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Friday, October 06, 2006

Interdicting speech at Columbia 


Eliana Johnson reports in the New York Sun that leftists are interdicting speech at Columbia:

On Wednesday evening, the gathering came to an untimely demise when, a minute into the remarks by the founder of the Minuteman Project, Jim Gilchrist, students stormed the stage, overturning tables and chairs and attacking Mr. Gilchrist and fellow Minutemen Marvin Stewart and Jerome Corsi. Having taken control of the stage, the students, led by the student chapter of the International Socialist Organization, unfurled a banner that read, in both Arabic and English, "Nobody is Illegal."

Although the hired security did little to prevent the students from shouting down or physically intimidating the invited guests, they escorted the Minutemen out, unharmed, through a back door.The protesters savored their victory before security ushered the audience out of the auditorium. Students jumped from the stage, chanting in Spanish and pumping their fists triumphantly. "These are racist individuals heading a project that terrorizes immigrants on the U.S.-Mexican border," a Columbia junior who took part in the protest, Ryan Fukumori, said. "They have no right to be able to speak here."

The Columbia Spectator has considerably more coverage here, including this video of the protests that made it impossible for Jim Gilchrist to speak:



Commentary

Universities constantly struggle with the question, who should be "allowed" to speak on campus? While it is simple to say that universities should be free speech zones open to the expression of any idea, universities are filled with silly people with extreme views who invite all sorts of repulsive people to spew their stupidity. What do you do when a university invites a declared enemy of the United States to speak? Is there any doubt that if Che Guevara or Chairman Mao or even Josef Stalin were alive today, some American university would invite him to speak? To what degree should great American universities, recipients of a staggering amount of public money, underwrite -- and thereby legitimize -- enemies of the United States or other people who advocate political results against which most Americans would go to war?

The problem, of course, is that the Minutemen do not in any way, shape or form fall into either category, and Jim Gilchrist is not by any reasonable measure an unreconstructed dirtbag (as, say, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is). Now, regular readers know that I'm something of a dove on immigration matters, and I am even willing to consider that there may be practical reasons why we should not wall off our borders. However, try as I might, I can't see any moral objections to the Minutemen. They are volunteers who walk the borders, and notify the United States Border Patrol when they spot people who appear to be sneaking across in violation of the law. Their standard operating procedures prohibit engagement with illegals and are otherwise quite sensible. Yes, some of them are armed, but they should be. Some of the people who smuggle illegal aliens are very dangerous. Yes, some white supremicists have tried to hitch their wagon to the Minutemen's star, but Jim Gilchrist, whose son-in-law is Mexican, has forcefully and clearly rejected all overtures from racist organizations. Mainstream politicians, including Arnold Schwartzenegger, have praised their work. As far as I can tell, the Minutemen really are a "neighborhood watch," writ large. The leftists who prevented Gilchrist from speaking brought shame to Columbia, which failed to eject the people who disrupted a sanctioned university event.

This business of leftist university students interdicting mainstream but politically incorrect speakers is not, unfortunately, new. It is a tried and true tactic that my father, who was a professor of history at the University of Iowa, had to confront in 1972, when leftists shouted down Harvard professor Richard Herrnstein (whose theories about the inheritability of intelligence were most decidedly un-PC). My father's actions in connection with that episode taught me a lesson that university bureaucrats would do well to adopt today. While refusing to endorse Herrnstein's opinions, he cancelled a class to protest Iowa's failure to secure Professor Herrnstein's speech, saying this to his students:

Before you start writing, there is one matter which I feel I must talk to you about, even though you are probably sick of hearing about it. The deliberate and successful attack on academic freedom which occurred here a week ago was the most tragic and upsetting thing which has happened in the three years I have been here. I feel that I can’t continue to perform my duties here without saying or doing something to make public my sorrow and my sense of outrage.

Because there is such pressure for conformity in a large industrial society, a university has to promote diversity more than ever before. But it cannot offer you diversity of opinion or provide anything more than mere indoctrination unless every faculty member has the fully guaranteed right to say what he thinks is the truth, not simply what one political group wants him to say. This right is academic freedom. Without it, I could not remain in this profession and your prospects for a broad and diversified educational experience would be gone ….

I think that neither you nor I can afford to have this issue swept under the rug. As a means of symbolizing my protest at the administration’s failure in this case, I am canceling Monday’s lecture in this course. I hope that you will take a few moments during that hour to reflect on the fact that freedom is very hard to win and very easy to lose.

