The Left Consumes Its Own

Conservative scholars and agitators aren’t the only people getting shouted down at college campuses anymore.

Claire Gastanaga is an old-school liberal who, from my observation, reliably supports the old-school liberal position on everything from women’s rights to illegal immigration. But, as an old-school liberal, she also respects the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, such as, oh, to pick a wild and crazy example, the right to freedom of speech. Indeed, as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, she visited her alma mater, the College of William & Mary last week, to speak about freedom of speech.

But she didn’t get to say very much. A multiracial group of students affiliated with Black Lives Matter, enraged that the ACLU had defended the right of white nationalists to hold the August rally in Charlottesville, shouted her down.

According to W&M’s student paper, The Flat Hat:

Protesters took over the stage within five minutes of Executive Director of the ACLU of Virginia Claire Guthrie Gastañaga’s entrance. Signs in hand, the protesters shouted chants such as “liberalism is white supremacy” and “the revolution will not uphold the constitution.”

In the statement, BLM criticized the ACLU’s approach to white supremacy in regard to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, suggesting that the organization provides an unnecessary platform for white supremacists.

“When is the free speech of the oppressed protected?” a BLM group representative asked. “We know from personal experience that rights granted to wealthy, white, cis, male, straight bodies do not trickle down to marginalized groups. We face greater barriers and consequences for speaking.”

After reading the statement aloud, the group’s representative took her place back in line, and the protesters continued to chant.

At one point, Gastanaga asked the students: “Is conversation not possible?”

The chanting continued. Thirty minutes into the event, the sponsors canceled the event. Students interested in talking to Gastanaga clustered around her to talk. But the protesters surrounded them and drowned out their conversation by chanting with increased volume. The students then dispersed.

The College’s BLM chapter took credit on its Facebook page through a livestream of the event, as well as a written post: “Tonight, we shut down an event at William & Mary where Claire Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, was speaking. In contrast to the ACLU, we want to reaffirm our position of zero tolerance for white supremacy no matter what form it decides to masquerade in.”

After the incident, W&M President Taylor Reveley issued the following statement:

William & Mary has a powerful commitment to the free play of ideas. We have a campus where respectful dialogue, especially in disagreement, is encouraged so that we can listen and learn from views that differ from our own, so that we can freely express our own views, and so that debate can occur. Unfortunately, that type of exchange was unable to take place Wednesday night when an event to discuss a very important matter – the meaning of the First Amendment — could not be held as planned. …

Silencing certain voices in order to advance the cause of others is not acceptable in our community. This stifles debate and prevents those who’ve come to hear a speaker, our students in particular, from asking questions, often  hard questions, and from engaging in debate where the strength of ideas, not the power of shouting, is the currency. William & Mary must be a campus that welcomes difficult conversations, honest debate and civil dialogue

Nice to know that Revely supports free speech. The question is this: What is he willing to do to uphold it? Not much, apparently. The Flat Hat makes no mention of any discipline or sanction against the protesters.

There is a back story to this event, which I will allude to briefly but hope others take the time to research more deeply. Reveley met with student representatives of Black Lives Matter on March 29 for “ongoing conversations about race at William & Mary.” In an April 4 statement following that meeting, he said:

Many items on their list [of demands] are consistent with the recommendations that came last spring from our Task Force on Race and Race Relations. And many have already produced results or are in the planning state.

While we have made progress, there remains much to be done. Racial discrimination at William & Mary is flatly unacceptable. We all have a role to play to ensure that our university is a place where everyone is welcome and respected and where we can and do learn from one another.

On April 19, William & Mary announced plans to commit $1 million to a more diverse faculty, rename two residence halls after African-Americans, and hire a consultant to strengthen diversity in hiring, training and assessment of campus culture. Future priorities include creating a vice president of diversity and inclusion, and investing $35 million to increase diversity among faculty and senior administrators.

Bacon’s bottom line: This will not end well for Revely. None of these developments made much news at the time, and no one outside the university would have known about them had not Black Lives Matter partisans, after demanding respect for their own views, undertaken to deprive others of the right to express theirs. This is a new phenomena for Virginia campuses, and Revely had better get hold of the situation or he will risk a severe backlash. For Virginia’s higher-ed community, which is lobbying for major concessions from the General Assembly, the timing couldn’t be worse. I cannot imagine Republican legislators responding positively to haughty BLM demands and W&M promises to divert $35 million in funds to increase diversity.

A couple of predictions: The demands of Black Live Matters and their ideological cohorts are limitless. No matter what the W&M administration does to placate them, it will never be enough. BLM will always make more demands. The reason is simple: Their demands are largely impossible to fulfill. There is a limited pipeline of African-Americans getting Ph.D.s, and every college in the country is vying for these candidates. Likewise, there is a limited supply of minority high school graduates qualified to attend an elite institution like W&M, and every other elite institution — mostly private schools with lots more money to throw around — are competing to recruit them. Finally, the actions of Black Lives Matter are so militant and offensive, they create the very atmosphere of super-charged racial sensitivity that makes every racial interaction a potentially stressful event and feeds their own feelings of alienation. This cannot possibly contribute to an atmosphere of racial amity.

Emboldened by the administration’s weak response, campus radicals — and the BLM movement at W&M includes many whites — are out of control. I predict that we’ll see more of this kind of behavior. The situation will get worse before it gets better.

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55 responses to “The Left Consumes Its Own

  1. If one opens a history book, this looks too familiar to actions of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party in early Post-WWI Germany. They too had a perverse focus on group rights over individual ones.

  2. Looking at the April 19 announcement cited, it looks like the $35M funding for diversity was a recommendation from a task force and there was no commitment cited to implement. If I recall correctly, Reveley also had a rough meeting with Black Lives Matter where they came in with demands and he responded that he doesn’t deal in demands.

