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“The Floor Was Shaking” – Yale Law School Speaker Disruption Worse Than Originally Reported

“The Floor Was Shaking” – Yale Law School Speaker Disruption Worse Than Originally Reported

David Lat: “Students in Federal Courts, across the hall from the event, reported that ‘the floor was shaking’ and Professor Resnik asked on-call students to ‘yell’ so they could be heard over the din.”

The disruption of a debate at Yale Law School by students protesting the appearance of Kristen Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom continues to reverberate.

Yale Law School, The Yale Daily News, and various law students have downplayed the incident as a mere protest that didn’t meaningfully disrupt the event, contrary to the original reporting by Aaron Sibarium at the Free Beacon:

That video, it is claimed, distorts what happened. Mark Joseph Stern at Slate wrote that the disruption alleged in the Free Beacon was really an insubstantial protest:

But interviews with participants and witnesses at the demonstration, as well as multiple videos, reveal that this account distorts reality. The students made their point at the very start of the event and walked out before the conversation began. Their exercise in free speech, however rowdy or distasteful, did not prevent the panelists from expressing their views. And their demonstration did not—contrary to the Free Beacon’s reporting—require administrators to summon the police….

Reasonable people can disagree about the students’ decision to disrupt Stith at the outset, but it is clear that they did not prevent the event from moving forward. Some students did ask pointed questions of Waggoner during Q&A, but these remarks were not vulgar or violent. There was some back and forth between audience members and panelists during this portion, but in the form of debate, not crude heckling.

Once outside in the hallway, students continued their protest, and noise undoubtedly bled into the room. But it’s debatable this noise made it “difficult to hear the panel,” as the Free Beacon reported. The conversation remained audible inside the room, albeit with the din of a demonstration just outside….

Aaron Sibarium responded:

Yet as we reported, Waggoner confirmed that the disruption not shown on the video was even worse and was consistent with Free Beacon reporting, Conservative Speaker Targeted at Yale Law School: “This wasn’t a protest. This was physical intimidation”

“These students were not only physically intimidating the other students and the speakers, they were pounding on the walls, blocking the exits, and disrupting the event throughout. … It shouldn’t take place on a law student campus in the law school classroom”

In response to my tweeting that story, a Yale Law student insisted I was spreading “fake news” and said I should rely on the official Yale Law School version, not Waggoner’s version:

Sorry, I’ll rely on the evidence, not the “official” version by a law school administration, particularly not one which has exhibited unseemly hostility to the Federalist Society and conservative students.

This is not a mere flip of the coin, in which reasonable people could reasonably reach different factual conclusions. John Sexton at HotAir has a pretty comprehensive overview of the evidence demonstrating the unreliability of attempts by Stern and others to downplay the disruption and why there is substantial evidence from neutral sources that the disruption was even worse than the Free Beacon originally reported.

Chief among those neutral sources was Yale Law alumnus David Lat, who tweeted audio portions and also revealed at his substack the results of his own investigation and sources (emphasis added):

[UPDATE (10:25 p.m.): Based on what I have heard from additional sources, as well as video and audio I have reviewed, I now believe that the disruption of the event was longer and more intense than described in the preceding paragraph. The noisy protest continued, at varying levels of intensity, throughout most if not all of the proceedings. This made it difficult for audience members to hear or focus upon the speakers at times, and it even disrupted classes and a faculty meeting taking place in other parts of the building. This new information doesn’t really change my analysis of the free-speech issues discussed below—except to perhaps reinforce my conclusions—but I note it for the record. It also explains why, a few paragraphs down, I have replaced “disruption” with “getting completely canceled.” The event was significantly disrupted, even if it wasn’t totally canceled à la Hastings and managed to limp to a conclusion.]

Lat then expanded on what he found:

[UPDATE (3/18/2022, 11:28 a.m.): For more details on just how disruptive the protest was—not just to the FedSoc event, but everything going on at YLS at the time—please see my Twitter thread.]

Here are some of those tweets (emphasis added):

2/ It wasn’t just the event that was disrupted.

Classes were disrupted too, including Federal Courts (Judith Resnik) and Advanced Legal Writing (Rob Harrison).

The latter was in Room 121—the room farthest away from Room 127, where the event took place.

