Protests

Claremont McKenna Disciplines Students in the Name of Free Speech

Blockading the doors to a Heather Mac Donald speech is a kind of censorship.

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Claremont McKenna College recently suspended three students for a year and two others for a semester for their protest of Manhattan Institute Fellow Heather Mac Donald, author of The War on Cops and vocal critic of Black Lives Matter.

Claremont McKenna has taken a very harsh approach. This administrative action could have a chilling effect on future protests. Every student should have the ability to counter offensive, reprehensible speech with their own criticism.

But the school is not rebuking all students who exercise their First Amendment rights—only those who choose to prevent others from assembling and speaking. And they're not denying students the ability to appeal or subjecting them to an arbitrary process: sanctions are decided by a three-person panel, and students may have as little or as much participation in the investigation process as they want.

And besides, how should a college clarify its commitment to free speech?

In early April, protesters blocked entrances to the auditorium where Mac Donald was slated to speak. Since nobody could get through to the event, she spoke to an empty room and livestreamed her speech as students pounded on doors and windows, shouting and chanting.

Mac Donald's academic conclusions are controversial. In a Fox segment following the protests, she summarized the core ideas in her book. "There is no epidemic of racially-biased police shootings, the Black Lives Matter narrative is completely false, and there are thousands of law-abiding residents of minority communities who are desperate for more police protection."

In her livestreamed speech, she challenged Black Lives Matter's premise "that the police are the greatest threat facing young black men today," while clarifying that "every police shooting of an unarmed civilian is a stomach-churning tragedy."

With its disciplinary action, Claremont administrators have sent a message that illiberal shutdown tactics are not tolerated on campus. In an official statement, college officials concluded "the blockade breached institutional values of freedom of expression and assembly. Furthermore, this action violated policies…that prohibit material disruption of college programs and created unsafe conditions in disregard of state law."

Several of the students who received suspensions graduated in May, so their degrees are being withdrawn for one year. Fellow students and activists criticized the decision because of the impact it might have on the students' job prospects. Attorney Nana Gyamfi, who is representing the suspended students, called Claremont's decision "cruel and unusual punishment."

Physically blocking people from hearing the ideas of others—even those viewed as apologists for cops—creates an environment where free speech simply can't thrive. Heather Mac Donald is an academic, not a professional provocateur. Her intellectual value must be considered stronger someone like a Milo Yiannopoulos. And she concedes in her speeches there are major issues with policing in the United States, and that a legacy of racial animosity toward law enforcement lingers on.

Claremont is right to make it abundantly clear that even disagreeable speech deserves to be heard and debated. And while student protests of this kind do not compare to outright government censorship of speech, it's startling to see these millennials barricading doors so their views won't be challenged.

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  1. Attorney Nana Gyamfi, who is representing the suspended students, called Claremont’s decision “cruel and unusual punishment.”

    Actually I think I punishment fits the crime. You client kept someone from earning their livelihood and now you clients have to suffer the same for a year. Its not like Starbucks won’t hire them because they don’t have their gender study degrees yet.

    1. Nana Gyamfi….sooo they brought a grandmother out of retirement to defend them?

      1. She put a hex on you wit da evil eye.

        1. Hopefully she will join our campaign to suppress any public awareness, let alone discussion, of the “First Amendment dissent” of a single, isolated judge in America’s leading criminal “satire” case. See the documentation at:

          http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  2. “Heather MacDonald is an academic, not a professional provocateur. Her intellectual value must be considered stronger someone like a Milo Yiannopoulos. And she concedes in her speeches there are major issues with policing in the United States, and that a legacy of racial animosity toward law enforcement lingers on.”
    Completely irrelevant. ALL speech is protected. You completely undermined your point.
    REASON has gone round the bend. Glad I cancelled my paid subscription.
    Grumpy

    1. Think you’re overreacting just a bit. Reason is making clear that Ms. MacDonald isn’t as pure and innocent victim. And that the college STILL defended her right to speak and their right to hold events without reference to the heckler’s veto.

      1. Think you’re overreacting just a bit. Reason is making clear that Ms. MacDonald isn’t as pure and innocent victim.

        They argued the opposite. That she was an innocent victim and was an academic and not a “provocateur”.