    It will be interesting to see if any action is taken here. We’ve seen conservative speakers not be able to speak at Berkeley, but we’re now witnessing the ACLU not be able to speak at W&M. Neither one should be tolerated.

    • I believe that by and large free speech has for all practical purposes been snuffed out and shut down at the University of Virginia. My God, just read the lock step communiques that are spewed out daily on most every subject one can imagine.

      UVA at the moment is a very sick and repressed place. I have great hope, however, that this will change markedly and quickly with the incoming president. His instincts are right. Hopefully he is a strong and determined and skilled leader.

  3. Black folks that fought and died for their country came home to a Nation that was still Jim Crow… segregated schools.. sit in the back of the bus…couldn’t sit in the same restaurants or stay in the same motels…

    and TMT talks about “socialist workers”…

    geeze guy…

    how about this – remember this?

    by the way – the problem with Claire Gastanaga has nothing to do with “old school”.. it has to do with Charlottesville and her role in defending the venue for the protests… when the City and Police were concerned it could not be secured.. People resigned from the ACLU.. board and others quit the ACLU over that and the ACLU itself changed it’s position on defending hate groups who showed up “armed” to protest.

    • It sounds to me as if you have moved beyond the United States protecting individual rights and believe in the left’s group rights. All blacks are the same. All whites are the same. Individual conduct is immaterial. You are what your genes are. Sounds to me like 1920s Munich. It’s all the fault of the Jews, say the NSWP.

      Free speech means free speech especially for those whose speech we don’t like. I suspect those who resigned from the ACLU board don’t believe in free speech, but rather having some type of censor decide who can speak and what they can say. That happened in 1930s and 40s Russia and Germany. I guess you’d like to see it in 2010 and 2020’s America.

      Hillary Clinton is unemployed. Maybe she can be the official national censor.

    • ” … it has to do with Charlottesville and her role in defending the venue for the protests… when the City and Police were concerned it could not be secured.. ”

      Of course the venue could have been secured. Similar protests have been held subsequent to Charlottesville without the same mayhem. The simple fact is that Virginia’s grossly incompetent governor and Charlottesville’s culpably negligent mayor didn’t secure the venue. For public officials with multi-billion dollar budgets and large, well equipped law enforcement operations to claim that certain people can’t express their view because they can’ be protected is, in fact, a violation of the First Amendment.

      If Ed Gillespie had any imagination he’d be airing commercials with videos of the Charlottesville fiasco followed by the peaceful protest that happened the next week in Seattle. The voce over would say, “Virginia can’t afford any more Democratic incompetence. Your safety is at risk. Voter Republican this November.”

  4. So if she doesn’t pass your criteria, shout her down? Really?

    • I don’t agree with it… but I think it is important to understand the specifics of why… and I think it’s a disservice to portray it as opposition to “old school liberalism”.

      this thing about “shouting down” has been going on at Colleges since the 1960’s.. it’s not a new thing.. what’s new is the right crying about 1st amendment rights to blacks who have been and are continued to be denied other rights.. like fair treatment by the criminal justice system.

      When you go in blathering about 1st amendment to folks who are concerned that blacks are being killed by police.. don’t expect rationality.

      • You keep going back to the police issue. What did the ACLU woman have to do with police disproportionately shooting African Americans? The simple answer is that she has nothing to do with that problem. If anything, I’d guess that shooting unarmed citizens is a form of denying civil liberties. Let’s be honest, the asshat liberals in this country are so furious that Hillary lost the election they are more than happy to disrupt anything and everything for any reason or no reason at all. Where was all this fury back when Barry Obama was president? William & Mary shouldn’t have tolerated the disruption of a scheduled speech by petulant children any more than they should tolerate the disruption of a liberal professor’s class by conservative whack jobs.

  5. Good for the students! I keep hearing “free speech” and the “First Amendment” tossed around by the right. But the First Amendment only applies to gov’t restraint of speech. If private individuals want to shout down other private individuals in a public forum, nothing in the First Amendment prohibits that.

    • LocalGovGuy, I am shocked and dismayed by this comment. True, the First Amendment prohibits government restrictions on the freedom of speech. But are you really OK with mob rule? The mob can shut down anyone it wants to?

      • Absolutely. “Mob” is an incendiary pejorative term. Perhaps, other citizens exercising their First Amendment rights contemporaneously with someone else is a more accurate description. If people don’t want to hear right wing drivel in a public forum, shout it down. If people don’t want to hear left wing drivel in a public forum, shout it down.

        If you don’t like me speaking in a public forum, please feel free to shout me down. The First Amendment is not about debating society rules. It’s about who has the loudest voice in a public forum.

        • No, by all means, keep typing away.

        • If folks don’t want to hear you and they let you know that… why would you continue ?

          it’s a little bit passive-aggressive , eh?

          You may have a right to speak but others have the right to not listen or to speak themselves…

          The 1st amendment does not guarantee you the right to force others to listen to you!!!

          in general – this is bad form.. not a good thing.. I agree… but I have to also defend the “rights” of those who would disagree…

          but in terms of you being “guaranteed” to go somewhere and speak and to not be interrupted… hmm… let me go check the fine print on the 1st amendment … terms and conditions…

          • Exactly. The ONLY thing the 1st Amendment’s freedom of speech guarantees is a citizen’s right not to have the government regulate their speech. That is it.

            It does not guarantee anyone an audience. It does not guarantee anyone the ability to have their voice heard if the individual’s voice is drowned out by other voices.

            I am sick of hearing people invoke the 1st Amendment when it does not apply. If the government isn’t restraining your speech, then it’s not a 1st Amendment issue.

          • The owner of the venue certainly has every right to eject anybody who is disturbing the peace. The First Amendment has nothing to do with that. Create rules, post them, and then enforce them.

