CUNY law students won’t be disciplined for disrupting talk because the disruption was “limited”

Last week I reported how law students at the City University of New York (CUNY) disrupted the talk of  Josh Blackman, an associate professor of law (and expert in Constitutional law) at the South Texas College of Law at Houston. Blackman was invited by CUNY’s Federalist Society and was, ironically, scheduled to talk about free speech.

Because Blackman had written a National Review article praising Jeff Sessions for trying to rescind DACA and ACA (acts I disagree with, as well as with Sessions’ politics), the students considered him a racist purveyor of “hate speech,” and acted accordingly. They lined the hall with chanting protestors carrying accusatory signs and trying to shame the attendees. (That would be a disruption at my university since it’s inside an academic building). They then proceeded to stand in front of the auditorium with signs, disrupting the first bit of Blackman’s talk.

And it was disruption. As Blackman wrote on his own website:

Much to my surprise, when I entered the room after that rude welcome, there were only about five people in attendance. Moments later, the protestors with signs filed in and surrounded all four sides of the room. About a dozen of them were standing directly behind me.

The President of the Federalist Society Chapter asked the students standing behind me to move to the back of  the room. They refused. I didn’t raise any objection. Had they stayed there, and not made any noise, it would have been fine with me.

The protestors called out: “Shame on You.” “I don’t understand how CUNY allows this.” “There are students that are directly affected by this hate speech.” “Legal objectivity is a myth.” “You still have an opportunity to leave.”

A few students in attendance clapped as I began to speak. “Well thank you very much to CUNY for having me,” I said. In unison, they yelled out, “CUNY is not having you.” “You are not welcome.” Another shouted out something about “white men and those who support white supremacy.” An African-American student who was attending the event replied, “I am not white.” A protestor, holding a sign that said “Josh Blackman is not welcome here and neither is the Fed Society” asked, “then why are you here? Why aren’t you with us?”

The students continued their demonstration for at least eight minutes and then exited, though you can see from the video below that at least one student continued to brandish a sign throughout the entire talk. Although there were only five people at the beginning of the talk (others likely dissuaded by the protestors), Blackman said that attendance by the end was about 30.

According to the CUNY Law School handbook (see below), this disruption was a conduct violation subject to University sanction.

Here’s the video of Blackman’s entrance and entire talk if you want to watch the entrance and then the eight minutes of protest.

Were the students punished or even admonished by CUNY? No way! In fact, according to the dean of the law school, their disruption, since it lasted only eight minutes (not including the inside-the-building “greeting” which may or may not be considered disruptive), was “a reasonable exercise of protected free speech” and “did not violate any university policy.” The dean was wrong on both counts. As Inside Higher Ed reports (my emphasis):

Via email on Sunday, Mary Lu Bilek, dean of the law school, said that the protest was reasonable because the disruptions ended relatively early in the time frame of the appearance.

“For the first eight minutes of the 70-minute event, the protesting students voiced their disagreements. The speaker engaged with them. The protesting students then filed out of the room, and the event proceeded to its conclusion without incident,” Bilek said.

“This non-violent, limited protest was a reasonable exercise of protected free speech, and it did not violate any university policy,” she added. “CUNY Law students are encouraged to develop their own perspectives on the law in order to be prepared to confront our most difficult legal and social issues as lawyers promoting the values of fairness, justice, and equality.”

Well, now we’re on a slippery slope where what is considered a “disruption” depends on how long it lasts. But what happened to Blackman was by most people’s lights a disruption of his talk, since it prevented him from beginning to speak when and how he wanted. Let us be clear: if a student stands up and yells at a speaker for even 30 seconds during their talk, that is a disruption, and one that should be punished, at the very least by removing the student from the venue and by recording the act in case it happens again, requiring more severe punishment.

David E. Bernstein, a professor at the George Mason University School of Law, agrees in a post at The Volokh Conspiracy called “CUNY Law needs to fire its dean“:

Some free-speech provocateurs should consider disrupting the first eight minutes of each of CUNY law school’s classes this week, including by forcing the professor to run a gauntlet of protesters threatening to block entry into their classrooms. After all, we now know that the law school’s official position is that eight minutes of disruption is “a reasonable exercise of free speech.” Meanwhile, Dean Bilek should be fired, and the Department of Education should investigate whether CUNY, a public institution, is violating the First Amendment rights of its guest speakers and students by giving disrupting students carte blanche, at least for eight minutes. The joke is that Dean Bilek is an ABA [American Bar Association] site visit team member, helping determine whether other law schools should get or keep the necessary accreditation, something she clearly is not competent to do.