3/ Students in Federal Courts, across the hall from the event, reported that “the floor was shaking” and Professor Resnik asked on-call students to “yell” so they could be heard over the din.

4/ A student in a classroom who was taking a test on an entirely different floor of the building could even hear the noise from the protest.

In other words, it wasn’t just limited to the first floor.

5/ The protesters did block the main hallway of YLS, at least for a time. See photo: [here]

6/ A faculty meeting—the job talk of Professor Claudia Flores, a Latinx legal scholar whose work focuses on international human rights and inequality—was disrupted.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to restart it, the meeting had to be moved to Zoom.

7/ In my opinion, the YLS protesters should apologize to Professor Flores, whose job talk was collateral damage for their rowdy and rude protest.

(I suspect that many of them would support having a Latinx professor of human rights law on the faculty.)

8/ In the room for Professor Flores’s job talk was @YaleLawSch Dean Heather Gerken.

Attendees kept looking at @GerkenHeather, expecting her to go out and say something to the protesters—but she did nothing.

9/ Yes, I know, the dynamic duo of Dean of Students Ellen Cosgrove & DEI Director Yaseen Eldik were on the scene.

But having Dean Gerken herself come out to confront the protesters would have been far more powerful—& might have succeeded in quieting them.

Lat also links to an account by a student:

Thanks for updating @DavidLat. The truth should be out there about how disruptive the protest was. I was at the event, I was there to learn, and I could hear virtually none of it the entire time. I hope @YaleLawSch enforces its own policies in the future in a meaningful way.

Lat reaches a conclusion about the state of law student attitudes similar to that I have expressed in posts on the Georgetown, UC-Hastings, and Yale Law incidents:

But here’s my big takeaway from the latest YLS controversy: the free-speech problem in our law schools isn’t just about administrators, and they can’t solve the problem by themselves. The problem goes much deeper and is rooted in the mindset of students—and by this I don’t mean any particular class of students, since they all eventually graduate, but law students more generally in the year 2022.

I would not downplay the role of faculty and administrators. They set the tone and are supposed to be the adults in the room. In almost every law school attack on speakers and law professors we have covered, faculty and administrators are as much a part of the problem as the students. It’s a culture of intolerance and a sick symbiotic relationship in which students, faculty, and administrators feed off each other.


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Narcissistic brats, good at nothing, learning how to be animals for their leftist handlers.

I’m curious: did they manage to put a pro-pedophelia message in there somewhere as well?

These are America’s future leaders, judges and administrators.

    They subscribe to the Pro-Choice “ethical” religion, and are rewarded by the trans-adults who, apparently, have usurped control of our nation, again, and again, and again. Oh, well. Nothing will change, because nothing has changed. Progress.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to | March 21, 2022 at 10:01 am

    “These are America’s future leaders, judges and administrators.”

    Thye should be collectively expelled, at least for a year, though perminately would send a clear message.

There’s a video of Jordan Peterson giving a talk regarding compelled speech in Queens College in Canada some years ago.

Sounds like the same sort of tantrum. God help us that some of these people become decision makers on public policy. From the treatment of the trucker protest in Canada, we can see what the result is when that happens.

    Evil Otto in reply to Andy. | March 21, 2022 at 5:53 am

    I remember that one. It sounded like the zombie apocalypse outside as the students pounded on the doors and walls.

The only solution is the one taken by Claremont McKenna, it kicked out one student for disruption and suspended a couple for a year..preventing one from graduating with his class. As far as the faculty, even tenure contracts have termination for cause provisions….and aiding in law school disruptions is a terminating offense.

    Milhouse in reply to puhiawa. | March 21, 2022 at 12:45 am

    The solution is to call the real police and have the disruptors arrested and charged.

      TargaGTS in reply to Milhouse. | March 21, 2022 at 8:57 am

      Unfortunately, on many of these campuses the ‘real police’ are actually university employees. The police force are deputized officers of the law. On most public school campuses, that’s the case and even on some private school campuses. I’m not sure how it works at Yale.

George_Kaplan | March 20, 2022 at 9:43 pm

Maybe these students should be given failing grades as a reward their their inability to function like adults and engage in civil discourse?