  6. In terms of BLM… (which really seems to infuriate the right) – who apparently see it as a “new” thing that has suddenly popped up…

    does anyone remember the 1960’s campus unrest.. Black Power, the Black Panthers, .. the clinched fist at the Olympics.. the riots at dozens of cities, and more? Do folks not remember this? Too young? Old enough but senile?

    BLM is not “new”, it is a continuation of a long-simmering, never-healed rift between black and white folks… We have made progress but not near enough as blacks are treated far different by the criminal justice system… and not enough white folks feel it’s that serious of a problem that needs fixing now.

    BLM is just a name… it’s the complaint behind it that matters…

    Their attitude towards the 1st amendment is that being concerned about the 1st amendment but not inalienable rights of blacks… is not right.

    That’s what the “take a knee” is about. They’re not going to show due respect until they feel they are being treated fairly by the criminal justice system.

    White guys can disagree… and will.. but they also need to be aware of the dimensions of the complaint… it’s much, much more than “disrespect” or the 1st amendment.

    Read the polls… in poll after poll after poll.. it shows this huge chasm between white and black… BLM is a symptom of that divide. Don’t let their “act up” behavior distract from the core of what they are about.

    • I’ll be interested to see if you retain your broad-minded attitude if a chanting mob shut down your right to speak in a public place.

      • well I wouldn’t go into there with a 1st amendment chip on my shoulder at the get go.. and Local GOv guy is right.. doesn’t everyone have the “right” to speak? who says you have to let someone speak and you just listen?

        “mob rule” … more bomb-throwing rhetoric eh? you guys on the right have lost it… talk about grievances… you guys are caterwauling about one thing or another almost non-stop these days! I’m starting to believe that whining is a Conservative value!!!

    • Larry – help me understand the problems with the criminal justice system today. For example, the 6th Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial whenever punishment can exceed 6 months. The courts prohibit efforts to keep blacks off juries based on race. A conviction will be reversed if a defendant can show the prosecutor violated this rule. For serious offenses, everyone is guaranteed access to an attorney. When needed, the defense can gain access to taxpayer funded expert witnesses. To convict, a jury must find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We don’t allow the prosecution to appeal an acquittal. Is there a problem with the rules? If so, what?

      Do people always follow the rules or never make mistakes? No. But we have many checks and balances to correct them. Are there bad apples? Are there people with bias? Yes. But we have many checks and balances. We need to monitor the process constantly and weed out people who don’t belong in the system. But I believe the overwhelming majority of Americans who are involved with the criminal justice system, be they police, prosecutors, judges and jurors try to do a good and fair job in each and every case. And I think we need to respect the jury system even when we don’t agree with the result.

      I fully support groups like the Innocence Project that look at cases where they believe the facts show an innocent person was convicted and then fight for even years to get the person released or a new trial. But keep in mind, those groups reject the overwhelming majority of cases because the facts don’t show error.

      Or are you just looking at these issues from some group level – group rights versus individual rights?

      I do respect the fact that, in a society as large and diverse as ours, people will look at the same set of facts and come to different conclusions or feel differently about results. But the more facts we have and the more we listen to each other, the fewer disputes we will have. And this means whites need to listen to blacks.

  7. LocalGovGuy is not right in this context. There are numerous restrictions on freedom of speech. Colleges and universities can and do have legally enforceable policies to prohibit protesters from impeding the right of expression of invited speakers and performers. University of Michigan policy is often cited as one of the most thorough and balanced:

    http://spg.umich.edu/policy/601.01

    • Those are guidelines, not law. It’s a shame that the University of Michigan is so reactionary that it adopted those right wing guidelines.

      The only way to “stop” protesters is for a speaker or organization to have rented a room or facility and to ask protesters to leave. If protesters don’t leave, then they may be ejected via trespass laws.

  8. I didn’t say it was law, I said the guidelines are legally enforceable, meaning in the situations described, they can have protesters removed after a warning if they are prohibiting the speaker from being heard and the audience from hearing.

    The University of Michigan adopted right wing guidelines? Are you serious?

  9. Common courtesy is right wing? Allowing people who have come to give a speech and people who have come to hear the presentation a chance to do so, that is right wing? We have descended that far into chaos? I am very disappointed that there have been, and probably will not be, consequences for the misnamed “students” (because they are not open to learning anything). They are just rude and spoiled little brats.

    I had a senior judge tell me recently that the most common petition in the courts these days is a name change request. More and more of these rude spoiled brats who learned their manners on Facebook are finding that the electronic trail of slime they leave (written and video) is costing them jobs.

  10. In the 1960s, I went to a Jesuit prep school in Maryland. We started a mimeographed newspaper and interviewed a popular teacher. Asked about what he taught, he replied, “Manners and the system. On my best days, English.”

    That’s relevant to the W&M controversy. The problem with this tut-tutting blog posting is that it assumes that everyone is an upper middle class, white conservative man. It assumes that everyone (not exactly everyone, really) should have an equal shot at engaging in”civil” discourse politely no matter what the topic. Everything is clean and neat and button down, just the way they think it should be.

    The problem with students shouting down an ACLU official is that it is not about violating someone’s “rights.” It is more about “manners.” They are not really Nazis, but they are rude. But so what if they are rude? I have been in other countries where public debates can get rather raucous. They are not exactly what might have gone down 50 years ago at the University of Virginia when students were predominately white, male and upper middle class.

    As far as the ACLU, I can understand they taking difficult and unpopular positions. But white supremacists who lead to murder? That’s exactly what happened and it is perfectly appropriate for students at William & Mary to make their views known. One may not like their “manners” but that’s just too damned bad.

