Freedom of Speech

I am not a libertarian nor am I a member of the ACLU, but I generally agree with them on the importance of free speech. This, I believe, is a real and growing problem on college campuses:

Students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement crashed an event at the College of William & Mary, rushed the stage, and prevented the invited guest—the American Civil Liberties Union’s Claire Gastañaga, a W & M alum—from speaking.

Ironically, Gastañaga had intended to speak on the subject, “Students and the First Amendment.”

The disruption was livestreamed on BLM at W&M’s Facebook page. Students took to the stage just a few moments after Gastañaga began her remarks. At first, she attempted to spin the demonstration as a welcome example of the kind of thing she had come to campus to discuss, commenting “Good, I like this,” as they lined up and raised their signs. “I’m going to talk to you about knowing your rights, and protests and demonstrations, which this illustrates very well. Then I’m going to respond to questions from the moderators, and then questions from the audience.”

It was the last remark she was able to make before protesters drowned her out with cries of, “ACLU, you protect Hitler, too.” They also chanted, “the oppressed are not impressed,” “shame, shame, shame, shame,” (an ode to the Faith Militant’s treatment of Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, though why anyone would want to be associated with the religious fanatics in that particular conflict is beyond me), “blood on your hands,” “the revolution will not uphold the Constitution,” and, uh, “liberalism is white supremacy.”

This went on for nearly 20 minutes. Eventually, according to the campus’s Flat Hat News, one of the college’s co-organizers of the event handed a microphone to the protest’s leader, who delivered a prepared statement. The disruption was apparently payback for the ACLU’s principled First Amendment defense of the Charlottesville alt-right’s civil liberties.

Organizers then canceled the event; some members of the audience approached the podium in an attempt to speak with Gastañaga, but the protesters would not permit it. They surrounded Gastañaga, raised their voices even louder, and drove everybody else away.

Two comments… First, as Gastañaga learned (assuming, and it may be one hell of an assumption, that the message sunk in), giving in to this sort of bullying, as with any kind of bullying, doesn’t mean the bully looks on you with more sympathy. It doesn’t even mean they save you for last. Bullies simply aren’t that smart, nor do they have that sort of self-control. They sense only strength, or its absence. Second, I’ve often wondered how Chinese people of a certain age explain the Cultural Revolution and the Red Guards to their children. I guess I will find out first hand. Sooner or later, when my son is older, I will have to explain this nonsense to him. I just hope it has run its course by then.

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