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Author: Sanction Middlebury students who shouted down speech

Associated Press logo Associated Press 3/7/2017 By LISA RATHKE, Associated Press

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (AP) — A controversial speaker and author who was shouted down by protesters at Middlebury College and then confronted by a "mob" afterward wants the school to sanction those involved.

Charles Murray, who describes himself as a libertarian and social scientist, warned that anything less could become an inspiration for other protests and has the potential "to be a disaster for American liberal education."

"If that's the new normal then why would any college in its right mind allow a controversial speaker to arrive? Because no college wants to go through what Middlebury's gone through," he told The Associated Press on Monday.

Middlebury police are investigating the incident after Murray's talk Thursday. A professor was injured, but Murray was not harmed, the college said. The school has initiated an independent investigation, college President Laurie Patton said in a letter to the school community Monday.

"We all have the right to make our voices heard, both in support of and in opposition to people and ideas. Our concern is acts of disruption and violence, where available means of peaceful protest were declined," she said.

Murray is known for co-authoring the book "The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life," which sparked controversy over suggestions that genetics and environmental factors played a role in explaining racial differences.

During his speech Thursday, hundreds of students chanted as Murray began to speak. It forced the college to move the lecture to an undisclosed location. Murray's talk was live-streamed to the original venue, but protesters drowned it out. The topic, he said, was the divergence of the country's culture into a new upper class separated from mainstream America.

Afterward, a group of protesters surrounded Murray, Middlebury Professor Allison Stanger, and college administrator Bill Burger as they were leaving, he said. The protesters became violent, with one pulling a professor's hair, twisting her neck, the school said. After Murray and the two Middlebury staff got into a car to leave, protesters banged on the windows, climbed onto the hood and rocked the vehicle, the school and Murray said.

"If it hadn't been for Allison and Bill keeping hold of me and the security guards pulling people off me, I would have been pushed to the ground," Murray said.

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