“a continuous and persistent chorus of boos, slogans, and insults”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was giving a talk with questions and answers at Whittier College. Trump supporters who were easily identifiable in the audience loudly heckled throughout the session which was ultimately cut short.
This was more akin to the rowdy town hall events of 2010 and recent months than to campus shout downs but it was still handled badly. We demand respect for free speech from the left and we should do the same from the right.
Adam Steinbaugh reports at The FIRE:
Hecklers shout down California attorney general, assembly majority leader at Whittier College
Last week, Whittier College — my alma mater — hosted California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, in a question-and-answer session organized by Ian Calderon, the Majority Leader of the California State Assembly.
They tried to, anyway.
The event ended early after pro-Trump hecklers, upset about Becerra’s lawsuit against the Trump administration over DACA, continuously shouted slogans and insults at Becerra and Calderon. A group affiliated with the hecklers later boasted that the speakers were “SHOUTED DOWN BY FED-UP CALIFORNIANS” and that the “meeting became so raucous that it ended about a half hour early.”
The event, held in Whittier College’s Shannon Center theater, was free and open to members of the community, and featured introductions from both Whittier’s president and student body president. Becerra and Calderon were to have an hour-long question-and-answer session using audience questions randomly selected from a basket. As soon as they began the discussion, however, hecklers decked in “Make America Great Again” hats began a continuous and persistent chorus of boos, slogans, and insults.
This short video will give you an idea of what happened:
This video is almost 20 minutes long and shows more detail:
While the actions of these hecklers are rude, it is important to point out that they didn’t destroy property or set fires like we saw in Berkeley last winter:
— Gillian Edevane (@GillianNBC) February 2, 2017
They also didn’t rush the stage or use violence like the student mob at Middlebury College:
Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit offers some insight on what happened at Whittier:
On the one hand, I think that all campus speakers should be free to speak without interruption. On the other hand, I can’t help but note that in California, that rule hasn’t been observed equally, and quite a few left-leaning government and university officials have taken sides with lefty disruptors. So I have to hope that this sort of thing — a sort of mutual assured destruction — will cause them to rethink their positions and endorse free speech for all.
Principles that apply only part of the time aren’t principles at all, and tit-for-tat is a robust strategy for encouraging cooperative behavior, as Axelrod & Johnson have found. I’ve warned the left for years of the incentives their unprincipled behavior was creating; perhaps now that people are starting to react to those incentives, they’ll finally listen, instead of denouncing civil society and free expression as obsolete bourgeois values. Because I’d like to live in a world where everyone can be heard, but I don’t think you get to that world by giving free rein to (government-supported) bullies who want to shut down the “wrong” people.
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