        And he’s right. It is irrelevant. Speech is speech. If they barricaded the door to prevent Richard Spencer or Van Jones, there would be no difference.

        1. But it better shows the hypocrisy of the blockaders.

          Consider: if they had blockaded Hitler one day, and Mother Theresa the next, which one would better show their hypocrisy?

          Rights may be rights, but governments and majorities violate them all the time. Maintaining rights in the face of government-abetted majorities is a public relations game in part, and one way to win is show the Mother Theresa incidents.

        2. G & d: You all did read this and this, right?

    2. Irrelevant to what?

      There is more than one issue at hand here. The pure free speech issue, which you are absolutely correct about. No one should be permitted to use force to prevent someone from speaking or being heard.
      But there is also the issue of academic and intellectual freedom and diversity. Not only are the protesting students thugs trying to silence people using force, they are also intellectually incurious twits who can’t abide anyone expressing views in public that they don’t like.

    3. “Heather MacDonald is an academic,”

      How does she quality as an academic? Right at the top it says she is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Doesn’t sound like no school to me.

    4. Seems to me the point here is first that MacDonald isn’t rabble rousing a mob into harming others and second she shares some of the concerns of those blocking her speech showing the immorality and inconsistency of the speech blockers.

      Wolfe isn’t undermining her point that the college is rightfully punishing those who’ve harmed others by blocking their speech. It enforces her point, because some argue that inciting a mob isn’t protected speech. It also brings to fore the fact that the protestors decided their opinion was the only acceptable one, in a disrespectful use of force by students towards a professor.

  3. MacDonald’s academic conclusions are controversial. In a Fox segment following the protests, she summarized the core ideas in her book. “There is no epidemic of racially-biased police shootings, the Black Lives Matter narrative is completely false, and there are thousands of law-abiding residents of minority communities who are desperate for more police protection.”

    Where, EXACTLY, is the controversy. Anecdotes aren’t evidence of an epidemic.

    If there really was an epidemic, a cop shooting a black person wouldn’t be NEWS. Do we get huge stories on gang bangers offing one another? No, because that really does happen a lot.

    In her livestreamed speech, she challenged Black Lives Matter’s premise “that the police are the greatest threat facing young black men today,” while clarifying that “every police shooting of an unarmed civilian is a stomach-churning tragedy.”

    Also undeniably true. The number of blacks killed by other blacks dwarfs, by orders of magnitude, the number of blacks killed by cops.

    1. Also undeniably true.

      The very fact that it IS challenged shows the falseness of your adjective. Your hyperbole is doing you no good.

      1. Scarecrow – what are you talking about? Damikesc didn’t use any hyperbole and his statements are entirely true.

        1. Sorry — I should have quoted the EXACT letters.

      2. The very fact that it IS challenged shows the falseness of your adjective. Your hyperbole is doing you no good.

        Some people “challenge” that the Earth is not round. It is UNDENIABLY round, however. One can lie and be an idiot all day long. It is not, in any way, a denial of the actual reality anybody can see.

        We have mountains of evidence showing that the “challengers” on the “Who kills more blacks: other blacks or copy?” are undeniably wrong.

        1. Or cops. Fuck

        2. “Other blacks” are not charged with protecting the general public. They don’t get to stop and frisk other blacks. But most important, when a black person kills another black person on fucking camera, they go to jail. They don’t get paid leave and and a transfer.

      3. In this case, I think you might be taking “undeniably” a bit too literally. I don’t think many people actually use that word to mean that it is absolutely impossible for anyone to deny something. Nothing is undeniable by that standard.

        1. That’s literally crazy talk.

      4. It’s undeniable unless you do what the left does, and lie or ignore actual evidence.

    2. Bravo for pointing this out. I also wondered what the heck the author was talking about by labeling MacDonald’s conclusions “controversial.” MacDonald’s conclusions are based on overwhelming objective evidence that police shootings in the US are not racially biased and that blacks killing other blacks is clearly the greatest threat facing young black men today. It’s similar to suggesting belief in the Holocaust is controversial. It’s only controversial to lunatic nut jobs.

      1. I also wondered what the heck the author was talking about by labeling MacDonald’s conclusions “controversial.”

        The War on Cops is making us less safe.

