The Barbarians Were Restless
Free speech doesn't mean the freedom to stop others from speaking by shouting them down -- except, that is, for the Muslims Students' Union members at UC/Irvine. Nice try. Law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky writes for the LA Times:
Eleven individuals were arrested, and those who are UCI students are facing disciplinary action. In the last week, I have been deluged with messages from those saying the disruptive students did nothing wrong and deserve no punishment, and also from those saying that the students should be expelled and that others in the audience who cheered them on should be disciplined.
Both of these views are wrong. As to the former, there are now posters around campus referring to the unjust treatment of the "Irvine 11" and saying they were just engaging in speech themselves. However, freedom of speech never has been regarded as an absolute right to speak out at any time and in any manner. Long ago, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes explained that there was no right to falsely shout "fire" in a crowded theater.
The government, including public universities, always can impose time, place and manner restrictions on speech. A person who comes into my classroom and shouts so that I cannot teach surely can be punished without offending the 1st Amendment. Likewise, those who yelled to keep the ambassador from being heard were not engaged in constitutionally protected behavior.
Freedom of speech, on campuses and elsewhere, is rendered meaningless if speakers can be shouted down by those who disagree. The law is well established that the government can act to prevent a heckler's veto -- to prevent the reaction of the audience from silencing the speaker. There is simply no 1st Amendment right to go into an auditorium and prevent a speaker from being heard, no matter who the speaker is or how strongly one disagrees with his or her message.
The remedy for those who disagreed with the ambassador was to engage in speech of their own, but in a way that was not disruptive. They could have handed out leaflets, stood with picket signs, spoken during the question-and-answer session, held a demonstration elsewhere on campus or invited their own speakers.
Here's the video:
And just a thought, where's the outcry for the Muslims being murdered in Africa? Oh, sorry -- those are black Muslims, and they're of little or no concern to Middle Eastern Muslims. Not to worry, Muslims! Israel is granting citizenship to hundreds of black Muslim refugees as a humanitarian gesture, just like they provide medical care for Palestinian sick people in Israel hospitals.
Is anybody high enough to think the Muslims will take in any Jews?