Should UVa De-Platform Mike Pence?

by James A. Bacon

One might think that former Vice President Mike Pence would have earned a little cred for standing up to Donald Trump in overseeing the counting of electoral votes that resulted in the 2020 election of Joe Biden. So furious about this supposed betrayal is Trump that he has declared he would rule out asking Pence to join his ticket if he decides to run again for president in 2024. But in some quarters, the former VEEP is so racist, so sexist,  so homophobic, and his views are so reprehensible, so beyond the pale, so hurtful, that he should be denied the opportunity to speak at the University of Virginia.

With financial support from The Jefferson Council, on whose board I serve, the Young Americans for Freedom have invited Pence to speak at UVa on April 12. Five days ago, the editorial board of the student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, expressed strong disapproval of university leadership’s decision to allow the speech to take place.

“Dangerous rhetoric is not entitled to a platform,” says the editorial headline. “Speech that threatens the lives of those on the Grounds is unjustifiable,” reads the sub-head.

Yes, you read that correctly. Not only is Pence’s speech bigoted, hurtful, and violent, it literally threatens the well-being, safety and even the very lives of UVa students!

Fortunately, the impulse to condemn thought crimes is not universal in the UVa student body. In a Cavalier Daily column today, Sarita Mehta, a fourth-year student who serves as the student representative on the Board of Visitors, defended Pence’s right to speak. She shares the opinion that Pence espouses views that are racist, bigoted and hateful, but she does recognize that nearly half the country voted for him.

“The polarization and division that asphyxiate our democracy require not a further disregard of other opinions, but the summoning of every ounce of courage to look at the world as it is,” she writes. “The duty of a university is to present the world unfiltered, allowing students to determine for themselves what is wrong and right and to engage with the discomfort of difference.”

So far, UVa leadership has remained silent on the matter, which the CD editorial staff writers interpret, probably accurately, as acquiescence to the speech.

I urge you to read the Editorial Board’s entire piece. While it may be a minority view at UVa, it is an influential one — and it is scary that people think this way. The portrayal of Pence’s opinions is so distorted as to defy belief. I find myself offended (though not triggered or needing a safe space) by nearly every sentence in the column — especially the insinuation that the former VP is only one step removed from being a White supremacist.

Referring to the 2018 Unite the Right Rally,  the writers taint Pence by association with President Trump — “the man who called those same white supremacists ‘very fine people.’ Though Pence’s language may not be as overt as the white supremacy expressed during the events of Aug. 11 and 12, we must all be concerned about the message his rhetoric could imply we accept.”

Set aside the endlessly repeated lie about “very fine people” — which referred to people on different sides of the Civil War statue debate, not to White supremacists. The writers are saying that Pence’s beliefs (or what they perceive as his beliefs based on tendentious descriptions of them) are so vile, so atrocious, that they “threaten the well-being and safety of students on the Grounds.”

This is totalitarian logic. UVa is not paying for Pence to come. No one is compelling anyone to listen to his speech. But there are students and other members of the UVa community who would like to hear what the former Vice President of the United States has to say… rather than accept distorted representations of his views from those who detest him. Those people have rights, too. But in the minds of the CD editorial writers, their rights don’t warrant consideration of any kind. The tender feelings of a minority trump (so to speak) the rights of all others to listen to speakers they would like to hear.

I shudder to think what will happen when the CD snowflakes depart their academic bubble and enter the real world, where tens of millions of grotesque people who voted for Pence insist upon saying what they please, and there are no means to deplatform them. Imagine the endless triggering that will take place. While I appreciate the fact that the UVa administration appears to be siding with free speech on this particular issue, at some point it must reckon with its failure to prepare its students for the real world.

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69 responses to “Should UVa De-Platform Mike Pence?”

  1. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Mike Pence cancelled himself. And Mike Pompeo, and Ken Cuccinelli, and Jeff Sessions, and… the list is long and enduring.

    1. Randy Huffman Avatar
      Randy Huffman

      What did they do to cancel themselves? Support and work for Trump? Is that it?

      1. John Martin Avatar
        John Martin

        that is way more than enough

      2. Donald Smith Avatar
        Donald Smith

        Randy, don’t waste your time with Nancy Naive. Inane comments like that is what it does.

  2. M. Purdy Avatar

    It’s rare that I agree with Bacon, but in this instance, I do. Unlike the Orange One, who is adamantly seeking to undermine American democracy, Pence deserves to be heard. It is worthy of academic debate to have him express his views.

