CUNY Law Fed Soc co-president: Disruption of Blackman can be a "learning moment"

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

As regular readers are aware, Professor (and occasional VC guest-blogger) Josh Blackman was invited to CUNY Law School by the law school's Federalist Society to give a talk about free speech on campus. Before his talk, the CUNY administration sent out an email warning students not to disrupt the talk. Blackman was met with student protesters who seemed intent on disrupting the talk. An administrator dropped in, warned the students not to disrupt, and then left. The student protesters disrupted Blackman for about ten minutes, and then departed. Dean Mary Lu Bilek of CUNY Law made it clear that the disruptive students would not be penalized, warned, or even investigated. She stated: "This non-violent, limited protest was a reasonable exercise of protected free speech, and it did not violate any university policy."

In response, I noted that disruption could not possibly be consistent with university policy, and indeed I pointed to two provisions of the student handbook that were pretty clearly violated. I suggested that Dean Bilek was unfit to be dean, and should be fired. I stand by that. But I should have clarified at the time, for those not familiar with the law school academic setting, that being "fired" as dean means that you are relieved or your dean title and administrative responsibilities and return to the regular faculty, not that you lose employment.

In any event, Justin Kilborn, co-president of the CUNY Law Federalist Society, asked me to publish his response to my post. I won't comment on it, other than to note that Professor Blackman does not seem to share Mr. Kilborn's sanguine perspective, as expressed in the first two paragraphs of Kilburn's response, that the disruption should be seen as "learning moment" that ultimately worked out okay because Blackman had a "productive" conversation with the students who came to see his lecture. Blackman told Law.com: "It absolutely disrupted what I wanted to do. I wasn't able to give the speech I wanted. I didn't have enough time to give it, or the energy to give it because I had to deal with all these other factors. These students were deliberately trying to interfere with my ability to exercise my constitutional rights." He told Tucker Carlson, "I tried to come on campus to talk about free speech, and I was shouted down. They yelled at me, they screamed at me, they called me a fascist, a white supremacist, a Nazi…. This was not a reasonable protest."

Here is Kilborn's full, unedited response to my post:

On April 16, David Bernstein, a professor at the George Mason University School of Law wrote, in the Volokh Conspiracy, that Mary Lu Bilek, dean of the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, needs to be fired. As a student at CUNY Law and the co-president of the CUNY Chapter of the Federalist Society, I feel obligated to make a statement in response to this.

To be sure, I am disappointed in my fellow students' unwillingness to partake in civil debate. I was happy to invite Josh Blackman, professor at South Texas College of Law, to our campus and I was taken aback at the reaction to our flyers. However, I cannot fully condemn my fellow students. The CUNY Chapter of the Federalist Society cannot claim to be advocates of free speech and then get mad when fellow students use their freedom of speech to protest ideas they dislike. Do I think my fellow students over-stepped their bounds in shouting down Professor Blackman? Yes. But if addressed properly this can be a learning moment for everyone at the school.

I fully appreciate Professor Blackman's willingness to work with us through the last-minute topic changes as we were unable to find any other professors willing to partake in a conversation regarding different theories of constitutional interpretation. I appreciate his patience in dealing with the protesters on campus and, while I was looking forward to hearing his prepared remarks about freedom of speech and having a diversity of ideas on campus, I believe that the conversation had with the students was productive. Ironically, while I could not persuade any other professors to speak with Professor Blackman on the topic of constitutional interpretation, a fair amount of the questions proposed by students at the event were about originalism.

Having said that; Dean Bilek's statement about the event is the same statement, I believe, any other dean of a law school would give if they found their school the center of this kind of attention. And, while Professor David Bernstein is more than welcome to wax poetic about how Dean Bilek's statement does not align with the rules stated in CUNY's policy and what happened in the video, that is about all that can be done at this point. With all due respect, Professor Bernstein is not aware of anything that might be taking place outside of the public view to address what happened at the event. I would never expect the dean of our school to throw her students under the bus just to please people that have no vested interest in the school community.

To call for Dean Bilek to be fired over this singular event is myopic and displays the difference between being a lifelong professor that is tasked with simply writing about school policy as opposed to an upper level administrator tasked with finding a proper balance in enforcing school policy.

Advertisement

NEXT: Southern Poverty Law Center Scraps Its Anti-Muslim Hate List

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Kilborn’s reply is what I would expect as the product of intimidation. Don’t make waves lest you not get the job you want after leaving law school. I thought that #MeToo had taught us something about the effects of implicit abuses of power.

