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My Turn: A show of courage from New England College

The front-page headline (above the fold) of the Sunday Monitor provided an interesting commentary on how we choose to interpret events in the current partisan atmosphere.

“Grads protest Ayotte,” it read. This, of course, is nothing new. Everyone seems to be protesting Sen. Kelly Ayotte lately. As I read the article, however, it mentioned that Ayotte was being given an honorary degree by New England College, and her remarks were not political.

It seemed like the writer of the piece went out of her way to focus on a mild protest to Ayotte’s appearance. Comments from students and others were reported that emphasized that NEC was a “liberal place” and Ayotte had no business being invited there. Others were urged by activist friends to join the protest as a show of support. Some fellow speakers also did not like her being invited. I guess all of that makes good press and continues the negative coverage of Ayotte.

Perhaps instead of emphasizing the negative, however, you might have taken that opportunity to focus on the courage New England College displayed in actually trying to provide students with some diversity in their education. It is no easy thing to invite a conservative speaker onto most college campuses. Diversity does not extend to conservative thought in many cases, and students and professors often react by putting their hands over their ears and yelling over and over, “I can’t hear you. . . . I can’t hear you.”

As someone who was a young Democrat at Dartmouth, I can understand this approach. We did the same thing when Barry Goldwater came on campus. We treated him like a crazy person who wanted to plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust. We didn’t give him much of a chance to speak and we didn’t learn much about who he really was.

Perhaps the Monitor might take a breath next time and look at the glass half full. New England College should be commended for its efforts to provide students with a variety of speakers and a mix of different philosophies. We don’t have to agree with them all, but it is nice to see a college that is trying to do its duty as a liberal institution in the true sense of the word. This is a rare thing in these times.

(Glenn K. Currie lives in Concord.)

Legacy Comments7

Bruce, Would be nice if expressing 1st amendment rights was included a modicum of respect.

Good letter, Glenn.

Ah yes, the Carol Shea Porter town hall meeting. I recall that was the one where she had a retired police officer thrown out because he did not have a golden ticket to ask a question. He was shouted down by union members. They were the majority at that meeting by the way. You lefies have a short memory.

That's funny. The own meeting with Carol Shea I attended in Alton was attended by a majority of conservatives who shouted down Carol repeatedly when she attempted to explain her position. Questioners who appeared to also support Carol were also shouted doewn and subjected to intimidation by these so called defenders of free speech.

Based on the facts in the article, no one attempted to shout Ayotte down or prevent her from speaking. Her appearance was a fait accompli. Students simply made clear their differences with Ayotte, and/or their preference for a different speaker. Had she voted for Manchin-Toomey, she would likely have been very well-received, in spite of her stance on gay rights. Ayotte had a chance to cast herself in the same mold as Margaret Chase Smith or Olympia Snow. Instead, she has cast her lot with Mitch McConnell and the Party of No. Students are being lambasted for their positions here because they happen to disagree with a political figure who took a controversial and unpopular position on an important issue, and who then distorted her own position by claiming to support background checks when she in fact did no such thing. She voted for an amendment that actually would have weakened the current laws on background checks. And then she went on to limit the 1st Amendment rights of her constituents in her orchestrated town meetings--none of which were as rude as the Tea Party-dominated town meetings Carole Shea-Porter participated in in 2009.

I don't recall any of the students mentioning Manchin-Toomey as a reason they didnt want Ayotte to speak.

It just goes to show you Grant Bosse was correct in his column yesterday. The left does not want free speech and diversity. They want suppressed speech and no diversity.

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