Below is my column in Fox.com on the recent controversy at Stanford Law School over the canceling of remarks from Judge Stuart Duncan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. It was a chilling reminder of the anti-free speech movement sweeping across our universities, including our law schools.
“Is the juice worth the squeeze?” While it may sound like hipster gibberish, it could well prove to be the epitaph for free speech at Stanford University. Those were the words of wisdom of Stanford DEI Dean Tirien Steinbach in what could go down as one of the most disgraceful moments in modern legal education.
For years, free speech has been in a free fall on our campuses. Many faculty have virtually purged conservatives and libertarians from their ranks in what has become an academic echo chamber. It is common for conservative speakers to be blocked or canceled with the support of professors and students alike.
Yet, what occurred at Stanford this week shocked even those of us who have challenged this orthodoxy for years.
The Stanford Federalist Society invited Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to speak on campus. It is a great opportunity to hear the views of one of the highest ranked judicial officers in the country. Some students also are likely to apply to Duncan for prestigious clerkships so this was an opportunity to make an important connection.
However, liberal students decided that allowing a conservative judge to speak on campus is intolerable and set about to “deplatform” him by shouting him down. It was reminiscent of an equally disgraceful event at Yale Law School when another conservative speaker was similarly canceled — the law students then objected to the fact that campus police were present.
In this event, Duncan was planning to speak on the topic: “The Fifth Circuit in Conversation with the Supreme Court: Covid, Guns, and Twitter.” A video shows that the students prevented Duncan from speaking and the judge asked for an administrator to be called in to allow the event to proceed.
Dean Steinback then took the stage and, instead of demanding that the students allow for the event to proceed, Steinback launched into a babbling attack on the judge for seeking to be heard despite such objections.
Steinbach explained “I had to write something down because I am so uncomfortable up here. And I don’t say that for sympathy, I just say that I am deeply, deeply uncomfortable.”
One would expect that the next line would be a condemnation of those who refuse to let opposing views to be heard in the law school. Instead, it turns out that it was the free speech itself that was so stressful and painful for the law dean.
Steinbach declared “It’s uncomfortable to say that for many people here, you’re work has caused harm.” After a perfunctory nod to free speech, Steinbach proceeded to eviscerate it to the delight of the law students. She continued “again I still ask, is the juice worth the squeeze?” “Is it worth the pain that this causes, the division that this causes? Do you have something so incredibly important to say about Twitter and guns and Covid that that is worth this impact on the division of these people.”
It is a familiar argument for many of us in higher education. Free speech is now often portrayed as harmful and threatening to the safety of the community. Steinbach suggested that it was Judge Duncan who should be ashamed in trying to speak when others object to his views, including clearly herself.
Dean Steinbach then encouraged people who opposed Duncan to walk out in protest. Many did. That was not a problem. The problem was coming to the event to disrupt it. What is critical is that Steinbach was asked to step forward as an administrator to speak for the law school, not another protester.
The response to Steinbach’s shameful intervention was also all too familiar. MSNBC regular Elie Mystal defended the law students in preventing the judge from speaking. He called it conservative “victimization” and whining simply because the students are expressing themselves.
Mystal is the “justice correspondent” for the Nation Magazine and has written for Above the Law, a prominent anti-free speech site. He is known for racist attacks on black conservatives and has called the Constitution “trash.”
Despite his inflammatory history, I would be the first to oppose conservatives shouting down Mystal or preventing him from speaking. Yet, liberals insist that preventing others from speaking is an exercise of free speech.
Cancel campaigns are now a common occurrence in schools ranging from Yale to Northwestern to Georgetown. Blocking others from speaking is not the exercise of free speech. It is the very antithesis of free speech. Nevertheless, faculty have supported such claims. CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek showed how far this trend has gone. When conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech,” Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech. (Bilek later cancelled herself and resigned). Even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech. At University of California- Santa Barbara, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.
Stanford must now decide whether the “juice” of free speech is worth the “squeeze” of the mob. That distasteful juice mocked by Steinback is the very thing that defines and sustains higher education.
68 thoughts on ““Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?”: Stanford Dean Joins Mobs in Denouncing Federal Judge at Law School Event”
Good article. Judge called this treatment exactly what it was:
“For Duncan, the attempt to shame individual students was the most disturbing part of the Stanford imbroglio.