  3. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    UVa and the TJI are not for profits protected by government fiscal policy and are, therefore, underwritten in the public sphere. Pence has been on a national speaking campaign underwritten by yet another not for profit Young America Foundation. The article would have been more persuasive without reference to totalitarianism and snowflakes.

    And, yes, learn to accept the reality that some minority views are influential. Such does not call for negative labelling to confront.

    1. And, yes, learn to accept the reality that some minority views are influential. Such does not call for negative labelling to confront.

      I agree that the editorial board of the Cavalier Daily should avoid negative labeling when confronting things they dislike.

      1. James McCarthy Avatar
        James McCarthy

        That proscription should apply to guest commenters on this blog.

      2. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Labeling, positive or negative, is not so bad. It cuts through to the basis and helps evaluate the possible biases, to wit: Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative. Mislabeling is the problem. For example, Ted Cruz. Republican? Or, ID-10T?

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    Lots and lots of rhetoric “on bath sides”. 😉 I don’t see a problem with folks expressing their views about Pence and i don’t have a problem with Pence expressing his views. What’s the problem?

    NOW, if someone at UVA actually told Pence he could not come, I might agree with the blather-butts “concerns”.

  5. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    The editorial is typical of passionate college students convinced they are on the side of truth. As is usual with such fare, it is a little over the top. While I might agree with them that violent rhetoric should not be given a platform (I refuse to use “platform” as a verb), the examples they provide regarding Pence hardly rise to the level of violent rhetoric. They are all from interviews, op-eds, or positions he took on legislation, either as governor or as a legislator. In no instance did he advocate violence or could be said to be inciting or condoning violence.

    If the student editors object to Pence being given a chance to voice his views on campus, e.r. Grounds, then they should expend their energies trying to deny him as broad a platform or audience as possible by urging students to boycott the speech and by refuting what he has to say.

    And, just as Pence has a right to voice his views and they YAF has a right to invite him to speak at UVa,, these editors have a right to voice their opposition to his speaking, as short sighted as it may be.

    1. Thank you for taking a stand in support of the English language by refusing to use the word “platform” as a verb.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        He has tasked himself to do so.

        1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
          Dick Hall-Sizemore


        2. You’re bad.

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Eviling to the end.

    2. walter smith Avatar
      walter smith

      Good thing you corrected to Grounds…
      The Purple Shadows would have had to “correct” you…

    3. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Which editorial? The student’s or JB’s?

      Was a time when we would attend the speech, and face aft. Silence them down, not shout, then university presidents began threatening to withhold diplomas from any that “didn’t show proper respect”. I’m speaking of commencement.

  6. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Hey! Somebody changed “cancel” to “de-platform”! ‘Sokay. Works. But to de-platform Pence just take his shoes.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      You’d think that it would give the CD Pecksniffs pause that they are on the same side as Trump, who is also busy trying to discredit Pence and keep him out of the spotlight. If they had tactical brains they’d invite Pence, promote Pence, and incite the Trumpers to rage and complain. Divide and conquer. And much better copy. I’m having a hard time not knocking on that wedge in this string, myself (oh, just did.)

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        Pecksniffs–what a great word!

        1. Lefty665 Avatar

          I believe that it is descended (wink wink, nudge nudge) from “Hair sniffs”

      2. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Ah, the old “enemy of my enemy” schtick. Yeah, no. When has that ever worked? Besides, the best thing for Pence’s creds in the morass of the Republican Party is to be seen as the victim of the scurrilous radical left.

        But, you’re so quaint. Saint Ronnie’s “don’t bash each other” let the extremism rise and you still think you can control them.

  7. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Won’t the masks protect the little darlings? They could wear two the same day Pence is sharing their rarified air.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Body condoms. And, lots and lots of Frebreeze afterwards.

  8. tmtfairfax Avatar

    It seems incredible for people exercising First Amendment rights to urge that others should not be able to exercise First Amendment rights. I’m glad my kids are well beyond college age. If they thought and acted like these “students,” I’d be ashamed of them and would question paying for more of their tuition.

    1. Merchantseamen Avatar

      These “kids” are ungrateful and know nothing of the world. But hey they went to college. I asked 2 out of three who “freed” the slaves and they told me FDR in 1963. Yeah they are smart.

  9. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    It’s not Mike Pence who needs a platform but the GOP itself. Pence is working overtime to create a separate identity (Ouch, sorry to use the term identity) for himself. His YAF sponsored lecture series has contributed little to creating enthusiasm as his former Chief has $110 million to play with. His defection from P45 was very brave and Pence is being made to pay for it.

