The Bell Curve challenges Freedom of Speech

By: Alex Bock 

There has been a considerable rise in the number of student protests on college campuses across the nation in recent years. Racial oppression, gun violence and environmental issues have all been topics of these student-led protests, and you can anticipate there to be more protests on similar issues for generations to come. 

One political scientist and writer has created quite a stir among not only minority students but all minorities, that man is Charles Murray. Murray has visited numerous college campuses around the country, discussing some of his most notable written works; including The Bell Curve and Coming Apart and Losing Ground. While he hasn’t visited Niagara, the University recently held a talk in the Castellani Art Museum, discussing not only the significance and controversy behind Murray’s writings, but also the importance of speaking out against ongoing issues. 

“His project was racist to begin with,” stated Dr. David Reilly, a Professor of political science at Niagara. “I think it’s an inherently racist question.” That question stems from the controversy in some of Murray’s writings. In his most notorious book, The Bell Curve, Murray ties together race and IQ, believing that those with a higher IQ are predominantly white. In an interview with NPR’s Michelle Martin, Murray elaborates on the book and its main purpose. 

“Why did it become so controversial? It is because IQ all by itself is kind of a flashpoint, IQ and race,” Murray explained. “If you put that into a book, even if it’s one small part of a very long book, the book becomes about IQ and race. And so I think that what I experienced after that is as simple as I violated a taboo.” 

While Murray goes on to explain that the article in itself is not based on simply IQ and race being tied together, readers still argued over the seemingly discriminatory content in which the book included. This ties back to college students holding rallies against issues such as racial discrimination, much like the one held here at NU in 2015, where African American students took part in the protest relating to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. 

“Having a diversity of sources is crucial,” Dr. Reilly explained. “A really strong catholic teaching about non-violence is beneficial. That makes these kinds of talks so important.” 


The more education the better, as students who choose to protest these issues are speaking out more as a result of a greater education on racial, economic and political views, as well as rights protected by the first amendment, including freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and the right to petition the government. “Trust the experts,” Dr. Reilly stated. 

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