“No Squeeze” at Stanford: President and Law Dean Issue Apology that Omits One Critical Thing…

Yesterday, I published a column on the disgraceful actions taken by students and Stanford DEI Dean Tirien Steinbach in an event featuring Judge Kyle Duncan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Steinbach’s condemnation of Judge Duncan was chilling but hardly surprising. It is part of a sweeping environment of intolerance and orthodoxy in our institutions of higher education. Last night, Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Law School Dean Jenny Martinez issued a joint apology that is commendable in its words of regret, but conspicuous in its failure to promise any action against those who shutdown this event. It is like expressing regret over the sinking of the Titanic without addressing the design flaw.

To briefly recap the controversy. Judge Duncan was invited to speak at an event hosted by the Stanford Federalist Society. Students, however, came with the clear intent to shout down the judge and prevent him from speaking. Unable to speak, Duncan asked for an administrator to intervene and Steinbach stepped forward.

Steinbach promptly declared that “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 refused 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: I’m also uncomfortable because it is my job to say: You are invited into this space. You are absolutely welcome in this space. In this space where people learn and, again, live. I really do, wholeheartedly welcome you. Because me and many people in this administration do absolutely believe in free speech. We believe that it is necessary. We believe that the way to address speech that feels abhorrent, that feels harmful, that literally denies the humanity of people, that one way to do that is with more speech and not less. And not to shut you down or censor you or censor the student group that invited you here. That is hard. That is uncomfortable. And that is a policy and a principle that I think is worthy of defending, even in this time. Even in this time. And again I still ask: Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Duncan: What does that mean? I don’t understand…

Judge Duncan was right to be confused. A law school dean was legitimating an attack on free speech and supporting the claim that hearing opposing legal views on issues like the Second Amendment is harmful to students.

Later, Duncan told the Washington Free Beacon he was concerned that “if enough of these kids get into the legal profession, the rule of law will descend into barbarism.” He added that he was most concerned for how conservative, libertarian, and independent students were treated: “Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m a life-tenured federal judge. What outrages me is that these kids are being treated like dogs**t by fellow students and administrators.”

What he saw in that room was all too familiar for many of us. I have had conservative students ask me if they could speak freely in classes at George Washington. Conservative and Republican students routinely sit quietly as professors and students abuse conservatives and their values out of fear of retaliation. A poll at the University of North Carolina found that conservative students are 300 times more likely to self-censor themselves due to the intolerance of opposing views on our campuses.

Another recently discussed poll showed roughly 60 percent of students say that they fear speaking openly in class. That percentage is consistent with other polls taken across the country.

Consider the survey on the state of free speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The newly released Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) survey shows a growing fear among faculty over their ability to speak freely in classes or other forums on campus. Conversely, a majority of students believe that it is acceptable to shout down or block speakers who hold opposing views.

The earlier Buckley annual survey shows a sharp increase  with 63% reporting feeling intimidated in sharing opinions different than their peers. That is almost identical to the 65 percent found in other polls.

None of these issues, of course, are addressed in the letter of Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Law School Dean Jenny Martinez in their joint apology. However, there was a more concerning omission. This event was videotaped and shows students shouting down Judge Duncan to prevent others from hearing his views. It is called “deplatforming” or silencing those with opposing views. Yet, neither Tessier-Lavigne nor Martinez promise to hold these students accountable or to sanction Steinbach. They merely express regret that “staff members who should have enforced university policies failed to do so, and instead intervened in inappropriate ways that are not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech.”

We have seen this type of meaningless harrumphing before.

Years ago, I wrote about an incident at Northwestern University. Like Stanford, Northwestern embraced the idea of harmful speech as an excuse to limit viewpoints on campus. Indeed, former President Morton Schapiro was an early advocate of “safe zones” and other speech-phobic policies.

I discussed an incident involving a Sociology 201 class by Professor Beth Redbird. The class examined “inequality in American society with an emphasis on race, class and gender.”  Redbird came up with an interesting comparison for her students by inviting both an undocumented person and a spokesperson for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to separate classes.  Members of MEChA de Northwestern, Black Lives Matter NU, the Immigrant Justice Project, the Asian Pacific American Coalition, NU Queer Trans Intersex People of Color and Rainbow Alliance organized to stop other students from hearing from the ICE representative.  However, they could not have succeeded without the help of Northwestern administrators (including  Dean of Students Todd Adams).  The protesters were screaming “F**k ICE” outside of the hall.  Adams and the other administrators then said that the protesters screaming profanities would be allowed into the class if they promised not to disrupt the class.  They promised not to disrupt the class.  As soon as the protesters were allowed into the classroom, they prevented the ICE representative from speaking.  The ICE representative eventually left; Redbird then canceled the class to discuss the issue with the protesters who just prevented her students from hearing an opposing view.

The comments of the Northwestern students were predictable after being told by people like Schapiro that some offensive speech should be treated as a form of assault.  SESP sophomore April Navarro rejected that faculty should be allowed to invite such speakers to their classrooms for a “good, nice conversation with ICE.” She insisted such speakers needed to be silenced because they “terrorize communities” and profit from detainee labor:

“We’re not interested in having those types of conversations that would be like, ‘Oh, let’s listen to their side of it’ because that’s making them passive rule-followers rather than active proponents of violence. We’re not engaging in those kinds of things; it legitimizes ICE’s violence, it makes Northwestern complicit in this. There’s an unequal power balance that happens when you deal with state apparatuses.”

These students were identified in interviews by name. They had no fear of any consequences in stopping a professor from teaching a class at Northwestern. They were right. The official response to students shutting down a class to silence an opposing view resulted in a statement that the actions of the students were “disappointing that the speakers were not allowed to speak.”

Stanford is repeating that pattern by hand-wringing over the loss of free speech while refusing to make the difficult decision to hold students and this administrator accountable. To paraphrase Steinbach, there will be no “squeeze” coming from Stanford on the denial of free speech.

Of course, the letter also does not address the environment of intolerance at Stanford or the loss of diversity of viewpoints. The intolerance is reflected in the overwhelmingly Democratic and liberal makeup of faculties. A new survey of 65 departments in various states found that 33 do not have a single registered Republican. For these departments, the systemic elimination of Republican faculty has finally reached zero, but there is still little recognition of the crushing bias reflected in these numbers. Others, as discussed below, have defended the elimination of conservative or Republican faculty as entirely justified and commendable. Overall, registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans by a margin of over 10-1.

The survey found 61 Republican professors across 65 departments at seven universities while it also found 667 professors identified as Democrats based on their political party registration or voting history.

That is why I am less than impressed by this letter. After all, Dean Martinez’s first response was to make excuses for her DEI dean. Martinez explained that Steinbach’s condemnation of the judge for trying to speak publicly was a “well-intentioned” “attempt[] at managing the room” that just “went awry.”

Much has gone “awry” in higher education but it is not a question of managing a room but managing free speech.




190 thoughts on ““No Squeeze” at Stanford: President and Law Dean Issue Apology that Omits One Critical Thing…”

  1. Remove Democratic Party activists from all positions of influence and power, the Democratic National Committee is akin to the Communist Chinese Party, Marxist Ideology has no place in the Americas.

  2. “Elizabeth Warren, a banking expert . . .”

    About like Sam Bankman-Fried is a crypto expert.

    Who in their right mind cites a socialist as an expert on the economy.

  3. Jonathan: So what else is happening in the news today? Here is a sampling:

    There are more interesting docs coming out of the Dominion defamation lawsuit against Fox. Internal messages show one producer for Fox News host Tucker Carlson described the show’s audience as “especially dumb” and “terrorists”. So those of you who watch Tucker religiously you now know you are being treated as gullible suckers!

    Then, Ron DeSantis is a little embarrassed this morning. He was in Iowa promoting his new book. He was presented with a gift from someone he apparently thought was a supporter. The gift was a large white snowflake. DeSantis proudly smiled and displayed the snowflake for photo ops. It turned out the governor got trolled! Embedded in every branch of the snowflake was the word “fascist” hidden in the design. No doubt DeSantis’ PR person will examine every gift in the future.

    Finally, SVB’s Silicone Valley Bank just collapsed. The biggest bank failure in over a decade. Not to worry. If you have a SVB account you will be protected up to $250,000. The bad news is that SVB’s failure could have been predicted–courtesy of Donald Trump. In 2018, under pressure from bank lobbyists, Trump loosened banking regulations under Dodd-Frank after the disastrous bank crisis in 2008. Trump signed a new law that freed up banks, like SVB, from strict bank regulations that Trump deemed “crippling”. Those “crippling” rules might have prevented SVB’s demise. But Trump campaigned on a promise of “deregulation”. Elizabeth Warren, a banking expert, has long warned about loosening bank regulations. But no one paid any attention because Republicans, and some Dems, voted for Trump’s law. It turns out Warren was right. You can’t trust bankers to protect your interests! Maybe you should pay more attention to her warnings.

