“We Are Tired”: Duke Law Students Demand George Mason Professor Be Barred From Virtual Panel

“We are tired.” Those three words sum up a great deal of the anti-free speech movement growing on our campuses. Students and faculty have grown tired of free speech. Opposing views are now treated as threats and intolerable for students. A case in point is the effort by half of the law students at Duke to ban Helen Alvaré, a George Mason University law professor, from appearing on a virtual panel discussion about family law. The letter is both well-written and chilling in its call for censorship on campus. It dismisses any notion of free speech protection in allowing dissenting views to be heard on campus. Indeed, it does not even consider such values worthy of discussion. Instead, the students insist that the mere ability of an academic to speak on a panel is an endorsement of her views and a threat to current and future Duke law students.The panel is on “putting children first in family law”, which is the focus of Alvaré’s 2017 book.  She has been controversial due to her writings on same sex marriage and LGBTQ rights. Her 2012 friend-of-the-court brief in U.S. v. Windsor that argued for the state’s “legitimate” interest in “singling out” opposite-sex marriage for protection and that the expansion of marriage to include same-sex couples “ignores children and society.”As someone who supported same-sex marriage for decades, I strongly disagree with those views. However, many hold such views as did most of our elected officials at one time from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama. These are questions that are tied to deeply-held religious, social, and legal views.  Alvaré has written extensively on those issues and is widely cited in the debate over same-sex marriage. They are the type of issues that universities once valued as subjects for debate and discussion.

The letter from a sizable percentage of the Duke law student population demands that Dean Kerry Abrams “remove” Alvaré from the event or “cancel the event entirely.”

They cite her “unapologetic anti-LGBTQ+-rights views,” including opposing same-sex marriage and what they claim is her support for conversion therapy. I have not been able to confirm all of these views and the letter does not cite sources on the conversion claim. The letter refers to Alvaré as “a speaker who, in the least, entertains conversations of conversation therapy.” However, it does not matter to the free speech question. Alvaré is an intellectual who holds controversial views for many at Duke. The solution is to engage her in substantive exchanges, not try to silence her so others cannot hear her views.

The students insist that even allowing dissenting ideas to be voiced on campus is an effective endorsement of those views:

When we ask a speaker to come to Duke, we are giving that person space and license to express their views on a particular subject—and by so doing, we are implicitly signaling our willingness to tolerate or our approval of those views. By hosting a speaker who, in the least, entertains conversations of conversation therapy for LGBTQ+ persons and who views same-sex couples as less capable of raising children, Duke is signaling at least a willingness to engage in those discussions and at worst, a tacit endorsement of those opinions. By not condemning injustice, you condone it. And that is the signal Duke will be sending to not only our current LGBTQ+ student body, but to all future potential students applying to Duke as well.

The students insist that allowing Alvaré to speak is a rejection of “diversity, equality and tolerance” and “undermines those professed values” of the school.  What the students conspicuously omit is tolerance for other views and free speech as values. Indeed, in seeking to shutdown a speaker, the students do not even mention free speech, let alone address the implications of their actions for intellectual freedom and discourse. Instead, they insist that barring a speaker with opposing views would show that “our diversity was not just tolerated, but celebrated.” (Yet, not intellectual diversity) That, with free speech, would be eviscerated by students who want to prevent others from hearing opposing views.

The controversy is ironic for Duke which was founded by religious groups and given the motto Eruditio et Religio (Knowledge and Faith). Many alumni and current faculty and students hold opposing moral and legal views on these views. A true celebration of intellectual diversity is to allow such views to be voiced and debated. The greatest danger to Duke is not hearing the views of Professor Alvaré but silencing such views.  Being “tired” of free speech is no license to deny it.


303 thoughts on ““We Are Tired”: Duke Law Students Demand George Mason Professor Be Barred From Virtual Panel”

  1. I don’t know if free speech is the answer to eliminating intolerance … but it is my answer, our answer, our country’s answer, and I believe in it as much as I believe in anything including my religion. Thanks you again for your contributions to this topic.

