Public Shaming Isn’t the Way to Deal With Teen Pregnancy

by Ericka Andersen

Maddi Runkles is an 18-year-old student at a Christian high school that refuses to allow her to walk in graduation because she’s pregnant. The story has made national news and many in the pro-life movement have chosen to support Maddi’s fight against the school’s decision. The school, Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland, claims Maddi is being punished for breaking a pledge she signed not to engage in immoral behavior. However, Maddi says she has already been punished by being removed from leadership positions like student council — and the ability to walk at graduation is taking it too far. She also told Fox News that when other students have broken the pledge — for other “immoral” actions — they were not punished to this extent: 

“There have been kids who have broken the student code and they could have hurt people or even gone to jail and they only received an in-school suspension and they’re allowed to walk this year. The school is worried about its reputation, but I think they’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to set an example for the pro-life community and Christian schools about how to treat guys and girls like me.”

While some have argued that Maddi should have to “suffer the consequences” of her actions, not everything is black and white. In this case, the school should be considering how their public shaming of a student might effect other students in the future. Had Maddi not gotten pregnant or instead, chosen abortion, no one would have been the wiser to her broken pledge. She’d have been allowed to walk in graduation, as are any other students in the class who have had sex before marriage that did not result in pregnancy. 

It is important for students to be held accountable but the school is walking on thin ice here, by showing students they will be publicly shamed for choosing life. Do we really want to provide incentive for teenagers to choose abortion? Like so many who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy, Maddi is vulnerable and needs love, grace and support — and we, as pro-lifers, should want more women to feel they have that in these situations.

Corbyn Draws Closer

by Andrew Stuttaford

First Brexit, then Trump, then….


The latest opinion polls from Britain make unnerving reading.

The Independent:

Labour has slashed the Conservatives’ lead in the polls to just five points, the latest YouGov/Times results show. The party has made consistent gains in recent weeks as leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed his message was finally getting through to voters.

The results show a four point change since last week when the Tories were leading by nine percentage points – the first time Labour had narrowed the gap to single figures since Theresa May called the snap election on 18 April.

The latest poll comes after the Prime Minister made an unprecedented U-turn over her “dementia tax” plans, just four days after making them the centrepiece of her election manifesto.

A separate poll, conducted after the Tory manifesto launch, found 28 per cent of voters said they were less likely to vote Conservative because of the social care package [the dementia tax, which I wrote about on this Corner here, here and here was part of that package].

There was plenty that was wrong about the dementia tax (it wasn’t actually a tax, but the shorthand will do, and for a few days at least, it did for the Tories) as a matter of policy. But as a matter of politics it seemed almost suicidal, threatening as it did the over-65s, voters who turn out in large numbers and who, at the time the election was called, heavily favored the Conservatives.

It was also a ‘tax’ almost tailor-made to revive old fears about the Tories as the ‘nasty party’ (a phrase, ironically, coined by Mrs. May many years ago in a somewhat broader context) not fit to be trusted with managing the nation’s healthcare.

It’s easy enough to put together an argument that those fears are unfair. That the Conservatives should even have to contemplate making it is a sign that their campaign is on the back foot. Making matters worse, it ought to have been obvious—to anyone paying attention— that proposing this ‘tax’ would have just this effect. May has not been well-served by the handful of advisers with which she has long surrounded herself.

To be fair, the polling gap between the two parties had been narrowing for a while. Politics is tribal. When the moment of decision comes people tend to revert to their tribe, something that may have been made easier for some in the Labour Party this time by the thought that they could cast a vote for their side without any danger that the far-left (too kind a description, really, for his extremism) Corbyn would actually, you know, win.

And returning to Labour would have been made easier by the dreadful campaign the Tories have fought so far. That manifesto, which managed to blend moments of green eyeshade brutality with fatuous sermons against the free market was perhaps the low point, but what preceded it wasn’t so great either.

