Stanford Advises Students That They Can Seek Support from the DEI Dean Who Supported Their Denial of Free Speech

In what may constitute the most tone deaf response to an academic scandal in history, Stanford University is advising conservative students involved with the recently cancelled Federalist Society event that they can “reach out” to various resources, including DEI Dean Tirien Steinbach who helped shutdown the event. It is akin to the Oscars telling Chris Rock that Will Smith is available as an emotional support coach. You know what is emotionally therapeutic for those denied free speech? Free speech.

Federalist Society leaders received an email (that went to all students) from acting Dean of Students Jeanne Merino to stress that traumatized students could seek “safety and mental health” support resources from various individuals, including Dean Steinbach.

 As previously discussed, Steinbach shocked many by condemning Judge Kyle Duncan of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit when he tried to speak at the event. 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.”

She then proceeded to denounce the exercise of free speech itself as stressful and painful for the Stanford community:

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…

It may be even more difficult for conservative students to understand how Steinbach would help them after she denounced their effort to invite Judge Duncan to speak.

The email is also telling in its reflexive assumption that such conflicts are matters for emotional support. After Steinbach condemned Judge Duncan’s effort to speak as causing untold emotional harm to students, Stanford is now moving to deal with the emotional harm from Steinbach’s words . . . by directing them to Steinbach and others.

While the email is also meant to offer support for all students traumatized by the appearance of a conservative judge on campus, it is the inclusion of conservative students that was most jarring. Conservatives and libertarians generally have not claimed that opposing views are traumatic exposures requiring safe spaces or counseling. What they seek is free speech. However, it may be easier for Stanford to offer counseling than tolerance for a diversity of viewpoints.  It could start by holding accountable those who are responsible for “deplatforming” and shouting down speakers.  It would also involve adding true diversity of viewpoints on the faculty rather than an ideological echo chamber. Instead, the law school is treating conservatives like trauma victims and offering emotional support for an environment of its own creation.

It is also worth noting that Merino suggests that the best way to deal with this free speech controversy is to curtail free speech. The email suggests that “Student organizations should consider pausing their student organization social media accounts until this news cycle winds down, as the law school and university have done. Try your best not to engage on Twitter or any other social media platform, as issues tend to escalate and trolls are looking for a fight.”

I understand that shutting down social media discussions can protect students from public criticism. However, it would also tend to reduce criticism of the law school from within the community. Any controversy will draw wider commentary and criticism. Is it better to avoid that public debate as a member of this community to avoid the trauma of contradiction? This is an existential debate over an anti-free speech culture at the school. If there is a time to be heard as a student or a group (on either side of this debate), it is now.

One group that did not take the advice are the student leaders of Stanford’s chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. They reportedly commended “every single person” who helped cancel the Duncan event, calling them “Stanford Law School at its best.”

If so, the Merino letter is Stanford Law School at its best parody of itself.



99 thoughts on “Stanford Advises Students That They Can Seek Support from the DEI Dean Who Supported Their Denial of Free Speech”

  1. How sad to see that it has come to this at Stanford Law. I have commented before on what I learned in law school years ago about freedom of speech. To wit: hate speech is , in effect, a subjective term defined differently by different people. The Supreme Court finds it an acceptable form of free speech, and has done so for decades. The basic rule is that in a free society, you can say what you please, subject to certain limits as to time, place and manner. The Court has said that disagreements and conflicts are to be sorted out in the marketplace of ideas. In this context, the behavior of the Stanford students suggests they had no clue what this elementary standard regarding the first amendment. They seemed to think it was perfectly fine to act as they did simply because they disagreed with the judge. My god! These are people who are training to enter an adversarial system. If they can’t control themselves now, how will they be able to function as responsible attorneys?

  2. Dean of Students Jeanne Merino should never have a nice day. If you see on the street tell her how you feel. If you see her out to eat, tell her how you feel. Tell her family how you feel. I see no reason for this follower of mao/stalin/hitler/polpot/obama/hillary to be able to live free, and happy, while denying the right to others.. If you are fed up with POS like her, do what antifa does, give her a milkshake. Death to the colleges run by nazi’s

    1. The judge she and fellow students were protesting was a man in authority who is against gay marriage. So in America we have the right to protest even if it’s against a small group at our own college. I stand with her and the students in fighting for equal rights to all. If that makes me a Nazi, then you have a very twisted idea of what America stands for and what freedom means.