    1. Yep, it’s Trump’s fault! Who’s been in power for more than two years now? Day One, Biden reversed everything Trump did. What stopped them from re-regulating everything they now blame on Trump? Nothing.

      And here’s a clue: What’s happening right now is no accident, and ALL of it is on Biden.

    2. “Internal messages show one producer for Fox News host Tucker Carlson described…”

      Are you too daft to see what’s going on and why they would release Tucker’s internal messages when he’s not even named in the suit? It’s a hit job to take down Fox. Period. That’s the whole reason for the suit. Tucker’s show is the number one show on cable and all sights are set on taking him out, along with the rest of them. Destroy Fox News. That’s the whole game here.

    3. “Trump signed a new law that freed up banks, like SVB, from strict bank regulations that Trump deemed “crippling”. Those “crippling” rules might have prevented SVB’s demise”

      Might have prevented SVBs demise? Nope. There goes Biden lying again. Does Bidinflation have anything to do with it?
      And yes, Trump signed a new law –that was passed with bipartisan support. Why bipartisan support? Because regional and community were helped by it….and it has little to do with SVB’s liquidity problems. Biden’s American Rescue Plan with its massive spending had everything to do with SVBs collapse, along with ESG, etc. Biden is on the hook for all of this no matter how much he lies about Trump.
      Has Biden ever taken responsibility for anything he’s caused? Blame Trump is all he’s got. That’s not leadership. And it’s not reassuring to a country that needs reassurance and leadership. But then again, we all know that Joe Biden is no ‘leader’ and certainly not a ‘unifier.’ He’s a liar and a disgrace. FJB.

    4. As usual Dennis McIntyre changes the subject. He then proceeds to trash Tucker Carlson because he shows us that the leftist media lied to us about Officer Sicknick being killed with a fire extinguisher. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=64iDQdGLJgk. Now Dennis has the hutzpah to tell us that Tucker Carlson is being deceptive. The real deception is brought to you by the one and only Dennis McIntyre and his leftist comrades. Some creatures are blinded by the light of day.

      1. Thinkitthrough: Sorry but there is nothing in the fine print on this blog that says I can’t change the subject. Otherwise, I would have been kicked off years ago. Others do it all the time. Why don’t you complain about them too?

        And I didn’t “trash” Tucker Carlson. He brought that on himself when he took the 44,000 hours of video of the Jan. 6 insurrection–cut and spliced it–trying to convince his viewers, like you, that all those people inside the Capitol were just peaceful “sightseers”. That production went over like a lead balloon. But you apparently fell for it–hook, line and sinker!

        The Dominion defamation lawsuit against Fox has revealed the utter hypocrisy of the network. in promoting Trump’s lies about Dominion’s voting systems–falsely claiming they were programmed to switch votes from Trump to Biden. Recall that after Fox properly called the Arizona election for Biden Fox viewers started defecting to OAN and Newsmax. This alarmed Murdock and Fox executives. Loss of profits was the motivating factor so they decided to get on board and promote Trump’s lies about the election being “stolen”. Every Fox host did it–not just Carlson. Even when in depositions they admitted they didn’t believe what Trump was saying. That’s the hypocrisy.

        Remember this. Fox executives and hosts think you are an “idiot” and “imbecile” for believing everything they said about the 2020 election. My father warned me: “If some someone lies to you once shame on them. If they lie to you twice, shame on you”. How does it feel to played for a sucker?

        1. Dennis, are you saying that you believe everything everyone on CNN and MSNBC said about the 2020 election? Or the 2016 election?
          Avenatti was on air almost daily promoting baseless lies about Trump and Kavanaugh. He is now in prison. Rachel Moscow never even apologized for lying to her viewers night after night as she peddled baseless Russia Russia Russia conspiracies while collecting her $7million salary. Oh and then there’s Adam Schiff, a regular guest whose baseless lies are too many to count. We could go on. How about the provable lies Fake Tapper lets Biden repeat over and over with no pushback? But you get the point, don’t you Dennis?

          Remember this. CNN and MSNBC executives and hosts KNOW you are an idiot and an imbecile because you are their target audience. They know the smart folks are watching Fox instead.

        2. You can’t defame a company contracted by the government, can you?
          The lawsuit is a ruse to sink Fox News.

    5. Try this on: Blame Biden. Got it?
      This banking collapse is 100% on Biden.
      The Fed has been hiking up interest rates due to record high Bidinflation.
      Biden’s reckless spending and monetary policies is to blame, not Trump.
      Oh and buckle up, cuz it’s gonna get worse.