Writing in The Spectator Rod Liddle notes (my emphasis added):

Jeremy Corbyn is not notably less popular in the Midlands and north of the country than [previous Labour leader] Ed Miliband…And he has had a good election so far. The Labour vote remains buoyant and is growing. Don’t forget that the populist revolution we have seen here and in the US and in Europe does not come exclusively from the right. Corbyn presents an anti-establishment populist left-wing agenda, much as did Syriza and Five Star (and the SNP, come to that) and he offers it to an electorate which has a certain appetite for such radicalism. If he changed his tune on immigration he could conceivably win.

May herself has presence, but does not shine on the stump. There has also been more presumption than precision about the Conservative campaign. Confident of what they have assumed would be an overwhelming victory, they have come across as complacent and more than a touch arrogant. 

The electoral math may also not be quite as helpful to the Tories as has sometimes been assumed.


The Ukip vote will migrate to the Tories en masse — but in the south, where they don’t need it. Far less so in the north and Midlands, where they do need it. There, many will remain with Ukip, especially if [UKIP leader] Paul Nuttall ramps up the anti-Islam rhetoric in the wake of the Manchester atrocity. Of the rest, a fair few will go back to the habitual berth of the Labour party….

 I had not expected the Lib Dem vote to disappear. But given that it does seem to be disappearing, it won’t turn up in the pockets of Conservative candidates. Almost anyone but — and most likely Labour.

My best guess (full disclosure: my best guesses are frequently wrong) remains that the Tories will win, although by rather less than once was assumed (with possibly interesting implications for the next chapter of Brexit). Some of the latest polling dates from before the mass-murder in Manchester, and Corbyn’s response (due today) reportedly linking the bombing to British foreign policy may infuriate voters and once again revive the many legitimate fears about his suitability for the top job.

Above all, I have to assume that these polling data will (1) persuade some voters sympathetic to Labour that a vote for Corbyn is a gesture too risky to make; and (2) scare the Tories into raising their game.

June 8 (election day) is still some way away.


by Sally Cook


A vantage point for any pot

Of small, bronzed marigold

Is next to a bare, molting tree,

Where several pale green stems uphold

Odd milkweed pods that fill the spot –

They’re edible, I’m told.

As apples redden, I can see

Some purple asters, bold,

Merging with goldenrod. The lot

Springs out of tangled mold T

o sing a muted symphony,

Which swells, as fronds unfold,


Revealing ancient ferny fans,

Hiding the withered also-rans.


Sally Cook

This poem appears in the June 12 print edition of National Review.

First Amendment Inflation

by Kevin D. Williamson

What happened with Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte and reporter Ben Jacobs is not a First Amendment issue; the First Amendment does not give reporters some extra protection against ordinary thuggery.

And it is not “Western justice,” as some of the broadcast clowns have suggested.

It is ordinary assault, something that happens every day in towns and cities across the country, and Gianforte should probably do six months in county jail for it.

There is nothing more to it, or less to it, than that.

Teacher of the Year Commits the Unpardonable Sin: Working at a Charter

by Paul Crookston

A public-school teacher who focuses on social justice won the 2017 teacher of the year award, but public-school teachers’ unions in her home state refuse to acknowledge the honor. Why? Because Boston teacher Sydney Chaffee teaches at a public charter school — and that fact is enough to designate her as an enemy of the Massachusetts Teachers Union (MTA).

In the past, the MTA has rolled out the red carpet at their convention for the winners of teacher-of-the-year awards. This year, they have the state’s first ever national teacher of the year, and in lieu of inviting her to speak and offering a stipend, the MTA refused to even approve a congratulatory letter.

Keri Rodrigues Lorenzo is a Democratic state-committee member, and she unloaded on the MTA and its leadership in her latest blog post:

President Madeloni pulled out all the stops to block the resolution from passing — forcing the item into the new business portion of the meeting when most delegates had already left instead of as pending business as it had been addressed in years past to make sure there was full participation of the body. [Madeloni] apparently even got up and lied to the membership about the Council of Chief State School Officers being a collection of “corporate sell-outs” who selected Sydney because of question 2 and their love for charter schools/Charlie Baker/Donald Trump.

