Conservatives outraged after college rescinds invitation to George Will over offensive rape column

Conservatives are furious that Scripps College rescinded an invitation to conservative columnist George F. Will for a lecture series designed to expose students to conservative opinions.

According to Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik, Will had been invited to the women's liberal arts college to participate in the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program, the express purpose of which is to introduce students to a wide range of opinions -- "especially opinions with which we may not agree, or think we do not agree."

But as Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga argued, it is one thing to expose students to "strong conservative viewpoints," another entirely to allow someone to lecture who -- as Will did in a Washington Post column -- believes that rape victims posses "a coveted status that confers privilege."

"Sexual assault is not a conservative or liberal issue," Bettison-Varga wrote. "And it is too important to be trivialized in a political debate or wrapped into a celebrity controversy. For that reason, after Mr. Will authored a column questioning the validity of a specific sexual assault case that reflects similar experiences reported by Scripps students, we decided not to finalize the speaker agreement."

At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey disagreed, claiming that Will was disinvited because he "criticized the expansion of the term 'sexual assault' to a nearly meaningless definition, and the demand by the White House for colleges to use a minimal standard of evidence to 'convict' the accused."

After acknowledging that Scripps, as a private institution, is free to invite or disinvite any speaker it pleases without running afoul of the First Amendment, National Review's Charles C.W. Cooke chastised the school, writing that "[p]hilosophically, if not legally, this decision lumps the college in with those who propose that they believe in free expression but that there are some expressions that are too hurtful or mean or bigoted to be indulged."

Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, however, had a slightly different take on the rescinding of the offer: