Screaming and heckling are not problems on college campuses

I am disturbed by the people who seem to believe there is a problem when students yell at, talk over, behave rudely toward, heckle, or otherwise aggressively vocalize their negative feelings toward an invited speaker. Suppressing an opinion does weaken it so if the speaker really believed what they said, they would yell back. But they don’t and they end up running back to their safe spaces in conservative think tanks and the like.

By defending the right of the speaker to speak but criticizing the students for using their right to speak, they seem to value the free speech of some over others. I am not sure why this is, but they see a big problem when a student yells at somebody whom they believe is racist or a fascist or whatever and is invited to the campus by a political science professor or the college Republicans. At least this is my interpretation and I am open to having my mind changed.

Criticism of these students expressing their feelings is usually couched in some sort of free speech argument, yet this isn’t a real problem of free speech. Nobody has lost their right to speak. If you are concerned about free speech and the free exchange of ideas then students should be applauded for showing up and heckling. They’re effectively engaging in both free speech and the exchange of ideas.

Are you serious? Interrupting and drowning out a speaker whose ideas you dislike constitutes “the exchange of ideas” (never mind using violence, threatened or actual to prevent someone from speaking)?

There is, believe it or not, such as thing as asking pointed or even rude questions after a person finishes speaking, holding a debate, or sponsoring a counter-event with speakers who’ll refute the objectionable ideas.

Free speech historically has been a liberal/leftist ideal, involving a struggle against right-wing/reactionary forces intent on suppressing it. It’s disturbing to me that conservatives are getting traction as free speech defenders. Attitudes like yours are not helping.

I recall a speaker who was invited to my university in late October 1990. He was shouted down. Those who disrupted his scheduled lecture flippantly said the same student group could pay to bring him to campus again for another speech at a later time. (As if the same result wouldn’t happen again.)

The speaker was assassinated days later.

Fight ideas with ideas. Invite a speaker a to give a counter-lecture. March in protest outside the event. But if you want others to let you invite a speaker and have him/her heard then you have to give that much deference to those who present ideas which you oppose.

Yes, it is not helping at all. Some leftists types have become hopelessly confused about what “free speech” is and you seem to be one of them. If you don’t understand the concept of free speech, how about try the concept of peaceful assembly. I support that for everyone including communists, neo-fascists and even people that just want to keep up with the Kardashians.

It is a very simple concept and no, disrupting other groups is not simply freedom of speech. It is disturbing the peace which is a crime under certain circumstances. Like my grandmother always said, if you don’t like what someone is saying, stop listening to them. That doesn’t give you the right to stop them from talking completely however.

Sometimes I think we need a remedial civics class for so-called adults that never learned the basic principles in the first place.,

Inbred Mm domesticus,

I feel like you haven’t tried very hard to understand the free-speech crowd’s objections to the current antics on college campuses. It’s not an objection to the anti-free-speech speaking or expressing their ideas, it’s an objection to their actions that prevent anyone from hearing the invited speakers. Things like rioting, or physically blocking the entrances to the event, or threatening people with bodily harm, or just making a bunch of noise so that no one can hear the invited speaker. It’s those actions that are objectionable, not expressing their own ideas or using their own free speech rights in an “exchange of ideas”.

What about tactics such as assault and arson?

Seriously. Engaging in debate isn’t a “speak now or forever hold your peace” type of deal. Is showing a modicum of civility really akin to agreeing with your opponent’s views?

Raising your voice, talking over and interrupting someone and shouting rude names at them is something children who have not yet been taught the rules of social interactions do. Not something any self-respecting adult does who was brought up by human beings does. You also do not give any incentive for your opponent to take your side of the argument seriously. I understand the urge to toss all pretense of politeness out the window when someone is knowingly spewing dangerous and outright ignorance, but you’re not doing your ideas any favours by articulating such thoughts with the maturity and grace of a feral child.

Seriously, if you have a sound counter argument to whatever and whomever you disagree with it shouldn’t be hard to make them heard with some semblance of social intelligence. And think about it, would you care to listen to someone who treats your right to an opinion with such irreverence?

“Your free speech is violence. Our violence is free speech.”

These students agree with you.

Does this sound like the tactics used by some, ahem, OTHER groups, like extreme abortion protesters?

Extreme abortion protestors burn things down and occasionally murder people. Probably screaming “Life is precious!” at their victims, but I didn’t have to deal with that sort.

I’m honestly a little bit shocked that “Campus shuts down speech by Ann Coulter” is bigger news than “Campus invites known fucking crazy dishonest anti-intellectual retrograde shitbag Ann Coulter to speak”. The same to Milo Yiannopolous, and when he inevitably hits the right-wing talk circuit, David Duke.