“Don’t feel sorry for me,” he said. “I’m a life-tenured federal judge. What outrages me is that these kids are being treated like dogsh*t by fellow students and administrators.”
Conservative students must go on offense and stay there. They must stop passively accepting this totalitarian bullying from the school they are paying tens of thousands to attend. Do Not Capitulate to the Totalitarian Left. Not one single time. Do not give them an inch. File class action lawsuits if need be. Do not sit back and accept this bullsh*t is just the way it is. Nonsense!
Why in the world would a conservative student pay to attend a leftist brainwashing camp. Surely there are real law schools out there.
And you address what ultimately will be the solution to the problem.
Vanguard Shareholders rejected ESG – investors want a return on their investment – not losses.
Woke colleges will clean up their act when parents stop sending their kids.
At the K-12 level – school choice has been fighting an uphill battle for decades – but several states have just passed universal school choice.
The more idiotic public schools get the greater the performance disparity wbtween public schools and charters and even lower cost private schools.
Businesses accross the country are discovering – go woke go broke.
What is important is thwarting govenrment force.
So long as people have real freedom to choose for themselves. There are limits to woke nonsense.
Expand that freedom and the nonsense dies.
And the actual threat to freedom is government.
Biden wants to cancel government student loans – so do I – no more government loans.
Subsidies are the means government uses to leaverage idiocy into other institutions.
I would note even the military is backing down on Woke – they faced a massive recruitment crisis
because there are just not enough Trans people who want to “be all you can be”.
I don’t know the Judge but I’m liking him already.
I’m glad Prof Turley caught this.
People should attempt to treat people like they’d like to be treated.
As Robert Malone MD described those type Stanford students behavior as a “Mass Formation Psychosis”. (aka Bat Sh*t Crazy)
They need to be in Commie/Nazi Marxist Cult Deprogramming classes.
It seems to be Opposite Day every day. Those who claim to champion diversity are absolutely intolerant of it. Those who claim to be anti-racist are the most racist among us. Those who claim to love inclusion are masters of exclusion. Social justice warriors seek to stomp out actual justice. “Alice in Wonderland” is now reality.
The dean’s hair is a mess which is why she can’t fathom that the actual acronym is diversity, inclusion, and equity – DIE – which is what’s happening to the U.S of A. All of these women muckety-mucks are an embarrasment to the foremothers of women’s rights, Susan B., etc., none of whom babbled.
That’s not a dean, that’s a failed affirmative action project.
Affirmative action is simply an invalid, incoherent political emulsifier necessary to create the appearance of having achieved the impossible mixture of political oil and water.
Oh, did I say, it’s completely unconstitutional.
I read about this earlier today. “Is it worth the squeeze”?–Maybe, when it happens as we seem to be rushing head on and it affects her, she’ll find out. Maybe she needs to read the children’s story The Giver by Lois Lowry and Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Or maybe Child 44. And they are all fiction but very prescient. Then she can think about what job she may be placed in–not what job she wants.
To bring a “guest” to the school, any school, and be absolutely rude and to teach your students that rudeness is acceptable, how will those students be ready to go out into society upon graduation. And, they want us, taxpayers (I had to pay extra this year and I am a senior citizen), to pay for their education and degree?
Annually I go to a program that I know is left of my beliefs, but I figure I may learn something. Maybe I will find that we agree somewhere along the line.
I remember when Ayaan Hirsi Ali was cancelled (2014) by Brandeis University. Because I was aware of her life, I was surprised that the elite women at Brandeis felt they could not learn anything from her.
Maybe women need to read more and think about what they are reading.
Anyone with a functioning brain stem understands what the pernicious prog/left is attempting to do to this nation. My question is this: Should we regain control of our nation, its culture and our constitution in this Federal Republic of States what can be done with these so many fully brainwashed and mis-educated masses of uncivilized thugs. How can they live within a civilized society should we be able to re-establish one? We are talking about millions of angry, misguided and indoctrinated miscreants (who are totally ignorant of their own ignorance) of all shapes and colors. This would be similar to what was done to reconstruct a civilized Germany that had been poisoned by Nazi ideology in many ways and the Germans are still dealing with the aftermath. I am more worried about how to manage these ever-increasing numbers of barbaric, ignorant hordes being prodded on by the top of the prog/left elite.
