Category Archives: Speakers, Panels and Events

George Will to Dissect the Assault on Free Speech

The Jefferson Council invites you to hear George Will April 25th at the University of Virginia. The topic of his address could not be more timely: “The Bad Ideas Fueling Today’s Attack on The Best Idea — Free Speech.”

Will began writing national syndicated columns in 1976, making him one of the longest-running pundits of our time. He’s also one of the best, winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1977. Age has not in the least dimmed his way with words or the incisiveness of his critiques.

The assault on free speech has been a top-of-mind issue for the conservative columnist recently. Consider a recent column he wrote about campus radicals at Stanford who shut down the speech of federal Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan.

The noun “parent” has become a verb as many people embrace the belief that perfectibility can be approximated if parents are sufficiently diligent about child-rearing. So, “helicopter parents” hover over their offspring to spare them abrasive encounters with the world. And “participation trophies” are given to everyone on the soccer team, lest the excellence of a few dent others’ self-esteem — the fuel that supposedly propels upward social mobility.
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Douglas Murray’s “Notes on the State of Virginia”

The University of Virginia was the first stop for Douglas Murray, author of “The War on the West,” in a multi-campus speaking tour last month. He was accompanied by Marion Smith, president of the Common Sense Society, the lead organizer of the tour. (The Jefferson Council co-sponsored Murray’s appearance at UVa.)

It is illuminating to read the reactions of both Murray and Smith upon the completion of the tour.

Wrote Murray in the U.K. publication The Spectator:

I started my week at the University of Virginia. It is one of the many American universities which have serious problems because of their founding – probably the majority do. In this case the University of Virginia has a problem because it was founded by Thomas Jefferson.

Until recent years, being founded by Jefferson – whether in the case of the United States or a university – was a badge of honour. Today it is a mark of Cain.

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TJC Sponsors Debate on Climate Policy

Climate change, it is commonly said, is “settled science,” so there is nothing much to discuss but the details. Advocates of the proposition that rising CO2 levels are creating an existential crisis for mankind typically refuse to contend with skeptics in an open forum on the grounds that it is senseless to give a platform to “deniers.” But skeptics have ample grounds for questioning the conventional wisdom.

Our friends at the Cornell Free Speech Alliance in partnership with the Steamboat Institute managed to pull off the seemingly impossible this month: a debate between two eminent authorities — Robert H. Socolow and Steven E. Koonin — on the proposition, “Does climate science compel us to to make large and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions?”

The Jefferson Council is proud to have sponsored an event that furthers the civil exchange of views and broadens the scope of permissible discourse. You can watch the debate by clicking on the image above.

Marion Smith: a Thinker-Activist with a Global Perspective

In our annual meeting on April 4th, you will hear how the Jefferson Council is fighting for free speech and intellectual diversity at the University of Virginia, and how our struggle is just one front in a nationwide alumni rebellion to reclaim America’s universities from the left. From Marion Smith, president of the Common Sense Society, you’ll hear how the crusade to restore American universities is part of an even larger war of the woke on Western Civilization.

As president of the Common Sense Society, which is dedicated to the defense of liberty, prosperity and beauty, Smith believes that ideas matter. He has recruited an all-star roster of conservative intellectuals – of whom a previous Jefferson Council speaker, Douglas Murray, is just one – in the defense of our way of life. A liberty-loving doppleganger of George Soros, he has built an international organization with offices in the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Hungary.

In his address to the Jefferson Council, “American universities and the battle for Western civilization,” Smith will make the case that nothing less than democracy, market capitalism, and Enlightenment thought is at stake.

Click to view the full program.

Click to see the speakers’ biographies.

And click here to register.

You Want Pictures? We Got Pictures.

Douglas Murray defends the legacy of Thomas Jefferson in an age of wokeness.

Douglas Murray’s excursion to the University of Virginia — first a reception at the Colonnade Club and then a speech at Newcomb Hall — was a great success. Check out the photos here. Our eagle-eyed photographer caught just about everyone in attendance.