Note that I’m not advocating any particular punishment of the students. But surely it can’t be consistent with free speech and university policy to disrupt a speaker. Indeed, that was the law school’s position before the talk. As IHE reports: “The law school sent a campuswide email stating that Blackman had a right to speak, and that protests were welcome, but not if they disrupted his appearance. At the beginning of his lecture, a law school official came to the event, repeated that message and then left.”

I too wouldn’t advocate any punishment except for the university police removing the disrupting students from the room and the university recording in the students’ files that they disrupted a talk. If a student then does it again, then you have to drop the hammer a bit.

Bernstein put this as an addendum:

Let’s take a look at page 85 of the law school’s student handbook: “II. Rules of the university (1-11) and law school (12). 1. A member of the academic community shall not intentionally obstruct and/or forcibly prevent others from the exercise of their rights. Nor shall she/he interfere with the institution’s educational process or facilities, or the rights of those who wish to avail themselves of any of the institution’s instructional, personal, administrative, recreational, and community services.” Also this: “5. Each member of the academic community or an invited guest has the right to advocate his position without having to fear abuse—physical, verbal, or otherwise from others supporting conflicting points of view.” The disruption didn’t violate any university policy, Dean Bilek? Have your read the student handbook?

52 Comments

  1. glen1davidson
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Eight minutes of preventing free speech is protected by the First Amendment, I guess. Screwing up the timing, trying to intimidate the audience, and wasting everybody’s time is just a Constitutional right.

    Of course it was much less disruption than occurred at many events, and sure, just shut them up and get them out of there at the first offense. Don’t pretend that a bunch of yelling buffoons infringing on real rights are being anything better than jerks, though.

    Glen Davidson

    • Craw
      Posted April 18, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      You can bar blacks from your lunch counter but only for 8 minutes.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 18, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        You really think that’s an apt analogy? When there’s a waiting list at the lunch counter, patrons of every race can be made to wait their turn for a seat (just as those protesting a speech should be afforded the exact same right to be heard as the speech’s supporters; see my comment below).

        A few moments contemplation should suggest that not all constitutional rights are amenable to precisely the same “time, place, and manner” restrictions.

        • Craw
          Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

          It’s a very apt analogy. You aren’t allowed to discriminate against black customers at all, so you aren’t allowed to do it if you just do it for 8 minutes. You aren’t allowed to shut down other people at all, so it isn’t okay if you just do it for 8 minutes. You can’t block ambulances, and it’s not okay if you just block them for 8 minutes; it’s not okay to eavesdrop, and just doing for 8 minutes doesn’t change that.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted April 18, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

            You’ve utterly confused constitutionally protected speech with run-of-the-mill constitutionally unprotected conduct. The government can prohibit people from blocking access to a hospital. But it most certainly cannot allow anti-abortion protesters to picket outside while denying an equal opportunity to pro-life picketers.

            • Craw
              Posted April 18, 2018 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

              No, you are the one confusing things. You are for example the one who confused the civil rights act of 64 with the constitution higher up in this subthread. You completely muddled viewpoint neutrality, which is how this started.

              The point is that the policy is no disruption after the speaker starts. Shouting him down at that point is an attempt to silence him and is neither acceptable nor indistinguishable from applause, as you claim.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted April 18, 2018 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

                I’ve said nothing about the CRA ’64 (and have no idea where you’re getting that from). The “time, place, and manner” doctrine is firmly established as a matter of First Amendment free-speech jurisprudence.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted April 19, 2018 at 12:02 am | Permalink

                Confused, me?

                I may be frequently wrong (though never in doubt 🙂 ), but rarely am I “confused” as to matters of constitutional doctrine pertaining to the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments (the latter four by vocation; the first, by avid avocation). I’m as liable as the next to make errors of ideology or mistakes of fact, but doctrinal confusion, not all that often.

