College PC

Activists Disrupt Law Professor’s Talk at the University of Chicago

"This is not a terribly effective tactic of persuasion, loudly yelling so students can't hear."

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Chicago
Richie D. / Wikimedia Commons

George Mason University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich attempted to deliver remarks to law students at the University of Chicago Tuesday, but was heckled by several protesters who successfully drowned him out. These activists were eventually removed by security.

Eyewitnesses told Reason that the hecklers were not enrolled at Chicago, though one student did attempt to record Kontrovich on a cell phone, and was silently involved in the protest.

Kontrovich, an alumni of the law school, told Reason he had been invited by a student group to discuss the First Amendment as it pertains to laws that target the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for direct action to oppose Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. A group of about five pro-Palestinian activists showed up for his talk and shouted over him as best they could, making it very difficult for attendees to hear.

"During the first few minutes of this disruption, Professor Kontorovich could not proceed with his lecture," Seth Cohen, a student who attended the lecture, told Reason. "After about five minutes, we gathered around Professor Kontorovich, and he attempted to resume the talk. The protestors raised their voices."

Kontrovich attempted to engage the protesters, but they merely continued to shout over him.

"The principal disruption was that they kept loudly yelling and chanting," Kontrovich told Reason. "It's a shame for students who came to hear a talk about the First Amendment in a law school."

Eventually, a school administrator—Dean of Students Charles Todd—entered the classroom and tried to persuade the activists to leave. They "smiled at him and continued chanting," according to Cohen. Later, the police arrived, and then the hecklers left.

Todd sent a campuswide email Tuesday evening in which he claimed the individuals causing the disruption were non-students.

"These disrupters were issued trespass warnings and asked to leave the premises," wrote Todd. "This chanting did violate the University's policies. It is the right of any speaker invited to our campus to be heard and for all who choose to be present to hear the speaker. Moreover, it is the right of members of the audience to ask tough questions of those speakers. The heckler's veto is contrary to our principles. Protests that prevent a speaker from being heard limit the freedoms of other students to listen, engage, and learn."

Todd did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kontorovich came away from the event perplexed by the activists' strategy.

"This is not a terribly effective tactic of persuasion, loudly yelling so students can't hear," he said. "It's not going to convince you of the justice of anyone's cause. What's ironic is that these [protesters] are the ideological allies of the people who favor safe spaces, who say that speech that makes them uncomfortable is violence and hearing things they don't like silences them. Yet they come and make it so people can't hear things they don't like."

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101 responses to “Activists Disrupt Law Professor’s Talk at the University of Chicago

  1. I can’t wait for Glenn Greenwald’s article on this, using it as yet another example for why the greatest threat to freedom of speech in history is the silencing of pro-Palestinian voices in America.

    1. Greenwald is such a hack. He’s especially pathetic lately since his #TrumpRussia denialist stance was definitively debunked.

      1. OBL, you continue to offend the LGBTQ community with your vituperative and venomous comments. How dare you? Have you no shame?

        1. It’s permissible to criticize members of marginalized groups when they express incorrect opinions. Criticizing Greenwald doesn’t make me anti-LGBTQ any more than criticizing Clarence Thomas makes me racist.

          1. this is true if criticizing a marginalized makes you anti(insert group talked about) then it makes it almost invulnerable to real reasonable debate.

          2. Hey, where’s your schtick today? Did you lose it somewhere?

          3. “It’s permissible to criticize members of marginalized groups when they express incorrect opinions.”

            Everything in this is solid gold.
            This might be the single greatest sentence you’ve ever written.

            1. Yeah, he definitely deserves the “Idiot of the Year” award for that one.

              Incorrect opinions. Classic!

    2. Greenwald isn’t wrong about how some laws have been offered against the BDS movement that are an affront to free speech. You don’t have to be a BDS supporter to realize this

      1. I also don’t have to care.

      2. The BDS movement is also supporting government policies to outlaw Israel friendly or neutral people or organizations. So it is kind of a wash being on their side.