    1. It’s hard to see what’s wrong with abusing power, at least a little bit, when we need to make sure that some of this “free speech” rubbish doesn’t get out of hand. The entire faculty here at NYU has vehemently, if discreetly, protested the revelation over the past few days that a so-called judge has refused to hand down even a short jail sentence in our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case. See the documentation at:

      https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    2. Kilborn’s reply is what I would expect as the product of intimidation.

      I lost interest in right-wingers’ expectations during the birther debates.

      1. Stop lying RAK. You’ve never had an interest in anything other than your own expectations!

  2. This response is complete idiocy, and idiocy that needs to be stamped out with an iron heel. When someone on one side of a controversial topic hires a meeting venue, he has the absolute right to be heard within it. That is, no one’s First Amendment rights are even implicated except his right to speak and the right of each member of his intended audience to hear that speech.

    The only lesson that Blackman, or Milo, or Ben Shapiro need to learn when they are victims of conduct like this is that next time they’d each better bring a platoon of well-armed goons with them, to forcibly remove the thugs who will otherwise shut them up. And each school administration involved, including Blackman himself, had better expel everybody involved. If these things do not happen, then that university will no longer be able to function as anything but an Antifa-terrorist indoctrination center.

    1. They should be expelled for being law students and not knowing the difference between “the rule of law” and “law and order”.

      1. Question still unanswered: Were the protestors actually law students? Or were they students of other colleges who chose to attend an open event? (Or were they students at all? Most such speeches are open to the public.) None of those characteristics justify disrupting the speech but non-law students could perhaps be held to a lower level of ridicule than people actually studying the law.

        1. The one who raised that question was a law student.

    2. You’re assuming that the administration wants the place to function as anything else.

    3. “that university will no longer be able to function as anything but an Antifa-terrorist indoctrination center.”

      Too late.

  3. Not very convincing. Mealy-mouthed, one might say. Not as bad as “punishment would exacerbate my mental health” but that’s a pretty low bar.

    1. Yes, “learning moment” is just weasel wording for “suck it up and move on.”

  4. This young man will go far. He is an excellent brown-noser and appeaser.

    1. If there’s ever a Democratic Senate again, a Republican President should consider nominating this guy for a judgeship. Excellent skills a reaching around the aisle.

      1. True, he knows how to “speak truth to power.”

      2. “reaching around the aisle” lol

    2. +1. Genuflecting before an “upper level administrator” is the hallmark of an aspiring bureaucratic toady.

  5. I agree – it’s a learning moment. The lesson is – it’s OK to disrupt anyone else’s speech at CUNY for up to 10 minutes. No consequences. I suggest a start is made by disrupting the start of every lecture and every class for ten minutes. My prediction – they’ll think of a different lesson.

  6. At what point does screaming “Nazi” and “fascist” turn into fighting words?

    1. Never. Unless we’re in a time machine back to 1945-ish.

  7. ” Professor Blackman does not seem to share Mr. Kilborn’s sanguine perspective . . . Blackman told Law.com: “It absolutely disrupted what I wanted to do. I wasn’t able to give the speech I wanted. I didn’t have enough time to give it, or the energy to give it because I had to deal with all these other factors. These students were deliberately trying to interfere with my ability to exercise my constitutional rights.”

    If you watched the video, he was actually quite chill about it even after they had left. While I think the students involved should have been disciplined, I also sense some significant opportunism on Blackman’s part.

    1. Yeah, I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think this quote accurately implies Blackman’s thoughts regarding the suitability of punishment for the protest, or lack thereof. It would surprise me based on my review of the presentation and his post regarding the incident.

    2. What ought Prof Blackman to have done to avoid a charge of opportunism ? Break down and weep and call for his comfort dog ? Experienced speakers are supposed to be able to put up with things going awry at their speeches, and to be able to make the best of things. That doesn’t mean they welcome the disruption, nor that they end up giving the presentation of their case that they wanted to. Your audience is thinking about their safety rather than paying attention, you don’t know if the disruption is going to resume, you don’t know if some univeristy administrator is going to tell you to wrap up because you’ve had you time (even though ten minutes of it have been taken off you.) And more inexperienced speakers are going to struggle much harder to recover.

      A good receiver can make often a catch even if there’s pass interference – it might not be called so you do the best you can. Is that “opportunistic” or “making the best of a bad job” ?