  11. Dear Jim,

    The First Amendment is a restriction on Congress’ ability to restrict speech. The judicial construction known as the “Incorporation Doctrine” adopted in the 20th century sought to apply it to the States and their schools was done to help certain groups. The problem is that all law has a cultural context. Today’s context is an anti-White one. To think that a legal doctrine that conflicts with elite / Establishment interests and undermines a cultural context which it supports will be upheld over the longer run, is naive. Just as Christians have banned satanists and imposed blue laws for Sundays, so, too, today’s rising power of non-Whites and anti-Christian Liberals are establishing their presence in the institutions and in the law. Whites and Christians in areas where they are diminishing, and even in the nation at large, are increasingly at the mercy of those who disrespect or even hate them. The future, likely will be one where, to paraphrase Chief Justice Roger Taney in Dred Scott, “Whites and Christians will have no rights that non-Whites and non-Christians need respect.” Instead, it will be respect for “Diversity,” i.e. non-Whites and non-Christians that will be the basis for the new loyalty, the new law, and any dissent will be punished, formally and / or informally. The question is, what will the new “undermen” do as a result?

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

  12. Respect for Others, and for Good Manners, are not just White Christian Values. They are Universal Values. And, without these Universal Values, Civilization (whatever its flavor) cannot exist.
    Instead, nihilism, anarchy, ignorance, ideology, thugs and/or despots will rule our lives, and the lives of our children.

  13. Dear Reed,

    Every society also has had limits to what can be said. Civility is toward all was certainly not practiced in the Old Testament nor in the Roman Empire after Christianity became established by law. America before the 1960s had its taboos and things which one could not question without inviting retribution. For example, anyone who questioned the goodness or necessity of the American Revolution, endorsed atheism and Communism, favored miscegenation, homosexuality, and abortion on demand would have had civility toward them greatly tested, to put it mildly. Societies whose foundational beliefs can be attacked or denigrated on a wide scale with impunity are societies experiencing disintegration.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

  14. One of the best (more thoughtful, insightful, learned and imaginative) discussions of Free Speech rights, and rightful limitations of free speech to insure the it does not get out of control so as it eat its own children is found at:

    http:/./www:libertylawsite.org/2017/09/18/the-natural-law-free-speech/?

    • I agree, Andrew, with your comment above. That is one reason why I think you will find the natural law of free speech article a most persuasive tweak to current Supreme Court decisions which are to date are rather primitive, without the requisite nuance and insight into the constitutional issues at hand.

    • Another gloss on these free speech and natural rights issues and the constitutionality of laws found necessary to protect individuals and society right to a some level of civilization, can be found the book Scalia Speaks that includes portions of his speeches. This comes from one he gave in 1989:

      “It has become fashionable to speak of the American constitutional system as though it contained within itself the philosophy of John Stuart Mill—that everything must be permitted, and nothing can be forbidden, unless it physically harms another human being. That is simply not so. Consider, for example, laws against bigamy, which the Supreme Court has held to be constitutional. Or laws against public nudity. Or laws against cruelty to animals. It cannot be said that any of these prevents physical harm to another human being—or even aesthetic harm of much significance. (If the nudity bothers you, avert your eyes.) It seems to me that society’s desire for laws of this sort—and all societies have them—is traceable to some common ethos, either religiously based or indistinguishable from religious prescription, which the old writers used to call bonos mores—“good morals.” The most difficult task of constitutional adjudication in modern times, when these shared values are less uniform than they once were, is to decide how far the state can go in preserving a common fabric of morality.”

  15. Dear Reed,

    But the questioning of the basis of a polity or society is bound to be deemed as nihilistic, or at least destructive of it by its defenders. Our problem is that we, or rather the elite, allowed the Left to prosper under its banner of “free speech absolutism” of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. Having gained power, they have no interest in “practicing now what they once hypocritically preached”; it was merely a tactic, an “in” for their beliefs which now dominate, and is happily repudiated, no longer necessary to, and indeed, pernicious of, their project. Instead, their fangs are now bared, and, as in _Animal Farm_ where “Beasts of England,” the Revolution’s “hymn,” itself becomes subversive if still sung under the revolutionary regime of Animalism. Speech and speakers are free only if they uphold the revolutionary regime but are opposed and punished if they subvert it, even by speaking the truth. Truth is no defense if it threatens the legitimacy of the regime and its beliefs.

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

    • Here again I agree with you Andrew. And this is where I am going when I supplement and update my comments now posted under Jim’s recent article on the website labelled: How Long Must Parents Wait?

  16. If someone at Liberty U wanted to invite a speaker on a subject that many in the student body or the Administrators disagreed with – they’d not allow it.

    Yet… the theory seems to be that if a College is “public” and has govt funding that the speaker MUST BE ALLOWED TO SPEAK or else it’s an infringement of Freedom of Speech.

    No self-respecting Liberal would even want to go speak at a place like Liberty to start with so why does the right insist that their folks MUST be allowed to speak even if .. just as there might be at private college – like LIberty-opposition.

    So the only difference is that because “public” Universities are govt-supported such that Liberty can suppress free speech it does not like and W&L cannot because it’s supported in part by the Govt and MUST allow the speaker?

    Okay.. that’s fine .. but others can speak also.. the law does not DENY others the right to speak also…

    Does that mean they don’t support free speech? Not any more or less than Liberty or any of the many advocacy groups would.

    Even in govt facilities – you do not have the unfettered right of free speech. You cannot stand up in Court and say what you wish. You cannot go to a local high school and insist that you have the right to address the student body… there are restrictions on where and when you can exercise your “free speech”… Try exercising your free speech in a Marine Boot Camp!

    And.. in any venue when you CAN exercise your free speech – others have the same right.. you are not guaranteed a forum where only you can speak and others cannot.