  2. Craw
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I just want to note the similarity between Blackman’s NR article and Coyne’s testimony in the OJ case. Blackman thought the *law* did not permit the DACA order. Coyne thought the *science* did not justify some of the prosecution’s claims. Neither was a conclusion about the underlying matter, and both were principled.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    … if a student stands up and yells at a speaker for even 30 seconds during their talk, that is a disruption, and one that should be punished …

    What if Blackman’s speech had been heavily attended by supporters carrying placards of encouragement, and if his speech had been interrupted by 30-second bursts of applause or cheering or standing ovations? Should that be punished, too? Any rule in this regard, I submit, to be consistent with our First Amendment standards, must be viewpoint neutral.

    There comes a point, of course, at which boisterous protest crosses the line into free-speech interference. I’m uncertain where that line lies precisely, just as Potter Stewart was uncertain of the precisely lines regarding obscenity, but I know it when I see it. (And, like my obscenity, I prefer my protests to come with “redeeming social value.”)

    • Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Would Blackman regard applause as a disruption? Would a comedian regard laughter a disruption?

      It’s not ‘viewpoint neutral’ to fail to recognise that protests are intended to prevent speech while applause or laughter reward it.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        All animals are speech is equal, but some animals are speech is more equal than others?

        Under the US First Amendment, the speaker has no more right to veto the heckler, than the heckler has the speaker.

        • Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

          I think I’m seeing what you’re getting at, Ken. With respect to the 1st amendment; viewpoint neutrality is a burden borne solely by the government (or its agents). For everyone else, there is no legal burden and no restrictions, other than those of good taste and fair-mindedness.

          ?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted April 18, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

            That’s right. And the government (in this case, the administration of a public university) cannot delegate to a private speaker the power to delimit its students’ free-speech rights — especially not on some slender basis like the speaker’s delicate sensibilities for tolerating criticism.

            The university could, I believe, impose “time, place, and manner” restrictions on audience reactions — perhaps to the point of requiring that all students sit in silence. What it cannot do is give supporters free rein while prohibiting those opposed from expressing their disapproval. (Hell, there’s nothing more American than the occasional Bronx cheer.)

            When it comes to controversial topics of public importance, if sensitive speakers can’t stand a little heat, they should steer clear of the campus kitchen.

        • Posted April 18, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          If the First Amendment doesn’t distinguished between applause and shutting down a speaker it is retarded.

          Do you really think the First Amendment is that retarded?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted April 18, 2018 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

            Where have I made that assertion? In fact, I’ve said the opposite. My only point for present purposes is that a school cannot give those opposed to what a speaker says any less right to free expression than those who support it. Anyone who thinks they can, misunderstands the essence of the First Amendment.

            • Taz
              Posted April 18, 2018 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

              I disagree with your assertion. If the university wanted it could have had campus security throw the demonstrators out, and that would not be a violation of their first amendment rights. And they would not have to throw out everyone to keep things viewpoint neutral.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted April 18, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

                Take two audience members sitting side-by-side, one cheering a speaker, the other booing, each of like volume and duration. Do you think university security could turf out the booer while allowing the cheerer to remain? That would seem a clear-cut First Amendment violation to me.

                Given that an on-campus assembly to hear an outside speaker constitutes a special, limited public forum, I think the university could promulgate rules (perhaps even very strict ones) regarding permissible noise levels and interruptions. But any such rules must be viewpoint neutral if they are to pass constitutional muster.

              • Craw
                Posted April 18, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

                Again you misunderstand what viewpoint neutral means. Your equivalence of a speaker and a heckler is incorrect because this did not happen on the street in a public place but in a venue where the owner is exercising property rights. Similarly I may not remove your fliers with mine in a shop window although your argument implies I can. Right? There is no difference between your flier and mine (true) so by your argument the government cannot take sides if you remove mine (false) or add yours (also in general false if there are property rights involved).

                And as GD has observed the 1st amendment has more words than “press” and they all matter.

                Do you really see no difference between a theatre screening a film and protesters standing in front of the screen shouting through bullhorns?

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted April 18, 2018 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

                Craw, you seem confused as to what constitutes a “public forum” (which I explained briefly here.

                No one has a right to post a handbill on private property. But in public areas where such posting is generally permitted, I have the right to post my handbill saying “the speaker on campus sucks” right next to yours saying “the campus speaker is marvelous.”

                That viewpoint-neutrality requirement is no different from the one at issue here.

              • Taz
                Posted April 18, 2018 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

                Cheering or booing are irrelevant. It’s the act of disruption – of preventing the speaker from speaking that makes the difference. If the protesters prevented the speaker from speaking with loud cheering it would still be disruption.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted April 18, 2018 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

                You’re knocking at an open door there, Taz; I’ve made that point several times myself: preventing another from speaking is intolerable.

                My concern here is the inconsistent standards some apply to cheering and booing; if one is allowed, so must the other. We all wish to be basked in praise, but no one has the right to be spared insult or obloquy.

        • glen1davidson
          Posted April 18, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          First off, you have a simplistic view of free speech, as if it makes no difference whether or not someone is out to disrupt another’s free speech or to approve it.

          Secondly, although I’d disagree with your take on free speech even if that were the sole issue covered by the First Amendment, of course it’s not the sole issue covered by the First Amendment. Viz.:

          “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

          [Bolding added]

          Freedom is not about allowing any interaction to simply descend to a shouting match, rather, people may peacefully assemble to discuss matters. You can assemble with people to discuss, say, free speech and free assembly, without a bunch of haters of free speech and assembly preventing you from having a constructive discussion. How would people ever get to meaningfully discuss matters if idiots could disrupt any and every speech?

          Under the First Amendment, the speaker and those who invited him completely have more right to veto the heckler. Likewise for the ideals of the university. You don’t get to shut people down elsewhere, but you do in your own meeting. I do think that allowing people to ask questions and to disagree (like in a Q & A seession) tends to be a good thing at university, although I don’t think that’s any sort of First Amendment necessity (at public universities, a moral ideal at private universities I would hope).

          Glen Davidson

          • glen1davidson
            Posted April 18, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

            although I don’t think that’s any sort of First Amendment necessity (at public universities, a moral ideal at private universities I would hope).

            I’ll clarify by saying that I think it should be an ideal that there’s some give and take in speeches open to everyone at public and private colleges/universities, but I wouldn’t claim that there should be no exceptions.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted April 18, 2018 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

              The “the right of the people peaceably to assemble” has been construed by the courts to have two components: First, it allows private individuals to form private associations for the purpose of lobbying the government; second, it allows people to hold public gatherings in a non-violent, law-abiding (i.e., “peaceable”) manner. It guarantees no right to hold public meetings at which opposing viewpoints will be excluded or silenced.

              Do you really think that, consistent with the First Amendment, you could hold a rally on the National Mall for anti-Trump forces and exclude or silence pro-Trump protesters?

              • glen1davidson
                Posted April 18, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

                Do you think that, consistent with the first amendment, that professors at a public university must allow dissenters to heckle the teachers and disrupt classes?

                If so, get on that issue, because that’s where creationists are stifled, flat earthers silenced, and social justice activists are sometimes still prevented from disrupting education. I would maintain that the First Amendment allows us to assemble and speak under conditions that allow education and discussion.

                I’m certainly glad you’re not in charge of our rights.

                Glen Davidson

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted April 18, 2018 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

                Glen, classrooms most decidedly do not constitute “public fora” for First Amendment purposes. See, e.g., Murray v. Pittsburgh Board of Public Education. Consequently students have no First Amendment free-speech rights within them.

                On the other hand, halls at public universities where off-campus speakers have been invited to present are considered special, limited public forums (in contradistinction to streets and sidewalks and parks, which constitute “traditional public forums” open to all). Indeed, it is only because universities create such special, limited public fora by sanctioning speakers’ programs that public universities are prohibited by the First Amendment from “no platforming” invited speakers.

                Due to the unique, intermediary status of these special, limited speakers’ forums on campus, I am urging that the university has broad authority to impose strict “time, place, and manner” restrictions on campus protest — but that those universities cannot use such restrictions to favor the speech of audience members who support the speaker over those in opposition.