      1. Nah, his reaction during the event wasn’t opportunism – yes, he was making the most of a bad situation and doing a good job of it. His “woe is me” shtick now is the opportunism.

      2. “What ought Prof Blackman to have done to avoid a charge of opportunism ”

        Not act opportunisitically.

        If you choose to act opportunistically, you gain the advantage of the opportunity. You also gain any disadvantages that might accrue, including having someone point out that you are acting opportunistically. At that point, you can choose to be evasive, or deny, or admit to acting opportunistically, or even some combination of these depending on who you’re talking to at the time. Your followers will very likely cheer you on, whichever path you choose, and your opponents will very likely continue to oppose you, regardless of which path you choose.

  8. Man, you guys are harsh. Yes, the violated the student code of conduct. Yes, they ought not have done what they did. But ultimately, do you really expect them to face more than a reprimand for a 10 minute, unsuccessful attempt at stopping a presentation?

    1. Expect ? No, of course not. What is to be expected these days from college administrators when it comes to protecting free speech ?

      But tell me, would you expect a reprimand to act as a deterrent to further disruptions of other speeches ? Or not ?

      1. Yes. Half of them didn’t even know that it was even arguably misconduct based on their discussion in the video. Most people expect progressive discipline and that they would be punished more harshly if they did it again.

        1. And being sanctioned for it would have taught them that.

          1. An official warning would count for that

        2. Most people expect progressive discipline

          Most people expect progressives to never be disciplined. They haven’t yet, why would it happen now?

      2. If a reprimand is documented in the student’s academic record (conduct violations such as this would definitely be noted in an MD student’s academic record and mentioned in the “Dean’s letter” that is required with all the student’s applications to medical residency programs), it might matter to the Bar.

    2. They didn’t even get a reprimand, the dean said it was a proper exercise of free speech.

      1. Professor Bernstein
        Yes, I am aware. I’m not saying the dean is correct. She is wrong. But I think the appropriate punshiment is minimal. I personally am more annoyed that she thinks that is proper exercise of free speech than I am that no punishment was issued.

    3. Man, you guys are harsh. Yes, the violated the student code of conduct. Yes, they ought not have done what they did. But ultimately, do you really expect them to face more than a reprimand for a 10 minute, unsuccessful attempt at stopping a presentation?

      Yes. I expect suspensions and expulsions, pour encourager les autres. Lay down a marker demonstrating that this kind of shit will not be tolerated, and I guarantee you’ll see less of it.

  9. “…Dean Bilek’s statement about the event is the same statement, I believe, any other dean of a law school would give if they found their school the center of this kind of attention.”

    Not so much Justin.

    https:// http://www.law.umn.edu/ sites/law.umn.edu/ files/ halbertal_lecture_statement.pdf (remove spaces for link)

    “While it is regrettable that the protesters (none, I believe, from the Law School) chose to deny themselves the opportunity to engage and learn from a speaker of Halbertal’s distinction, it is unacceptable that they should seek to deny other students and community members their own opportunity to hear an invited guest speak.
    Values of free speech and academic freedom are central to the University’s mission; we disregard them at our peril. “

  10. While I otherwise agree I don’t like Blackman’s wording suggesting that somehow the students in conjunction with the school someone violated his constitutional rights. I mean surely it can’t be unconstitutional for a university to try a lecture format that allows 8 minutes of protesting at the outset or heckling/rudely called out questions or even run a conference with the rule that anytime an audience quora declares it inappropriate the talk is cancelled. Nor can it be unconstitutional for a university to try various approaches to punishing rule violates including (appropriate for hot blooded academic disputes between profs that start getting out of hand) leaving it up to informal social disapproval.

    None of these rules are a good way to handle organized and deliberate disruptions by students of academic talks and doing so harms academic freedom. However, surely the constitution doesn’t bar a university from experimenting with stupid formats for it’s talks even if they would result in most academics choosing not to accept speaking invites there anymore.

    Note, this is all assuming that there isn’t any kind of viewpoint discrimination by the administration. That would be different. But just stupid policies aren’t unconstitutional.

    1. I mean it’s true that the university didn’t advertise Blackman’s talk in any of these ways or advise Blackman of their defacto protest policy. But it does seem to effectively be a defacto policy and surely poor communication of that fact doesn’t rise to a constitutional violation.

    2. “I mean surely it can’t be unconstitutional for a university to try a lecture format that allows 8 minutes of protesting at the outset or heckling/rudely called out questions or even run a conference with the rule that anytime an audience quora declares it inappropriate the talk is cancelled.”