    I do support civil discourse.. and tolerance and listening to others you not agree with or perhaps you don’t know until you hear them but I do not support others from being restricted from their free speech either – the situation where there is a speaker and an audience – in the end – is an agreement between the speaker and the listeners… neither side is required to listen nor keep quiet while the other speaks.

    Those who think the “law” or “guidelines” legally require people to be quiet when others are speaking are confusing laws with customs…

    We ALL have the RIGHT of free speech and those who advocate forcing some to keep quiet while others speak.. are actually advocating restrictions on free speech.

  17. Didn’r Bernie Sanders speak at Liberty? Just saying.

    • I remember when Ted Kennedy spoke at Liberty. Falwell sent the Citation to pick him up, and the story is Kennedy pulled out a big cigar (Cuban, he said) and looked around for the ashtray. When he opened it he said – A virgin! As my grandmother would say, if all stories are true, that’s no lie – but it is true that Kennedy spoke at Liberty way back 30+ years ago. The school has made that a longstanding practice.

  18. The protesters broke no laws by disrupting the meeting. They are not criminals. They are however assholes. Immature, uneducated, inarticulate children who can’t listen to an argument and rebut it. Instead, they adopt the actions of 5 year olds by effectively covering their ears with their hands and yelling “Naaa Naaa Naaa” at the top of their lungs.

    You liberals must be very proud of the example your followers are setting.

    • Yes, I could not agree more.

      And this is what ignorant, ineffective, spoiled and pampered young people do. I believe that our colleges and universities are DIRECTLY responsible for much of these chronic emotional outbursts worthy of spoiled four year old children.

      The President of W&M should be fired. Fired just like the President of Cornell should have been fired on the spot. Instead, cowardice of university leaders allowed much long term damage to be done. Extortion should not be tolerated. When Extortion by criminal acts happen at a great university, it rips a big hole in the fabric of our culture that is extremely hard to fix. The actions at W&M while not involving firearms are long term just a pernicious.

      Shame on Cornell. Shame on W&M.

      SEE http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2009/04/campus-takeover-symbolized-era-change

    • I’d say that’s a pretty fair summary of the situation.

      I remember how agitated liberals got a few years back at the behavior of Tea Party activists, whose outbursts at public forums were much more restrained that that of the BLM folks at W&M. How times change!

  19. “Those who think the “law” or “guidelines” legally require people to be quiet when others are speaking are confusing laws with customs…”

    Larry, first of all you started out by saying Liberty University doesn’t let people they don’t agree with speak. This isn’t true. Liberty had Ted Kennedy and Bernie Sanders speak there, and the student body was very respectful. Senator Kennedy and Falwell were very friendly to each other. http://www.liberty.edu/news/index.cfm?PID=18495&MID=9850

    Then you say above that only customs or manners compel people to be quiet when others are speaking. This isn’t true either in the appropriate context. A person who disrupts an invited speaker, a performer, or a professor teaching, can be removed. Imagine what would happen to a protester at say UVA’s graduation if they sounded a horn every time the speaker tried to say something. Not protected. Here is how the ACLU worded it for W&M:

    “Disruption that prevents a speaker from speaking, and audience members from hearing the speaker, is not constitutionally protected speech even on a public college campus subject to the First Amendment; it is a classic example of a heckler’s veto, and, appropriately, can be prohibited by a college student code of conduct as it is at William and Mary. As a government entity, a public college like William and Mary has an obligation to protect the freedom of the speaker to speak and not to allow one group of people to shout down or seek to intimidate other speakers or members of the audience who wish to hear the speaker from exercising their own free speech rights. This is true regardless of what individuals or groups are speaking, protesting or counter-protesting.”

    This differs from being required to “be quiet”. The audience can express displeasure, etc., but “shouting down” does not have to be tolerated. Many universities don’t seem to have the will to enforce it these days.

  20. Izzo – I’m talking about people with extreme views.. relative to what Liberty finds acceptable.

    Nationally known politicos are not that. Think of the liberal equivalent of Anne Coulter…. say Al Sharpton talking about race… or false religions.. There are a slew of them… and they almost surely would upset any Conservative institution.

    You use the words “shout down” or “intimidate”.. those are subjective terms and protesters can and are quite innovative in accomplishing their goals without clear-cut “violations”. Surely you’ve seen this in your own collegiate days!!!

    The bottom line is that if you as a speaker go to a venue where you know your views are at odds with the campus crowd… it’s can be rough sledding and removing folks only really works if there are one or two , not most of the audience.

    That’s the problem with a small group whose views are at odds with the larger campus.. inviting someone who will stir up people.

    And basically if you KNOW that your views are antithetical what is your real motive? it’s a little bit passive-aggressive and folks see that.. and react.

    Again – I’m in agreement with DJ – no defender of rude, impolite folks but on the other hand if you go into it knowing you’re going to rile up folks – what is “guaranteed” is free speech – for everyone.

    Opponents don’t need to riot.. they can all hum… or similar.. they don’t have to listen to you.. and they can at the same time make things difficult.

    you can’t send the troops in to stop this.. without inflaming things further.

  21. Larry,

    You are moving the goalposts again. You are also flinging off a lot of lines without due consideration. You said: “No self-respecting Liberal would even want to go speak at a place like Liberty to start with. . .”. Well, as shown, Bernie Sanders spoke there. Rationalize that one. Was he not liberal enough? Do we need to get Elizabeth Warren in to truly test them?

    Liberty, as a private institution, doesn’t have to invite anyone they don’t want to speak. If they did invite the liberal equivalent of Coulter, though, I think they would treat them respectfully as that is expected conduct.

    Regarding disrupting an invited public speaker, the question was about whether there is a protected right to “shout them down” to the point of disruption. There is not in that context.