If I were a student at Columbia, I would be outraged that self-appointed leftist censors prevented me from hearing Jim Gilchrist. They have, in effect, burned books. To its credit, Columbia appears to be investigating. If it determines who organized and participated in this outrage, it should impose a stiff penalty that sends a message that it will not tolerate vigilante censorship.

Other blogs commenting: Tammy Bruce, Power Line's Scott Johnson (who must be proud of his daughter Eliana's coverage), and Atlas.

24 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 06, 09:51:00 AM:

No comments?

Perhaps because your own comments leave nothing of significance unsaid.

Well done.

John Fembup  

By Anonymous Kit Hosley, Ok, at Fri Oct 06, 10:05:00 AM:

This is nothing new in universities today.
Each evening, I attend classes in the heart of Oklahoma and listen to one sided rabid attack politics that masquerade as 'required undergraduate courses'. The conservative students are harrassed into shutting up lest they face the wrath of the professor holding the gradebook, and the liberal faculty and students rejoice.
Violence may seem like a new technique, but when we look at the ancestry of the rhetoric, it's easy to see that violence was bound to follow- Che would, indeed be quite proud of them.
I would say the only decent response on the behalf of the university would be to expell the students involved in the attack , but using decent and university in the same sentence seems a contradiction in terms these days.  

By Blogger cakreiz, at Fri Oct 06, 10:16:00 AM:

John's comment is correct; of course universities should be free speech zones. Watching this display sickens one's sense of civility and fair-play. The irony is that Ahmajinedad, Castro or an array of third-world thugs would be embraced warmly. God bless Amerikkka. It's an upside down world.  

By Anonymous Phrizz11, at Fri Oct 06, 11:30:00 AM:

"I would say the only decent response on the behalf of the university would be to expell the students involved in the attack , but using decent and university in the same sentence seems a contradiction in terms these days."

Kit: That would be overreacting. The students who disrupted the talk should be disciplined, and the organization should have its school funding suspended for a few years, but immediate expulsion is too much. Also, "decency" is a very bad choice of words, and reveals, I think, that your mindset is really equivalent to those who shouted down the speaker. If you could, you would impose your own brand of "decency" on university students - and the rest of America for that matter. This is about the freedom of academic expression and debate - not "decency," which is just another form of intellectual thuggery.  

By Anonymous J, at Fri Oct 06, 11:38:00 AM:

Bravo! Thank you for publicising your comments on this incident. Already, the College Republicans are planning on bringing two former terrorists and a former Nazi to talk about supporting Israel next week. Clearly, more fuel is being added to the fire, and I have to wonder what will Columbia U do. Ironically, Columbia U supposed to have the most prestigious journalism school in the nation.

The ISO clearly has to be punished for their violent actions at the lecture. The Chicano Caucus and African-American association should be reprimanded.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Fri Oct 06, 12:20:00 PM:

Here is the real problem. This quote:

This is about the freedom of academic expression and debate - not "decency," ...

demonstrates the underlying issue we face when confronting the type of behavior this video displays.

What Phrizz is saying, quite simply, is that no one has the "right" to impose standards of behavior on anyone else.

In the world according to Phrizz decency is thuggery because it imposes standards of behavior. My parents called this process of adhering to standards of behavior "manners".

Is this thuggery? Hardly. Understanding the basic precepts of social mores guides us through life. Manners, civility, decency and the like are the lubricant that prevents unnecessary friction.

Now it seems that expecting people to behave with "decency" is verbotten because that would impose restraint on behavioral choices which is "thuggery".

So, phrizz, if there is no agreed upon "brand of decency" anything goes, right?

I'll bet you're a real charmer on a date. After all manners are related to decency and one man's decency might be another man's intellectual thuggery. go ahead and take a cell phone call in the middle of a restaurant in the middle of a date.

Should do wonders for your love life.  

By Anonymous Dave, at Fri Oct 06, 12:29:00 PM:

The only people more hateful and intolerant than the current rabidly crazy left leaning people in this country, are islamic fascist. Just check out the numerous incidents of sabotage, vandalism, violence and assaults leftists have perpetrated over the past 4 or five years against conservative commentators or anyone they dont agree with. These students ARE the vicious hatemongers that they claim everybody else who doesnt agree with them is.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 06, 01:08:00 PM:

Am I the only person here who sees the irony of protesting a speech about stopping illegal Mexican immigration by bringing a sign written in Arabic?  