        1. We are not binary people. It is quite permissible to state that both extremes are horrible.

          1. soooo can’t shoot them, can’t light them on fire

  2. What’s ironic is that these [protesters] are the ideological allies of the people who favor safe spaces, who say that speech that makes them uncomfortable is violence and hearing things they don’t like silences them. Yet they come and make it so people can’t hear things they don’t like.”

    Old professor dude is not wrong.

    1. He’s not wrong, but until these degenerates actually suffer real consequences for their actions–say, expulsion or, better yet, being beaten into a vegetative state–they’re going to continue doing this.

      1. These illiberal, faux-righteous, ignorant shit heads are doing me a favor in helping me to raise my daughter.

        All I have to do is point and ask, ‘what do you think of what they’re doing?’.

        And see that idiot – say Ilhan or AOC – there? Don’t be like her and stop saying like and um.

        I love showing her videos of AOC and scaring her about how stupid it looks and sounds.

        1. That is awesome, rufus.
          Much respect

        2. Your strategy should help you and your daughter weed out lots of obnoxious (and expensive) colleges, if she is inclined towards higher ed.

          1. Learn a trade.
            Coding can be outsourced; the wiring needs hands on site, as does the plumbing.

            1. I’ve always said that there’s something special about a girl who can properly sweat pipe fittings.

      2. The hecklers were shown not to be students so expulsion is not a real consequence. Having them arrested and prosecuted for criminal trespass would be though…

      3. until these degenerates actually suffer real consequences for their actions–say, expulsion or, better yet, being beaten into a vegetative state–they’re going to continue doing this.

        They’re unlikely to be expelled since they aren’t students. But they are almost certainly employed (or quasi employed) by the radical left activist complex (media – academia – NGOs). We should be approaching their employers and asking if they support these actions and – presuming they do not fire them – hitting them with financial penalties like making them ineligible for federal funds.

        1. I think beyond arrest, civil suits need to be levied; the cost of the speaker and security fees trebled for damages. It should not be free to waste other people’s time like that.

          1. That’s the most libertarian solution that I’ve read!

      4. expulsion or, better yet, being beaten into a vegetative state

        They’re proggies. They’ve beaten themselves into a vegetative state.

      5. College Bureaucrat Blowhard is a phony!

        “Todd sent a campuswide email Tuesday evening in which he claimed the individuals causing the disruption were non-students.”

        So, he is basically implying that if they were students, then this disturbance of the peace & censorship would be OK, as the police most likely would not have been called & thus, it would been campus business as usual by the Lefty fascists!

  3. ^ to Dean of Students Charles Todd. Even if they had been enrolled at the University, they should have been removed from the venue to a “safe space” of their choice.

    1. A lotta guys might say they gave up “their choice” by their actions.

      1. I was actually thinking of the local hoosegow.

  4. “What’s ironic is that these [protesters] are the ideological allies of the people who favor safe spaces, who say that speech that makes them uncomfortable is violence and hearing things they don’t like silences them. Yet they come and make it so people can’t hear things they don’t like.”

    Is that “ironic”? Perhaps I need more coffee.

    1. They are making this space unsafe according to usage by safe space supporters.

    2. Yeah, no, there’s no irony in demanding double standards for yourself and everybody else. It’s only ironic if they violate some sort of free speech principle and “free speech for me but not for thee” is not actually a free speech principle. Nor is “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable” a principle no matter what Bernie and his socialist ilk preach.

    3. It’s ironic in an Alanis Morrissette sort of way.

      1. 10,000 spoons when what you need is a knife…

      2. ray-e-ayn on your wedding day.

  5. I think I’ve found the ideal response to these disruptors on the part of those who are actually going to hear these speakers talk. If disruption is okay…..

  6. Hans-Herman Hoppe’s argumentation ethic hardest hit.

  7. “Dean of Students Charles Todd?entered the classroom and tried to persuade the activists to leave. They “smiled at him and continued chanting,” according to Cohen. Later, the police arrived, and then the hecklers left.”

    I swear. These arrogant shmucks. Makes you want to go full Sonny on them. ‘Now yous can’t leave’:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5wi9jOl9Uo

    1. They should have been arrested for trespassing and given the full “Freddy Gray” van ride to a police station in Sacramento.

    2. That would end with a bunch of vespas being trashed, instead of Harleys.

  8. “This is not a terribly effective tactic of persuasion, loudly yelling so students can’t hear.”

    If the professor thinks the disruptive thugs are trying to persuade anybody he is hopelessly naive.

  9. “Eyewitnesses told Reason that the hecklers were not enrolled at Chicago”

    Milton Friedman once said that a contributing factor that brought him to the University of Chicago was how the administration expelled students that occupied buildings or engaged in other illegal actions to make a political point. Remember this is the University where fun goes to die.

  10. “This is not a terribly effective tactic of persuasion, loudly yelling so students can’t hear,”

    You’re not dealing with rational people here.

  11. >> “This is not a terribly effective tactic of persuasion, loudly yelling so students can’t hear.”

    The goal was not persuasion. The goal was to signal and to silence.

    1. “The goal was not persuasion.”

      The goal was to have people take notice of the Palestinian issue. And it was a success. They got an article in Reason magazine which has attracted attention to their actions. Silence is not their goal.

      1. I’m not so sure. I think all these “no platformers” do is bring hatred upon themselves which inevitably ends up spilling over to the issue they’re protesting for/against. My gut reaction upon reading this article was “Screw the Palestinian ingrates! Heads need to be busted!”.

        1. ” My gut reaction upon reading this article was “Screw the Palestinian ingrates! Heads need to be busted!”

          I understand your reaction. But if they can bring this conflict to American shores, instead of it remaining distant and ignored, they’ve been successful.

          1. They haven’t. This is an article about speech, not Palestine. They failed to do anything but get branded as assholes.

            1. “This is an article about speech, not Palestine.”

              But you choose to write about Palestine, anyway. Success.

              1. Keep making the claim. Maybe somebody will be stupid enough to agree.

                1. Whether you agree with me or not is not a concern.

      2. That’s a pretty silly assertion considering the article is about heckler’s disrupting a talk. The Palestinian issue hardly gets mentioned.

        1. You just mentioned it now, acknowledging the issue, not ignoring it as the Zionists would have it. Same with the commenter before you.

          1. Fuck Palestine. Fuck it in its ear. Fuck it in its other ear. I mentioned Palestine. You think this is the attention they wanted?

      3. if everyone mocks them have they succeeded?

        1. First they ignore you. Then they mock you. It’s a step on the way to success.

  12. This is great. There is no such ‘right to hear’. If you want a private event then make it private. Otherwise the listeners have just as much free speech rights as the speaker. Of course, always cooperate with the police. Everything here went perfectly. The police came and they left and the event continued. Criminalizing ‘disruption’ would be a disaster. The police would start going after people who so much as sneezed at a Nazi rally and accuse them of ‘preventing others from hearing the speaker’. Why would you trust them to police disruption when you prohibit them from interfering with your speech? It’s up to the audience to boo them and escort them out. Any responses to my comment will be considered ‘disruption’.

    1. Spoiler: The Heckler’s Veto is not protected by the First Amendment

      1. And this was decided with regards to people trying to shout down a Nazi rally. If we’ve gotten to the point where someone who disagrees with the BDS movement is worse than a Nazi than stupidity surely reigns supreme.

      2. Often people who attend a public event or rally are disruptive and shout out a protest message. In all cases these people are booed or shouted down and the event resumes peacefully after a few minutes. There is no need to punish or criminalize such behavior. In fact it is protected free speech just like the speaker the people came to see.

        The “hecklers’ veto” is protected. You can’t just make up your own laws.

        1. That’s not a citation. It’s your lame ass blog.

          1. So, you enjoy (if that’s the correct word here) your little glimpse into an unhinged psyche?

    2. Yeah, the event was public insofar as and until UofC decided that attendees were not trespassing, and nobody is calling for the criminalization of “disruption.”

      Are you seriously proposing that an audience ganging up and physically removing stubborn hecklers is preferable to designated security doing so? Do you believe the hecklers here would have left had the police not shown up, which is what you just describe as going “perfectly?” In other words, wtf are you talking about?

      1. Of course designated security can remove them. When did I say otherwise? It helps when the audience boos them so everyone knows they are not wanted. Part of the problem here is that audiences are too cowardly to boo. But that’s exactly what they did at a Shakespeare in the Park performance a few years ago and it worked perfectly. Actually vindicated the performance. The show went on as it did here. You’re trying to impose a solution on a problem that doesn’t exist, and thus will only make everything worse, and if you disagree that will be deemed ‘disruption’:

  13. I think the Internet is to blame for a lot of this stuff. It provided a place for people to vent and troll and engage in all the anonymous expression of emotion. Which was in theory a great thing cuz it could have made meat space a more civil place by providing an alternative space for the uncivil that isn’t just some ‘free speech’ cage to marginalize it.

    But it also provides celebrity and has now been around long enough so it becomes essentially a ‘role model’ for behavior. Which means the incivility of the Internet gets transferred back to meat space which becomes far more uncivil as a result. And the net result is that the civil are now marginalized in real life and the trolls and assholes have taken over everything.

  14. “These activists were eventually removed by security.”

    And apparently banned from campus (though not arrested – Kontorovich would probably have needed to be a cop himself in order to get that level of protection).

    1. You don’t need to be a cop to arrest someone, as I learned the hard way.

      1. I was making a cynical allusion to the protesters arrested in Arizona for disrupting a speech by two Border Patrol agents.

      2. So someone got pissed off enough at you to throw you to the ground and kick your ass?

  15. Put on a mask and punch a Nazi. That is really all this is. It is the go-to tactic of the fascist left.

    1. But pro palestinian means anti jew so means pro nazi. Do they punch themselves?

      1. Now there’s a demonstration I would be glad to attend.

  16. We’re libertarians. We should be rejoicing in this demonstration of free speech. The protesters had their say and they left and the event continued. The real threat to free speech in this country are these misguided BDS bans, and I’m very gratified to see that people are standing up to them.

    1. no – University of Chicago is a private university – these students were trespassing on private property. Free speech does not mean you can go to a private event to which you weren’t invited and disrupt it.

      BDS bans do not threaten free speech, because the government doesn’t have anything to do with BDS. In fact, BDS is a legit, non violent way to apply political pressure on israel to end the apartheid state there. This is the same thing the international community did to South Africa with their apartheid state. No violence or coercion was used. Not a free speech or libertarian issue as such.

      1. BDS bans do not threaten free speech, because the government doesn’t have anything to do with BDS.

        “BDS bans” are literally the government singling out BDS supporters.

        I don’t know why this article glaringly failed to mention what exactly this Eugene Kontorovich guy did to piss the hecklers off in the first place, just that he was there “to discuss the First Amendment as it pertains to laws that target the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement,” but Kontorovich is a man who helped to write the anti-BDS laws that target boycotters.

        Apparently, when Soave said that Kontorovich was at UChicago to “discuss the First Amendment,” it actually means he was there to dubiously argue that the First Amendment does not actually protect boycotters from government discrimination.

        None of which excuses the hecklers’ behavior, but a little context would be nice. Would it be so hard to google his name first?

    2. Anarchy and Libertarianism are two different things, That’s the problem with some commenters here.

    3. Shouting down people you disagree with is not libertarianism, it’s at most childish idiocy. People who can’t act like adults, are not helping us achieve liberty.

  17. Proggies here in America only believe in free speech when the speaker has arguments they agree with.
    Otherwise, the liberal fascists go into their infantile tirade to ensure their preposterous beliefs aren’t exposed as the ridiculous arguments they truly are.