    It is a different question to consider whether it is difficult or problematic for an institution to enforce. It clearly can be if the protesters try to toe the line or there are many of them, or if the institution doesn’t want it live streamed when they try to escort them out.
    But again, I’m pretty sure if a protester shows up tonight and tries to repeatedly shout down President Teresa Sullivan at the UVA Bicentennial celebration with a bull horn, he or she can and likely will ultimately be shown the way out and will not win in the courts even if claiming First Amendment protection.

  22. Bernie will go anywhere and does not stir people up by spouting stuff he knows will be reactive.

    So yes… pick a liberal of the same tenor as Limbaugh or Colter… and send them to Liberty to speak against the fundamental values of most who matriculate there.

    No, Liberty does not have to invite but the basic thesis is the same for both public and private which is that the concept of College is to tolerantly accept different points of view as part of one’s growing process.

    The 1st Amendment only gives the right to speak -where people will hear you. They can choose to not listen to you or to openly dispute with you.

    You could go stand on the steps of a Federal Building and blather your heart out and others are free to ignore you or interrupt, disagree, challenge you. Nothing in the Constitution accords you anything more that just the speech part …it does not require others to listen or be quiet while you speak.

    In terms of showing up to interrupt a formal function of the institution – yes.. you show up in Court and being blathering and you’re going to be escorted away – free speech or not.

    You go into ANY Federal or State building and you most assuredly do NOT have the unfettered right to free speech.

    Bottom line here… it’s not a black or white thing.. even if the right wants to whine like it is or should be and if the motive behind inviting speakers that the inviters KNOW is really an act of “gotcha” provocation… no sympathy here. Deal with it.

    Again – I think to not listen can be rude , childish, intolerant …etc… you know like people react to football players taking a “free speech” knee… eh?

    this whole thing is manufactured by the right to “show up” the left… and in the end.. what exactly does it solve? Nothing… it just foments more division. If W&L don’t want a speaker.. it’s really no different than the left conspiring to send a leftist speaker to Liberty that they KNOW will stir up trouble.

    It’s a bunch of foolishness that has come to typify political zealots these days.

  23. Although there are only 45 words in the First Amendment, it is far from cut and dried, and the rights are far from absolute. There have been hundreds of First Amendment cases heard at the Supreme Court level, and there are many, many restrictions stemming from these cases (symbolic speech, speech in schools, obscenity, incitement, classified information, workplace, etc.). There are also many more cases that have not made it to the Supreme Court that have upheld restrictions at a lower level.

    I only say this because schools like W&M can have protected recourse in situations like this (and it does not have to be someone renting the facility making it a private event for there to be recourse). Demonstrators trying to exercise what is sometimes called a “heckler’s veto” (often called shouting down today) can be removed — and have been removed — from performances, lectures, public proceedings, and invited speaker events.

    Colleges appear to be loathe to do anything in real time in situations like this because 1) the interference is done on a scale that makes it difficult 2) they are surprised (as was likely the case here) 3) the line between permitted disapproval and “heckler’s veto” may not appear clear enough 4) some may have some empathy for the causes of the “hecklers” 5) they are not staffed or capable 6) they don’t want additional live streamed publicity. It is a tough call for public officials, even if it can be argued, as the ACLU did, that they have an obligation to act.

    Note that institutions can and do take action afterwards. I believe Middlebury took action against 60 or so students after an event was cancelled by protesters. I hope W&M takes action, and I’m actually betting Reveley will. (He is a lawyer and a lame duck President who had already announced his retirement.)

    What is clear to me, though, is we can’t count on decorum to provide any speaker protection at many institutions these days. Ironically, and in contrast to Larry, I do believe a controversial speaker at conservative Liberty would be heard, if invited, because of the strong, expected code of conduct. That is not the case elsewhere, so in my view the institutions must take actions to protect speakers. If they do not, groups will be emboldened to the point where they can make many colleges a discourse-free zone.

    I’ve seen arguments here for civility. That is good, but is just wishful. I’ve seen statements that say any protest at an event (shouting down or even perceived intimidation) is permitted by the constitution unless it is violent. That is a simplistic reading of the First Amendment and not consistent with what has been enforced for many years in many situations and venues. I’ve heard arguments that a lot is justified because the ACLU “made a mistake” in Charlottesville. That is a specious argument, and if you think of the permutations and implications of this they are horrific: Lets shut up anyone we think made a mistake; We’ll be the judge of who is entitled to speak; They were bad so we’re free to be bad.

    For some reason, Casey Stengel’s book, “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game”, about the 1962 Mets season, comes to mind when I see how we are trying to deal with issues today. It was taken from a remark he made about his incompetent team in a moment of incredulity. Stengel had managed the New York Yankees at the height of their powers and he was now stuck with players who couldn’t play together and appeared to have forgotten everything that had been learned about baseball.

    We struggle to frame or progress issues even when there are significant areas of agreement between factions (e.g. infrastructure spending, some areas of taxation, or that White Supremacists are really, really bad). And despite the vast sources of data available to us, we seem too distracted to really “do the math.”

    The majority of people, left, right and center, according to polls, dislike and disagree with White Supremacists, who actually comprise a very small percentage of the population. Anyone uninitiated viewing the U.S. with only that knowledge would think it would be a point of convergence and agreement. Instead, it becomes a litmus test for the words that are used, or a proxy for some bigger issues that are only vaguely understood (restless discontent among the working class who have seen no progress for over 40 years).

    Then again, perhaps a lot of the blame (for situations like C’Ville and in response W&M) goes to President Trump (who was duly elected by voters). If we would have had a president like George H. W. Bush or Bill Clinton who would first “Presidentially” express our shared sentiments rather than treat everything as a Survivor reality TV manipulation exercise, this likely would have played out in a different way. But then again, to go back to the Stengel quote, Trump is actually playing a different game.

