This is a leftover story from earlier in the month, which was largely overlooked in the hyper-drive news cycle. It might as well bear the headline, "revolution eats its own." This chapter of the Campus Madness chronicles comes to us from William & Mary College in Virginia, where students affiliated with Black Lives Matter (BLM) interrupted a free speech event sponsored by the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Reason's Robby Soave describes the melee, which was so persistent in its disruption that the scheduled speech was eventually cancelled:
Students took to the stage just a few moments after [W&M alum and ACLU official Claire] 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.
"Liberalism is white supremacy" is an interesting one. These protesters weren't content to show up and register their illiberal objections to the ACLU's principled stance on the First Amendment and free speech by carrying placards or asking tough questions. They weren't content to chant and yell to make their presence known. They weren't even content to effectively commandeer the event and read a prepared statement from the microphone. No, they didn't rest until the scheduled remarks were called off -- and then proceeded to ensure that curious students couldn't even engage in private conversations with the speaker, hounding everyone away from the venue. A total shut down. For "justice," or something The university responded with a requisite expression of disappointment, as other students bemoaned their classmates' aggressive censorship:
Laith Hashem, ’19, was bothered by protesters’ refusal to engage in an open, two-sided discussion...“I think they had every right to do what they did. I don’t agree with their method, [but] they’re completely entitled to their opinions,” Hashem said. “But the thing I disagreed with most was that every opportunity they had to have a discussion, both with the speaker and the audience, they responded by increasing their volume and shouting louder.” Hashem, who was one of the students hoping to speak to Gastañaga, said he was disturbed by the aggression he perceived, as it bordered on not just verbal assault, but physical intimidation. “Silencing certain voices in order to advance the cause of others is not acceptable in our community,” College President Taylor Reveley said in a written statement. “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.”
"Unacceptable." Does that word mean that there will be sanctions for the violators? Or is this just another administration going through the motions of feigning interest founding principles, without taking the risk of inflaming a noisy 'victim group'? Via Legal Insurrection, here are some video lowlights, including the disruptors repeating the Orwellian and constitutionally-illiterate refrain, "hate speech is violence:"
Meanwhile, Hot Air's John Sexton is tracking another incident, this time at the University of Oregon, where a speech by the school president was interrupted by chanting left-wing students who took over the stage: "The loud group of a few dozen students did not have a cohesive message but did express concerns over tuition costs, with the leader referring repeatedly to 'CEO Schill,'" reports The Oregonian. "Charlie Landeros, who led the march onstage and spoke using a bullhorn, said the group represented UO students who felt their voices weren’t being heard by university administrators. 'Over the summer there has been a huge proliferation of neo-Nazi propaganda plastered all over campus,' Landeros said, adding he feared it could escalate to a violent hate crime. 'We’re here to stand against that.'" They're claiming a "huge proliferation of neo-Nazi propaganda" on campus over the summer. Color me skeptical, because the hard Left has taken to referring to any speech they dislike as "white supremacy" or "neo-Nazism," no matter how preposterous. When those terms are abused, they their meaning is diminished -- which, in turn, perversely gives some cover to the real thing. Keep in mind that these students are admittedly "standing against" a hypothetical "hate crime." More unfocused, authoritarian, speech-hostile histrionics:
Sexton notes the irony that the administrator's speech was going to include a defense of free expression: "At the core of any great educational institution is freedom of speech and its corrollary—academic freedom...In other instances and at other universities, students seek to disinvite or to shout down speakers they don’t agree with…If someone says something we don’t like, we should not try to shut them down. That is not what we do in an open democracy," President Schill was going to say. The students weren't interested in that message; indeed, they believe the opposite to be true. I'll leave you with this Stanley Kurtz piece documenting other instances additional recent incidents along these lines. Flash mobs of leftist students are becoming more brash and aggressive -- and their targets aren't confined to right-wingers anymore. If the ACLU (!) isn't safe from this nonsense, nobody is. Hopefully the expansion of this phenomenon will inspire more pro-speech liberals to join the anti-End of Discussion coalition, which cannot succeed if it's comprised exclusively of conservatives.