              • glen1davidson
                Posted April 19, 2018 at 1:30 am | Permalink

                Well you’re just wrong. The people intentionally and substantially impairing a meeting are subject to legal sanctions. The California Supreme Court said in a ruling:

                Our accommodation of the competing constitutional postulates will serve to preserve both section 403 and the constitutional protections. It prevents so excessive a use of the First Amendment right to protest that the right would be devoured in its own excesses. [7b] Thus, participants at a meeting may express disagreement but must not violate explicit rules or implicit customs and usages, pertaining to the meeting, of which they knew or should have known; such activity, when it is intentional and when it substantially impairs the conduct of a meeting, violates section 403.

                https://scocal.stanford.edu/opinion/re-kay-22748

                They were actually siding with protesters in that ruling, stating that some heckling and disagreement is (and should be) expected in many cases, but no, you just can’t impair the meeting intentionally (that already distinguishes between supporters and protesters). In addition, they are not to violate explicit rules or implicit customs and usages, although I suspect if the explicit rules almost entirely silenced dissent at a university speech, courts would have a problem with that.

                The handbook rules likely would pass muster for explicit rules, and it appropriately prohibits obstruction of others’ rights. They shouldn’t have been allowed to do so, but it does seem that the time to have acted against them would have been during those eight minutes (and anyone who was warned to stop should be allowed stop, and leave, or stay if they caused no more disruption), so I don’t really have a problem with them not being disciplined at this time.

                Glen DAvidson

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted April 19, 2018 at 5:43 am | Permalink

                Glen, you say that I’m “just wrong”; then you cite a case (a 50-year-old California state court opinion) that gives a ringing endorsement to exactly what I’ve been saying!

                As the learned judge in that case said, although “ordinary good taste and decorum would dictate that a person addressing a meeting not be interrupted or otherwise disturbed,” … [a]udience activities, such as heckling, interrupting, harsh questioning, and booing, even though they may be impolite and discourteous, can nonetheless advance the goals of the First Amendment. (my emphasis added).

                As the court went on to observe, “[t]he First Amendment contemplates a debate of important public issues; its protection can hardly be narrowed to the meeting at which the audience must passively listen to a single point of view. The First Amendment does not merely insure a marketplace of ideas in which there is but one seller … adverse audience reaction may aid in the correction of evils which would otherwise escape opposition.”

                Noting that “heckling and harassment of public officials and other speakers while making public speeches is as old as American and British politics” and calling this the “happy cacophony of democracy,” the court accordingly dismissed the criminal misdemeanor charges brought against people who had noisily reacted in opposition to a speech by a US senator.

                That is precisely my point! Noisy opposition to a public speaker that falls short of complete disruption is constitutionally protected, especially in settings where similarly noisy support for the speaker is permitted.

              • glen1davidson
                Posted April 19, 2018 at 8:03 am | Permalink

                Yes I know what it says, and I stated that “some heckling and disagreement is (and should be) expected in many cases,” and then you quoted a long excerpt that merely confirmed what I said. But who ever was saying that the protesters have to shut up?

                You moved the goalposts, because you were originally claiming that any rule has to be “viewpoint neutral,” which is nonsense:

                Should that be punished, too? Any rule in this regard, I submit, to be consistent with our First Amendment standards, must be viewpoint neutral.

                Clearly the mere fact that intentionally disrupting the meeting is important, vs. unintentionally doing the same, already means that the matter isn’t “viewpoint neutral.” The supporters might disrupt, but generally it’s not going to be intentional disruption, while the protesters may very well be intentionally disrupting the meeting. Of course I wrote that, and you just ignored it to “make a point” that I had already stated–one that hadn’t been argued in any case.

                It’s your “viewpoint neutral” claim that doesn’t work, can’t work. The speaker is there to give a speech, and there has to be a certain presumption in favor of that actually happening, even if some in the audience are intent on shutting it down.

                Glen Davidson

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted April 19, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

              “Viewpoint neutrality” is as fundamental a principle as there exists in First Amendment doctrine. Nothing in the In Re Kay case you cited, or in anything else you or anyone else in this thread has referenced, contradicts this.

