Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Conservative Lucian Wintrich and Charge College Official Who Stole His Speech Notes [Updated]

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 9.23.52 PMConservative commentator Lucian Wintrich was arrested recently after he grabbed a protester who stole his speech notes during an event at the University of Connecticut.  The video however shows Wintrich trying to stop a woman who acted to prevent him from speaking and grabbed his notes.  That led to many asking why the woman was not arrested.  Now she has been identified and it is worse than thought. Her name is Catherine Gregory and she is associate director of career services and advising at Quinebaug Valley Community College. It is particularly disturbing to see someone associated with an institution of high education acting to silence opposing speakers and actually stealing material. Update: the charges against Wintrich have been dropped and Gregory has turned herself in for charges based on her outrageous conduct.

Gregory’s conduct was reprehensible and showed the same contempt for free speech that we have discussed as part of a rising intolerance on our campuses.  We have been discussing how faculty around the country are supporting the abandonment of free speech principles to bar speakers and speech with which they disagree. The most extreme form of this rejection of classical liberal values is the antifa movement.  We have seen faculty physically attack speakers or destroy messages that they oppose. We have also seen faculty physically attacked and intimidated.  In some of these incidents, other faculty have supported students in shutting down speakers or fellow academics (here and here).

In this case, Gregory is not satisfied with just trying to prevent others from hearing views with which she disagrees but then actually steals material being used by the speaker. She clearly considers herself as justified to stop others from speaking by simply declaring their views to be unacceptable and her views as being correct. Her actions led to a virtual riot at the event and Quinebaug Valley Community College has now, has The Norwich Bulletin reported, increased security because of death threats directed toward teacher.

Here is the video of the encounter:

 

Wintrich who was speaking on the topic “It’s OK to Be White,” was arrested but not Gregory.  He is now calling for her arrest and The Hartford Courant has blasted Gregory in an editorial as unacceptable to hold a position with an educational institution;  Carlee Drummer, president of Quinebaug Valley Community College, issued a statement that such conduct would not be addressed by the college because “the employee attended the event as a private citizen.”

The issue of academic freedom and free speech looms large in such controversies.  As we have previously discussed (including the recent controversies involving an Oregon professor and a Drexel professor), there remains an uncertain line in what language is protected for teachers in their private lives. The incident also raises what some faculty have complained is a double or at least uncertain standard. We have previously discussed controversies at the University of California and Boston University, where there have been criticism of a double standard, even in the face of criminal conduct. There were also such incident at the University of London involving Bahar Mustafa as well as one involving a University of Pennsylvania professor.

The controversy over Gregory is more difficult because it involves conduct and a possible criminal charge.  If she is not charged, the position of the college is well based even though Gregory is acting to silence others at other schools.  That can not only undermine the faith of conservatives at her college, but the involvement of a college official in disrupting another school is a serious problem for the institution.  We have previously discussed the issue of when it is appropriate to punishment people for conduct outside of the work place. We have followed cases where people have been fired after boorish or insulting conduct once their names and employers are made known. (here and here and here and here).

Gregory’s lawyer, Jon Schoenhorn, told  Inside Higher Education his client was justified in her actions because Wintrich’s views constitute “hate speech” and his actions “are beyond the First Amendment” in their insults of black and Latino and other students. That is certainly a convenient approach since it gives your client license to stop anyone that she considers to be a hateful speaker.

Schoenhorn has an equally creative argument to justify Gregory’s theft. He insisted that his client was merely trying in a “mild and measured way” to calm the situation.  However, she was the one causing the commotion, not calming the situation.   Schoenhorn added “What Ms. Gregory did was the equivalent of unplugging a microphone. It was not to stop a speech.”  Hmmm, I think turning of a microphone is a way to stop a speech. Moreover, what was Gregory’s intention in stealing the speech if not to stop it.

Update: Now that Gregory will be criminally charged, the question is whether a conviction would lead to new review of her status, particularly if the crime stemmed from disrupting an academic event.

Unfortunately, college professor and administrators like Gregory has taught students that they do not have to respect the free speech rights of others under the same twisted logic. In a letter to the editor in The Daily Campus, student Emily Steck denounced the university for allowing the speech and supported Gregory’s disgraceful conduct:

“When your students were faced with the words of a man intending to incite anger, deny the reality of oppression and ultimately physically assault someone over A PIECE OF PAPER you were not there. What about this event made your administration believe that freedom of speech should be prioritized over hate speech?”

Steck’s inability to understand why freedom of speech would ever be “prioritized over hate speech” is a chilling example of the new legitimacy given intolerance and speech controls on our campuses. There is not a hint of concern that Gregory’s approach is a slippery slope that leads to the silencing of any voices that the majority deems “hateful.”  Steck is part of a new generation of censors who have no understanding of the foundation of our society in core free speech principles.