    • A follow on question would be a collection of whys. Why now? Why here or there? Or not here or there? Why the failure to act in defense of your institution, its mission, its students who have paid enormous sums to money and time to get the chance to learn, what about them? Why the pampering of the culprits? Why the cowardice on the part of those responsible for and paid to teach, preserve and enhance our and their culture? Why the encouragement or endless tolerance of the culprits ? Why the great emphasis on laws? How about manners? Or culture? Or defense of culture. Do they count for anything anywhere in America, at schools of higher education?

      The why’s are near endless.

  24. Good questions. When I went to college, I may well have been interested in hearing the ACLU speaker (even if I might not have agreed with what they have to say). I also might have been interested in hearing what BLM had to say if delivered in a way I support Now, I would not be able to hear the ACLU speaker and cannot countenance listening to groups that shout down others.

  25. The core issue here is that Free Speech has been weaponized. The right is now being applied to suppress and deny speech. Obviously if dissidents can effectively determine who speaks or publishes what and when, those so suppressed have been denied their rights.

    It appears that the courts have been aggressive in other areas of inchoate constitutional freedoms that one person can not deny another’s rights in pursuit of his own. Witness the decisions re the hapless bakers who have been impoverished and driven from business for refusing to bake a wedding cake or the Sisters who were forced to provide birth control.

    Court precedents to date [legal experts please correct me] have been wobbly on this issue, supporting suppression when “the other side” can’t effectively debate or respond or public safety may be a risk (the “heckler’s veto”). But if and when this reaches the courts, precedent would suggest they will opine that speech intended to disrupt and deny and prevent others from speaking is not a valid application of the principle of free speech and the prevention of that behavior does not deny the dissidents their right to express their views as well but in fact protects it, as obviously both sides of an issue can suppress the other if this behavior is not proscribed.

    • Where are the strict constructionists and textualists? I don’t read a “heckler’s veto” anywhere in the text of the First Amendment. Where are the Scalia disciples on this clearly “made up” judicial activism that is not contained in the text of the First Amendment?

      You don’t see the left whining about the rules of who can exercise their First Amendment rights more effectively.

      Right wing snowflakes indeed.

  26. A shouting match it is then. Let’s just use the 45 words and nothing else. We can use loudspeakers in residential areas at night as that is not mentioned. And restrictions on child pornography, obscenity, defamation, fraud, classified material, student speech limitations in school, they should all go as well.

    And we might need to get rid of the Air Force as it is not mentioned in the Constitution. Only the Army and Navy.

    • Agreed,

      Plus:

      Anarchy, bedlam, and assault intentionally inflicted on others in public places to deprive those others of their rights, including such actions taken to destroy their right to their god given humanity by rendering them by force deaf and mute – unable to speak to or hear others so as to exchange with others ideas and knowledge and so as to be rendered unable to learn from others or educate others, or to otherwise function within a free, open and functioning Republic – such intentionally inflicted anarchy, bedlam and assault is not a right protected by the US Constitution, and/or natural law. Such action instead is the coercive thuggery of animals in a jungle, or goons acting under the authority of other goons, if not under orders of a police state, and in a Republic should be punished or at the very least resisted and shamed publicly for what it is.

      • re: ” unable to speak to or hear others so as to exchange with others ideas and knowledge and so as to be rendered unable to learn from others or educate others”

        you are free to speak… but you are not free to decide WHERE you can speak…

        You can always go to the public square and blather your butt off. .. Every year I go to the Urbanna Oyster Festival.. and every year there are some folks there that are promising damnation and hell to passersby.

        The crowd is very tolerant… I highly recommend that venue for those who need to get something off their chest!!!

        😉

    • Do you say the same about Roe v. Wade?

  27. want a list of things the Constitution did not articulate? it will be a very long one.

    and for that matter.. if the Founding Fathers ideas about weapons was that citizens should have access to whatever weapons the govt had – ostensibly to have weapons parity to effectively oppose the Govt.. well .. we’re short a few ….. and I’m quite sure the KKK and like-minded and run-of-the-mill lunatics, would love to get a weapons “upgrade”.

  28. Here’s extract from Scott Powell post of October 7, 2017 titled “Reassessing Orwell to Understand our Times” found at americanthinker.com

    “Just two or three generations ago, most Americans understood that George Orwell’s classics Animal Farm and 1984 were written to explain how freedom is lost to totalitarianism and the intolerance that accompanies it. “Big Brother,” a term still casually used to describe an all-knowing governing authority, comes right out of 1984. In the state Orwell describes, all subjects are continually reminded that “Big Brother is watching you” by constant surveillance through the pervasive use of “telescreens” by the ruling class.

    Orwell’s warnings about totalitarianism in his novels Animal Farm and 1984 came shortly after Freidrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom published at the end of World War II. But it took the shocking revelations from books on Nazism and Soviet Communism by scholars like William Shirer and Robert Conquest in the 1960s to really make Orwell relevant for teaching to the masses educated in American public schools. And it was not just an academic exercise insofar as Stalin’s successors … at that time rolling tanks into Czechoslovakia to crush all resistance — enforcing the “Iron Curtain” … in Eastern Europe — the Soviet model of totalitarian control and subservience to Moscow.

    Reading Orwell, it was thought, would help American students appreciate their freedoms and gain perspective and critical faculties so as to understand socialist totalitarianism and its defining features:

    1) the institutionalization of propaganda designed to warp and destroy people’s grasp on reality, and

    2) the fostering of group think, conformity and collectivism designed to eliminate critical and independent thinking.