      1. No – you DO NOT have the right to protest anywhere and everywhere you want. If you think you can abuse your power in numbers or by claiming some ‘ism” to intimidate, shout down and expel someone legitimately invited to speak in a private university setting, then YOU are the one who doesn’t know what America stands for and what freedom means. If you want to protest, do so outside of the room, down the street and/or, better still, if you have the facility (which maybe you don’t), use your words and debate people with whom you disagree or persuade people to your point of view. That is what America stands for.

        1. Do you know what protesting means? So you need to schedule and get approval from those you are protesting? It’s pretty hard to get approval from those you are protesting turns out. Protesting is defiance. Why is it okay to protest outside and not inside the room. If we are a free country, that means nobody should be given the voice and platform whose aim is to take away others’ freedom. Just because a small group invited him to speak, doesn’t mean it’s not going to be met with resistance by those who believe in equal rights such as choosing the person you want to marry.

      2. You do not have a right to disrupt a planned event. Free speech is more important then youe hate speech.

        1. The judge advocating to take away their right to marriage is hate speech. Because a small minority of students invited him and believe this vitriol, doesn’t mean there won’t be pushback. Protesting can happen anywhere, even planned events. The vast majority of Americans will stand up for the 5% of LBGTQ being attacked.

  3. Remember dear sheeple, these are the good times. Soon, when the Marxists have total power, the great American culling will commense and you’ll long for the time when you were just shouted down.

  4. Left-wing totalitarian thugs. Their idea of “free speech” is shouting down a speaker they disagree with so others cannot hear him speak.

    Now they try and pressure others to join in their protests, refusing to respect others’ rights not to protest if they don’t want to.

    America is supposed to be a land of freedom. These jerks are trying to destroy freedom. They should go to North Korea where they will find like-minded rulers and leave our freedoms alone.

      1. Yes, he is. There is no such thing as freedom to have a square circle, or to have two plus two equal five. Nor is there anything in the constitution requiring a state to recognize a “marriage” between a table and a dolphin, or between two women, even if one of them calls herself a man.

        1. Yes, and marriage is a construct of the church, not the state. Government should have no say in matters of marriage.

          1. Between a man and a woman. The LGBTQ people will fight tooth and nail to prevent hormonal therapy used to help kids align with their birth sex yet will support wholly the chemical and surgical mutilation to make them something they are not. Really quite telling of the self justification of their own depravity.

          2. If marriage is a church construct, it differs from the underlying contract by having religious significance. Any two people can join together and have an attorney draw up a contract that mimics the marriage contract without religious implications.

            Long before the craziness began, men and women got married religiously. This marriage was not the same as the state contract. That informs us that there are two parts to a marriage contract, secular and religious. The secular portion is a series of contractual agreements enforceable under the usual contract law.

            Marriage is a word the state designated to a man and woman functioning under the law. Gays could have the same legal contract as anyone else without being married.

            1. That doesn’t fit their agenda of social acceptance. You WILL see deviant sexuality as normal, you must comply or you will be persecuted.

              1. You don’t have to see what you see as deviant to be normal. You do need to give equal rights to others in our country. The majority of us believe in freedom for all and that’s why Democrats keep winning despite all the shenanigans and lining up with billionaires. Republicans just don’t get that. EQUAL RIGHTS

                1. Umm – Democrats keep winning because we aren’t monitoring or auditing elections, voter rolls, or who is voting. Because, who doesn’t have equal rights in this country? Problem is, many of the loudest brayers right now, want – and are getting – more than equal rights to the rest of us.

                  1. Keep blaming it on election fraud but I’m not buying it. I voted blue but I don’t want to do so again over vax mandates. But I will not vote Red because of the attitude you all hold on this other issue. You say we have equal rights now in this country but the person who was invited to speak at Stanford is a judge against gay marriage as well as threatening comments made by Clarence Thomas and others. So don’t claim we have equal rights while you and your party strives to strip them away..

                2. “You do need to give equal rights to others in our country.”