              That the government could promulgate any law or rule or regulation that permits viewpoint discrimination in speech is completely antithetical to everything the First Amendment stands for.

              If you can cite any legal authority anywhere in the United States that upholds viewpoint discrimination in speech relating to matters of public policy I invite you to do so.

              • glen1davidson
                Posted April 19, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

                You’re equivocating. Of course the government has to be viewpoint neutral as to who gets to speak in a public venue. Your “viewpoint neutrality” is another kettle of fish entirely, you claim that by supporters and by protesters is something that should be treated as “viewpoint neutral,” which makes no sense. This, for instance:

                Under the US First Amendment, the speaker has no more right to veto the heckler, than the heckler has the speaker.

                Completely false. The meeting exists (at least in part) to have a speaker speak, hence the heckler keeping the speaker from giving a speech is a violation of the First Amendment, while the speaker keeping the heckler from giving a speech is not. As In re Kay notes:

                Thus, participants at a meeting may express disagreement but must not violate explicit rules or implicit customs and usages, pertaining to the meeting, of which they knew or should have known.

                Of course I wouldn’t call that viewpoint discrimination, but you do. And no, the courts don’t call it that either. It’s your notion of “viewpoint neutrality” that makes no sense, not the courts’.

                And really, I think this has gone on long enough. You’re all over the place, shifting and dodging, and equivocating with “viewpoint neutrality.” Pretty soon this would be shut down anyway, so I think I’m out of this discussion. Not a promise, but what I intend at the present.

                Glen DAvidson

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted April 19, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

                I’ve not budged or equivocated an inch. The neutrality that must be maintained (as I said in my first post in this thread) is between audience members in favor of the speaker and audience members opposed to the speaker. My comment about the speaker having no veto power over the heckler was specifically limited to the context of the speaker having no power to silence an audience member opposed to his view (something a speaker quite clearly does not have).

                I see you’ve not taken up my invitation to provide any legal authority whatsoever supporting your position that the government can ever engage in viewpoint discrimination, including viewpoint discrimination regarding audience reactions. Have you any?

                If you can’t provide any legal authority, can you at least articulate a coherent standard you would apply to distinguish the speech of audience members supporting and opposing a speaker? You started this sub-thread claiming that the First Amendment provided no right of dissent at a public meeting, based on a legally untenable construction of the “peaceable assembly” clause, but you seem to have abandoned that argument now.

    • Craw
      Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Where’s the lack of viewpoint neutrality? If only abortion advocates or only prayer advocates are allowed that violates the neutrality because the government is favoring one viewpoint. That’s not the case in your hypothetical. The SPEAKER perceives a difference , and that can happen to any speaker of any viewpoint. So it’s viewpoint neutral. Not just the speaker but the interjector knows the difference. (Do I really need to explain mens rea?) And in any case a booster who refuses to settle down can be ejected as well. That speakers usually choose not to eject boosters does not, as you seem to believe, mean they cannot.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 18, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        So, in any question-&-answer session following a speech, the university could prohibit students from asking questions critical of the speaker, but allow questions that are fawning?

        If your answer is “no,” (as I certainly hope it is regarding a public university) please distinguish for me an eight-minute protest from a rousing eight-minute ovation given a favored speaker. The university, I believe, can prohibit both, or neither, but not just one or the other. That is the every essence of “viewpoint neutrality.”

    • Craw
      Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      This is a truly bizarre notion of neutrality Ken. I can walk up to my wife and pat her *****. If you (or Trump) tried you might get arrested. You think that violates some sort of neutrality?? Your intent and her attitude really are what matter.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think patting Mrs. Craw’s badonkadonk is constitutionally protected — but if you insist. 🙂

        • Craw
          Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

          It needn’t be a constitutional issue. The university rules were explicit and would apply in Canada were they the rules of a university here.
          But the point at issue is your odd notion of what viewpoint neutrality means.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

            On the campuses of public universities in the US, speech is subject to First Amendment protections. And some private US colleges, like the University of Chicago, have adopted speech guidelines patterned after the First Amendment.

            What you’re proposing is inimical to First Amendment values; audience members have First Amendment rights, too, — indeed, it is solely the First Amendment rights of the audience members that ensures a speaker can appear at a non-public forum like a university campus — and the audience members’ rights cannot be circumscribed by anything so puny as a speaker’s “perceptions.”

