‘At the risk of creating a microaggression …’
NEW YORK – Two-and-a-half years after Brown University students shut down his campus lecture, former New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly finally got to tell students about “proactive policing.”
They weren’t hecklers from Brown, though: They were Yale University students, as well as faculty, alumni and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson.
Kelly was honored by Yale’s William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at its second annual “Disinvitation Dinner” at the Plaza Hotel on Thursday night. Last year’s inaugural dinner honored columnist George Will, who was disinvited from speaking at Scripps College.
Commissioner Ray Kelly, honoree at Yale William F Buckley "Disinvitation Dinner" tells how Brown U "disinvited" him pic.twitter.com/gqj9GRx43R
— Wendy Long 2016 (@WendyLongNY) April 29, 2016
“Show me a speaker with something worth saying, and I will find you someone who is offended,” Lauren Noble, founder of the independently funded Yale program, told the audience, which brought forth a knowing chuckle.
“We need more courage on campuses today,” not the “culture of conformity” that dominates, she said.
Student activists are “little tyrants” who are “not interested” in debate, said Josh Altman, student president of the program. Otherwise critical faculty bow to these activists’ whims for fear of being branded “the C-word,” he said: conservatives.
‘Less than two patdowns a week’
The response to Kelly’s 2013 lecture at Yale, which was canceled after repeated disruptions by protesters, ended up altering Brown’s entire policy for guest speakers and allowing student activists to create a do-not-invite list going forward.
Kelly told the Plaza Hotel audience Thursday night that he was “disinvited from the podium” at Brown by the very faculty member who had invited him. He said most faculty and the Brown administration were “largely complicit” in the student-led effort to silence him.
“At the risk of creating a microaggression,” Kelly joked, “let me tell you what the Brown students would have heard had they let me speak.” The room erupted with applause.
Thank you, Ray Kelly, for speaking at the Buckley Program's Second Annual Disinvitation Dinner at the Plaza in NYC! pic.twitter.com/I6GYtCIYSj
— Buckley Program (@BuckleyProgram) April 29, 2016
Kelly gave his original speech defending the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, saying it is not racial at all. (The practice has declined in use under Mayor Bill de Blasio.)
The policy was based off of trends, eyewitness testimony and observation of social networking trends related to known perpetrators of local crime, Kelly said. It amounted to “less than two patdowns a week per officer” in reality.
Brown officials ‘failed their intellectual mission’
This preference for “proactive” over “reactive policing” resulted in several thousand fewer homicides under Michael Bloomberg than in the previous 12 years, as well as a 72 percent drop in minority deaths, Kelly said.
The policy also led to the confiscation of “thousands of illegal weapons,” he continued: “I don’t know how to say it more emphatically – this tactic saved lives.”
The police unions’ appeal of the NYPD’s court loss on its use of stop-and-frisk was squashed when Blasio took over, Kelly said, accusing the current mayor of running on a “false narrative” of the NYPD versus minority communities. Kelly called his own relationship with minority communities as commissioner “very positive.”
Brown students were right to question policing tactics because they exist “on the nexus of security and liberty,” but the university “failed their intellectual mission,” Kelly said.
That’s why the Buckley program exists, said Director Roger Kimball. “Free speech is the lifeblood of the university,” and his program is “one of the few signs of life” left at Yale.
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