Annual Meeting – About Our Keynote Speaker

Glenn Loury is one of the foremost African-American intellectuals in the country. No, actually, that’s selling him short. He’s one of the foremost intellectuals – period — in America. As an economics professor at Brown University, an author, a columnist, a podcaster, and a self-described “liberal who has been mugged by reality,” he has emerged as a leading conservative voice in the debate over Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Tom Neale and I saw Loury in action at an American Council of Trustees and Alumni event last year, and we can tell you, he is phenomenal. DEI in higher education, he charges, makes African-American students think of themselves as victims, deprives them of agency, and induces passivity and fragility. He also makes the case for Black patriotism. Black people, he says, are blessed to be Americans.

That’s not to say America is perfect. Persistent racial inequality is real, he says. But the higher-ed panaceas of “anti-racism” and DEI are grievously flawed.

As the keynote speaker of our April 4 annual meeting, Loury will explain what’s wrong with DEI, suggest what can be done about it, and stand up for the founding fathers, the American Constitution, and the American democratic system that has created unparalleled opportunity for Blacks in the 21st century.

If you aren’t familiar with Loury’s writings, we recommend his essay, “The Case for Black Patriotism.”

Time is running out to register for this great event. We have a fabulous line-up of speakers to brief you on the threats to free speech and intellectual diversity nationally and at the University of Virginia, and how the Jefferson Council and other alumni organizations are fighting back.

— Jim Bacon

Click here for program details and registration.

Douglas Murray Revealed!

The next best thing to Douglas Murray live is Douglas Murray online! His brilliant defense of Thomas Jefferson and Western Civilization, co-sponsored by the Jefferson Council and the Common Sense Society at the University of Virginia, is now available.

Global Warming Debate


The Jefferson Council is pleased to join other alumni free speech organizations in sponsoring a debate about climate change organized by the Cornell Free Speech Alliance in collaboration with the Steamboat Institute as part of the nationwide “University Open Inquiry Forum.”


Nationally recognized scholars Steven Koonin of New York University and Robert Socolow of Princeton University will debate the proposition: “Climate science compels us to make large and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” Socolow will argue in the affirmative and Koonin in the negative. The debate will be moderated by Sarah Westwood, a reporter with the Washington Examiner.

The free event will be live-streamed and open to all.
Time: 5:45pm – 7:15pm ET
Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2023

To register, click here.

Can We Still Speak Freely? Author Douglas Murray Explores Free Speech and Jefferson’s Legacy

Douglas Murray

by Landon Epperson

On February 21st, on behalf of the Jefferson Council and Common Sense Society, British political commentator and author Douglas Murray paid an amiable visit to Grounds—a proper tour of the Lawn and a Gus Burger from the White Spot served as our great American welcome. Murray visited UVA to discuss a pertinent issue in academic institutions across the United States, freedom of speech.

“What is a public intellectual?” Murray’s speech revolved around this question and the lack of such figures in our modern society. In his words, a public intellectual is someone who makes an assertion and is willing to defend it in public debate. His successive question asked, “What is the opposite of such a person?” Murray believes these people are the ones rampant in many institutions. He provided two examples: Robin DiAngelo, author of “White Fragility,” and Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to Be an Antiracist.” Continue reading

TJC Brings More Great Speakers to Charlottesville!

Loury to Keynote Second Annual Meeting April 4

The Jefferson Council will hold its second annual meeting April 4th. Our keynote speaker will be Glenn Loury, a renowned conservative economist and outspoken African-American critic of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). The program will commence at 3:00 p.m. and include cocktails and dinner. The venue will be Alumni Hall in Charlottesville. We will provide more details when they are finalized. Space is limited. Register now to guarantee admittance.

Will to Speak April 25

Mark your calendars. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will will come to Charlottesville April 25th. We will post details as they become available.