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The invulnerability of today’s academic blacklist culture

Tirien Steinbach: in favor of censorship and mob rule
Stanford’s Tirien Steinbach:
in favor of censorship and mob rule

They’re coming for you next: In order to best understand how difficult it will be to regain the free and open society that was once the United States, we need only look at recent events at the Stanford Law School.

On March 9, 2023 a mob of students and faculty, led by Tirien Steinbach, the school’s diversity, equity and inclusion dean, shouted down U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Kyle Duncan when he tried to give a lecture about the law for the school’s chapter of the Federalist Society.

You can watch a video of this mob action at the link, where Steinbach actually took the podium away from Duncan to order to give a speech defending the mob and agreeing with their effort to silence him.

The story has gotten ample coverage in the press, including the general reaction from outside the school. For example, in Texas and in California action has been proposed to bar the students involved from getting law licenses.

The law school itself initially responded very weakly, simply sending a letter of apology to Duncan.

Stanford’s response has included an email from Law School Dean Jenny Martinez and an apology from Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Dean Martinez. The dean’s initial email included nice words about free expression but was otherwise inadequate. She said the situation “went awry” rather than acknowledging the administrative failures and said nothing about disciplining the students or administrators involved.

Since then, the public pressure forced the university to take more direct action. On March 22, 2023 it issued a 10-page-memo [pdf] where Law School Dean Martinez indicated that Steinbach has been placed on leave as the university reviews her actions at the event. Even here however Martinez still appeared sympathetic to Steinbach, expressing “..concern over the hateful and threatening messages [Steinbach] has received as a result of viral online and media attention.”

In other words, Stanford Law now considers Steinbach the victim.

Martinez also announced with great fervor that the school will hold “a mandatory half-day session in spring quarter for all students on the topic of freedom of speech and the norms of the legal profession.”

My heart be still.

It is very clear that, even now, the administrators at Stanford Law are still trying to find ways of appearing to defend free speech while doing everything possible to let the perpetrators of this mob action off the hook. In fact, they are doing the same thing that Cornell is doing after a mob of its own students shut down an Ann Coulter speech. Stall, send out insincere memos, and after six months when the heat has died down reinstate Steinbach to her race-baiting job, with at best a slap on the wrist. As for the so-called law students who acted as hecklers, Martinez’s proposals mean that no one will be punished for their misbehavior. All that will happen will be a feel-good public event that will make believe things have changed, even as the school will proceed to give these same students law degrees where they can then go out and misuse and abuse the law for their own shallow political purposes.

In a sane world, every law student who participated in these kinds of mob actions would be immediately expelled. Their actions have disqualified them as lawyers.

In a sane world, these colleges would immediately fire any administrators or teachers who aided and abetted the mob. Such individuals have clearly shown they are not qualified to teach at a college level. Or any level for that matter.

We are not however living in a sane world. No amount of anger or outrage against this kind of barbaric behavior ever seems to make a difference. No one at Stanford or Cornell will be fired. No students at any college that shouts down a speaker will be expelled. The race-based Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion departments will continue to grow.

More important, we as a society always seem satisfied and willing to accept as sufficient these feel-good empty gestures. All these leftist and bankrupt institutions have to do is release insincere apologies or hold insincere events and our anger is assuaged. Even the actions in California and Texas to block these misbehaving students from law licenses is only symbolic, as it really is too distant and weak from the actual events to really make a difference.

We never seem to demand real concrete action. The closest I seen has been the decision of some judges to refuse to hire students from Yale because of that institution’s eagerness to blacklist.

It is now well past time for more direct and concrete action. Colleges and institutions and the people there who encourage blacklisting and censorship must be punished, hard. Their funds must be cut. Their enrollments must drop. And any students who graduate from these schools discover that they are now seen as incompetent and unqualified, their degrees not worth the paper they are printed on.

If we don’t begin to do this without compromise, our civilization is certain to die, and it will do so in a hellfire of genocide and hate that will make Hitler’s behavior seem tame.

Conscious Choice cover

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  • wayne

    Pink Floyd –
    One Of These Days (1971)

  • David

    When did the “free and open society that was once the United States” begin and end?

  • Dave Walden


    The founding of America was an idea – an unprecedented one, in the history of Homo Sapiens.

    As Ayn Rand reminded/admonished, “reason must be man’s only absolute.” The reasoned idea of the individual’s right to his/her own life is, therefore, not an “absolute.” As such, it is an idea that must be understood only in context.

    As you understand, the idea was never universally embraced. Within context, however, if you wish to be rational, you can compare its context following our founding, through whatever period of time you wish to cite, and then compare it to the context of the present time.