Dean Steinback publicly chastised Judge Duncan and invited the protesters to leave so he wouldn’t have a chance to violate their innocence. Satisfied, the protesters left at her request.
I’m sure Stanford believes this was an adroit instance of conflict avoidance. Charging a mob of spoiled Maoists (with rich daddy lawyers) with disorderly conduct was probably a hill Stanford didn’t want to die on (unless it’s a conservative mob; then, I suspect the response from Stanford would have been very different).
But appealing to a mob by manipulating their confirmation bias is not defending democracy. It’s certainly plausible that if enough people accept the idea of refusing to hear out their opponents, we can quickly go from loathing to killing. Then there will be plenty of hills to die on.
This episode does not make Dean Steinback a folk hero, regardless of what the school thinks. Her response would be a bad habit to get into.
Plus, there is the possibility that this whole thing was staged. By all means, prove me wrong.
Apparently spelled “Steinbach.” I stand corrected.
Do the conservative students ever stand up and say they are being made uncomfortable, deprived of their rights, and demand their due equity?
Yes, and when they do they are silenced, called vicious names, subject to administration scrutinize and investigation. expelled or driven off campus.
Nor do you have to be conservative – or libertarian.
Any voice – any deviation even from those on the left is not tolerated.
We are seeing the cultural revolution at play in the US.
The logic of the modern Left – excluding a diverse voice in the name of diversity and inclusion.
It has become readily apparent that diversity of thought has no place in the world of DEI. In other words DEI =
There is no logic to the progressive left. There is no intelligence to it.
There is no integrity to it.
There is little difference between the inarticulate clueless wing nuts here and those leading lights of the left.
70+% of democrats want ALL the J6 video made PUBLIC. *0% of all americans want it all Public.
Yet Leading Democrats and some republicans are STILL playing this idiotic game. Calling making public anything that challenges the narrative reckless, dangerous and extreme right wing.
So 80% of the country is “extereme right wing” ?
The Fact is increasing no one trusts those on the left and democrats.
Taibbi and Schellenberger have been attacked by leading democrats in congress for the unmitigated nerve of exposing the efforts of those in government to censor the speech of others.
These attacks have been vicious and cruel. They have also been laughably stupid.
For those on the left – making a completely unsupported and logically stupid argument is always sufficient.
You are not supposed to accept what they say – because they can demonstrate with facts, logic, reason that they are correct, but because they are on the left and you are required to just beleive.
There is an economic strategy that should be employed. Republicans, cConservatives, libertarians, independents and free-speech Democrats need to establish law schools that are officially commited to free speech and will expel students who violate that commitment. Over time, the graduates of those schools will compete successfully for private and public careers with graduates of the anti-free speech schools. The value of the degree from the anti-speech schools will decline. Their students will then despise their censorious leadership.
Edward – here’s hoping the University of Austin starts a law school.
Plenty of places exist that are not drowning in this left wing nut nonsense.
While schools in general lean too far left.
The total nonsense is generally limited to the most elite institutions.
What we are actually watching in real time is the best institutions in the country destroying themselves.
Parents in their right mind would not send their children to most top tier schools in the country.
They are increasingly NOT top tier.
Most people associate liberalism with classical liberalism, but liberalism, generally, is a philosophy of divergence, typically generational, sectarian, etc.
If you think life is bad owing to free speech, try life without it.
Stand back and stand by. I think they are willing to try life without it.
They can try whatever they want – for themselves.
They can not force their failure on the rest of us.
It is frightening indeed to imagine these lunatics in positions of power or authority over anyone, except their own children, and even that is a frightening thought. These intolerant, whiny wack jobs will fill government jobs and fit right in. FBI will hire them. DoJ will hire them. Every 3 letter agency will welcome these nuts into the deep state bureacracy. Or they will end up as judges vomiting their judicial activism all over the public. Or worse yet, they will end up in Congress as deranged lawmakers.
Has there been any court decisions that speak to the issue of whether blocking or canceling an invited speaker from speaking at a university is considered free speech or not and whether at a State university it’s a violation of the first and 14th amendment?
There has never been a court decision that has ruled on calculating 2+2=4, but here we are doing basic math and logic to…. ….oh, never mind
Could you kindly explain what your attached video about ‘Sea-Lioning’ has to do with the discussion here?
