On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Andrew Klavan, a writer and conservative talk show host, gave a lecture at Boston College entitled “The Art of Being Free.” The event, sponsored by Boston College Republicans, was heavily protested due to Klavan’s history of Islamophobic, sexist, and racist comments.
As the sponsoring organization, it was irresponsible for BC Republicans to invite Klavan. Klavan, as a provocateur by trade, did not contribute to debate on campus, and instead seemed to actively pride himself on worsening the divide between viewpoints. Clubs have a right to invite whomever they would like to speak but should consider whether their invited speaker will provide any benefit to the conversation.
Klavan’s speech meandered from bashing the left to speaking about “racism against whites” to suggesting women are unwilling or unable to go into STEM. His talk offered little in the way of actively encouraging students to challenge their own beliefs. Instead, he provoked students. Klaven’s snide laughs were shared by audience members when protesters yelled through the door, worsening the divide between the two groups.
As students at Boston College, those in both groups are called to rise to higher intellectual standards than the ones in Higgins that night. The Boston College Republicans shouldn’t have invited him. A cursory Google search about his prior content or an understanding that The Daily Wire posts little more than blog posts about Twitter feuds and cable news personalities “getting owned” should have been enough to convince the organization that Klavan had no ideas worth debating at BC.
His presence, however, should not excuse some of the protestors’ actions after the event. As students left his talk, some protestors took to photographing and heckling fellow students for no discernible reason other than to make attendees uncomfortable. While these protestors need not agree with Klavan or even with the decision of their fellow students to attend his talk, these activities only further contributed to the divide between students.
BC Republicans have a right to invite speakers whom they think share their views. With that right, however, comes a responsibility to ensure that those speakers contribute meaningfully to academic debate on campus. Klavan, as a writer for The Daily Wire, is well known as a provocateur. Following the event, he went so far as to describe his experience as that of “ like Reagan after he was shot,” because of his police escort out of Higgins. If Klavan can’t handle how he was treated at BC and other institutions, perhaps it’s not everyone else who’s in the wrong.