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CENTER FOR DEMOCRATIC DELIBERATION PUBLIC STATEMENT ON FREE SPEECH AND CAMPUS SAFETY

The Center for Democratic Deliberation unequivocally supports the decision of the Penn State administration to decline a request for Richard Spencer, a white supremacist and president of the National Policy Institute, to speak on the University Park campus this fall. The administration made this decision based on potential threats to public safety. First Amendment rights are a cornerstone of any democracy. But the recent Unite the Right demonstrations in Charlottesville, VA, which Spencer helped to organize, ended in an unlawful assembly—declared as such by the Charlottesville police.

The Center for Democratic Deliberation is proudly committed to promoting healthy democracy. We do so by studying the most constructive forms of public deliberation. The work of the CDD helps to foster fundamental requirements of a healthy democracy: an engaged and informed citizenry, a culture of vibrant and informed deliberation, and an understanding of dissent in all nonviolent forms. The CDD steadfastly supports the protection of First Amendment rights for all and encourages free speech as an essential condition of effective democratic deliberation.

The Unite the Right demonstrations in Charlottesville led to documented violence, injury, and even death. The CDD considers those activities to constitute domestic terrorism, not lawful assembly or free speech. In fact, we understand the violent displays witnessed in Charlottesville as threats to the principles of equality, pluralism, and nonviolence to which the CDD is dedicated. We believe that First Amendment rights are best exercised and protected by fostering those principles. The Center for Democratic Deliberation therefore stands by the administration’s decision and remains committed to studying and promoting the practice of free and robust democratic deliberation in the future.