    1. umm no. i’m a proud lefty, and i don’t support these trashy little brats. I think the school was justified had they chose to use violence to remove them from their private property. A good punch in the face or roundhouse kick would have been good.

      Here’s a quote from another lefty, named Barack Obama, you may remember him.

      “For the second time this year, President Barack Obama publicly defended the importance of free speech on campus. In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos (video; transcript) that aired yesterday, President Obama praised student activists, but also said he disagrees with what Stephanopoulos described as “militant political correctness” on campus, whereby some activists seek to shut down opposing viewpoints.”

      “And so when I hear, for example, folks on college campuses saying, ‘We’re not going to allow somebody to speak on our campus because we disagree with their ideas or we feel threatened by their ideas,’ I think that’s a recipe for dogmatism and I think you’re not going to be as effective.”

      Just like conservatives are not a completely homogeneous group, neither are progressives.

  18. >>>”The principal disruption was that they kept loudly yelling and chanting,” Kontrovich told Reason. “It’s a shame for students who came to hear a talk about the First Amendment in a law school.”

    instead they got hands-on experience of free speech v. free speech

    1. free speech gives exactly no one the right to trespass on private property and disrupt a private event.

      1. sure but in the end its just words louder than other words on a college campus. is U of Chicago “private property” I genuinely don’t know

        1. the 1a does not entitle you to be heard, it doesn’t entitle you to a platform for your speech, and doesn’t protect you against private consequences of your speech.

          If your speech essentially makes it impossible for others to exercise theirs, your speech ought not to be protected anywhere. kinda like your right to do as you wish with your own fist ends at the beginning of another’s nose.

          In any case, this was private property. They were trespassing. The university was pretty lenient if you ask me. I would love to see an audience push back on the protesters, surround them, and make it clear if the stay, they’re either going to shut up, or leave early with bruises.

          1. >>> I would love to see an audience push back on the protesters, surround them, and make it clear if the stay, they’re either going to shut up, or leave early with bruises.

            yes, more words. words are fine. and what happened? the “bad guys” left and I assume Mr. Speaker and his minions got on with it

            1. yes, the invited speaker at a private event on private property was able to continue after the trespassers were removed.

              “words are fine” – not if you’re trespassing on private property. not if you’re yelling fire in a crowded theater. Not if you’re inciting a riot or violence. free speech, as with any right, has limits. again, just because the 1a protects you from the government, doesn’t mean you can go anywhere you want and say anything you want at any time you want.

              1. >>>”words are fine” – not if you’re trespassing on private property.

                i’m not that stuffy no offense

                >>>not if you’re yelling fire in a crowded theater

                i’m with who … Douglas? … on this one I would have dissented

                >>>Not if you’re inciting a riot or violence.

                I certainly don’t believe words can incite violence. have some self-control turn your back on the violent words don’t follow the morons

                1. i’m sorry, my mistake for taking you seriously.

                  1. ouch? i am serious. shine on brother.

  19. The word will get around and the hecklers will think twice about it when they get the bracelets slapped on them and they’re hauled off to jail for trespassing and disturbing the peace.

  20. An elite liberal university that believes in free speech? Goes against the conservative narrative. This must be fake news.

    1. fox news wants you think that the left is entirely made up of antifa brats.

      1. Well when progressive politicians speak and act like Antifa brats, it’s not a hard argument to make.

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  22. And because of their spectacle and the press coverage it has generated, these agitators did more to defame their cause than Kontrovich could have possibly achieved with his little lecture.

  23. The University of Chicago students are a pretty quiet bunch. In that neighborhood they couldn’t take it to the street in fear of atomic wedgies and giving up their lunch monies.

  24. Why weren’t they arrested?

    The only way to discourage this criminal behavior is e with arrest and criminal charges.

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  26. “Kontrovich, an alumni of the law school…”
    Um, no. He’s an alumnus (since he’s male), not an alumni. Alumni is the plural.

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