Thank you for your time & attention.
Yes, this is not even close to an issue. Colleges and universities that accept public funds – including research funds and government guaranteed student loans are required by law to adhere to the same rules regarding censorship as the government. Fire CONSTANTLY wins lawsuits against colleges for violating free speech rights of invited speakers or students.
Many are familiar with Ben Shapiro’s speech at Berkeley several years ago – it was discussed on this blog.
It required a lawsuit to allow shapiro to speak. Berkeley was ordered by the courts to allow Shapiro to speak and to provide security for the speech.
Increasingly left wing nut colleges do not care about losing the lawsuits. The primary objective of encounters like these is to send a message to potential campus speakers that if you do not hew to the far left – you will not be tolerated and you will not be safe.
As a result more and more speakers with positions even mildly controversial to the left are unwilling to speak on campus.
It is the perfect example of the chilling effect on speech – and that is exactly what they want.
Thanks John — I appreciate the response and explanation.
, liberal students decided that allowing a conservative judge to speak on campus is intolerable and set about to “deplatform” him by shouting him down.
It’s important to understand none of these students are liberals, nor are the faculty or administrators who support them.
amen, and thank you.
It is well past time for those not on the left to quit refering to those on the left as liberals.
They are neither liberal no want the label.
Progressive, left wing nut, socialist, marxist,
But definitely not liberal
This should prompt all of the Federal Judges to refuse to take any Stanford Law students for clerkships. The Federal Judges have an association and a means to communicate with each other. I would suggest that this is appropriate because a Dean and thereby a representative of the University failed to act when called upon to settle the situation and instead inflamed it. Boycotts can work both ways. I know that this would harm students who did not participate in the fiasco but maybe it would spur them to leave Stanford and go elsewhere.
The consequences could be worse than that.
If Stanford receives federal funding – even for student loans, it can lose it.
… liberal students decided that allowing a conservative judge to speak on campus is intolerable.
Yet, liberals insist that preventing others from speaking is an exercise of free speech.
You’re killing me Professor. These fascists are not “liberal” – they are totalitarian, the opposite of liberal. Why use a term that clearly does not fit?
Steinback, like the other knee-jerk hires for DEI programs now infesting college campuses, is nothing more than a glorified babysitter, and the students she manipulates so cleverly are blissfully unaware of how the larger leftist movement is using them. Anyone familiar with Mao’s Cultural Revolution and the ex-students who spread terror throughout China will have a deja vu moment watching that video. The sad thing is that liberal students today show a stark lack of intellectual curiosity, yet believe they will graduate from these cocoons, find jobs and be successful lawyers. There’s a limit to the number of lawyers the non-profit sector can absorb, and unfortunately these feral brats will not be trained well enough to work in a real law firm. One day they may look back on Steinback and realize that they have been used by her to push her own sleazy leftist agenda. Useful idiots don’t make good lawyers in the real world.
It really just shows how successful the demonization of anyone with conservative views has been. Kids love a ‘righteous fight’ and like in Mao’s Cultural Revolution, they are easily manipulated to their own detriment. And I’m struck by how many times the administrator said the word ‘uncomfortable.’ I’m very sure the protestors made Judge Duncan uncomfortable, and were exceedingly happy to do so. In fact, that appears to be the only reason they were there.
Maybe I am guilty of seeing the philosophy of Karl Mark in most news items like this but I think these folks are just working the Marxist and new Marxist plans of deconstruction as much as trying to prevent free speech.
Communists don’t care. Dean Steinbach doesn’t care. Just shout down anyone with whom they disagree. It’s the Marxist way !! Welcome to college campuses in 2023 America. Thank you, Jonathan, for keeping this important issue front & center.
Class-disordered (e.g. diversity or color judgment, class-based bigotry) ideologues with democratic/dictatorial dreams. This logical and practical duality is why America’s founders rejected democracy in favor of a republican form of government, administered under a Constitution with two named parties: “the People” and “our Posterity”, and designed to mitigate authoritarian progress.
The inmates have taken over the institution and not a single shot was needed. The often referred to statement attributed to Khrushchev but most likely came from Marx is becoming our reality. Marx said time (history) is on our side. What were we doing as this happened.? (paraphrased) If good men do nothing evil triumphs.