Those “corporate sell-outs” include nationwide teachers’ unions, the National School Boards Association, and exactly no groups that support Donald Trump.

As I’ve noted in the past, the MTA demands absolute loyalty and stands out even among teachers’ unions for dishonest political tactics. But the president’s spreading falsehoods about the selection of the national teacher of the year is particularly shameful.

The union is evidently maintaining the anti-charter absolutism that characterized their message against Ballot Question 2 in November, which would have allowed more charter schools like Chaffee’s to open in underserved areas. Preventing those schools from opening may hurt students and families, but it keeps children inside underperforming schools that unions depend on.

The MTA makes little effort to hide how little liberal priorities matter to them. Chaffee won teacher of the year as a female teacher whose courses focus on social justice. Her school serves predominately minority students, has a black principal, and in every way fulfills democrats’ criteria for diversity, empowerment, grappling with white privilege, and so on.

The union’s obsession with power crowds out all the intersecting social concerns that the Left constantly emphasizes. It also leaves absolutely no room for the needs of students.

Medical Conscience Victory in Vermont

by Wesley J. Smith

With the attacks on medical conscience increasing, some good news. Alliance Defending Freedom has successfully obtained a consent decree that protects doctors in Vermont from having to counsel about assisted suicide to legally qualified patients if they are morally or religiously opposed. From the decree:

Plaintiffs and similarly situated medical providers do not have a legal or professional obligation to counsel and refer patients for the Patient Choice at End of Life process [e.g., assisted suicide].


That didn’t sit well with the assisted suicide advocacy organization Compassion and Choices–formerly the more honestly named Hemlock Society.  The group had filed a notice of appeal–showing the future intentions of assisted suicide pushers toward dissenting doctors very clearly.

But lacking standing–it wasn’t a party to the case–C & C finally took their jars of poison pills and went home. 

But let’s be clear: Vermont bureaucrats and assisted suicide advocates wanted to force dissenting doctors to be complicit in the assisted suicide process. And it took a lawsuit to stop them.

This is just a small skirmish in a much bigger policy and moral conflict. Even more concerted efforts seeking to force doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to participate in morally contentious legal activities in the medical context will be forthcoming, toward the end of forcing medical professionals to surrender their consciences as a condition of licensure regarding issues such abortion, assisted suicide, Catholic religious values maintained in Catholic hospitals, etc.

Good on Alliance Defending Freedom for standing firm for medical conscience!


Planned Parenthood at 100

by NR Staff

Here’s the cover of the new issue of National Review, out today for subscribers, featuring Kevin D. Williamson’s cover story on the 100th anniversary of Planned Parenthood.

For this and more insight from the best conservative writers, subscribe to National Review’s digital magazine here.

Starting the Music Up Again After the Unspeakable Happens

by Jim Geraghty

Whether or not you’re a fan of Ariana Grande, your heart has to break at the thought of a 23-year-old trying to come to terms with the twist of fate that caused a terrorist to murder her school-age fans at her concert in Manchester. The bomber could have struck just about anywhere or anytime, but he chose this performance on this night. Her concerts were something that brought her and her fans great joy; now it’s associated with this. She’s understandably traumatized, describing herself as “broken.”

The band Pearl Jam dealt with a fatal tragedy at one of their concerts in 2000, when a stampede at a concert in Denmark led to the death of nine people. The band faced accusations that they were somehow at fault for the stampede, accusations they vehemently denied, saying no one at the event communicated to them about the dangerous situation in the audience until it was too late. The band canceled their next two shows and spent about a month in seclusion, then gradually returned to the stage, eventually establishing surprisingly close and lasting friendships with the families of the fans who died.

“To have that happen while we were playing, it was hard to continue on from there because your memories get connected to things, especially music, and that was a matter of life and death that absolutely had us thinking the band couldn’t go on,” Eddie Vedder said in 2002.