      For a public (government run) university, yes, it can be.

  11. I’d add that calls for the dean to be fired are premature. Given the unfortunate policy/mileu which has given students the impression that this kind of protest won’t result in non-trivial punishment I think serious punishment in this instance would lack fair warning. I mean college kids expect some rules (no streaking, no alcohol in dorms, no mixed gender cohab in dorms) to be punished with a slap on the wrist and others (plagarism) intensely punished. So just because it’s an official rule doesn’t mean their isn’t a reliance interest on the past level of enforcement.

    The right response is to act now to clearly communicate that deliberate attempts to disrupt university talks will result in serious punishment in the future (esp for repeat offenders…I suspect it’s a small core who engage in this repeatedly so).

    1. You make the case for the Dean being unfit for the position.

  12. I think it is unfortunate that Blackman wasn’t able to finish the speech he had planned. That is not good.

    But, I do not think that a 10-minute interruption is a very big deal either. And in general, a speaker that is well-prepared or well-practiced would be able to work an interruption.

    There is a line-drawing problem here. Most would agree that a 30-second disruption is not a big deal. And most can agree that something that totally prevents a speaker from talking is worse than a shorter, temporary interruption. (Even if we disagree about the seriousness of the temporary interruption.)

    Interruptions are free speech too. And certainly, a political message was sent by the disruption. If interruptions are so severe that someone cannot speak at all, that is not acceptable. But I think this is partially free speech versus free speech, rather than clearly a case of speech suppression.

    Partially, this is also a matter of taste. How much “rough and tumble” one thinks is appropriate when it comes to debates.

    That said, I think that those who disrupted the speech ought to have stayed for the whole thing rather than leaving. They might have learned something. There is a self-righteousness here. These students feel that they have nothing to learn from someone with a different point of view. They are willing to take the time to disrupt the speech, but not listen to it. And I think this self-righteousness is perhaps more problematic than the interruption itself.

    1. “Interruptions are free speech too.”

      Only in a public forum, which this was not. The morons didn’t just interfere with with Josh Blackman’s free speech rights, they also interfered with the free speech rights of every person in the audience. The purpose of free speech and free press isn’t just to allow people to express ideas. It’s also about allowing other people to receive ideas. And the morons decided they had the right to determine what everyone else is the room could hear.

      “Partially, this is also a matter of taste. How much “rough and tumble” one thinks is appropriate when it comes to debates.”

      This wasn’t a debate. And the morons weren’t participants.

      1. “Only in a public forum, which this was not.”

        or, at least, you’re assuming.

        The lesson is clear… if you are a student organization, and you want to invite a controversial speaker, you should hire a private hall for the presentation. That takes the first amendment out of the calculation, and you no longer have to tolerate people whose free speech (opposed to your speaker’s) that you’d like to suppress. You may have to hire some security staff to do the suppressing, too.
        Yeah, this costs more money than just using the free space at the school. You make your choices.

    2. “And I think this self-righteousness is perhaps more problematic than the interruption itself.” Without meaning to minimize the disruption itself, I am inclined to agree. It is utter fecklessness for people in their early 20s to think that they have nothing to learn from someone as thoughtful Professor Blackman, for example.

  13. Two thoughts. First, it seems to me that the speaker who is interrupted is the best judge of whether that interruption constituted an “interference” with his right to speak. Professor Blackman’s quote indicates that he thought this interruption did constitute such an “interference.” End of story. Second, it also seems to me that Mr. Kilborn has done a great disservice to his chapter of the Federalist Society. Under normal and customary rules of common courtesy, when one invites a guest into his house, he at least attempts to protect that guest from adverse consequences flowing from having accepted that invitation. Mr. Kilborn apparently disagrees with that concept. So having publicly stated that guests who are invited to speak to his chapter are “on their own” in having to defend themselves from such “non-interference,” as he characterizes it, nobody should be surprised if future invitations to speak at any CUNY event are rejected, or (in the mealy-mouthed language that academicians use these days) declined, because rational persons would not voluntarily subject themselves to such crap! Lots of luck in getting any speakers in the future, Mr. Kilborn.

    1. So long as there are speaking fee checks to be cashed, resumes to be augmented, and people who desire to persuade others, finding speakers should be little problem.

  14. “These students were deliberately trying to interfere with my ability to exercise my constitutional rights.”

    That’s nonsense.
    The Constitution limits the government’s interference with what you want to say. It does not in any way guarantee that your effort to speak will be unimpeded.