Take a knee, beg… #Judgment #Labels #Cancelled The Ass rots from the head. Deja vu.

It would be very revealing to see the high school and LSAT records of these useful idiots: you can bet they didn’t make it into Yale on intellect, but rather on useful idiocy.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to | March 21, 2022 at 6:43 am

    Or, they are “legacy” admissions, or their “pillar of the community”* uncle or grandfather got them a bye on admission.

    *pillar of the community: rich, connected.

    iconotastic in reply to | March 21, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    Maybe, maybe not. Intelligence is not the same thing as wisdom nor does high IQ automatically infer decency.

OwenKellogg-Engineer | March 21, 2022 at 5:21 am

Hopefully, there will be some that take up Judge Silberman’s advice……

MoeHowardwasright | March 21, 2022 at 5:37 am

The administration, faculty, security, etc know who these agitators are. They know what class they belong to and who their Professors are too. My guess with a small amount of detective work they could figure out if they were prepped by said Professors on how to disrupt the discussion.
If Yale doesn’t discipline these sjw’s they will have fully devalued the cachet of having a law degree from Yale. No discipline and your degree might as well come from Oberlin College.

stevewhitemd | March 21, 2022 at 7:27 am

How many outside (that is, non-student) agitators were in the room? I’m going to guess here but I suspect more than one.

Steven Brizel | March 21, 2022 at 8:12 am

This is what happens when Marxist values trample on the Bill of Rights

Apparently the idiots at Yale don’t seem to understand the term…debate.

Only their view counts.

Meanwhile the Slate has less credibility than CNN

Steven Brizel | March 21, 2022 at 8:38 am

Read this and let them know the next time they ask for a contribution if you are an alumnus or friend of these law schools. How the same university can ban an anti Semitic supporter of a Palestinian terrorist and support mandatory courses in its law school on CRT is mind boggling

Our kids are all in the early to mid 20s, all graduating from college in the last five years with youngest just graduating last year. It’s amazing – in the worst possible way – how the campus environment has deteriorated in that period of time.

The leftists are violent, physically confrontational and often times guided and encouraged by tenured professors. If you’re to the right of Fidel Castro, you’re essentially persona non grata.

As this sort of thing becomes common place in the real world post graduation at the workplace or community how will others respond? In some areas the exercise of a hecklers veto will become standard. In others there will be pushback potentially vigorously so. After all the Students doing the protesting claim that mere speech is ‘violence’; they can hardly be upset when normals choose to believe them and act forcefully to counter the inherent ‘violence’ of the hecklers.

    Voyager in reply to CommoChief. | March 21, 2022 at 8:48 pm

    I suspect any company that works with things that can kill you will either shut them down or fold. Industries that reply of Federal funding will simply stop producing usable products.

    Fields that are soft fields will simply end and be replaced by other services. And it will be incredibly ugly as it happens.

    This is a generation of people who are being taught to be useless and destructive. And they will cause a lot of destruction before they are done.

I think all of the disruptive participants should be expelled from the school and forfeit credits earned. We don’t need spoiled little brats like these practicing law in this country when they can’t adhere to our Constitution and exhibit basis respect and decency.

Once again, we see that Marxism and liberal democracy don’t mix. The doctrines that these—children (even if they are in their 30s or older)—embrace are all founded upon the dogmas of revolutionary activism, that opponents of the One True Faith (radical socialism) do not deserve a platform nor do they have any right to express themselves at all. That this poisonous ideology has deeply insinuated itself in what used to be one of the premier law schools is indicative of the havoc wreaked upon our society by far-left academics and their abettors. By their very nature, ideologies that make authoritarian and absolutist claims do not belong in a law school, any more than supporters of a modern-day Spanish Inquisition belong in a school of divinity. Professors and administrators who encourage and support such manifestations should lose their tenure and be fired. Students who act out such intolerance for free speech and debate should be disciplined or expelled. Period.

While I know that YLS is a private institution, public funds do flow to it through tuition reimbursement and federal student loans. How is it in the public interest to support such anti-American and illiberal behavior such as the YLS clearly allow?

Maybe pubic funds should be banned for such institutions. After all, given the size of the Yale endowment, the school shouldn’t even miss it.