 

35 thoughts on “Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Conservative Lucian Wintrich and Charge College Official Who Stole His Speech Notes [Updated]

  1. I don’t care about Wintrich being conservative, or that he’s gay (according to another commenter here), or that he’s a member of the White House press pool (again, according to another commenter here). The most basic observation that I took away from the video of the speech (not the short clip of the theft, but the long video of the speech) is that the guy appears to be — pardon the scientific terminology — a malignant dorkwad.
    The voice, the hair, the glasses — all suggest a dorkwaddish bent — possibly genetic — but the bow tie was the clincher — a conscious fashion choice that ONLY a thoroughbred dorkwad would go for. Simply put, nobody under age 60 wears a bow tie unless they are specifically asking to be ridiculed — probably DARING people to ridicule them.
    Yes, all of those observations and conclusions of mine are both frivolous and subjective, however my point here is that the guy appears to a clown who KNOWS he’s a clown and is TRYING to be a clown (though he’d be one even if he put forth no effort toward achieving that goal) — and the bottom line, for me, is that I’m just plain tired of legal issues revolving around CLOWNS.
    There was a time in this country when people could make whatever point they wanted to make without having to dress up like BOZO THE DORKWAD and make themselves public buffoons.
    This guy is a joke, and if they decided to give him the gas chamber or the Nobel Prize I would not waste two minutes thinking about it beyond the fact that it represents a society in decay, where people do and say outrageous attention-grabbing things purely for the sake of grabbing attention.

    • William Bayer – well, the Nobel Peace Prize has no value since they gave it to Obama before he did anything and then he went on to engage in several wars. The other prizes have value though. The Pulitizers not so much. The Oscars are a popularity contest (except for Best Foreign Film). And now they have become weaponized.

  2. “Carlee Drummer, president of Quinebaug Valley Community College, issued a statement that such conduct would not be addressed by the college because “the employee attended the event as a private citizen.””

    Under that logic, the Boy Scouts would not take action if a Cub Scout leader molested anyone outside of a Boy Scout event, but on Boy Scout property. A newspaper would not take action if one of its journalists was caught plagiarizing in another venue, using one of its computers.

    I do understand the fine line that must be drawn between private speech and the workplace. My own hypothetical line would be crossed when any employees private speech or action adversely impacted the reputation of the company, or damaged business in some way. Unless you are a volunteer, you show up to work to get paid. That goes for the owner of the company, the employee, and I daresay university employees.

    A university employee engaged in allegedly criminal activity, and most certainly interfered with the free speech, of an invited speaker at a campus event. If that does not impact her employment, then I don’t know if they have a line, at all.

    In addition, all I know about Lucian Wintrich is that he’s the first openly gay reporter in the White House Press Pool, and according to Wikipedia, thinks that Richard Spencer ruined the label “alt-right.” “Alt-right” used to mean more of a rebel, non-PC, push the envelope rather than anything racist or bigoted. It was a counter culture to the Fascist PC Police Left. Alt-right writers used to take great delight in pushing the envelop and offending fragile sensibilities. Like stand up comedians. What comes to mind is one of the few Milo pieces I read, in which I think he tried to make feminists spontaneously combust. I found it humorous.

    If the point of Lucian Wintrich’s speech was really that it’s OK to be white, well, obviously it’s OK to be white. It’s OK to be Pacific Islander, Polish, Latvian, Maltese – and Malta is one of the smallest countries in the world. That’s OK. It’s OK to be straight, gay, man, woman, child. All OK. Is this an issue? If anyone really thinks the race you were born into is really unacceptable, then I would introduce them to the terms “racism” and “intolerance” and “bigotry.” A university would be just the place to expand their horizons and learn more about the topic.

    If Lucian Wintrich’s speech had any topic material that I disagreed with, and I was at the university, I could:
    a) not attend
    b) attend in the spirit of understand the opposing side
    c) attend but then disagree so vehemently that I quietly walked out, without disrupting the venue
    d) create a competing event that was more fun, but did not restrict the other side

    Why is this so hard?

    Universities are selectively biased against conservatives, or anyone else they disagree with, and the persecution is becoming more alarming.

    Perhaps the way to change is through litigation. After all, that’s how they get warning labels not to put ladders on wet cow manure. Apparently, lawsuits affect change, even ridiculous change. So, sue the school and press charges.

  3. Just read an article from Ellensburg WA about a professor of political science at Eastern Washington University who is also a representative to the Washington state legislature and a Republican.

  4. Oh, Poor Old Catherine deserves an Irish Poem! Because if you think about it, what happened to her sort of fit the crime. . .

