JMC Faculty Partner Vincent Phillip Muñoz Writes about Free Speech and Charles Murray

Why I Invited Charles Murray to Speak at Notre Dame

By Vincent Phillip Muñoz
March 22, 2017

Charles Murray will be speaking at Notre Dame on Tuesday [March 28]. In light of the violent protest at his Middlebury College lecture earlier this month, I’ve been asked by a few students and faculty colleagues (but, notably, not by any senior ND administrators) to rescind his invitation.

I will not.

I also have been asked why I invited him in the first place. That I am happy to explain.

Charles Murray is speaking at Notre Dame because I and another Political Science professor assigned his book Coming Apart in our classes. His visit is one of several outside lectures that are part of this semester’s Constitutional Studies offerings.

My class, “Constitutional Government & Public Policy,” addresses some of the most important and divisive issues in American politics: abortion, gay marriage, religious freedom, inequality, freedom of speech, death penalty, race and the meaning of constitutional equality, immigration, euthanasia, and pornography.

The class is designed to prompt students to think more deeply and thoughtfully about contemporary moral and political issues. I don’t assign a textbook or “neutral” readings that summarize the issues; I require students to read principled thinkers who advocate vigorously for their respective position. I want my conservative students to read smart, persuasive liberal thinkers, and I want my liberal students to read thoughtful conservatives. Educated citizens can give reasons for their beliefs and can defend intellectually the positions they hold. That requires that we understand and articulate the positions with which we disagree.

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