You may love Grande’s music, or you may find it to be soft-core tripe. But these unjust circumstances have brought us to the point where we all have to root for the arrival of the day she sings and performs on a stage again. To be silenced would be to concede a victory to the bomber.

“Sabotaging” Obamacare

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Response To...

The Republicans Sabotaged Obamacare by ...

It’s a little odd to watch seven justices vote to strike down one of Obamacare’s key provisions–the one cutting off all Medicaid funds to states that refrain from expanding the law–and conclude that the people who won were at fault for bringing the case. If a health-care law needs that level of support from both political parties to work well, maybe it’s a mistake to enact it without that support?

After Manchester

by Andrew Stuttaford

Writing in Spiked, Alaa al-Ameri, a British-Libyan economist and writer:

Britain has a long history of (relatively gradual) immigration and, most importantly, assimilation that has been, as much as anything, the result of acceptance by host communities – mostly at the levels of the working and lower middle classes. The rise in nationalism is blamed by the chattering classes on some inherent intolerance on the part of these same communities that have been the raw material of assimilation for decades. Yet these communities understand something that is lost on their accusers.

We can have all sorts of differences in class, outlook and background, as long as there is some common thread, some notion of shared interest, history and destiny that binds us together as a community. This is what Islamists and their apologists both reject. One because it violates their claim to govern humanity in the name of God, and the other because it sounds uncouth and parochial….

Islamists, for decades, have regarded Britain not as a family, but as a place to eat and sleep on their way to somewhere else. While the privileged wring their hands and wonder what they might have done to offend their exotic guests, those to whom the house belongs are beginning to pipe up and object. Whenever they do – for example, when their kids are murdered at a pop concert – their more sophisticated relatives seem mostly preoccupied with the desire to avoid a scene.

Openly discussing Islamism is not an attack on me or any other British Muslim. We are the hostages of Islamism and its vampire preachers who weaponised Salman Abedi and used him to slaughter 22 innocents, in the midst of their joy, out of sheer spite. Speaking frankly and honestly about this horror is the only hope we have of emerging from it as anything resembling a cohesive British family.

Douglas Murray, whose new book (The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam) is one that I shall be buying soon, clearly does not expect much frankness and honesty from Britain’s political class. Yes, keeping calm and carrying on is the right thing to do and, yes, Theresa May was, of course, correct to stress that Britain would not give in, but (Murray writes in The Spectator): 

[B]eneath the defiance lie deep, and deeply unanswered, questions. Questions which people across Europe are increasingly dwelling on, but which their political representatives dare not address.

Exactly a year ago, Greater Manchester Police staged a carefully prepared mock terrorist attack in the city’s shopping centre to test response capabilities. At one stage, an actor playing a suicide bomber burst through a doorway and detonated a fake device while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘Allah is Greatest’). The intention, obviously, was to make the scenario realistic. But the use of the jihadists’ signature sign-off sent social media into a spin. Soon community spokesmen were complaining on the media. One went on Sky to talk about the need ‘to have a bit of religious and cultural context when they’re doing training like this in a wider setting about the possible implications’.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan was hauled before the press. ‘On reflection,’ he admitted, ‘we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam. We recognise and apologise for the offence that this has caused.’

…In Piccadilly Gardens [Manchester], at lunchtime on the day after the attacks, crowds of people listened to a busker play the usual post-massacre playlist: ‘All You Need Is Love’ and ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’. But just like the renditions of ‘Imagine’, the buskers are wrong. We need to do more than imagine. We need more than love. Everything is not all right. We need to address this problem, and start at the roots. Otherwise our societies will continue to be caught between people who mean what they say and a society which won’t even listen. And so they’ll keep meeting violently, these two worlds.

Meanwhile the EU is taking steps to tighten up on what can appear on the Internet.


The European Union (EU) has signed off on the first steps towards greater regulation of the internet with a vote to establish a universal set of video content censorship rules that companies like Facebook and Twitter would be forced to follow…. The EU Parliament wil have to give the final nod for the proposal to become law, but it seems inevitable that this will happen. Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip says:

“It is essential to have one common set of audiovisual rules across the EU and avoid the complication of different national laws. We need to take into account new ways of watching videos, and find the right balance to encourage innovative services, promote European films, protect children and tackle hate speech in a better way.”