    The Apparat-chick???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    A smug educator named Kate,
    Was full of that old Left wing hate!
    What an Ironic Teach—,
    When she stole someone’s speech,
    She ended up getting the right to remain silent. . .

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  5. Just a layman here, but why not encourage Wintrich to pursue civil charges. If the criminal justice system is biased or at least failing to do it’s job, why not hit her in the pocketbook? It may have a deterrent effect.

    • Mike Snow – my understanding is she is being charged with theft and disturbing the peace. He still can sue civilly.

  6. “such conduct would not be addressed by the college because “the employee attended the event as a private citizen.””

    What a weasel. I have not doubt that if I attended a Robert Reich event at the campus where I work, disrupted the lecture and stole his notes, my a** would be unemployed immediately. No doubt the chancellor, et al approve of this woman’s behavior. The leftist elite think they’re smarter by half than everyone else.

  7. I hope UConn takes action against this outside agitator. She is spreading tribalism and self-righteousness, which are the antithesis of university culture. It’s depressing that many on the left are renouncing meritocratic, civil debate as the best means of making decisions, and substituting militant, alienated thinking and behavior.

  8. Here is another employment and free speech issue:

    ” “I am protecting my customers,” the [student-run cafe] president said.

    “We are your customers, we bought something,” a CR member replied.

    “I don’t want people like you supporting this club… no one here wants people like you supporting our club,” the president retorted. “I am giving you five minutes.”

    A student then asked for a refund, to which the president responded, “[y]ou had some coffee… do not try to outsmart me.”

    “You are threatening the integrity of our club. This is a community standard—you are wearing hats that completely violate safe space policy,” she said. “You have to take it off or you have to go.”

    One of the students then asked the president to explain what she thinks the MAGA hat stands for, to which she replied, shouting: “Fascism, Nazis! You have three minutes.””

    https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=10251

  9. Gregory should be fired, but not because of what she did was an embarrassment to her school. She should be fired because she either is too stupid or lacks sufficient self-control to teach anyone. I am not sure her attorney is any brighter.

  10. Regardless of the spin and disclaimer voiced by the college, it still is a fact to be brought into the public forum that an employee of the college denied a person of their free speech right. If that’s the reputation they choose to earn then they should be willing to accept the consequences.

  11. So, if this woman was caught snorting coke off campus it would not be the school’s problem because she was doing it as a private person. Okay, I get it. Lead, and we shall but follow.

    That is the worst excuse I have ever heard from a school and as you know we have heard a lot of them, here, here, here and here.

  12. I believe there is probable cause to charge Ms. Gregory with Connecticut General Statutes 53a-182 – Disorderly conduct:

    (a) A person is guilty of disorderly conduct when, with intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, such person: …(4) without lawful authority, disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons

    There certainly is a bias shown by the selective enforcement demonstrated.

  13. I am sure this official will find a way to make it Trump’s fault.
    The single most damaging thing about Trump’s Presidency is the effect he has had on the fragile minds in the media, politics, and academia.

  14. “It is particularly disturbing to see someone associated with an institution of high education acting to silence opposing speakers and actually stealing material.”

    Surely, you jest.

  15. Junior Colleges are not Institutions of higher education. Their sole purpose is to prepare students for College and University level education by instruction what high schools no longer teach. In Mexico among other countries secondary or high school runs 7-9 and prepa or preparatory runs 10-12 and is the equivalent of our junior colleges. Given the availability of GED I see no reason why any student should be
    held in a high school whose only purpose seems to be proms and football games when they could be in junior college and hopefully catching up with the rest of the world.

    • There is little you say that is accurate. Junior/Community colleges offer AA and AS degrees. These are 2 year degrees between the level of high school and university, some of which qualify the holder to seek state certification. An example of that being a paralegal degree.

      • ti317 – spot on. Community colleges offer both academic degrees as well as a plethora of technical degrees/certifications – welding, pharm tech, CSN, paralegal, HVAC, filmmaking, X ray tech, etc,etc

        AA and AS degrees transfer to colleges – it saves money having those two years completed. Also the class size is smaller and one has more access to the professor. Since there is 0 campus life there are no distractions. And many adults with full time jobs attend such schools so there is a good mix of young and older students.

        • Riesling – unlike Deutschland the quality of public schools depends on where one lives. The poor, unless they are smart / talented enough to go to a magnet school often receive substandard education. Also we don’t have the apprenticeship program which gives 16 year olds schooling and hands on training. My god child went into a pharm tech apprenticeship as she was bored with academics and had no desire to go to university. Not only was the program free she got a small stipend. Here one would have to complete high school school and then pay for 2 years of community college. I think that’s a grat system – at 18 she was already working at the career of her choice and earning decent wages. The state benefits from another taxpayer.

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