    6. Dennis McIntyre tells us that if your account at SVB was under $250,000 Dollars you don’t have to worry. Never mind that the employees of the depositors are not going to get paid. The problem is that ninety percent of the accounts were well over the $250,000 dollar mark and they can not get the funds that they need to pay their employees. Once again Dennis McIntyre is half-assed informed. His wounds are self inflicted.

    7. Fox News Producer at the time “Mr Pfeiffer later added: “One funny thing. Dominion was used in Ohio and Florida. Trump won them. Did they forget to rig those or all part of the plan?”
      This is what stupid people like to hear. This is how stupid liberals think.

  4. While Silicon Valley Bank collapsed, top executive pushed ‘woke’ programs
    Katherine Donlevy
    A head of risk management at Silicon Valley Bank spent considerable time spearheading multiple “woke” LGBTQ+ programs, including a “safe space” for coming-out stories, as the firm raced toward collapse.


  5. “Nature has never read the Declaration of Independence. It continues to make us unequal.”

    – Will Durant

    1. Another item that Stanford’s president and law dean failed to mention in their letter to Judge Duncan is that a crime was committed on their campus. Section 403 of the California Penal Code makes it a misdemeanor, punishable for up to 6 months on jail, for someone to wilfully interrupt a meeting or assembly.

  6. Billions and billions of dollars go to these tax-exempt universities/colleges in the form of federally administered and guaranteed student loans while these entities greedily sit on billions of tax-exempt endowments. The so-called “ruling elite” forfeited their privilege to lead nor are they at all impressive.

  7. Judge Duncan Is A Taliban Federalist

    After reviewing Judge Duncan’s bio, and being familiar with the issues linked to him, I quite understand why Stanford students were less than receptive to having the judge as a speaker.

    As General Counsel for The Becket Fund, Judge Duncan was an activist on behalf of ‘religious liberty’. Religious Liberty is a far-right cause that champions religious beliefs over public policy whenever the two conflict. Religious Libery says that one person’s religious beliefs are so, so important that laws must have carve-outs to accommodate beliefs.

    Duncan is not only opposed to abortion, but to contraception as well. Duncan, in fact, spearheaded the Hobby Lobby lawsuit defending an employer’s right to deny insurance coverage for birth control pills. Never mind that birth control pills have applications beyond birth control. Duncan believes that employers should have veto power over the privates lives of employees based on, you guessed it: ‘religious liberty’.

    Religious Liberty is the basis of Duncan’s opposition to same sex marriage and gay rights. Again we’re supposed to think that religious beliefs are so, so important they should be used as a pretext to discriminate against an entire class of people. Never mind that this idea seems prehistoric to most people under 40. But it makes perfect sense to the Southern Baptists who comprise the Republican base.


    1. I think your “understanding” of the students conduct denying a basic right to speak to anyone, let alone a jurist, is closer to Taliban ideology than anything you accuse Judge Duncan of s

    2. When laws are in conflict with religious liberty – carve outs are the WRONG answer.

      A law that conflicts with religious liberty is both unconstitutional and WRONG.
      Nor should this be specific to religious liberty. But all liberty that does not directly harm others.

      If I wish to grow orange trees in my back yard – laws that prohibit me from doing so are an unconstitutional abridgement of my liberty.

      Free will is the absolute foundation of human society.

      Those of you on the left claim a bunch of rights – many of which are absurd.
      Regardless, why are those things rights ?

      Why is abortion a right ? Why is healthcare a right ? Why is life a right ? Why is voting a right ?
      Why is education a right ?

      If you can not explain why something is a right and why that right can not be infringed on – then it is not a right.

      Religious liberty in the US is an anomalie of the fact that nearly all our founders were deeply religious but did not share the same religion.

      The error in the constitution was not including freedom of religion – but not adding teeth to the 9th amendment – which reserves all liberty to the individual.

      Regardless, when freedom of religion gets in the way of government doing something – when as you claim a carveout is required – what that really means is that the law had a much more significant conflict with individual liberty. That law is not unconstitutional because it infringes on religious liberty – but liberty generally.

      We do not as a majority have the right to impose our will on others by force because we want to.

      Infringements on the free will of individuals must be absolutely necessary and thoroughly morally justified. They must be the only means of addressing the issue, the issue itself must be necessary and critical, and the means of implementing it must infringe on free will to the least possible extent.