And if you think that increasing government control over Internet content (this isn’t just an EU thing: ask Theresa May) will facilitate “frank and honest” discussion about what is going on, I have a bridge to sell you.

Another Reason Protectionism Won’t Work

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Robert Lighthizer, a longtime advocate for steel interests, is the new U.S. trade representative. He says that he wants to free America from “free-trade dogma.” But in practice, that wouldn’t open the door to a smarter economic policy. It would open the door to interest-group payoffs. The steel protectionism Lighthizer has advocated is a case in point, I argue today at Bloomberg View: It hurts the economy but has a powerful political lobby behind it.

An Obstacle to Single Payer

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Recent polls have found Obamacare to be at unprecedented levels of popularity while Republican efforts to replace it are very unpopular. My own interpretation of those polls: People don’t dislike the Republican plans because they favor Obamacare; they favor Obamacare because they dislike the Republican plans. The public’s dominant sentiment on health care is usually: Please, Washington, don’t do anything more to screw it up, especially if it could affect me.

In Slate, Danielle Ofri concludes from the Republicans’ problems that the public is ready for single payer. If I’m right about the centrality of public fear of Washington-imposed disruption in existing health-insurance arrangements, though, it’s bad news for single-payer enthusiasts too.

Polling on single payer has been mixed. In January, an AP-NORC poll found that 38 percent of Americans favor and 39 percent oppose “a single payer health care system, in which all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan.” If the system would involve a large increase in government spending—which it almost certainly would—the numbers shift to 47 percent opposition and 24 percent support. (The 47 percent number is my history-major math applied to the information provided at the link.)

Some pollster should ask about single payer while making it explicit that it involves replacing everyone’s existing insurance plan with a government-provided one

The Republicans Sabotaged Obamacare by Launching Unsuccessful Lawsuits Against It

by Rich Lowry

Abbe Gluck of Yale makes a singularly unpersuasive case that Republicans are responsible for the struggles of Obamacare in the New York Times, supposedly in large part by launching unsuccessful lawsuits against it. This sentence particularly stands out: “The Obama administration’s decision to allow more people to stay on their old plans than originally expected may also have narrowed the new pool of insurance customers in ways that contributed to premium hikes.” This may have some truth to it, but she doesn’t pause to note that letting people keep their plans if they liked them was a central Obama promise that helped the law get through. She is implicitly conceding that this promise so ran against the design of the law that even making a gesture toward keeping it undermined Obamacare’s implementation. 

Trump Got Trolled

by Rich Lowry

I’m open to believing the worst on Russia, but at the moment I think the likeliest theory of what’s happened is that Trump, in effect, got trolled into lashing out over the investigation and the press coverage. I wrote about this for Politico today:

Rush Limbaugh a couple of weeks ago said he was laughing over Trump’s “epic troll” of the Democrats by firing FBI Director James Comey (and meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the next day). It was really the other way around. Trump wasn’t the troller; he was the trollee…

Limbaugh isn’t wrong to identify Trump with this species of provocation. In fact, it’s possible to see Trump’s entire campaign in 2016 as one long troll of respectable opinion. He routinely stoked the outrage and disgust of the media and the establishment in a way that boosted him in the eyes of his supporters. It’s no accident that among his most ardent admirers were fellow practitioners, like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos…

How did the hunter become the hunted in the Russian controversy? Trump’s critics stumbled on a couple of his greatest weaknesses — namely, an extreme sensitivity to slights over his status (in this case, as winner of last year’s election) and to negative media coverage.

Gianforte’s Goonery Is All His Own

by Rich Lowry

There’s been some commentary about how Gianforte’s body slam of a reporter — which his campaign lied about – is the kind of thing that is bound to happen in Trump’s America. I thought Trump’s calling out of individual reporters by name at his rallies during the campaign was unseemly and wrong, but there’s no connection between that and an adult in possession of all his faculties throwing to the ground and punching someone for asking some unwelcome questions. Unfortunately, though, politics doesn’t always attract the most commendable people. Before there was Greg Gianforte (or Donald Trump), there was Michael Grimm. All that said, it’s dismaying to see some conservatives defending or making excuses for Gianforte’s assault — I guess they haven’t been paying attention to the debate on campus, where conservatives have been trying to make the case that hearing speech you don’t like doesn’t justify violence.

Uncommon Knowledge: OMB Director Mick Mulvaney

by Peter Robinson

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, John Michael “Mick” Mulvaney, director of the Office of Budget and Management, sits down with Peter Robinson to discuss the complex process of budget reform by having to blend President Trump’s budget proposal with the realities of dealing with Congress. Mulvaney explains the need for bipartisanship in budget negotiations within the Senate to get the budget passed, which means getting at least eight Democrats to vote for the proposed budget (to get to the magic number of 60 votes) and keeping Trump’s promises to his base.

Is Free Speech So Diminished That Only Recidivists Should Be Punished?

by Andrew C. McCarthy

Response To...

Louisiana Succeeds Where Middlebury Failed

Stanley’s important post on the free-speech provision enacted in Louisiana shows how out of touch I am. My first reaction, upon reading the part about how a second offense for shutting down a speaker mandates a one-year suspension or expulsion, was that the law needs a provision along the lines of: “The mandate of a one-year suspension or expulsion penalty for a second offense should not be construed to preclude imposition of those penalties for a first offense.”

To my mind, an essential purpose of the university (if the universities we now have can still be thought essential) is the free exchange of ideas, very much including ideas that students may find disagreeable or noxious. If that exchange is prevented in the university, then the university is not worth having – there being plenty of ways to access and learn important information in the 21st century without attending a college campus.

We are dealing with young people, of course. Having been one, I can attest that there are many foolish things done that might warrant discipline short of suspension or expulsion. But we are talking here about behavior that undermines the core educational mission – and, in many instances, does so through behavior that violates criminal laws against assault and damaging property. I don’t question the proposition that there could be extenuating circumstances in the rare individual case that might warrant less severe penalties. But it seems to me that preventing scholars and other experts from engaging with students should presumptively result in suspension or expulsion.

Alas, as Stanley explains, the biggest hurdle the model Goldwater legislation faces is the mandatory penalty for a second offense. I guess I’m old school when it comes to school, but I think that’s nuts.

The Feminist Case against Abortion

Oceans of Enjoyment

by Jack Fowler

From the WFB vaults are 19 hardcover and 13 paperback editions of Bill’s sailing classic, Atlantic High: A Celebration, documenting his month-long 1980 passage, with a crew of hearty friends, on the Sealestial, departing the Caribbean for Bermuda and then Spain. It is a fascinating adventure that Bill captures beautifully (as does photographer Christopher Little – the book overflows with his exceptional work).

We’re moving, so — Do you want a copy? You can have the hardcover for $20, and the softcover for $15.

Louisiana Succeeds Where Middlebury Failed

by Stanley Kurtz

The disgraceful failure of Middlebury College to seriously sanction the students who shouted down Charles Murray has green-lighted mob violence on America’s college campuses. The only realistic hope of countering this problem now lies in bills currently winding their way through legislatures in several states. While various campus free speech bills are on offer, only legislation based on the proposal I co-authored with the Jim Manley and Jonathan Butcher of Arizona’s Goldwater Institute systematically addresses the need to discipline students who shout-down visiting speakers.

Yesterday, by a margin of 66 to 26, the Louisiana House passed a campus free speech bill closely based on the Goldwater proposal. Republicans enjoy a 61 to 41 margin in the Louisiana House, with 3 independents. The bill was supported by 52 Republicans, 12 Democrats, and 2 Independents, with 13 legislators absent.

