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Columnist Paul Craig Roberts attended Stanford's graduation and learned something new: Back in April, President Bush went to the university to speak to the Hoover Institution fellows but was blocked from the campus by protesters. He had to speak to the fellows elsewhere. I don't remember any press coverage of the antiwar and leftist protesters keeping the president from the Hoover Institution. Neither did Roberts, and he learned about it only because the Stanford Daily happened to reprint the April 24 news account of the event while he was on campus to see a relative graduate. The news report is here: daily.stanford.edu
Protesting is obviously legit. Preventing speech or access is not. But given the state of the campuses today, some students and professors are often furious that speakers who disagree with them are allowed on campus. In 2004 at Amherst, the announcement that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would speak provoked heated protests and written condemnation from 16 professors, including four who taught law courses but didn't believe that a justice they disagree with should be heard. Scalia's speech was delivered without incident.
But Austin Sarat, professor of law, jurisprudence, and social thought, was very unhappy. "The scope of legitimate debate on a college campus is narrower than in the world at large," he announced. Oh, yes. That's why the campuses are so far behind the world at large in debating issues and protecting free speech. A conservative commentator said of Sarat's defense of narrowness: "Legitimate discourse ... begins after the acceptance of a radical-left agenda."