    The CORRECT Constitutional remedy for “bad” speech is more speech, so that the good ideas can crowd out the bad ones in the marketplace of ideas.

    Interfering with someone’s speech presentation is rude. It’s possibly a violation of academic rules. It may be morally right, viewed in proper light, but it remains rude and possibly a violation of academic rules even when it is.
    But it is NOT a Constitutional violation. That’s just BS.

    1. Oh, come on, that’s just sophistry. “You can still say what you want, I’ll just make sure nobody ever hears it.”?

      And I suppose gathering up books and burning them so nobody can read them doesn’t violate freedom of the press, because they DID, after all, get published.

      And nobody’s right to vote is violated if the ballot box is stolen before it can be counted.

      Do you really think anyone actually thinks that kind of rationalization is valid reasoning?

      1. Rationalization? Please.

        The Constitution guarantees that Congress shall make no law… abridging freedom of speech. It’s a restriction on CONGRESS, ie, the federal government. When the balance of power between the states and the federal government was reformulated in 1868, the restriction was extended to the states (and to their lesser subdivisions).

        There just isn’t a guarantee in the Constitution that your life will not be affected by rude individuals. It’s not there. Pointing this fact out isn’t a “rationalization”. Arguing that it should be imagined to be there… THAT’S a rationalization.

        Gathering up books so no one can read them isn’t a violation of freedom of the press. Doing so without compensating for the people whose books were gathered would be a fifth amendment violation, doing so with compensation is not a violation of the constitution at all.

        Voting rights are complicated. I can do things that cause the state to not count my vote, such as moving and not registering. But if the state imposes a 21-day preregistration requirement, and announces it 17 days before the election, that’s a violation.

        Your right to speak, to the extent that you have one, depends on just who you are expecting to support or defend your right. The Constitution only protects your right to speak free of government oppression. It doesn’t guarantee you an audience, and it doesn’t guarantee you a venue.

        1. If the government allows someone else to suppress speech then they are responsible. CUNY is a public university therefore government.

    2. “Let’s first clarify that there is no First Amendment right to shout down a speaker. If a governmental actor, such a public university, sides with the heckler by canceling the event or refusing to protect the speaker against use of force, it has failed to uphold the speaker’s free speech rights. In Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992), the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects “[t]hose wishing to express views unpopular with bottle throwers . . . Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.” However, the First Amendment is generally not implicated in situations involving private colleges, and is not as strongly implicated in the case of speakers that come to institutions uninvited or without permission.” From a Zach Greenburg essay at FIRE.

      1. “Let’s first clarify that there is no First Amendment right to shout down a speaker.”

        Except, of course, where there is. If somebody sets up a soapbox on a public sidewalk, and I set up my soapbox just down the sidewalk, and neither of us is impeding the flow of traffic, the fact that we offer competing ideas does not implicate the first amendment.

        If the “God hates fags” people set up to harass a military funeral, and a competing group sets up a counter-protest t oargue “God loves everyone, even you miserable SOBs”, and yet another competing group sets up a “Just who IS this God person, anyway?” speaker, and they’re all on public property lawfully shouting away at each other, the government has no basis to pick one group or another as “disorderly” while letting the others proceed.

        If I invite some controversial person to give a presentation at the local university (whether they’re controversial with leftists, with rightists, with both, or with some non-political types), and they get shouted down, the school owes them no special support.

  15. Watching conservatives rant about perceived outrage with respect to freedom of expression on liberal-libertarian campuses, while ignoring the systematic censorship that relegates just about every conservative-controlled campus in America to the third or fourth tier (or the unranked bin) makes me optimistic that right-wing schools are never going to amount to much in America.

    Carry on, clingers. You enjoy your backwater homeschooling and your Biolas, Regents, Hillsdales, Franciscans, Ouachita Baptists, and Libertys. Your betters will continue to rely on the Harvards, Wellesleys, Yales, Berkeleys, Reeds, and Columbias.

    May the better ideas win.

    1. What a one-note broken record. And one that is not even on point.

      1. I tend to respond to disaffected, slack-jawed faux libertarians (right-wingers in libertarian drag) who rant about progress, liberals, tolerance, libertarians, science, moderates, education, and RINOs. If the goobers would stop their incessant ankle-biting aimed at their modern, successful betters, I would comment less frequently.

        Carry on, clingers.

    2. IIRC Liberty has been beating Harvard in debate for years now!

      I almost pity you RAK!