  10. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    I would invite Dan Quayle in place of Pence. He was offensive to no one.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      Murphy Brown.

  11. John Martin Avatar
    John Martin

    ““very fine people” — which referred to people on different sides of the Civil War statue debate, not to White supremacists. ” Bullshit

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      triple bullshit, yes. It’s white supremacy cloaked and recast but very much the same. Even Pence knows it even
      if he won’t call it out.

      1. walter smith Avatar
        walter smith

        It’s just too easy…
        From the SCIENCE! and reality crowd…
        OK Larry –
        Does SCIENCE! say Lia Thomas is a boy or a girl?
        Do XY chromosomes indicate that he is male?
        Should a Supreme Court Justice nominee chosen because of immutable characteristics of being black and a woman be able to answer the question, what is a woman? How do we know she is a woman if she can’t define woman?
        And, one more bit of reality for you… (which is why it is so hard to believe anything you say, and also it is uniformly wrong – that too)

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          there we are. back to the mother of all conflations…. like a parade of pecksniffs…

          1. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            No, Larry. You stated your opinion of “triple bullshit” and re-purposed white supremacy.
            I posted examples why one might question your, and all you Lefty types in the SCIENCE! (really scientism) universe, assertions.
            Prove your assertion of triple bullshit and white supremacy. You can’t, and your judgment is horrible to boot.

          2. Walter, please refrain from the use of profanity.

          3. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Sorry. I was repeating Larry.
            Will do!

          4. LarrytheG Avatar

            sounds like if you don’t follow the rules in BR, you could be “de-platformed” just like on Twitter or FB!

            See how that works ? 😉

            Gonna throw the “freedom of speech’ card?


            for the record – I never know exactly what words are allowed and not and it feels like the “rules” are sometimes inconsistently applied here in BR…. like no profanity but personal attacks, name calling, etc seem fine sometimes….

            The distinction gets lost.

            saying an argument or standard is BS is not the same as saying a person is full of BS.

            right? The former is a no-no, the later, “ok”?

          5. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            I think it was the spelling out of the word…

          6. LarrytheG Avatar

            IMHO – some of this stuff is cloaked white supremacy…. the REST of your response was more conflation blather…… all over the map as ususal.

          7. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            How is it cloaked white supremacy? Put up or shut up. If someone believes something you don’t, therefore white supremacy?
            Hardly a HO IMHO…

          8. LarrytheG Avatar

            perhaps like talking about a SCOTUS nominee who is black or ‘very fine people on both sides”, etc. or if more black folks are drawn into the criminal justice system, it’s because they have a “culture” of committing more crime, etc.

          9. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Are you talking about the current nominee? Is it off limits to criticize her? Or are you guilty of paternalism and believing she needs to be protected?
            Did Pence say “very fine people?” And you know it is out of context, right? And who said black folks are drawn into the criminal justice system because of a culture of more crime? Was that Mike Pence, or just more of your imaginary racism everywhere? Is it possible that whoever you are attributing racism to was talking about rate of crime? And I have been over this with you before, which you refuse to acknowledge, illegitimacy and the lack of a stable father presence is a huge factor in all sorts of bad outcomes. Please show how Pence is a white supremacist.

          10. LarrytheG Avatar

            I believe it was you that intimated that blacks commit crime at higher rates, no? Very fine people on both sides not out of context the many times it has been said since… we know what it means. Current nominee…. didn’t you have some words on that?

            Criticism – by all means… remarks with regard to racial – many, many examples… Should we have a SCOTUS that is fairly representative of our country’s demographics as long as they are qualified?

            why not?

          11. LarrytheG Avatar

            The whole CRT thing is IMHO an exercise in cloaked White supremacy where it is said that we need to show “both sides” of slavery but we cannot talk about Jim Crow because it’s an “inherently divisive concept” (very hard to show “both sides” of Jim Crow i guess).

          12. walter smith Avatar
            walter smith

            Larry, do you read ANYTHING other than Dem talking points? Jim Crow not being taught is a made up fallacy. What is objected to, rightly, is the concept that all of the world is a system of oppression and if you are “black,” you are oppressed and if you are “white”, you are by definition an oppressor. The whole scheme IS de facto in itself inherently divisive, as well as not true. Human beings sin. Human beings are not perfect. Never have been and never will be on Earth. Slavery exists today. Child trafficking. Drug trade. Weekly murders in American cities and we turn our eyes away. The guns didn’t magically shoot by themselves. An evil person committed evil.

          13. Merchantseamen Avatar

            OMG a new phrase “cloaked white supremacy” Oh please…give me a break.

          14. Merchantseamen Avatar

            He would not know white supremacy if it smacked him in the face. Just talking points.

  12. beachguy Avatar

    If opponents of Pence are so sure of their positions, they shouldn’t be afraid challenge his positions with facts. Short of that, they may indeed need to cry foul and make him go bye-bye.

  13. DJRippert Avatar

    The Cavalier Daily Op-Ed writers must think that nobody will follow their links where they purport to document Mike Pence’s “speech that threatens the lives of those on Grounds”. Nothing in any of the so-called references even remotely supports that absurd claim. For example, Pence never said that “Black lives do not matter” as described by the screeching commentary in the Op-Ed. He criticizes the Black Lives Matter movement as a “political agenda of the radical left”. He never claims that Black lives don’t matter. In fact, when he says, “All lives matter” he implicitly acknowledges that Black lives matter. Apparently, the editorial board of the Cavalier Daily not only lack skills in reading comprehension but in set theory too.

    I guess it’s good that UVa has dropped / is dropping the single sanction Honor System since this Op-Ed comes perilously close to lying.

    The left is drowning in its own hysteria and centrist Americans are taking notice. Poorly written, extreme, undocumented leftist allegations are being exposed all across the US and a lot of voters are getting tired of it.

    1. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      Exactly. The links did indeed expose the libel. There ought to be some rule at the CD that editors must examine original references before permitting agenda-driven opinion writers to summarize them.

  14. Donald Smith Avatar
    Donald Smith

    Finally, UVA got the idea and stopped sending me those requests for alumni donations. If this is what UVA has become, then the heck with it.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      I’m sure you’ll be missed.

  15. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    The same old gambit. Right wingers notably the Young Americans Foundation and the “Jefferson Council,” set up a provocation. In this case it is organizing a speech by Mike Pence. Then they wait for the protests. Then they scream that this is even more proff that UVA and other colleges are anti-free speech.

    For some reason, UVA is the target year in and year out. Climatologist Michael Mann was harassed by hundreds of FOIA probes because his views, in synch with most of the world’s climate scientists, did not mesh with the fossil fuel crowd.

    Next, President Sullivan, a progressive minded scholar, was temporarily forced out in a conservative putsch. The reasons for her ousting were never clear to me, perhaps because they were such a muddle.

    In 2017, UVA and Charlottesville were chosen has the venue for far right, violent types like Richmond Spencer for demonstrations that got global attention and smeared UVA.

    Now we have a tiny crowd of YAF people and the “Jefferson Council” who want to turn back the clock to the day when UVA students tended to be tweedy preppies.

    I could care less if Pence speaks there or not, but the Cavalier Daily was absolutely correct to print what it thought of the idea. Pence’s shining moment came during the Jan. 6 insurrection when he refused Trump’s scandalous instructions to void certifying Biden’s win. Pence came close to being assaulted or murdered during the far right protestors’ assaults. Talk about denying free speech! Otherwise, Pence was Trump’s toady.

    One wonders: what’s the next ploy?

    1. Wow! Inviting the former Vice President of the United States to speak is a “provocation”?

      The next “ploy” is to invite more conservative speakers to UVa so students have the ability to get exposed to points of view they don’t hear or read in their classes.

    2. James C. Sherlock Avatar
      James C. Sherlock

      So you frame the debate by stating that an invitation to a former Vice President and governor to speak is a “provocation”, Peter? You were provoked, at least. That’s one.

      Reassuring in a volatile world to see that you have not changed.

    3. walter smith Avatar
      walter smith

      Conservative putsch … You know Helen Dragas was appointed by that noted white supremacist, Tim Kaine, right?
      McDonnell re-appointed her…maybe an act of grace…maybe because of her ties to Va Beach area…maybe as a public act of reconciliation for Sullivan and Dragas. And he gets rewarded by an Obama Justice Department taking him out on bogus charges that the Supreme Court overturned 9-0 (RBG, another white supremacist ruled for him). McDonnell’s biggest problem was he wasn’t a corrupt grifter like McAwful with millions of dollars in hand…
      But maybe Dragas was right. UVA is certainly not “better” if you measure it by freedom of thought and speech.
      And Michael Mann’s numbers can’t withstand scrutiny. “Consensus” is based on sucking off the federal teat – if you want the “research” money, your thesis must support the ridiculous concept that man can control the environment and the climate in its totality. So you build your model to “prove” your thesis and you get money.
      If Mann’s “science” is so perfect, why can’t it be seen and tested? Isn’t that the basis of “science?”

    4. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Wow Pete, you really went far afield to find cases of self-promoting UVa bashing. You needn’t have gone any further than, well,… where we are.

      Toady allows Pence far more independence than he ever displayed. Trump scrathes crotch, Pence scratches crotch. Trump’s that is.

  16. beachguy Avatar

    In the early ’70s I saw then Vice President Spiro Agnew present a speech followed by a very lively Q & A session in University Hall. I found it interesting and informative with both sides exchanging plenty of verbal barbs in a reasonably civil manner. Without the assistance of “Safe Spaces” and “Tramua Counseling”, everyone managed survive unscathed, and perhaps, came away a bit more enlightened. I’m thankful the event wasn’t canceled or disrupted. A healthy free market for ideas will always trump today’s cowardly censorship.

  17. James C. Sherlock Avatar
    James C. Sherlock

    With defenders like Sarita Mehta, the former Vice President needs no enemies. She writes “the existence of the racism, bigotry and hate espoused by Pence is deeply troubling”.

    Ms. Mehta is notably lazy or deferential to the CD editorial board or both. Her links to validate Mr. Pence’s “racism, bigotry and hate” all refer back to the CD editorial board’s original editorial “Dangerous rhetoric is not entitled to a platform”, not her own research.

    That editorial, as exposed by D. J. Rippert, made similar charges against Mr. Pence that were demonstrably libelous based upon the references linked. (Question: who edits the work of the editorial board?)

    Neither the editorial board nor Ms. Mehta has published work that would get a passing grade in a first year term paper.

  18. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    As responsive as you are to the world, you are either saddened often, or mighty calloused.

  19. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    The new comments make it obvious what the game is here. Why is it important to call out the Cavalier Daily? Why set up a Pence and then bitch because some students, rightly, question it? But then, I went to college in New England in the early 1970s and there were protests over college speakers all the time. It was not a big deal.

    1. walter smith Avatar
      walter smith

      Are you aware of the Yale Law School protest recently?
      It is one thing to disagree. It is another to not be willing to listen. Or to disrupt to prevent. Yeah, police presence to allow the speech is “normal” – and then the Leftists complain of the police presence – they created the need for it! Come on – you really believe your comparison?

  20. I’m not sure I understand the fascination with what the CD says. They will say what they want, whether I think it’s logical or ironic in it’s attempt to cancel free speech. Why get stirred up about their specific opinion? Isn’t the real issue whether the administration allows the speech or not? Countless words have been expended in BR blogs and comments about Ryan and the administrations’ suppression of conservative viewpoints. Shouldn’t the point of this article be that the administration is allowing the speech in spite of strong voices to the contrary? There has, and will always be, strong minority voices on campus, in politics, and in your day-to-day. What has consistently been aired here is that actions speak as loudly as words, and there’s positive action to allow the speech. Celebrate a little victory, instead of tossing red meat out.

    1. You make a valid point. The Ryan administration deserves credit for not immediately buckling and canceling the speech — a point that I have acknowledged in both of my posts that the admin, though quiet, still seems on board. Kudos are premature at this point, however. We’ll have to see how agitated the Pence foes get, and if the event goes forward as planned.

      1. There is time left to cancel, so yes, the celebration could be premature.

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        yes, the boogeymen hide in the bushes, even when things are going well, they could emerge at any time! 😉

  21. Mar Patt Avatar

    Here’s my answer to these students–“Just don’t attend the event if it offends you so much.” Plain and simple. Go to a party instead. No one if making you attend the event.

    These students are so self serving. They’ve been raised that their way is the high way. Institutions need to start standing up to the students and let different speakers attend. If they think they would be so traumatized with the thought of Pence or someone that they think “offends” them will be on campus, then go do something else. Pretty sad that students would threaten suicide or need a safe space. The parents of this generation are going to be taking care of their kids well into their adult years because these kids won’t know how to survive in the real world.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Does anyone here remember what Colleges Campuses have been like for decades. Remember the Vietnam war. Civil Rights. Women’s liberation. Occupy wall street?

      Kent State?

      The Chicago 7?

      jeezy peezy… Conservatives act like things are happening that they’ve never seen before.

      It’s like they’ve been hiding under rocks and crawled out and are horrified at what is going on , on college campuses.

      NewsFlash: College campuses have ALWAYS been hotbeds of liberals, and yes, even radicals…

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