I was disinvited from a college debate on the campus of the State University of New York in New Paltz last March. Left-wing professors didn’t want to hear me debate a left-winger on media coverage of the elections. It was the first time in academic history, to my knowledge, that an actual debate was cancelled because of faculty objections to one side of the debate.
The ban proved to be embarrassing to the president of the university. Reminded in a letter from me that his campus website proclaims a devotion to free speech, he invited me back on October 20. Security was demanded and will be provided.
Before my rescheduled appearance, however, psychologist Dr. Jonathan Haidt was brought to SUNY New Paltz to discuss the controversy over the cancellation, in the context of whether “trigger warnings” should now be used to warn students of speech that may offend them. It looks like he got paid $10,000 for a couple hours’ work, to counsel students about the trauma from a debate that didn’t take place. Those assembled for his lecture then discussed whether a university can be for truth and social justice at the same time.
Any responsible conservative who has found himself on a “list” maintained by the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Council on American Islamic Relations knows that these groups target and try to destroy anybody who stands in the way of their achieving political power in this country. Their charges are picked up repeatedly by the media without any supporting or substantial evidence. They were used by SUNY New Paltz faculty members to create the controversy that forced the cancellation of my debate.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, a student journalist wrote a story about the Haidt lecture that included the allegations that I had “previously claimed that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that the LGBTQIA+ community is responsible for global warming.” Neither of these statements attributed to me were ever uttered by me. I didn’t even know what all those initials meant. After I brought these falsehoods to the attention of University President Donald P. Christian and other officers, a correction and apology were issued. Here is the correction:
“It has come to the attention of The Oracle that the Oct. 6 article entitled ‘NYU Professor Talks Trigger Warnings on Campus’ misattributed two claims to Cliff Kincaid, director of investigative journalism for Accuracy in Media. Mr. Kincaid has not claimed that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya nor that the LGBTQIA+ [community] was responsible for global warming.”
Here is what the student journalist attached at the end of the correction:
“Dear Mr. Kincaid,
I want to clarify a sentence in my article on Oct. 6, ‘NYU Professor Talks Trigger Warnings on Campus.’ There seems to be some misinterpretation on my part about past statements you have made, namely that, ‘President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that the LGBTQIA+ community is responsible for global warming.’
Misinterpreting a web page detailing your past statements on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website, I incorrectly attributed those aforementioned claims to you and for that I apologize. It was not my intention to misrepresent you and there was certainly no intent behind it.
To be clear, I am at fault and take responsibility for my mistake. I take great pride in my work as an aspiring journalist and it has been a humbling experience to make a mistake of this degree. We will make the necessary corrections to the article and work to improve our fact-checking process for the future.
I look forward to your appearance on campus for the rescheduled debate with Steve Rendall on Oct. 20.
Jack O’Brien, Managing Editor,
The New Paltz Oracle”
By the way, the final two parts of the “LGBTQIA+ community” apparently mean “asexuality” and the “+” symbol “stands for all of the other sexualities, sexes, and genders that aren’t included in these few letters.”
Please recall that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was responsible for helping to create the controversy that resulted in the original decision to ban me from campus. Faculty members used information from the SPLC website to argue that I was a threat to the university. None of the faculty members who used their information and raised concerns about my status as a “hatemonger” ever bothered to contact me. I was notified of the cancellation as I was sitting on the tarmac at Reagan National Airport on the way to the event. I got off the plane, got my bags, and went home. I got paid anyway (considerably less than Professor Haidt for his counseling session).
You can see the malicious pattern. The student journalist at the New Paltz Oracle goes back to the same organization responsible for the cancellation of the event to provide an “update” on how I sparked another campus event on “trigger warnings.” And he gets the facts wrong again, since he never contacted me.
On another occasion, the New Paltz student paper published an article insisting that I should have been heard because I represented the Republican Party and Donald J. Trump. This was completely false as well. Nothing in the materials from our speaker’s bureau about this debate or my speech in particular suggests that I represent the Republican Party or Trump, and I do not and never have represented either. Ironically, my prepared speech for our scheduled March 30 debate included remarks very critical of Trump. Our debates have always been portrayed as a debate between right and left, conservative and liberal. That’s all.
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