Protesters took over podium and yelled over Prof. Josh Blackman as he attempted to give a lecture on “The Importance of Free Speech on Campus”
Disruptions of conservative speakers, even at law schools, has become a common tactic. We’ve documented dozens of such incidents.
The tactic, even when it doesn’t prevent the speech completely, is not merely the expression of disagreement. It’s an infringement of the speaker’s right to speak, and the audience’s right to hear that speech.
But it’s more. It’s meant to create a toxic campus atmosphere in which there is a price tag to expressing non-progressive ideas.
It just happened again, to conservative law professor Josh Blackman from Southern Texas College of Law in Houston. Blackman has established himself as a leading legal commenter on a variety of legal issues, and was recipient of the 2018 Joseph Story Award from the Federalist Society, an award “given annually to a young academic (under 40) who has demonstrated excellence in legal scholarship, a commitment to teaching, a concern for students, and who has made a significant public impact in a manner that advances the rule of law in a free society.”
Blackman was invited to speak by the Federalist Society Chapter at the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School. That did not sit well with some progressive law school activists, who tried to shut down and shout-down the event.
Blackman describes what happened, Students at CUNY Law Protested and Heckled My Lecture about Free Speech on Campus:
On Thursday, March 29, students at CUNY Law protested and heckled my lecture about free speech on campus. You can watch video of the entire event, which lasted about seventy minutes, here. The protest and heckling took place during the first eight minutes of the recording…. [Video is below]
In October, the CUNY School of Law Federalist Society invited me to speak on a panel discussion about theories of constitutional interpretation. I had planned to speak about originalism. Alas, the students were not able to find any other professors who were willing to participate in the event….
Blackman then goes on to describe how a protest movement formed, resulting in protests at his event:
Shortly before the event began, I spoke with CUNY’s Chief of Public Safety. He explained that a few dozen students were already assembled in the hallway outside the room. They had amassed earlier in the day to create posters and signs. (Students passed out poster board and markers.) I asked him if they would heckle me in order to prevent me from speaking. He said he did not know. Then, he asked me what my “exit plan” was. He explained that there were certain safe ways to exit the building. When I said I planned to leave via Uber, and not the subway, he was relieved. It was a question I had never before considered. Although he initially told me he did not want to be present in the room, he escorted me from the elevator to the classroom.
The video, which is posted above, illustrates the scene as I entered the classroom. Several dozen students (I will leave the count to others) held up signs and chanted “shame on you,” booed, and hissed….
One student made a half-hearted effort to block my entry into the room with his backpack, but I easily moved past him.
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.”
As the President began my introduction, the protestors heckled him. “This is not okay.” As he said my name, someone called out “He’s a white supremacist.” Others booed. “I don’t understand how CUNY law allows this.” One of the protestors observed, “He’s filming us. Just so everyone is aware, he is filming us.” I told her, “I am.” (New York is a one-party consent recording jurisdiction.)
Blackman’s post has tons of photos, here are a couple of them showing the gauntlet he had to walk outside the room:
[Image via Josh Blackman website]
The protests then disrupted Blackman’s attempt to speak:
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?”…
At this point, about three minutes in, I had only managed to say a single sentence. I decided to start, though I abandoned my prepared remarks. Instead, I decided to respond to attacks the student’s made against me in flyers that were distributed throughout the school. “For those of you who are actually here to hear me speak, I’ll try.”
A student interrupted, “You’re very brave.” I told him “Thank you, thank you I try.” They continued to shout over me. One said, “CUNY Law is threatening us and protecting speakers.”
Here’s a photo Blackman posted showing how students took over the podium:And then came the money line, one which sadly sums up the attitude of these law school protesters:
A student shouted out “Fuck the law.” This comment stunned me. I replied, “Fuck the law? That’s a very odd thing. You are all in law school. And it is a bizarre thing to say fuck the law when you are in law school.” They all started to yell and shout over me.
After a while, Blackman was able to give his speech. Here’s the video:
At the end of his blog post, Blackman notes that he was granted tenure just prior to the event:
Less than twenty-four hours before the protest, the South Texas College of Law Houston granted me tenure. I am deeply grateful to my colleagues for their vote of confidence. This security will ensure that I can effectively engage protestors and challenge their ideas for many decades to come.
Congratulations to Josh, but for every tenured conservative professor who has some measure of protection, there are thousands of professors and tens of thousands of students who are afraid to speak against the prevailing progressive dogma because they don’t want to be subjected to the jeering mob.
[Featured image via Josh Blackman website]DONATE
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