        1. There is no new “War on Cops”. Cops are still given the benefit of the doubt nearly all the time. Policing is a dangerous job and always has been.

          1. The real problem with cops isn’t that they are killing innocent black men institutionally. The problem is that they consistently engage in ongoing low level corruption, nstitutinaly protecting those that engage in said corruption and also largely show indifference at doing the important part of their jobs, which is to investigate property crime.

            Those problems are consistent and widespread across most jurisdictions in the US. It’s like Frank Serpico once said, referring to the NYPD of the time; “10% of the cops are absolutely corrupt, 10% are absolutely clean, and the other 80% wish they were clean”. Which makes sense, since most tight knot fraternal organizations devolve into protecting the bad apples and applying peer pressure for the rank and file to also fall in line.

    3. Where, EXACTLY, is the controversy. Anecdotes aren’t evidence of an epidemic.

      Um, maybe in the fact that people on both sides are bitching about it? Maybe? You do know what controversial means, right?

      1. Um, maybe in the fact that people on both sides are bitching about it? Maybe? You do know what controversial means, right?

        It’s like saying “There’s a controversy about evolution because both sides bitch about it” when, in reality, we have “One side says patently untrue things and the other side refutes it”.

        This isn’t a “controversy”. A “controversy” implies that there might be an actual difference of opinion based on fact.

        1. Based on fact? That has nothing to do with the definition of the word.

          1. Exactly. Something doesn’t become non-controversial when you agree with one side.

        2. There is controversy about evolution. It’s kind of a dumb one, but it exists.

      2. This. Controversy does not imply support for one side or the other.

    4. “The number of blacks killed by other blacks dwarfs, by orders of magnitude, the number of blacks killed by cops.”

      And there is some overlap in those groups as: the number of blacks killed by black cop dwarfs, by orders of magnitude, the number of blacks killed by non-black cops.

      1. the number of blacks killed by black cop dwarfs

        Since when did cops start carrying axes? Wouldn’t the beards be against their uniform standards?

        1. Have warhammers been taken away from standard issue now?

          1. Actually, yes, they have.
            They were called batons, because ‘billy club’ was not a good marketing term after the sixties.

        2. Are there black cop elves too?

    5. “Where, EXACTLY, is the controversy. Anecdotes aren’t evidence of an epidemic.”

      Germs are evidence for an epidemic. You’re not gonna find any germs behind this, I promise you. The shootings are just the icing on a cake of widely recognized fear and distrust towards the police on the part of our African American compatriots.

      “The number of blacks killed by other blacks dwarfs, by orders of magnitude, the number of blacks killed by cops.”

      If you’re white, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back.

  4. YAY for good news for once! You forcibly shut others up (or prevent willing listeners from being allowed to listen to them), you get shut up! Fight fire with fire! (Wish it wasn’t needed, here, of course, but assholes gotta asshole, so asshole them back!)

    1. Team America had a great speech on Dicks, Pussies and Assholes.

      If you don’t fuck those Assholes we are going to get our dicks AND our pussies all covered in shit!

  5. Dang, y’all had me until the dig at Milo. You were so close too… I thought Reason was about free minds?

    1. I adore Milo, but part of his act is to get the snowflakes to disrupt his speeches to demonstrate his point that the Left is unable to handle differing viewpoints, even if they are factual.

      1. There are cleverer gays at a drag show in Bug Tussle, Arkansas. You like him because he says bigoted things, that’s all, and you think that’s “edgy.” Pathetic.

        1. There are cleverer gays at a drag show in Bug Tussle, Arkansas.

          I will bow to your superior knowledge on the quality of the wit of Arkansan drag queens.

          You like him because he says bigoted things, that’s all, and you think that’s “edgy.” Pathetic.

          “Bigoted” doesn’t mean “stuff I don’t like”.

          To quote him, calling him “self hating” is hilarious as he loves himself. A lot.

          1. I don’t use the term self-hating. I said he was kind of dumb. And isn’t he disgraced for endorsing pedophilia or something?

            1. “And isn’t he disgraced for endorsing pedophilia or something?”

              Didn’t you serve time for child molestation Tony? I’m pretty sure I remember you saying you’re a felon.