  2. Orwell called them ‘thought police.’ Big tech calls them ‘fact checkers.’

    1. Intolerance is the biggest threat to freedom and the threat is from within. Russia and China are petty issues in comparison.

  3. ‘If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence. Only an emergency can justify repression.’ ~Justice Brandeis circa 100 years ago

  4. EVERY leftist (past, present and future) the world over has a criminal mind, believing they are entitled to deprive one or more rights of people (e.g., life, personal property, real property, speech, religion, keeping and bearing arms) and states (e.g., to define and recognize legal entities, such as corporation, partnerships, heterosexual social relationships, homosexual social relationships). Why? Because leftists are self-entitled (e.g., equate what they want with their right) and disrespectful of the rights of others (the core principles of criminals), which is why leftists commit nearly all crime.

  5. Has Joe Biden denied the computer belonged to Hunter?

    Has Joe Biden stated that any of the released material is not true?

    Has Joe Biden stated that anything CEO Tony Bobulinski said was false?

    Think whatever you wish about the reputations of everyone else. They don’t count. What counts is what we have seen and heard. All of it is true unless denied and explained by Joe Biden.

  6. Do you know that almost every Democrat that I know denies that bias and harassment of conservative professors, students, and invited speakers occurs at universities across America? They deny the general trend in anti-free-speech sentiment among Democrats.

    The moderates in the Democrat Party are still in the denial stage. We could be well into the next Leftist dictatorship or oligarchy before the moderates say, hey, wait a minute, maybe we should start objecting. It will be too late.


    Will the communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) release a novel coronavirus (perfected with supplemental funding from Obama in the Wuhan Institute of Virology) every time a republican runs for president (the Trump/Steele Dossier, Mueller, Ukraine phone call, impeachment, etc., didn’t work – it took a while, but commie oppo research finally found the final solution)?


    No. There will never BE another republican running for president. There will never BE another contested election in America. America is now officially a one-party, communist state.


    Will elections ever be serious, solemn and held on the actual, legal election day, polling actual, certified Americans?


    No. The communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) can not possibly loose if they have a ballots mailed to every parasite in America – the parasites far outnumber the mature, vested and actual Americans, which the Founders intended to vote.

  8. LMAO. Javanka’s lawyer wrote the Lincoln Project threatening a lawsuit over ads they put up in Times Square. This is an abusively frivolous defamation claim. In a normal era, shamefully stupid, but standard for Trumps and the amoral hucksters they hire as lawyers. I hope the news reports on it and brings more attention to the ads.


      1. If you’re going to call someone a fool, you might want to check your spelling first. ; )

  9. Professor…add a SHARE THIS LINK for the social media site that will be seeing a surge of people after election day. Parler.

    You have Twitter who is removing non-Democrats every day….Twitter is going to go under as they are killing Free Speech. Id sell my facebook stock too btw

    1. For twitter it is not about making money, but rather pushing a particular ideology. Their banker friends will give them whatever they need to stay afloat. They’ll make their money once they’ve heaved their people into power.

    1. They’ll always have a soft spot in my heart though with the courageous boys from the Lacrosse team beating down, and stomping on the Grievance Industry Liars. Epic.

  10. Love the site, articles and comments…maybe multiple comments by the same user within the same article can be “collapsed” with the option to be fully viewed with a click because as it stands it’s very much like a denial of service attack.

    Maybe an option to jump to next comment is an equitable workaround.

    Thanks for the content, it has been wonderfully useful.

  11. Defund Duke of any government money. Immediately. As well as any other marxist nest posing as “higher education”. And make it illegal for the CCP, or any foreign interest from buying off these nests of sedition and revolution.

  12. Please correct the second occurrance of “conversation” to “conversion” in:

    “entertains conversations of conversation therapy.”

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