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Fri Oct 06, 01:10:00 PM:

You're all right. This is intolerable! In the 1950s, this never would have happened. I wish I had a time machine so I could live a in nation where everyone knew their place, and lunatics like this could be shot on sight!

Hey, you all have clowns like Rush, O'Reilly andcrew cut college Republicans, Ralph Reed. The Left has crazies like this. We all have our crosses to bear. The difference seems to be that that you all need to have something to whine about...and then hide behind stuff like "security," "patriotism," "fair and balanced." Hahaha. They at least are up front and honest about their agendas.

FYI, rent the DVD "The Motorcycle Diaries," which was nominated for an Oscar. It'll show you what Che was like when he was an idealistic med student, loved the US, loved having money and didn't give a crap about the poor. Gee, I wonder what happened on that motorcycle trip, just a vacation, see all of South America with a buddy, that turned him into an pillar of pure E-VIL (I'm using my halloween Vincent Price voice) and such an icon for these legions of zombie like liberal students?

By the way, I like the Minutemen. They have the balls to expose the President's nut-less immigration "policy," which is basically appease mexico, ensue a steady stream of cheap exploitable labor under the idiotic premise that in addition to undercutting American organized labor and having folk to cut grass, they'll be "family issue" voters one day. I tell you in maryland, that has really, really panned out. hahaha.

Stop finding distractions from this Foley thing, guys. I know it's painful to have the Wizard of Oz curtain drawn back on conservatives (as if immigration hadn't in a small way). Join the rest of us. Watch Jon Stewart and "The Colbert Report." Read Time or Newsweek or even the Williams-Sonoma catalogue, rather than each other's blogs. Relax. You still run everything so what's the beef?

Smooches...  

By Blogger Lanky_Bastard, at Fri Oct 06, 01:13:00 PM:

In the midst of 2 wars, a congressional youth exploitation inquiry, historically unprecedented borrowing and spending, the passage of a novel legal framework that allows the executive to redefine torture outside the Geneva Conventions (and prevents potential torturees from accessing courts)...what on Earth shall we shake our finger at? I know! Why don't we get all fired up about the noisy protests of some 20-yr-olds?!

Damn those lefty juvenilles, confronting a righteous militia leader on their campus with anrgy voices and posters! They're practically terrorists (unlike the blessed paramilitary organization that walks the border with guns,which is the total opposite)!

I thank you conservatives, for fighting the good fight against these dangerous Ivy Leaguers! Channel your anger. Keep it hot and focused on these big important issues.

If you don't save the republic from college kids, who will?  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri Oct 06, 01:26:00 PM:

Hey, Lanky, I've written about all that stuff, although only once about the Foley thing, which is a political event rather than a real scandal (once we got past the ritual resignation of Foley, complaint about abuse as a child, claim of alcoholism, and purifying treatment therefor). As for the other stuff... you don't think I write enough about the war?!?  

By Blogger paul a'barge, at Fri Oct 06, 01:34:00 PM:

What I find confusing is why conservatives don't form a brigade of men armed with baseball bats, attend these events, and beat the crap out of the socialist/fascists when they try to interrupt the free speach of those with whom the thugs disagree.

What are we waiting for?

Kick the crap out of these frauds.  

By Blogger tyreea, at Fri Oct 06, 02:57:00 PM:

I heard about this on the radio this morning but didn't read anything about it yet. I wnet to the Minuteman website and read this,
"An African-American member of the Minuteman board who spoke prior to Gilchrist..."
Apparently the African-American guy spoke for about an hour and his speech was not stopped.  

By Blogger Lanky_Bastard, at Fri Oct 06, 03:16:00 PM:

My friend, you're free to write about whatever you want. Honestly, I'm amused by the stern tone, the praise of other bold reporters on this issue, and the frank concern that rowdy college students continue to protest things (as you say they have since your father's time). The best part is how these rowdy college kids exemplify everything that is wrong with liberalism. We have metaphorical book burning, academic appeasement of Stalin and Mao, and a baleful rebuke of "vigilante censorship" (ironically topped with ardent support of actual vigilantes aka the "neighborhood watch"). Your commenters crack me up too. These protestors are like Islamic Jihadis, no wait, they're socialist/fascists (which is a neat concept by itself). They are the epitome of what is wrong with liberals everywhere.