              See? You’re not the only one who can pull that slimy shit.

              1. I heard that Tony and Harry Reid were caught together, naked, with half a dozen 7-year-old boys.

              2. He’s probably at least a creepy chickenhawk. In gay parlance anyway.

              3. I don’t make the rules for how and why someone gets publicly disgraced.

            2. One would think, but if Chomsky can endorse the Rwandan genocide and still be a hero I guess you can endorse pretty much anything these days.

        2. Tony, bleating out the word ‘bigot’ or ‘racist’ isn’t actually an argument. It’s just pathetic and desperate. But I suppose a stupid, dishonest, factless wretch, such as yourself, has nothing else with which to work.

          FYI, besides all those definitions, ironically YOU are the racist bigot. For as usual the progtard projects their villainy onto others.

          1. But that’s why a flaming homosexual is so beloved by the Breitbart bottom-feeders, right? Because he says racist jokes and stuff? Because that’s the extent of humor their meth-addled brains can handle?

            1. They love him because he does such a fine job of exposing the hypocrisy of SJWs like yourself. Do you really not understand this?

              -jcr

        3. Waitaminute, your geography is off – the town of Bug Tussle is in Oklahoma, not Arkansas. Former Speaker of the House Carl Albert was from there. For reals.

          1. Cthulhu?

            Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?

        4. No, Tony, that can’t be it: you say bigoted things all the time and we certainly don’t like you.

          1. You win the thread. Well done.

            -jcr

    2. So pointing out that Milo is a professional provocateur is a dig? Hopefully he’s not as thin-skinned as you are by proxy.

      1. I’m sure Milo would be flattered for being referred to as such.

      2. “Heather Mac Donald is an academic, not a professional provocateur. Her intellectual value must be considered stronger [than?] someone like a Milo Yiannopoulos.”

        The implication is that it’s ok to blockade someone’s speech if you don’t consider them to have strong intellectual value, whatever that is.

        So no, my post wasn’t due to being offended on behalf of Milo. I wanted to call out the hypocrisy of the sentiment coming from a magazine that claims it’s for free minds without qualifying that those minds must pass an intellectual value test first.

  6. lol only in these fucktards heads does punished using violence against those you disagree with ‘chilling speech’. Physically blocking me from traveling in public spaces is violence.

    These pathetic marxists are terrorists, since they are using violence for political purposes. No sympathy for you.

    1. When they have these vents in progtard strongholds the organizers need to get some burly bikers as security. Those progtard pussies would back down pretty fast.

  7. Seems like trespass and assault.

  8. You must understand what a burden it is for leftists being right about everything. If there were a genuine political debate happening in this country, everyone would appreciate free speech more. But since there’s always a “Jesus rode a dinosaur” side to every political debate nowadays, it can be just a little exasperating. And leftists are not responsible for making evidence obsolete in politics.

    1. Mass murder of strawmen going on here!

      1. Tony’s sanity hardest hit

    2. Is this comment more boorishly condescending, stupidly wrong, or hilariously un-self-aware? Discuss.

      1. I’d say worst satire ever, but…

      2. I think it’s a stab at that “liberal humor” we’re hearing so much about lately.

      3. All of the above.

      4. I say boorishly condescending, plus a bit of failed attempt at humor.

      5. Personally I embrace the healing power of ‘and’.

    3. LOL, in other words free speech consists of saying “Comrade Tony is always right!” and nothing else.

    4. Tony|7.27.17 @ 11:53AM|#
      “You must understand what a burden it is for leftists being right about everything.”

      1989.
      ‘Nuff said.

      1. venezuela, 2017

    5. I see your syphilis is still going untreated

    6. Tony you are an ongoing punchline to a bad joke. Just a source of derision and ridicule. Did you know that?

      1. And who the fuck might you be?

        1. The setup for the joke.

        2. Just another in the long line of people lining up to remind you that you’re a smarmy retarded dickhead.

  9. the fuck is intellectual value?

  10. Actually, aren’t the Claremont colleges private? As such, there are no “free speech” concerns here. The college sets the rules. Anyone who doesn’t want to follow the rules can go somewhere else. If you choose to attend and you break the rules, they have the right to invoke whatever consequences.

