Monday, April 20, 2009

Chronicle’s Muddled Tancredo Silencing Editorial

Last Tuesday Leftist protesters at UNC – Chapel Hill disrupted former Congressman Tom Tancredo’s talk, forcing its cancellation and his departure from campus under police escort. The protesters also threatened (“we know where you sleep”) the students who invited Tancredo to UNC.

Today, The Chronicle editorial board gave the Duke community its thinking about those events in an editorial titled: “Protest within rights but off-base.”

As the title suggests, TC’s editorial is a muddle.

Here’s part of it:

… By chanting, shouting, waving signs, breaking a window and obscuring the podium with a huge banner, the protesters prevented Tancredo from airing his views. This activity should be admonished.

It is not to say, however, that the protesters did not in general have the right to act as they did. It is crucial to note that they have the freedom of expression and, except for breaking a window, were engaging in the American tradition of free speech through protest.

In the wake of the incident, to deny or to forget that the protesters had this right would be to water down one of the rights that make this country and its academic institutions great. …
The entire editorial’s here.

On the editorial’s comment thread a commenter ID’ing as Duke Alum (second comment) cuts through TC’s muddle. (excerpt):
I think that we need to understand that 'protesting' does not constitute interrupting, disrupting, shutting down. This is an abomination of the act of protest in a civilized forum.

Hopefully, UNC will deal with this inappropriate behavior within its honors code with significant consequences so that future 'protests' will take the form that does not intimidate, does not put others at risk and does not shut down speech. They have a chance to show meaningful leadership. …
Many reading the editorial will be wondering what they teach these days in Duke’s History and Political Science Departments.

I’d take that further and ask: what were they teaching in the editorial board members’ middle and high schools?


Anonymous said...

Jin C wrote:

"I'd take that further and ask what were they teaching in the editorial board's middle and high schools?"

My guess is precious little. History classes (excuse me, I should use the pc term - social science) consist now of little study of what drove the founding of this country and the reasons for the various amendments (or for that matter a historical analysis of conditions in Europe that led the Founding Fathers to insist on a guarantee of certain rights). Nor is there any nod to the importance of political discourse in which all can be heard so that informed decisions can be made. Instead, an advocacy history is taught (pick up and read through any US history text used in middle and secondary schools - it will shock the systema and make one wonder which country's history is being studied). Mapp vs Tinker is taught as the most important judicial case. Students are in control in many cases and administrations are more than ready to cave to student "demands".
It is the rare teacher who is able to teach and engage students in thoughtful and respectful discourse. (The reasons for this are many and could be the subject for a number of postings). Unfortunately, far too many students have been led to believe that their right to express their opinion on a given subject overrides any notion of civility. When college and high school administrations allowed themselves to be cowed in the late sixties and early seventies, the example was put in place that anyone had the right with his bullhorn and banners to shout down all who expressed a contrary view. The students who acted so rudely at the Tancredo appearance were only following the example set by their parents in the sixties and seventies.

Anonymous said...

I believe the behavior of the leftist troglodytes at UNC in shouting down and silencing Tom Tancredo is not much different than shouting fire in a crowded theater--it is not protected speech in any form. Especially in a university where, we are to believe, intellectual discussions take place in a civilized manner and a free exchange of ideas is fostered.
Bull feathers! We see incident after incident where speakers are threatened, intimidated, spat upon, spattered with paint, and worse. By whom? Those intellectually challenged students whose minds have been corrupted by Marxist professors. And mark this: we never see right wing students do the same to Marxists and full-fledged dictators who have been invited to speak at American colleges.
This type of behavior should not be tolerated anywhere, much less at one of the top universities in our nation. I am sorely disappointed, but not really surprised, to see the editorial board of The Chronicle supporting mob action.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

For some reason, I am unable to sign into gmail, through which I post as Ex-prosecutor. I just posted this on the Chronicle site:

Whoever has the idea that protesters have the right to shout down a speaker appearing at a scheduled event has a mistaken understanding of free speech rights. As long as there is a venue for protests, such as outside, or in the vicinity, dissenting views cannot be made known in a manner which ends the scheduled event. Otherwise, public meetings, speeches, church services and funerals could proceed only until one who wishes to broadcast a particular view shows up with a bullhorn or a pair of leather-lungs.

The protestors had no legal right to do what they did, and much good would have been accomplished if they had been pulled from the speech and arrested.