      Or let me ask the same question of you in a different way.

      Why is slavery wrong ?
      Or more broadly still – why is anything wrong (or right) ?

      Finally and most importantly of all – why are those of you on the left so completely devoid of any moral foundations that you do not understand any of this ?

      Humans have spent 150,000 years discovering our moral foundations.

      Those of you on the left seem to think we can toss all that and just make it up as we go.

    3. Why is anyone obligated to pay for anything for another person ?

      Hobby lobby did not seek to deny anyone anything that was their right.
      If you want an abortion – go get one.
      If you want birth control – buy it.
      If you do not like anything about your employer – find another job.
      If you do not like the insurance offered you – buy your own, or find someone who will offer what you want.

      Absolutely none of the above is governments business at all.
      Government should not be required to make carveouts for religion.
      It should be barred from making laws that interfere with peoples abilities to make their own free choices.

      An employer gets to decide what if any insurance it offers.
      And an employee gets to decide whether the terms of employment offered by that employer are acceptable.

      Slavery is immoral because it violates a persons free will. Because it takes from them control of their own life.
      Why is it moral for those of you on the left to enslave others incrementally ?

    4. “less than receptive”

      How do you sleep with yourself using such dishonest, manipulative language? They were thugs and hooligans.

      “. . . the Hobby Lobby lawsuit defending an employer’s right to deny insurance coverage for birth control pills.”

      By what right do you force a company to provide benefits that violate the conscience of the company’s owners?

      “Duncan believes that employers should have veto power over the privates lives of employees . . .”

      Seriously, just once — represent accurately your opponent’s argument. In their *private* lives, individuals are perfectly free to purchase birth control pills with their own money.

  8. time to cut all federal aid and loans for colleges and cities.

    Stop funding the Democrat Fascist Machine!

    1. “It’s the [Constitution], stupid!”

      – James Carville

      What in heaven’s name is “federal aid?”

      Article 1, Section 8, Congress has the power to tax for ONLY debt, defense and infrastructure, or “general Welfare,” and no power to establish or maintain student loans, an activity which is solely the purview of the free markets of the private sector.

      The President has no power to make loans or payoff loans.

      The singular American failure since 1860 has been and remains the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s actions regarding the suspension of habeas corpus, and the 2022 Supreme Court’s efforts on abortion notwithstanding.

    2. This is the way. Any institution that receives as little as one penny of U.S. Government money must be subject to the (full!) U.S. Constitution. Period.

      Schools may claim they’re private and not subject to this restriction should examine the source of their student’s tuition. Is there a federal student loan involved? Yes? Well, then, you’re receiving federal money and the constitution applies.

      The problem is that government has been sucking their own exhaust for so long that the freedoms and principles in the constitution are now merely obstacles to be navigated around. See the kerfuffle concerning the cutoff of federal funds to cities expressing “Sanctuary City” status. If we’re unable to cut off the money flow to this form of blatant flaunting of law what hope have we?

  9. Today in America being Republican/conservative has become an economic/legal liability as you can be fired, not hired, services denied to you or even legally challenged for being Republican/conservative.

    And this is the unavoidable end result of the GOP establishment decades long weak policies that allowed the widespread political discrimination of Republican ranks.

    Not by chance Dems/Leftists have over majority in Universities, Big Tech, Media companies, federal agencies… After displacing Republican ranks in hirings/practices.

    Political diversity is a needed condition for democracy but also political diversity is a needed condition in the public institutions of a democratic system, when a single political force have over representation in public institutions fair representation is lost obviously and political corruption reigns supreme: exactly what we have today in America.

  10. These once-prestigious universities are committing a slow and painful form of intellectual suicide. The whole point of paying a gazillion dollars for college is to get smarter, not dumber. The problem is that the dumber the students and faculty get, the less ability they have to recognize their intellectual paucity. It’s like Flowers for Algernon en masse. But prospective parents and students with functioning brain cells will eventually decide to take their money elsewhere. If the more or less free market can survive the onslaughts of the current Administration, Stanford & Harvard et al will go the way of the McRib and pet rocks.

    1. The underlying problem in Universities, and in all key social structures in America, is Dems/Leftists over majority in them leading to their political corruption.

      Places where Dems/Leftists have over majority are not serving the public interest but Dems/Leftists political agenda and that is destroying democracy in America.

      Today in America you can be fired, not hired, services denied to you or even legally challenged for wrongthink exactly like in totalitarian societies.

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