    And frankly, the college would have been within their rights to call the cops and have these miscreants sent to jail.

    1. Pretty sure they end up taking government money somehow or other. Most all schools do.

      1. Yeah, so the feds could create a regulation that prohibits any federal grant money of federally guaranteed loan money from going to any college that allows “criminal conspiracies to violate civil rights”, AKA ‘violent protests’.
        There would be a lot more speakers, or a lot less students, on campus.

    2. Our free speech tradition is much greater than the 1st Amendment specifications.

  11. I don’t get it. It seems like the college did the right thing here, as, based on the story, protestors didn’t simply protest, they prevented others from attending the speech. Thus, this is not really a free speech issue.

    1. This is precisely what Reason would like you to think of as a campus free speech issue. It’s actually just another round in the culture wars, which commenters here are ever ready to fight. Substantial free speech campus issues without the benefit of an ID politics angle, like those that motivated Aaron Swartz, are never addressed.

    2. this is not really a free speech issue.

      Defending free speech is a free speech issue.

    3. Correct. It is a different part of that First Article of Ammendment. These rabblerousers denied others their right to freely associate with those THEY chose. I suppose, under some state laws, it could effetively be unlawful detainer, kidnapping, a low level assault (threat of physical violence if the assailant’s will is not followed). Try and enter that room I will smash your face, slug you in the gut, whatever.

      Had I been there, ticket paid to go hear Mrs McDonald, I’d have kept on heading toward the door, and when physically accosted taken lawful action to eliminate the immediate and plausible threat to my physical being. Their vastly superior numbers would constitute a legally defined lethal threat by way of disparity of force. They had means, opportunity, intent.

      Some one of these days, some gang of goofball punk kid students will find out that the denial of the rights and health of others is NOT acceptible. I’d say these clowns got off pretty skippy this time.

  12. This is about who controls speech, us or them. That control is evident in the ability to call the police and remove the blockaders.

  13. What happens if students block entrances to the Staples Center?

    We all know the real problem is that these colleges fancy themselves as their own meta societies. They have faux student government, codes on speech and conduct, and arbitrary standards on equality. It’s a faux utopia where everyone has to have a voice at all times and feelings have to be protected. So if their “citizens” demand black only student dorms, it is given to them. They can force a “dialogue” with school administrators on random issues they have no control over. I can’t walk up to the DMV employee and say “You and I need to talk about LGBT issues RIGHT now”

    And of course the liberal cities that host these colleges let them be. So they’re further insulated from the real world. What needs to be done (other than lawsuits) is to pull them back. If you value your degree, then you don’t block entrances to buildings where people have legal right to enter. You forfeit your seat to a concert if you try to jump on the state.

  14. “Her intellectual value must be considered stronger someone like a Milo Yiannopoulos.”

    Why? And in any case, the “intellectual value” of an invited speaker being forcibly shut down is utterly irrelevant to the issue at hand.

  15. The students at this college certainly do have the right to protest her speaking there, the right to offer a countering viewpoint, to challenge her statements and conclusions. What they do NOT have the right to do is to physically interfere with the freedom of assembly of any who wish to attend the event and hear the speaker. This is an abridgement of someone ELSE’s liberty. What they COULD have lawfully and ethically done would be to station themselves outside with posters, perhaps their own podium and speech, countering this speaker’s points and values. BUT they cannot prevent anyone else from entering the designated space for the event, any more than they could physically prevent me from entering a Mc Donald’s, Starbucks, ChikFilA Macy’s or a bus to somewhere I want to go.

    For this reason, the school is finally doing the right thing in sanctioning them. Perhaps they can go have a whinge about their degrees being withheld for a year. Great. Maybe they can now relate to the fact that a right delayed is a right denied. The right to hear Heather McDonald was delayed/denied those who wanted to hear her. Turnabout’s fair.
    Same with the clowns at Berserkeley, and the other asylum up on Puget’s Sound.

  16. There’s a balance to be met here.

    Blocking venues and shouting down speakers to the extent they can’t be heard should result in discipline.

    Ejecting protestors who come with signs or who protest outside the venue without blocking it is a violation of free speech also. The best counter to free speech one doesn’t agree with is more speech on the other side.

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