    Orwell described the scope of the totalitarian enterprise … “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, and every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day … History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

    In 1984 Orwell said, “Who controls the past controls the future.” Orwell’s … terms of “newspeak, doublethink and thought police” are what we now experience as political correctness. Newspeak is the distorted reality accomplished by manipulating the meaning of language and words, while doublethink is the conditioned mental attitude to ignore reality and common sense and substitute and embrace a distorted or false narrative. The analogs of “thought police” in 1984 are now the enforcers of political correctness seen in the mainstream media and college campuses across the country.

    As Orwell notes, “the whole aim of newspeak and doublethink is to narrow the range of thought.” Political correctness has the same goal and that’s why its adherents are so intolerant — seeking to shut down and silence people with whom they disagree on college campuses, clamoring for removal of historic statues and monuments so they can rewrite history and control the future, and demanding that people with opposing views on such subjects as climate change and gay marriage be silenced, fined or arrested.

    Many assume that because the press is not state-controlled in the U.S. there is a long way to go before the American government has the power of Orwell’s Big Brother. But what if:

    1/ the universities and the educational system and the major television and print media institutions embrace the groupthink that ingratiates them with the ruling elite?

    2/ What if the culture shapers in Hollywood … follow a similar path in participating in and reinforcing the same groupthink norms?

    3/ And what if … social media promote a kind of groupthink conformity that effectively marginalizes and silences opposing views? Could it then be that propaganda in a free democratic nation like America might be more effective in shaping thought and attitudes of the masses than the propaganda of totalitarian regimes affects their subjects?

    Orwell’s Big Brother has become a reality … But Big Brother has a new dimension with social media and consumer giants, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, knowing almost everything about people’s preferences through their artificial intelligence peering into peoples’ “telescreen” computers and smartphones. Social media have great power to narrow the range of acceptable thought. On Facebook, those who openly support a politically correct view — what appears to be the popular majority view — are frequently lauded with thumbs up while dissenters often remain silent to avoid being criticized or denounced. All of which leads to what is called “the spiral of silence,” which reinforces the groupthink of what seems to be the social and cultural majority.

    What comfortable and disengaged Americans have forgotten is that there are determined enemies within, … an internal war being waged against the values and institutions that made America a great nation.

    The left is the vanguard leading this war, following a course laid out by cultural Marxists such as Antonio Gramsci and members of the Frankfurt School. Becoming influential in the 1930s and beyond, they believed the “long march through the institutions” was the best route to taking power in developed, industrialized societies such as the United States and Europe.

    This “march” would be a gradual process of radicalization of social and cultural institutions — “the superstructure” — of bourgeois society, which would transform the values and morals of society. In retrospect there is a high correlation between the softening of morals over the last two or three generations and the corruption of our family, political, legal and, economic foundation.

    There are three measures of the establishment’s venality.

    First there is a high incidence of denial, manifest for instance in little to no discussion of the doubling of national debt in just 9 years to over $20 trillion, and unfunded entitlement liabilities now five times greater than that — conditions inviting financial collapse of the U.S.

    A second measure of corruption is the establishment’s reluctance to prosecute fellow establishment law-breakers in government, which has effectively created a two-tiered justice system.

    A third measure of establishment corruption is its accommodation of extremist anti-American groups as though they have a legitimate role to play in reform and influence on policy-making — whether in taking down historic monuments, creating sanctuary cities and controlling the nation’s borders, establishing police protocols in law enforcement, fighting wars overseas, or restructuring the economy at home …

    (Thus) A society committed to maintaining liberty, prosperity, and opportunity for all needs to focus on real threats, a key one of which is now the loss of freedom of speech and the assault on the First Amendment …”

    End of Extract of post by Scott Powell –

    Here I would add a forth measure of the establishment’s venality, namely:

    The federal government’s increasing control over ever larger segments of America’s institutions, large and small, within its system of health care, its system of higher education, its system of scientific research, and within its media infrastructure, and now also increasingly within its high tech industry.

    Here, working within these systems to enforced its will, the federal government uses tools such as government regulation and appropriation, as well as active cooperation or resistance, to work its will within more and most aspects of our lives, including, for example, targeted grants and favors to special private and corporate interests (including non-profits and quasi-public interests) within these systems, who cooperate with the government, while at the same time withholding such special grants and favors from those who don’t go along or actively cooperate with the ambitions and agendas of politicians and bureaucrats who control the federal government.

  29. I know this thread is probably pretty tired but I want to acknowledge the moving essay Reed has posted here. His exposition is an eloquent synopsis of the cultural crisis facing the U.S. today. I could not find anywhere that I thought is too heavy-handed or overly pessimistic.

    Unless one has become so consumed by his passion in battering “the other side” as to bereft of any critical thinking, there can be no rational argument that the media, academia, and the Federal government are employing every tool and method they can to force a new hegemony of thought and values which is very destructive to the successful cohabitation of diverse free people.

    Is the complete destruction of all the fundamental mores which are the footers of the foundation of the US culture inevitable?

    The U.S. political zeitgeist has a long history of a dialectical evolution. Let us hope that continues to be the case as we are certainly headed for the bleak scenario described by Powell if not.

    Students and campuses have a long history of rebelling against the status quo. In fact, the growth of “non-left” student groups appears to be happening. So let us also hope that there is a student backlash against the stifling demand for intellectual and other conformity combined with an aggressive effort to completely disenfranchise their deplorables by an ever more extreme left.

    60 million or more Americans, not in the bubble, rejected the establishment, academia’s and the media’s candidate despite every conceivable method and tool to destroy the opponent, ethical and unethical, legal and illegal, peaceful and violent. There may be 60 millions reason why they did it; but it appears they are appalled at the left, at what has happened to their Universities, and even the Democratic party’s near-anarchic leadership. We can only hope that they will be even more energized than they were by the last election to reduce the power of the left through their vote.

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