  16. Dean Bilek statement read, in part, “For the first eight minutes of the 70-minute event, …. The speaker engaged with them. The protesting students then filed out of the room, and the event proceeded to its conclusion without incident….”

    Blackman told Law.com: “It absolutely disrupted what I wanted to do. I wasn’t able to give the speech I wanted. I didn’t have enough time to give it,…”

    So was Blackman’s time actually cut short by 8-10 minutes? They didn’t just let him finish his talk? Really? Seems kinda hard to believe but, who knows, maybe there was a curfew in effect and everyone had to be in bed.

    Blackman continues, “or the energy to give it because I had to deal with all these other factors. These students were deliberately trying to interfere with my ability to exercise my constitutional rights…I tried to come on campus to talk about free speech, and I was shouted down. They yelled at me, they screamed at me, they called me a fascist, a white supremacist, a Nazi. This was not a reasonable protest.”

    OK, we’re in snowflake territory here.

    Just to be clear, I oppose disruptive protests designed to intimidate or prevent speakers who voice opposing ideas and support universities taking strong action against those who do so. TBS, for Blackman to paint this particular occurrence as a gross violation of his 1A rights is just posturing.

    1. “They didn’t just let him finish his talk? Really? ”

      He changed what he was going to talk about, he says. So he was too intimidated by the raucous crowd to see if they’d let him go over to make up for it.

      Interfering with a visiting speaker is just a rude thing to do. It’s rude when it’s done to anyone… whether they be conservatives talking about free speech on campus or liberals explaining how the ACA actually works, or even somebody’s unusual religious theology, or whatever. But you’ll get apologists who rush to the side of THEIR guys, while continuing to condemn YOUR guys, for doing the exact same thing.

      1. Interfering with a visiting speaker is just a rude thing to do.

        I agree. But boors have rights, too (remember the Tea Party town halls?). There is and should be room for some play in the joints in this context.

        The reported conduct of the protesters seems to have been mildly objectionable — and correspondingly counterproductive. The partisan calls for harsh punishment appear to disregard improperly CUNY’s entitlement to administer its campus, however.

      2. “He changed what he was going to talk about, he says. So he was too intimidated by the raucous crowd to see if they’d let him go over to make up for it.”

        According to the story the “raucous crowd” left the venue after about 8-10 minutes and the event proceeded as planned. If anything, the disruption would, presumably, have made Blackman’s free speech arguments more persuasive to those who remained.

        Maybe Blackman was so naive as to not anticipate protests and was so traumatized by the protesting students as to be truly intimidated by the mere possibility of their return. Maybe, but I’m not buying it.

        “Interfering with a visiting speaker is just a rude thing to do…”

        No argument from me on this. Disruptive protests which interfere with the free exchange of ideas and shouting down speakers should not be the acceptable norm. If nothing else, such actions are often counter-productive and can act to marginalize what would otherwise be a legitimate disagreement. TBS, there is a certain amount of protest, even if it is marginally disruptive, which is acceptable and should be allowed in an open forum. Where to draw the line is the tricky part.

  17. “Here is Kilborn’s full, unedited response to my post:”

    I request that you edit out Kilborn’s opening paragraph and replace it with this comment in order to respect my free speech rights.

  18. There is no event or occurrence, large or small, that cannot be pressed into service as a “teachable moment.” The term as I have encountered it is not infrequently employed to salvage matters gone awry, which appears to have been the case for Blackman, at least, who could not say what he wished to say, however ‘productive’ any encounter with the protesters may have been. Kilborn’s olive branch of teachability may be perceived as gracious, but it falls short of the mark, as does demanding the decapitation of offending deans wherever they may be found.

    Both the expression and rebuttal of ideas are substantial principles needed to ensure freedom. If one cannot be had without suppression of the other, as seems to be the case on campuses of late, it would seem that it will not be long before we have neither.

  19. There is no event or occurrence, large or small, that cannot be pressed into service as a “teachable moment.” The term as I have encountered it is not infrequently employed to salvage matters gone awry, which appears to have been the case for Blackman, at least, who could not say what he wished to say, however ‘productive’ any encounter with the protesters may have been. Kilborn’s olive branch of teachability may be perceived as gracious, but it falls short of the mark, as does demanding the decapitation of offending deans wherever they may be found.

    Both the expression and rebuttal of ideas are substantial principles needed to ensure freedom. If one cannot be had without suppression of the other, as seems to be the case on campuses of late, it would seem that it will not be long before we have neither.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.