Call them crazy, but there are a lot of people who already feel like they have to defend their basic humanity and safety every day, and feel like this argument is just a self righteous fig leaf to allow others to advocate their murder in front of large audiences. Especially these days.

And hey, the American conservative public has already decided they don’t like certain kinds of speech. Ask flag burners, Colin Kaepernick, or Planned Parenthood workers sometime. We’re just arguing where to draw the lines.

And I haven’t even started musing on when the issue at hand is a matter of large scale public health, like AIDS denialism or anti vaccine crusaders.

Yes, exactly. One set of ideas is banal such as the latest iteration of scientific racism and the other set of ideas is expressing frustration at the banality of such ideas: “AAAAHHHH SHUT UPPP!”. Ideas are exchanged.

Ignorance is not helping. What is happening in Turkey these days (jailing of journalists and opposition politicians, one-sided political campaigns, transformation of all news outlets to pro-government outlets, purge of so-called “Gulenists”, shutting down websites like Wikipedia) is true suppression of free speech. Not a single increment of free speech has been lost on our college campuses.

These events on college campuses are nothing more than a loss of politeness.

Tell me what it is then!

No, it’s showing exasperation with this opponent’s views. These aren’t discussions of some advancement in science or a round table on small businesses, it’s all just speakers expressing racist or other types of prejudiced opinions and the students aren’t having it.

But it’s effective and is using one’s right to free speech. I agree, it isn’t polite.

Shutting down such an opponent is the only effective counter-argument.

Nobody involved in the game of shutting-down-the-invited-jerk-speaker is really interested in understanding their opponent’s views. This is especially true of the speakers and the provocateurs who invited the speakers. Everybody wishes to be impolite to people they dislike. Everyone is succeeding in these situations.

Warm blood, and others, we’re all just discussing politeness aren’t we? Politeness isn’t a component of free speech or an exchange of ideas, and none of the components of government suppression of speech are present in these controversies.

To everyone: Please, let’s not discuss the violence that has happened concurrently with these protests. That’s not the topic of this thread.

Yes, yes it is. Violence is effective and your cause is just. Keep it up!

So…let’s say, oh, I dunno, Bernie Sanders is invited to give a speech at a university campus and a crew of right wing agitators turns up with pots, pans, and megaphones, gatecrashes the auditorium and starts screaming “FUCK YOU!!” or “NO FREE SPEECH FOR COMMUNISTS!!” or “SOCIALISM IS SLAVERY” and other choice epithets over and over and over and over again until Bernie gives up and goes home.

What, specifically, would you say to those right wing agitators? On what grounds would you, Inbred MM Domesticus, tell them they were wrong?


Just to pick a random example… Let’s say your college invited Andrew Wakefield to host a talk on the dangers of the MMR vaccine. What “rational debate” can be had there? Who, exactly, walks away from that exchange more well-informed? Andrew Wakefield is a charlatan, he knows he’s a charlatan, and a goodly portion of his schtick is, ironically, attempting to innoculate people against good evidence. The best way to address a talk like this? Disinvitation, loud protests if that fails.

All this would do is make his “I’m just telling you what Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know” schtick sound more reasonable to people who are on the fence. Actually, the best thing to do is let him speak, and then ask him pointed questions that are impossible for him to answer without losing face. For instance, if Wakefield came to give a talk round my area, I’d be keen to attend so I could ask him questions such as:[ul]

[li] “Why did the British General Medical Council strip you of your license to practise medicine in the UK citing ‘disregard for the wellbeing of vulnerable patients’?”[/li]
[li] “Why have all the graduate students who worked with you on your infamous study publicly disavowed you?”[/li]
[li] “During your alleged study (which has since been vociferously repudiated by every reputable medical authority on Earth), you were being paid by a law firm working to sue vaccine manufacturers. Why didn’t you declare this obvious conflict of interest”? [/ul][/li]
Stuff like that. I might not change any minds, but it’s preferable to turning up with megaphones and screaming “FUCK OFF WAKEFIELD” so he can’t get a word in edgewise, thereby feeding Wakefield’s martyr complex and giving grist to the conspiracy theorists who think he’s simply telling inconvenient truths.

Wrong about what? Wrong about Bernie’s politics? Well, as you can tell by their behavior, they are uninterested in the truth of Bernie’s politics. Why bother saying anything to them? They don’t care. Or yell louder.

btw, you keep species/subspecies names lowercase, so it would be Inbred Mm domesticus.

You make it sound like the only difference between being polite and impolite is Wakefield gets an opportunity to speak and recruit new people to his cause. Wakefield can do that elsewhere because his right to free speech has not been affected.