I really want to phrase this nicely, so don't take it the wrong way, but there's a little hyperbole in this post. It's like you're one invocation of George Soros away from a Jesus's General post, and you don't even know it. That's why I was amused.

As for your question, the point isn't that you haven't addressed other issues, it's that you fire beanbags at conservative sleeze like "not by any reasonable measure an unreconstructed dirtbag." (c'mon Tiger, you left yourself more outs in that statement than a season of baseball) and live rounds at the evil liberal enemy. That's your perrogative as an advocate, but when you softball contitutional issues it cuts into your cred when you want to hype a college protest.

Anyway, there's no doubt these students have been bad. There's blood in the water, and it's some bizzare flavor of liberal blood, so let the conservative feeding frenzy begin. Just uh, don't get so fired up that you start asking why the secret service removed people from an assembly over a bumper sticker, or why the guy who called Cheney a deplorable person got arrested. Focus on those evil liberal college kids who are destroying our society in just about the same as they always have.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Oct 06, 04:08:00 PM:

Yes, let us ignore, condone, or even applaud politically motivated mobs who storm an audience hall to shut down speech they don't like. They're only adults, they'll grow out of it.

Can you imagine the media blowback that would have occurred if, say, the Minutemen stormed the audience hall of some pro-immigrant group? Take a moment. Is it clear in your mind now? That's what is referred to as a double standard.

"Students jumped from the stage, chanting in Spanish and pumping their fists triumphantly. "These are racist individuals heading a project that terrorizes immigrants on the U.S.-Mexican border," a Columbia junior who took part in the protest, Ryan Fukumori, said. "They have no right to be able to speak here.""

Read that last sentence again.

"They have no right to be able to speak here."

Now condone their behavior again. It'll show your true colors.  

By Anonymous Phrizz11, at Fri Oct 06, 04:59:00 PM:

skip: Your favorite thing in these blog comments seems to be setting up straw men and firing away. It is not really worth replying to, but I'll take the bait one last time, anyway.

Choosing not to associate with those who do not behave up to your standards (whatever they may be) is everyone's right. If I answer my phone on a date, my date has the right to get up and leave, and not spend any time with me. A person's standards of "decency" are theirs to act upon and nowhere did I say that this was not true.

What *is* reprehensible is when you forcibly seek to impose your standards on other people - which is what those students did and why they should be disciplined. Now, obviously, in order for society to function, the government must impose certain minimum behavioral standards in the form of laws. It is a matter of degree, and it is advantageous for society to have those laws be as minimal as possible so that we are as free as possible. It is in our best interests as a society to breed a robust diversity of ideas, which will always be more productive than a homogenized collective. However, that means you shouldn't be allowed to legislate or otherwise force your standards of decency on to other people, *even if* it causes you to be uncomfortable. To do otherwise is to be a thug.

I maintain that you, the poster I was responding to, and many other people on both sides of the political spectrum are not truly interested in freedom of discourse in any setting, academic or otherwise: you just want to hear what you already believe to be true, you don't want to be brought outside of your intellectual comfort zone, you want "decency." Fine, go ahead and surround yourself with like-minded individuals who do not offend you. That is your right. Just don't try and force it on me.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Oct 06, 05:47:00 PM:

"The irony is that Ahmajinedad, Castro or an array of third-world thugs would be embraced warmly"

Really? Just 3 weeks ago Ahmajinedad was invited by the Int'l Affairs Dean but uninvited after a prof in (!) public health objected, She proved to be the head of a por-Likud organization.

Not a word from you on that I bet.  

By Anonymous Joe B., at Fri Oct 06, 11:07:00 PM:

Hey Anonymous (5:47 P.M.)...
Did your "por-Likud" public health prof storm the stage? AlL on her lonesome? OOPS, forgot, the famous Iranian democrat didn't get the chance to speak.
What a bunch of b.s. A group of misinformed troglodytes masquerading as students charge the stage, and you have a bunch of sophists posting here defending it.
I'm Canadian, but ya don't need a Ph.D. to understand that 11 million illegal aliens mobbing your American borders without so much as being logged in is a recipe for disaster. Your "super-brains" taking up class space at Columbia don't know whether their collective asses are punched or bored.  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Sat Oct 07, 05:39:00 PM:

I think CC sums it up well when he equates Rush, O'Reilly, et al with the people who violently shut down a speech. The former don't shut down other people's speech. That is not a passing difference, but an enormous one. That you find the two equivalent is one reason why such things continue. As to reading other sources besides each other's blogs, I hope you don't think you scored with that blind stab in the dark, hoping that you'd stumbled upon conservatives who fit your caricature? I think you will be directed to a much wider range of opinion here in the comments and links than you will fihnd in Time or Newsweek.