            • glen1davidson
              Posted April 18, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

              We have the right to peaceably assemble. Not the right to assemble only to get into a shouting match with the haters.

              Glen Davidson

            • Craw
              Posted April 18, 2018 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

              Ken, define viewpoint neutrality.

              It does not mean conduct cannot be prohibited. It means it cannot be based on the viewpoint expressed. In other words you cannot ban proliferation but allow prochoicers. But you can say the library closes at 9 pm and evict anyone who stays later. If you only evicted proliferate that would be a problem.

              And with hecklers in a class, or at a play, or at a speech. There is no viewpoint test in prohibiting the conduct.

              • Craw
                Posted April 18, 2018 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

                Sigh. Autocorrect pro-lifers.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted April 18, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

                Craw, I respond to you on this issue slightly above in this thread (my 7:56 pm post), right before I saw your question to me here.

    • Posted April 18, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      I suppose the USA has something similar as “when there is no accuser, there is no judge”. The person who has been interrupted can decide what they deem infringement of their rights, no?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 18, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        Sure, the person interrupted can decide what he or she deems inappropriate. But on a public campus, that speaker has no authority to enforce those feelings. That is the job of the government (manifested on campus as the university administration). And this the government must do consistent with the Speech Clause of the US First Amendment.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 18, 2018 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      To anyone who thinks booing and jeering isn’t expressive speech, I give you this — which isn’t any less expressive (and had a much less disruptive duration) than this. Now, neither of these occurred in a forum covered by the First Amendment. But had they, I submit our constitutional free-speech principles wouldn’t have permitted one, but proscribed the other.

  4. Jon Gallant
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Anyone who has raised small children will be familiar with tactics like the “limited” 8-minute disruption: a transparent attempt to get away with forbidden behavior. Adult indulgence, like that by Dean Bilek, is guaranteed to stimulate further probing of what is forbidden: at the next disapproved lecture, maybe the disruption will go on for “only” 12 minutes rather than 8.

    The childishness of this and most similar behaviors leads me to reject that cliched term Social Justice Warrior (SJW). I suggest instead Social Justice Brat (SJB) or Social Justice CryBully (SJCB).

    Still, our SJBs are merely the kiddie wing of an outlook which is all too familiar. When the regressive Left takes power, the results are always the same, from Lenin’s VCHEKA in 1918 to the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN) in Venezuela today. The experiment has been replicated so many times that it can be taken as a fact of nature, like, say, evolution.

  5. Posted April 18, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Only five people showed up to see the speech and I suspect that that number was low because of intimidation or fear. The protestors are not after just the speaker; I have little doubt their fellow students are targeted as well. My guess is that few dared attend because they know what will befall them if they’re identified. From the protestor’s perspective, this was Mission Accomplished – disrupt the speech and send a particular message to the rest of the students.

  6. Posted April 18, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I am just glad, New York wasn’t founded as “New Town”.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 18, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      It was founded as “New Amsterdam” (at least by the settlers; the natives called is “Manna-hata”). Then, after swindling the local tribe, the early Yanks chased out the Dutch. 🙂

  7. Posted April 18, 2018 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    “I too wouldn’t advocate any punishment except for the university police removing the disrupting students from the room and the university recording in the students’ files that they disrupted a talk. If a student then does it again, then you have to drop the hammer a bit.” I’m not nearly so charitable. I think either suspending or expelling a few of these idiots would be a refreshing change. Putting a note in their file? How weak of a response is that?

  8. eric
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Some free-speech provocateurs should consider disrupting the first eight minutes of each of CUNY law school’s classes this week, including by forcing the professor to run a gauntlet of protesters threatening to block entry into their classrooms. After all, we now know that the law school’s official position is that eight minutes of disruption is “a reasonable exercise of free speech.” Meanwhile, Dean Bilek should be fired

    I think a better idea is to disrupt the University’s President’s speeches. I bet that after a single disruption, the President would tell the Dean “stop this, or you’re fired.” Then the Dean would eat crow and, more importantly, actually support free speech (if only out of self-interest).


%d bloggers like this: