September 28, 2007

Stupid University Tricks: How Columbia Routinely Chills Speech It Doesn't Like
— Ace

John Leo counts the ways.

Several people, myself included, suggested that if Bollinger is as interested in free speech as he keeps saying he is, then he should reschedule the Minutemen and introduce them himself, with enough security around to discourage the reappearance of last year's stormtroopers in training.

A few weeks ago, it looked as though Columbia was about to make a rare lurch in the direction of free speech. Students re-invited the two Minutemen, but after these proposed speakers bought plane tickets, Columbia's pro-censorship DNA re-asserted itself and the two men were once again disinvited. Not a peep out of Bollinger.

One of Columbia's favorite tricks is to cancel a speaker, or reduce the size of the audience, on grounds that violence might break out. Last fall most of a large crowd that gathered to hear former PLO terrorist-turned-anti-Jihadist Walid Shoebat was turned away over securities worries. Only Columbia students and 20 guests got in. The same thing happened to Dinesh D'Souza, myself and several other speakers in 1999. A large crowd, including many from other New York campuses, had tickets, but the administration (this was a pre-Bollinger year) ruled that only Columbia students could attend. This was not the deal that had been agreed on, but Columbia was adamant. Rather than speak to a tiny remnant on campus, the speakers withdrew to a park nearby. As I spoke, one student shouted "Ha-ha. We're inside. You're out here," an excellent six-word explanation of how Columbia's robust free-speech tradition actually works.

Instapudit piths:

Yes, and this hypocrisy is a problem with higher education more generally, alas. It's why people don't take claims that "we're just opening up a debate" seriously -- because, you know, they're basically lies.

I've said this before, but add another trick to their arsenal: Claims of an absolutist commitment to hearing from speakers of all sorts, no matter how repulsive, in the interest of free speech for free speech's sake. Whenever these bastards are asked to defend their decisions, they claim they made no decisions at all, because their commitment to free exchange of ideas is so perfectly absolute as to admit of no decision-making, and no boundary-drawing, and no judgment calls, whatsoever.

So they avoid the question. Ask them to defend inviting a terrorist thug like Ahmadinejad on moral or national-interest grounds and they claim such grounds are wholly irrelevant.

Of course this is all a lie and a dodge. They are not free-speech absolutists; far from it. They exercise their judgment and own sense of propriety in these matters all the time; they just don't want to admit they do, because that would then invite questions about precisely what their judgment and sense of propriety, are, precisely, and they wish to lie to the public on such matters.

A commitment to free speech would begin nicely be actually speaking the truth and admitting one's true criteria for such invitations and permissions to speak at the university. Then there could actually be robust debate -- debate! what they always claim to be in favor of! -- of those criteria.

But they don't want debate over their criteria, because they don't want any chance they might have to abandon them. So they continue making their decisions and exercising their bias in the darkness of lies.

Commitment to debate and free speech? Uh-huh. Just like Joe Stalin was. Big fan of fair debate and vigorous dissent was Uncle Joe.

Posted by: Ace at 10:48 AM | Comments (20)
Post contains 595 words, total size 4 kb.

1 A chill wind blows, indeed....just not the kind that those Hollywood pussies were talking about.

Posted by: nikkolai at September 28, 2007 10:59 AM (B1NVJ)


Big fan of fair debate and vigorous dissent was Uncle Joe.

You just made the list, pal.

Posted by: Joe Stalin at September 28, 2007 11:03 AM (pzen5)

3 My client prefers "Instapudnit."

Posted by: Glenn Reynolds' Lawyer at September 28, 2007 11:06 AM (xMcER)

4 My client prefers "Instapudnit."

Dude, he gets mad when you spell it wrong.

Posted by: Glenn Reynolds' other lawyer at September 28, 2007 11:12 AM (KV/Mz)

5 Is that why everyone does it?  Oh well, more billing hours for us.

Posted by: Glenn Reynolds' Lawyer at September 28, 2007 11:16 AM (xMcER)


Dear Glenn Reynold's Lawyer:

It has come to my attention that you have made an unauthorized use of my copyrighted work entitled "Instapudnit" (the "Work") in the preparation of a work derived therefrom. I have reserved all rights in the Work, first published in 1996, and have registered copyright therein. Your work entitled post on Ace of Spades blog is essentially identical to the Work and clearly used the Work as its basis. [Give a few examples that illustrate direct copying.]

As you neither asked for nor received permission to use the Work as the basis for post on Ace of Spades blog nor to make or distribute copies, including electronic copies, of same, I believe you have willfully infringed my rights under 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq. and could be liable for statutory damages as high as $150,000 as set forth in Section 504(c)(2) therein.

I demand that you immediately cease the use and distribution of all infringing works derived from the Work, and all copies, including electronic copies, of same, that you deliver to me, if applicable, all unused, undistributed copies of same, or destroy such copies immediately and that you desist from this or any other infringement of my rights in the future. If I have not received an affirmative response from you by yesterday!!! indicating that you have fully complied with these requirements, I shall take further action against you.

Very truly yours, Instapudnit. for all your real estate investing needs.

Posted by: Instapudnit at September 28, 2007 11:22 AM (m6c4H)

7 Yeah, John Leo's been monitoring bias at colleges and universities for a long time.  Every year he has awards for speech-stiflers and newspaper-thieves. 

Posted by: Some Guy at September 28, 2007 11:23 AM (lPxkl)


As WP would say, True Story:

The first time I saw the video where the CU kids bumrushed the stage where Gilchrist was attempting to speak, was in a room full of graduate students ranging from about age 25 to 55 with the median probably somewhere around 35. The guest professor was trying to show us avenues for conflict resolution by encouraging us to role play the one side of the opposing groups and then switch and role play the other. Embarassingly, at least for me, there was a core group of about five women who couldn't shut up about how racist the minutemen's agenda was. After several attempts to redirect the conversation, the professor just let them run intil they ran out of steam. At that point, I raised my hand, was reccognized and asked the class, "Are any of you bothered even the least little bit that these students felt justified in denying this man his constitutionally protected right to speak publicly?" Absolute fucking crickets. Anyone who was bothered by it was I guess mau-maued down. The lack of response to my question chilled my shit worse than just about anything else that's ever happened to me. I truly believe that, in this time of comfort and plenty, the average American has not bothered to internalize any of the bill of rights. It's just some words written on an old piece of paper that are handy to get out ever once in a while and use to get someone off your ass, and then put them back up until you need them again. The next video we watched was an interview of the young attractive hispanic girl who was the ringleader of the student group at CU. The interviewer basically put the same question to her, asking her if her group had any qualms about denying these men their right to free speech. She responded intensely, that her group had not denied the minutement their rights to free speech and that they had  left the stage voluntarily. She stated that while they had the right to free speech, the constitution does not guarantee them the right to a "pristine enviornment" in which to speak. A clever loophole around the first amendment if I ever saw one. Orwell would have been proud. Lenin would have commissioned her on the spot. Goebbels would have blown a nut down both pant legs.

Posted by: Sticky B at September 28, 2007 11:31 AM (B07LJ)

9 Sticky B, unfortunately, she's right about the first amendment, which prohibits the government from shutting you up in most cases.  What the students did was fascistic, unfair, and bad manners, but only illegal if they hit someone, vandalized, or did the "don't tase me, bro" dance with law enforcement.

Posted by: Ralph L at September 28, 2007 11:41 AM (xMcER)

10 I haven't watched the video, however, but rushing the stage is outrageous behavior, as I said:  brown shirts, by definition.  Unfortunately, that term has been diluted by the BDSers.

Posted by: Ralph L at September 28, 2007 11:47 AM (xMcER)

11 Sticky:

Scratch a liberal and you'll probably find a swastika armband just below the surface.  Modern American liberals are 99% in agreement with the Nazis.  Just run down their beliefs: 

Killin' Jews?  Check
Hatred of "International Finance" aka "Global Capitalism?"  Check
Violence against anyone they disagree with?  Check
Killin' the sick?  Check
Hostility to mainstream religion?  Check
Vegetarianism and animal rights?  Check
Specific hatred for America?  Check
Preaching concern for "the workers" while shafting them?  Check
Quasi-religious veneration for Nature?  Check
Disdain for democracy?  Check
Hostility to science even as they call themselves "scientific?"  Check

The chief differences are that Nazis were against baby-killin', and lacked the modern liberals' disdain for Western civilization.

Posted by: Trimegistus at September 28, 2007 11:48 AM (jQlIa)

12 I think it would be very mean to demand of Columbia's administrators and faculty that they abandon their core belief in "the cause," just in order to allow free and unfettered debate on their campus. That would mean demanding that they give up their identity, and you wouldn't want them to give up their identity, would you? Or are you that mean?

Posted by: ricpic at September 28, 2007 12:33 PM (tng3f)

13 Ralph L,
How about just charging the students with trespass? Oh, and then actually prosecuting the tykes instead of quietly dismissing the charges after the public moves on to the next thing.

How about that?

Posted by: Nom de Blog at September 28, 2007 01:37 PM (6Ie+q)

14 Could they?  Does climbing on stage count as trespass?  I am not a lawyer.  Columbia should have some rules for decorum in public meetings/classrooms.  They certainly didn't enforce them if they do.

Posted by: Ralph L at September 28, 2007 02:20 PM (xMcER)

15 Trimegistus - nitpicks;

1) Nazi hatred of America pretty much was a matter of convenience to the extent that we were against the Nazis.
2) Nazi veneration of nature was rather more a hand-me-down from paganism than any actual functional "respect for gaia." They sure did use a lot of ol' momma nature in their propaganda, however.
3) Nazis were only against killin' honkey babies. You know, kind of like Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood.

In general agreement that the National Socialist Workers' Party bears rather more resemblance to the modern Left than the modern Right, at least here in the old US of A.

As to the main topic, I'm afraid that America's Universities are pretty darned close to no longer being educational institutions at all. On the other hand, I hear that there's a sale on educational CDs at Rite Aid for $0.49 each, so maybe we don't need all those expensive buildings anymore.

Posted by: Merovign at September 28, 2007 02:21 PM (IaYDo)


Ralph L.

I started to put an adendum on my post acknowledging that I'm fully aware that the 1st amendment applies only to the federal govt. and that the 14th amendment extends the limitations imposed by the bill of rights to the state and local govts, but I felt like my post was already to damned long as it was. Still, because of the first amendment, and the legacy that we as Americans have inherited from it, we kind of expect non-govt individuals and groups to behave in ways that are compatable with the first amendment. When they refuse to, it ought to be cause for concern. Maybe I'm being naive.  People are going to communicate as to what's on their mind. If they are denied the opportunity to present their ideas in an open forum, then they will find other means of communication. Sometimes that's not too pretty.

Posted by: Sticky B at September 28, 2007 04:42 PM (wkjFE)


I can't shed light on the 1st Amendment legalities here, but it seems to me that as a huge guzzler of federal (which is to say : MY!)  money, Asshat U. could be gone after in the courts for running a closed shop when it comes to political discussion.  For Christ's sake, lefty judges have been pulling that kind of shit for a couple of generations.  Anyone who takes a dime from the feds has to toe the lefty line, or get drowned by aclu lawsuits. 

Best bet in this situation, steal their wallet.

Posted by: rickinstl at September 28, 2007 05:19 PM (6XDdL)

18 Althouse made a comment a day or two ago:  "I want to taste the poison, so I can spit it out."  Like the Betrayus ad, it hurts their cause with the general public when they reveal themselves.

Posted by: Ralph L at September 28, 2007 08:00 PM (8Bv/f)


Merovign, a nitpick: "Nazi hatred of America pretty much was a matter of convenience to the extent that we were against the Nazis."

You are mistaken. They hated every liberal society and were quite virulent in their loathing for America. Which reminds me: Google "nazi" plus "degenerate art" and "enterte kunst" for a notorious Nazi exhibit of "degenerate" culture with plenty of American examples.

Posted by: pst314 at September 29, 2007 09:04 AM (lCxSZ)

20 pst314 - I guess my point was that America wasn't singled out as a target of exceptional value until we started supplying Britain, after which we slowly ramped up as a "target of value."

In the early days of the movement, alliances in the US were sought, particularly with dimwit celebrities and scientists in the "eugenics" movements.

Before "the war" got started, we were already starting to get on their shit list, by the time we got involved we were "teh evil incarnate."

That being said, you're right that my #1 point was incomplete and hopelessly vague.

Posted by: Merovign at September 29, 2007 02:13 PM (IaYDo)

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