

    It has become a childish game.  

    That said, there are more serious ramifications.  It is my paranoid belief that the Democrats are trying, as best they can, to destroy the Republican Party, because Republicans are the only people who every once in a while muster the courage to argue with them.  We don’t even win.  We just have the audacity to say, “Let’s talk about this first.”   

    The fact that the kids can’t stand to even be in the same room with a conservative these days speaks volumes for the level of brainwashing going on.  This is so typical of the dysfunctional behavior of tyrants and dictators with kids.  

    It is scary.   


    • #2
  3. user_11047 Inactive

    Marci:  There is no question that there is, and has been, brainwashing of kids — even in kindergarten and grade school these days (read: climate change, et al.).  This no doubt leads to a liberal advantage.  But in most of the schools where the disinviting takes place, it would seem it’s the faculty pushing the administrations’ buttons, not the majority of students.  In fact, those spoon-bangers who participate are the hard core followers of their liberal professors and are a distinct minority — and on cue, get plenty of media attention.  While it appears to the outsider that the administrations want to downplay all of this by giving in pretty quickly, it actually gives the appearance of a carefully orchestrated event.  And could it be that some of the invitees are plants?
    What a racket!!

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  4. MJBubba Inactive

    Greg,  thanks for this post and thanks very much for the good work at F.I.R.E.  

    It is sad that so many allegedly well-educated Americans do not know how to recognize what free speech looks like, or recognize suppression of speech.

    • #4
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