                  What right was denied?

                  At present it is the Democrats that are trying to deny equal rights. In the past it was the Democrats that denied equal rights. In the future if the Democrats take power they will be denying equal rights to everyone else. That is their nature, or haven’t you noticed?

                  1. The Democrats were the party of the Confederacy. In the 1960s, the South switched overnight from their Democrat roots to being Republican the day the Democrats announced they were supporting the civil rights bill.

                    1. History is quite different from what you seem to believe. Think of Robert Byrd. Think of the abuses of freedom the Democrat Party displays today. I was born to a Democrat family and remained Democrat for much of my life because it seemed to be more aligned with our natural rights, and yours too.

                      I voted independent and turned Republican to support specific candidates. I won’t vote for any Democrat again until the party understands why adherence to the Constitution is so essential. It needs to develop loyalty to it to protect the minority of which you are part. If man can give you rights outside of the Constitution, man can easily take them away.

            2. My husband and I had the mayor of a small town marry us outside in the mountains. We have been MARRIED for 28 years. We are not religious and, no, we don’t want to be called something else other than married and they shouldn’t have to either. You are advocating that only religious people should be called married. Does this mean your religiion, do you have attend church so many times a year? Where does it end with you people…

              1. Mudwellies, you are mixing up law with feelings. I have no problem with you being Married by the Mayor. I have friends that are gay who are married as well and we celebrate their marriage.

                Stop mixing law with your feelings. Try not to poke your finger into the eyes of others.

                1. Your comment mentioned using another word for marriage for those not religious or something to that affect. Seemed like you weren’t okay with gay marriage. I’m not mixing up law with feelings and don’t want to poke eyes…whatever

                  1. Mudw, You always had the right to call yourself married. I used no other term. There are two parts, contract and religious. It was traditionally of religious significance, but it is a contract. In my wife’s second career, she was a lawyer and had many gay clients. Before the law, she told them she could draw up a contract providing marital rights and helped them assert their legal rights based on their choices.

                    Today many elderly wish to get married but do not want to be bound by the marital contract. Those can have religious marriages or whatever their choice might be and refer to themselves as married instead of cohabitating. What people do in their own space is their business. The goal should be satisfaction and happiness.

                    Being OK with gay “marriage” or any other type is not a problem. At an earlier time in my life, I lived in Greenwich Village, so you can imagine the mix of people I was friends with. Maybe you make a big deal of these things, but I don’t. It is normal to me.

                    We have to be careful with the laws we create. They can come back and bite us. Women realize this when they feel unsafe in the bathrooms and dressing rooms. They are beginning to feel the pressure of competing with an XY instead of an XX in competitive sports. We are not all equal. We are all different but equal under the law.

      2. So his views align with those of Obama and both Clintons until they changed their minds to conform with the political winds.

        But you miss the point: they weren’t just “protesting” the judge, but censoring him. In a free country one has debates, not censorship.

      3. So? He opposes gay marriage. In a country founded on freedom of religion, speech and thought, he’s allowed to do that. He’s not showing up at gay marriages heckling them and disrupting their weddings is he? You don’t just get to intimidate people because they don’t believe what you do, or even if they have views you believe are offensive. I don’t think you’d like it if the same happened to you over your beliefs. I wouldn’t do this because I believe in both freedom of speech and the art of debate and persuasion, but what if I went around the country shouting down anyone arguing for trans people to be able to use same sex spaces or intimidating trans people who use same sex spaces? I feel pretty strongly about this issue, but I feel far more strongly that it is important to persuade people to your point of view, not intimidate or harass them to your point of view.

        1. No, he’s not showing up at gay weddings…just trying to get them banned in court. That’s worse. If they didn’t want to have protesters shout him down, they should have invited him for a debate and a back and forth where everyone agreed to his coming but only a small portion of the students wanted him there. And they wanted only him to share his views.

        2. So if a trans person used the bathroom they identify with in your church or private school, I am sure you and your group would calmly persuade him/her of your point of view and how you are right. Uh huh..

