I think the school felt the fairest left/right debate would be one where no one on the right actually speaks.
A planned left-right debate at the State University of New York at New Paltz was abruptly cancelled at the last-minute based on objections to the “right-wing” views of one participant.
Cliff Kincaid, Director of the Center for Investigative Journalism at Accuracy in Media, told Campus Reform that he had been scheduled to debate Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting founder Jeff Cohen on March 30 on the topic of media coverage of the presidential campaign, only to be informed of the cancellation that very morning as he prepared to board a plane bound for New York.
“It’s part of our purpose to engage in the free exchange of ideas…”
According to The New Paltz Oracle, Mike Patterson, director of the Office of Student Activities and Union Services, announced the cancellation in a campus-wide email that afternoon, explaining that “the intended purpose for our community would likely not be achieved” because opposition to Kincaid’s political positions was expected to overshadow the event.
“The whole conversation wasn’t going to be a debate but rather be a ‘we don’t like Kincaid’ conversation,” Patterson wrote. “All of the people in our office were in on the conversation to cancel the event. We collectively agreed that the goal of the program got out of hand and went beyond what it needed to be.”
Patterson did not specify the source of the objections to Kincaid’s appearance, but a faculty email exchange obtained by The Oracle reveals that sociology professor Dr. Anne Roschelle helped lead the opposition, raising the alarm about unflattering characterizations in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Extremist File” on Kincaid.
“Masquerading as a media watchdog, Cliff Kincaid is actually an unrepentant propagandist for extremist right-wing causes who knows few boundaries in his attempts to smear liberal foes,” SPLC states. “Among his wild pronouncements … are the claims that global warming is a scam perpetrated by the ‘religious left,’ that President Obama is a socialist Muslim, and that Marxist elements have hijacked the Roman Catholic Church in order to facilitate a ‘foreign invasion of the U.S.’ by Latinos.”