I'm a psychiatric social worker, so I get to read my share of liberal nonsense and speak with people of other views.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Oct 09, 01:47:00 PM:

It looks to me from the video as if the folks who stormed the stage were the majority in the audience, and it does not look as if they “stopped” the speech. It looks as if the university authorities did so in order to maintain order after Gilchrist insulted the majority of his audience and the audience reacted.

For the record, Jim Gilchrist is a closet racist who runs a closet racist organization and runs closet racist political campaigns. Jim Gilchrist ran as American Independent Party candidate for congress in 2005. The AIP is the more extreme of the two surviving branches of the explicitly racist party formed by Gov. George C. Wallace when he ran for president in 1968.

During his campaign, clearly self-identified neo-Nazi (skinhead and National Alliance) volunteers staffed phone banks, did IT work, and distributed National Alliance fliers with full knowledge of Gilchrist’s campaign staff and Gilchrist himself. When one campaign staffer kept telling them about it, they kicked him out.

He has followed a similar “don’t ask don’t tell” policy toward neo-Nazis and other racists in the Minutemen. Gilchrist said that the FBI would help his organization screen candidates for its project to observe the Arizona border, that they would keep out neo-Nazis and racists, and that they would not be allowed to carry weapons. However

 The FBI said they were not involved in any such screening;
 At least 4/5 did carry weapons;
 At least two members of the neo-Nazi National Alliance were involved, as well as known racist Joe McCutcheon, a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens.

You have a right in America to make stealth racist speeches or even openly racist speeches to your private club of racists or even to a private club of Republicans in denial without worrying about being subjected to verbal opposition from other free citizens. All you need do is hire security and screen the audience members.

But when you make a speech in public (or put on a play, or sing a song) that insults the audience’s intelligence (whether or not it’s political) and then turn around and directly insult the audience, you can expect - - - well, an audience reaction. This reaction does not violate your right to free speech: it exercises theirs. If they physically attack you, that's another matter, but that doesn't appear to have happened.

By the way, the idea that Bill O'Reilly doesn't shut other people down is ridiculous. I watched him shut down an invited guest - the son of someone who died in the 9-11 attacks - on his show in the most repulsive way imaginable, by physically threatening him. As for Rush, he has all the calls to his show screened so he never really has to be seriously challenged.

The congress you on this blog support just gave the president you support the authority to take anyone he decides to call an "enemy combatant" and make them disappear for as long as he likes on his authority alone, and you call a bunch of students who spoke back when a speaker they did not invite stood there and insulted them "fascists." Really, this IS becoiming Germany in 1938.  

By Blogger skipsailing, at Mon Oct 09, 05:29:00 PM:

No Phrizz, you are just plain wrong.

When I think of decency I think of self control. It's got nothing to do with the government.

No where in the constitution is it written that I must hold the door for some one with thier hands full or stop to help a motorist with a flat. there's no words in the bill of rights that says "don't fart at the dinner table"

decency is imposed on you as part of your rearing Phrizz. Your parents are supposed to teach you mundane stuff like etiquette. It is quite clear that the parents of these boorish young people didn't quite get the job done.

You'd like to turn this into some sort of politcal stem winder when what you're really missing is the fact that you not only have rights but you have RESPONSIBILITIES too.

Are you incapable of self control, or simply unwilling to admit that it is indeed necessary?  

By Anonymous Phrizz11, at Mon Oct 09, 06:09:00 PM:

skip:
"When I think of decency I think of self control. It's got nothing to do with the government."

Then you are ignorant of the connotations of the term "decency." See, for example,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indecent

Decency is present as a legal concept. When you call something "indecent," then you are suggesting that it should be in some ways against the law.

Just so you know.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Oct 11, 11:49:00 PM:

"Decency is present as a legal concept. When you call something "indecent," then you are suggesting that it should be in some ways against the law."

You can't just hoist motivations on people. "Oh, you really mean this." Bullshit.

If your parents raised you (or not?) so as to not be able to tell the difference between law and etiquette, say so.  

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