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Intolerance On Campus: Lucian Wintrich's Speech-Swiper Doubles Down

Instead of apologizing for her boorish behavior at conservative commentator Lucian Wintrich's speech at the University of Connecticut, Catherine Gregory is doubling down on it.

That's not only wrongheaded. It's dangerous.

Ms. Gregory, a community college counselor, claimed this week to have support "from around the world ... in the struggle against racism and fascism." But she took her tactics out of the fascist playbook.

Fascists have historically risen to power by muzzling their enemies, particularly at universities. Ms. Gregory shut down Mr. Wintrich at the Nov. 28 episode by grabbing his notes and walking off with them.

She wasn't the only person trying to silence the politically incorrect speaker, who was there at the invitation of the university's College Republicans. Much of the crowd was rudely shouting down Mr. Wintrich at every sentence. But he kept gamely on until Ms. Gregory ended the speech by walking off with it.

If anybody should have known better in that raucous crowd, it was she.

Censorship Doesn't Work

Catherine Gregory is associate director of career services and advising at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Killingly. She ought to know that silencing the speech of invited guests is antithetical to any college's purpose, whether that purpose is to expand minds, prepare students for a career or inspire them to make the world a better place.

The world won't become a better place if people like Ms. Gregory go around taking what isn't theirs, shutting down those they disagree with and causing uproars.

Yes, Mr. Wintrich is known for inflammatory talk, and the UConn College Republicans should have thought twice about inviting him. His speech at UConn was insulting at times, as was the crowd he addressed, which tried its best to drown him out.

But he had the floor until Ms. Gregory intervened. She swiped his notes, and he went after them. Bedlam ensued.

Breach-of-peace charges against him have been dropped. Meanwhile, she's been charged with disorderly conduct and petty larceny for the alleged theft attempt, and rightly so. As we have noted before, her outrageous behavior violated codes of conduct at her campus and UConn.

If convicted, she ought to be sentenced to study history. It shows that censorship doesn't win converts to a cause. It often wins sympathy for the censored.

Quinebaug officials also need to stop hiding behind the "she was on her own time" fig leaf and decide whether this is the type of person they want advising students.

'Contempt For Free Speech'

Ms. Gregory's supporters, by the way, do not include constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley. The professor at George Washington University Law School has condemned her "reprehensible" behavior in his widely read blog.

He is right to worry that her "contempt for free speech" is part of a rising intolerance on campuses nationwide, in which speech that doesn't conform to a majority's liking is suppressed.

The majority can be fickle about what voices it deems unacceptable, as history has shown.

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