  5. Small excerpt from “Above the Law” by Joe Patrice, who has a different take on the incident:

    Until now, the blueprint for these folks requires whining that the protesters would be satisfied if they would simply “engage” and “ask questions.” The speaker has to keep up the conceit that speaking into a microphone from a stage for an hour and then listening to a 15-second question amounts to balanced discourse. When critics choose to protest rather than ask questions, it’s because YOU are smart and THEY are scared.

    Apparently, Judge Duncan understood the play call at one point during the festivities based on insights gathered in David Lat’s deep dive into the incident.

    At one point during the Q&A, Judge Duncan said, “You are all law students. You are supposed to have reasoned debate and hear the other side, not yell at those who disagree.”

    Alas, in a case of “be careful what you troll for,” the Stanford students actually did ask questions and it turns out Judge Duncan is not nearly clever enough to actually handle those questions.

    [The judge] lost his cool almost immediately. He started heckling back and attacking student protestors…. Someone accused him of taking away voting rights from Black folks in a southern state. He asked the student to cite a case. While she was looking up the case, he berated her, “Cite a case. Cite a case. Cite a case. You can’t even cite a case. You really expect this to work in court” [not exact quotes, but something along these lines]. When she eventually cited the one she was referring to, he said something along the lines of, “Was I even on that panel?” When she told him he was, he just moved right along with his tirade.

    He can’t remember the cases he’s decided? Along with the video above, these accounts describe a guy who came in completely unprepared for even the mildest of questions. To borrow from the judge: “You really expect this to work in court?”

    Perhaps he thought his conduct would be enough to keep the audience stirred up and prevent any questions. It would comport with someone who, as one of Lat’s witnesses put it, came in “looking more like a YouTuber storming the Capitol.”

    While I think the administration should have handled it differently, my main takeaway is that I have never seen a grown man—let alone a federal judge—comport himself so poorly.

    From the moment Judge Duncan arrived on campus, he seemed to be looking for a fight. He walked into the law school filming protestors on his phone, looking more like a YouTuber storming the Capitol, than a federal judge coming to speak.

    Lat managed to get a response from Judge Duncan, who remained defiant in the face of his own clownish antics, explicitly noting, “Did I speak sharply to some of the students? I did. Do I feel sorry about it? I don’t.”


    Judge Duncan had an opportunity to inoculate himself against the damning quotes and video clips by just saying “and I regret that my emotions got the better of me at a couple of points,” implying that his actions were outliers and any clips of rowdy student behavior was the norm. It’s the benefit of being the powerful figure in the story that he has a lifeline to recharacterize the whole event that a student wouldn’t.

    And then he didn’t take that lifeline!”

    Turley’s Fox-purchased take on the incident is to attack the students and claim this incident is an “academic scandal”. Turley is the one who is an “academic scandal”. This “judge” who enjoys lifetime tenure, came looking for a fight and behaved like a bully. He began filming protesters as he entered the building. He was defensive when asked questions about his ru lings and was totally unprepared.

    1. Let’s assume everything that is stated above regarding the judge’s behavior is accurate. I still find it incredulous that any of the students, faculty or administration at Stanford are talking about safe spaces and psychological harm.

      I went to law school in the 80s, and how things have changed. No one, absolutely no one, would have treated a federal appellate judge that way, even if he or she deserved it. Believe it or not, we also had very liberal and progressive law students back then, as well as some conservatives, but they all engaged others with dignity, respect and at least attempted well-reasoned arguments.

      Civil discourse must be maintained even when the opponent fails to play by the same rules. Period. I am not a litigator but have negotiated countless deals over the years. The “other side” does not always play nicely or fairly, But maintaining one’s composure is essential to being a good lawyer. My hope is that these students can learn that before graduation.

      1. Well, how are students suppoed to “learn” to maintain their composure when a federal judge behaves like this one did? The Fifth Circuit is notorious for rulings adversely affecting voting rights and civil rights–has been for decades–some of the big SCOTUS civil rights cases that defined civil rights came on appeal from the Fifth Circuit. This Judge was unprepared to even respond to what he must have anticipated would be criticism, but he wasn’t. Instead, he went on the attack against the law students, even to the point of filming protestors before he ever got to the podium. If there’s a “scandal” here, it’s that this judge is a thin-skinned bully who can’t even defend his own controversial rulings without attacking those who question him.