Liberals attempt to rule through fraud, lies, misinformation, intimidation, and force. But once the fraud, lies, misinformation, and intimidation have been exposed they must rely exclusively on force!
Common sense and LIEberalism cannot occupy the same space and time!

As a non-lawyer, I wonder why registration with a photo id, a nominal fee to capture a credit card, signing of a statement supporting free speech is not required for admission to the event. The statement would have a hold harmless clause and agreement for indemnification and additional monetary charges if the participant was asked to leave. Paid security might be necessary. Then sue in civil court. Stop being passive. Use the tort system to raise the cost of activism.

To improve the situation at Yale? Two words: ‘Fire. Salovey.’ A fish rots from the head. A university president who is afraid of student ‘activists’ (or worse, who eggs them on) has no business heading up a great university: he is helping destroy it. If these rioters against freedom of speech were punished for their actions, word would spread and only the most intransigeant would continue to disrupt the university. Incorrigibles would have to be expelled, but once the students realized the administration was serious, there would probably be very few expulsions necessary.

The problems of mob rule at universities are twofold. One, students inclined to misbehave now realize that there are no sanctions for their actions; short of burning down buildings (and maybe not then!) no violence they commit in the name of “social justice,” no matter how nonsensical the link, will be punished. Two, students who think this misbehavior is reprehensible, and who want to continue with their studies and with the life of a university as it has been traditionally understood, are afraid to say so. They know that they will be singled out for censure by the so-called activists and possibly suffer serious repercussions for refusing to countenance mob rule. No one will come to their defense, because everyone who is not supporting the rioters is afraid he or she will be punished next. Worse, many come to repress their own cognitive dissonances by speaking out in favor of behavior they would otherwise oppose, because ‘everyone else’ appears to support it. This is how authoritarians take over.

But being vertically-organized institutions, it is possible for universities to be gradually turned around by firm and serious leadership. This has to come from the top. Few academics who care about the mission of universities will stand up to a Twitter storm, let alone an actual mob unless they can be sure of support from their institutions; currently they are assured of the opposite, especially at Salovey’s Yale. Only better leaders, those who care that higher learning is being destroyed by mob rule, can initiate a revival of academic life, the recovery of honest and open dialogue, the return to the virtues of a life of the mind, learning, and knowledge. What we are being offered by the present crop of administrators is instead a life of base instincts, unreasoned passions, and the rule of rank ignorance. They must be replaced, or our universities will become ever more absurd, ever more detached from any useful social role, and ever more deserving of the contempt of future ages they have failed.

wow. hope you are all going to school on how the Ukrainian public is fighting putin, because if things keep going the way they are you will soon be fighting in the streets against the tyranny of a completely corrupt and criminal government here too……go ahead…..look away…..pretend it can’t happen here. IT’S HAPPENING HERE ALREADY.

Since they clearly do not possess the character to be admitted to the bar so that when they do apply for admission Yale is obligated to inform the bar of their breach of the school’s rules and let each bar decide whether to admit or deny.

TruthSpeaks4Itself | March 26, 2022 at 9:15 pm

Thank you, Legal Insurrection, for mentioning the incident at Yale Law School and for those who commented. It is an honor to go to law school and become an attorney. Rather than upholding the freedoms of the Constitution, these students sought to cancel the free speech of the debate by exhibiting childish tantrums that have no place in an elementary school much less a law school. Please consider signing the Philly Statement to send a message to Yale Law School urging it to correct its policies (copy and paste please the following link):
Thank you!

    TruthSpeaks4Itself in reply to TruthSpeaks4Itself. | March 26, 2022 at 9:20 pm

    Electronic signature to the Philly Statement must be completed by Monday, March 28th at 12:00 EST. Thank you for all the consideration and support! Let’s take a stand together against cancel culture!

I went to UCLA in the late 70s for Electrical Engineering and met my wife there. My company sent me and my family to the East Coast in 96 and we live in Loudoun County Virginia. We have seen how school has changed and we tutored our sons through school as the LCPS was corrupted. They were both out by 2005 and decided not to go to college and instead went to Trade Schools. It was less money for the training, and better income for them. College has gotten worse as this shows. Law School should be following the US Constitution and these students should be failed.