The Louisiana bill, like the Goldwater proposal it is modeled on, instructs the state university system to develop a range of disciplinary sanctions for students who interfere with the expressive rights of others. Students are to be informed of those sanctions during freshman orientation. Also, a committee created by the state university system trustees is to submit an annual review of the administrative handling of free-speech-related student discipline to the public, the trustees, the Governor and the legislature.

The trustees hold the power to fire the system’s leading administrator while the legislature holds the power of the purse. Since a bad report would constitute reason for action by either trustees or the legislature against the university, the oversight system is meant to act as a check on the administrative tendency to let shout-downs pass without punishment.

Crucially, the Louisiana bill, like the Goldwater proposal it is modeled on, includes the following provision: “any student who has twice been found responsible for infringing the expressive rights of others will be suspended for a minimum of one year or expelled.” This provision is expressly designed to prevent administrators from handing out meaningless Middlebury-style slaps on the wrist ad infinitum.

Invariably, in states considering legislation based on the Goldwater model, the provision mandating suspension for a second offense has occasioned the most comment and opposition, generally from state university systems and from Democrats. (Although note that a substantial number of Democrats voted for the Louisiana bill.) This is unsurprising, since universities desperately want to avoid handing out serious discipline to students in shout-downs. Administrators are afraid to anger students or their parents, and see caving to demonstrators as the best way to get their schools off the front pages.

While the Goldwater-based Louisiana bill does mandate discipline, it also takes the rights of students accused in shout-down incidents very seriously. The Goldwater proposal includes very strong protections for the due process rights of the accused—considerably stronger than the law requires, and far stronger than students are generally accorded in disciplinary proceedings under Title IX sexual assault cases. The annual report by the committee of trustees also serves as a check, not only on administrative weakness but on administrative unfairness to students accused in shout-downs. So while the Goldwater proposal is the only one that provides for disciplining shout-downs, it also includes critically important safeguards against abuse.

Despite this, I expect that some legislatures will remove the mandatory minimum punishment for a second offense provision under pressure from universities that don’t want to be forced to discipline shout-downs in any serious way. Even without that provision, bills based on the Goldwater proposal would still do a great deal to encourage discipline for shout-downs. Nonetheless, the public needs to know that only the full Goldwater proposal, including the critical provision mandating suspension for a second instance of interfering with the expressive rights of others, serves as a maximally effective counterweight to the kind of administrative malfeasance we’ve seen at Middlebury.

This means that we need to be more attentive to the substance of the many campus free speech bills now under consideration by state legislatures. California, for example, is currently considering two campus free speech bills. One would eliminate “free speech zones,” while the other, sponsored by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), is based on the Goldwater proposal. Melendez’s bill would not only eliminate campus “free speech zones” but would discipline shout-downs as well. The Los Angeles Times article on the two bills clearly tilts toward the less comprehensive bill focused only on free speech zones. Yet that bill would do nothing to prevent shout-downs like the ones Heather MacDonald faced at UCLA and Claremont. In fact, one of the remarkable features of the Melendez bill is that it goes beyond the Goldwater proposal and uses a threatened cut-off of state aid to include private as well as public colleges and universities in its purview. That really would have an impact on both UCLA (public) and Claremont (private).

A campus free speech bill recently passed in Tennessee has rightly received national attention. It’s an excellent bill and a major step forward. That said, while the Tennessee bill clearly prohibits speaker shout-downs, it does nothing to actually enforce that prohibition. Only bills based on the Goldwater model firmly, fairly, and systematically address the issue of enforcing sanctions for speaker shout-downs and similar acts of interfering with the expressive rights of others.

Speaker shout-downs are the heart and soul of the campus free speech crisis. We could eliminate every free speech zone in the country and the crisis would still spin out of control if speaker shout-downs continue to go effectively unpunished. Only bills based on the Goldwater model go straight to the heart of the problem. Thankfully, Louisiana has recognized this. Passage of the Louisiana Campus Free Speech Act and similar bills in other states is our best hope to counter the surrender at Middlebury.

Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at [email protected]