        1. “how are students suppoed to “learn” to maintain their composure when a federal judge behaves like this”

          By channeling their inner 6-yo?

          “Instead, he went on the attack against the law students, even to the point of filming protestors before he ever got to the podium”

          How is that an attack? All they crave is attention.

          “this judge is a thin-skinned bully ” LOLOLOL….pot meet kettle.

        2. Feels like you are the one coming here for a fight, Gigi. I watched the whole sorry episode and those kids (and I can only call them kids because that’s how they behaved) did indeed behave disgracefully. Your characterization of the situation is way off and makes me wonder whether you are affiliated with the students or administrator involved? I too went to law school in the late 80’s to early 90’s and we used to have spirited debates, even ones that got rambunctious. And, at times we had guest speakers who gave as good as they got in some, shall we say, robust debates. (I recall one memorable one with Thomas Sowell as a guest). But, we respected each other’s intellect; we never would have resorted to or even thought about shouting someone down so they couldn’t be heard and we didn’t resort to ad hominem attacks. And, surprise, we even still socialized and partied with each other – across all ideological stripes – outside of class.

          If the judge did come ready to film protestors, it’s probably because he knows exactly what SLS has become and was likely forewarned about kids getting ready to disrupt his talk. It’s not like these campus agitators have been exactly undercover in their tactics. And, I saw his response to the student who brought up one of his cases but then didn’t come prepared with the actual cite or the analysis. That kind of ill preparedness wouldn’t work in moot court let alone an actual court.

        3. Hey Gigi, you say, “instead, he went on the attack against the law students, even to the point of filming protestors before he ever got to the podium.” Did you criticize your buddy Buttigieg when he started filming a journalist who approached him trying to get him to answer a question about the trainwreck? Is that cherry-picking, Gigi?

        4. How are they to learn? Does it even matter? When you choose students based on their equity, diversity, and inclusion statements rather than their real merit and qualifications, does it really matter? Garbage in, garbage out.
          And, I have yet to see a truthful useful comment from you on this site. Maybe you have contributed something of substance, but I’ve never seen it. All you do is agitate, lie, and spin / spew nonsense.

  6. @Con_Tomlinson Mar 14, 2023

    “Today marks the 140th anniversary of the death of Karl Marx — one of the most evil men in history

    Marx was an alcoholic who never washed. Boils covered his body, preventing him from sitting down

    He refused to work, and drove his family to destitution — causing the deaths of his two sons from exposure and illness

    He raped his unpaid maid, and had Engels subsidise their illegitimate child

    He wrote poetry romanticising the ingesting of poison — the method by which two of his daughters would later commit suicide

    One of those daughters Marx disowned for marrying a Cuban man, who Marx insulted as ‘Negrillo’ and ‘The Gorilla’

    Marx was also explicitly genocidal — calling for ‘revolutionary terror’, theft, and murder against the ill-defined ‘bourgeoisie’

    He said ‘the next attempt of the French revolution’ should be so bloody that ‘beside [it] the French Revolution [would be] child’s play’

    He forecast a dictatorship would inevitably arise from this bloody revolution, and require absolute power to collectivise and redistribute property to achieve communism

    He idolised Mephistopheles from Faust, insisting that ‘Everything that exists deserves to perish.’

    No wonder every experiment with Marxism produces mass murder, privation, starvation, tyranny, and Hell on Earth

    Long after his death, Marx’s spectre of contempt for existence itself haunts our civilisation

    We would do good to rid ourselves of it.”

    1. “We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories. And I think that what we really tried to do is build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folk.”
      —Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter

  7. Well, I think we can all agree that these precocious law students need some professional help.

    I can’t wait to deal with these types of law students when they actually have to start practicing law.

  8. woke: rude, crude, illmannered, ignorant and dangerous are what define ‘woke’.

    as to the ‘responder’: an absolutely useless adornment to a bankrupt philosophy with a mouth bigger than its brain.

    1. These students are complete idiots ruining their chances to intern with some of the finest Judges in the USA. My they all suffer the push back they are receiving. As for the dean, I agree if anyone sees her on the street, nicely let her know she is a harm to the institution she works for. I would NOT let her pick up my dogs’ crap. Fire her NOW before she does anymore harm!!!

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