    My own “answer” is, our founding only partially politically embraced the idea (NEVER embracing it morally), largely maintained that embrace for the first 100 years or so, and beginning a little over one hundred years ago, began to rapidly abandon this unprecedented ideal. I call this abandonment our “flight from reason.”

    You remain free – at least for the present, to agree, disagree, or “feel strongly both ways,” dependent, of course, on whether you are a passenger aboard this doomed flight!

  • Richard M

    In a sane world, every law student who participated in these kinds of mob actions would be immediately expelled.


  • John Fisher

    Law schools have become training camps for wannabe commissars. As with the rest of the current ‘higher’ ed establishment, we should just let them collapse of their own weight and work on what should replace it.

  • AnnieP

    Remember that the protesting students comprised something like 80% of the 1L class. Further – they were all students who spent the last 2 or 3 years of their undergraduate studies at universities that were closed. And that’s before considering that they all agreed on this really perverted position on the treatment of paedophiles in law: illegal and immoral behaviour must in all cases be ignored even when the actor is obviously gaming the legal system.
    I think it demonstrates the outcome of Stanford’s (and probably other ranked schools) policy of admitting on the basis of equity, not accomplishment and potential. They admitted a class of intellectually feeble students who view their professional objective as a tool for social activism, and who will not blink when they lie about upholding the Constitution. It’s a highly concentrated group if political activists with a credential from a name institution. They should all be named and blacklisted by any organization with a conscience and never gain entrance to any position of authority.

  • Cotour


    “Kim Jong Un puts entire city under lockdown after soldiers lost 653 bullets – and refuses to lift it until every single one is found”

    Now to understand this properly it must be stated that North Korea is neither Socialist nor is it a “Democratic” thugocracy like Russia. North Korea is essentially a Kingdom that poses as some kind of Communist authoritarian state that employs the appearance of a judicial system. It is really a feudal state with missiles topped with nukes.

    North Korea government structure: “The leader must work through various agents and their institutions, which has the power to delay, modify, or even resist the leader’s orders. These institutions may set the overall tone and direction for North Korea’s foreign and domestic policy, make suggestions, offer policy options, and lobby Kim himself.”

    The key term in that previous paragraph is *Make Suggestions* to President (King) Kim.

    And what is the greatest threat to the King and his authority? 653 bullets in the hands of the populous.

    And now you understand why there is such a push while in power by our own government at this time (D) to blame inanimate guns for criminality and deaths caused by their use and not those individuals who misuse them.

    Why is there that illogical strawman argument employed? Because an armed populous is a direct threat to all governmental authority should government become abusive of their power against the people. And the Constitution which is unique in this regard is designed with that exact hovering threat as the second most important item listed after the first most important item, which is guaranteed Right to free speech whether the King likes it or not.

    This is just reminding every American where our unique country comes from, black, white, brown or otherwise and that it was designed with these simple tenets of freedom in mind. Never allow those in politics who seek authoritarian power on either side of the political divide to convince you otherwise.

    And that is what terrifies the King of North Korea, and any other politically empowered government entity who seeks to go over and above their politically empowered authority and abuse their power. That is the nature of the beast whether it be Left or Right, Progressive or Conservative.


    And political party aside this is what everyone in America MUST understand in order that we come together as neighbors with mutual respect no matter how contentious things may become. Whether we see eye to eye or not so we can ultimately move together successfully in our own self-interests into the future.

    Authoritarians (D or R) and those who naturally will abuse their power need you in chaos and divided.

  • Gennifer

    I watched the video of the event, and yes Tirien Steinbach showed up as an official administrator and asked the Judge to let her speak to the unruly students. She said placatory things to everyone – and then asked the Judge “is the juice worth the squeeze?” apparently suggesting to him that it would be better if he did not say what he had come to say. The students behaved like poorly-behaved 5th graders, all evidently knowing special protest behavior like finger snapping.

    But from what I saw, Steinbach does not deserve to lose her job and did not lead the protest – after some chaos, she stepped in and addressed the students, as their adult. As much as anything it was a head-on collision of a culture clash – kind of like when Bill O’Reilly appeared on The View and behaved like people did on The McLaughlin Group. He and they had very different understandings of normal behavior on a political talk show . The Judge came expecting one event and found himself in the middle of something fueled by completely different assumptions. Steinback was fulfilling her designated role and using standard methods in that context; she was trying to defuse the situation.

    If people expected her to come in as the heavy, shaming and scolding the students, they didn’t understand her job. Even if you think her job is stupid, the point is that she was never in a position to be the Heavy.

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