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EDITORIAL: Campus mobs are modern-day book burners

Conservative speakers aren’t the only ones at risk of getting shouted down on college campuses.

Last week, Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers, a Democrat and self-described feminist, attempted to give a speech at Lewis &Clark Law School in Portland, Ore. She’s on the left side of the political spectrum but is willing to challenge some of its sacred cows. The pinned tweet on her Twitter profile reads, “Want to close wage gap? Step one: Change your major from feminist dance therapy to electrical engineering. #NationalOffendACollegeStudentDay

That was too much for some students. Nine student groups called her a “known fascist” and demanded the Federalist Society withdraw her invitation. Protesters interrupted her with songs and chants. Janet Steverson, the law school’s dean of diversity and inclusion, eventually asked Ms. Sommers to cut her remarks short and take student questions. So much for diversity of thought and inclusion.

It was such an ugly display that it even got the attention of New York Times writer Bari Weiss. Ms. Weiss condemned those attempting “to significantly redraw the bounds of acceptable thought and speech.” Ms. Weiss detailed several other left-of-center women who’ve faced heated attacks for daring to stray from liberal orthodoxy.

“They are trying to make criticism of identity politics, radical Islam and third-wave feminism, among various other subjects, verboten,” she wrote of the campus mobs.

You saw that earlier this month at Middlebury College. One year ago, Charles Murray, author of “The Bell Curve,” arrived on campus to deliver a speech. The crowd shouted him down, and eventually a mob injured a liberal professor escorting him. Last week, the campus paper published a retrospective and a photograph of Murray. It also included an editor’s note practically apologizing for the photo.

“I wish to explain the photograph on page A1 to the readers,” wrote editor Ethan Brady. He said that most of his editors thought it would be “inappropriate” to run it. Running a photo to illustrate an incident that made international news isn’t something for which an editor should ask forgiveness. Perhaps Mr. Brady should consider other work.

Former Evergreen State College professor Bret Weinstein understands what’s really going on. Mr. Weinstein was the Bernie Sanders supporter whom students labeled a white supremacist for questioning their demand that white students not come on campus during a “Day of Absence.”

“Rather than staying away, holding another event, or protesting at the venue, one faction asserts a right to control what others may listen to,” tweeted Mr. Weinstein about what happened to Ms. Sommers. “It is a variant of book burning.”

Exactly. When members of the mob shout down speakers with whom they disagree, it should be characterized — and condemned — as such.

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