New University of Wisconsin policy hypocritically exploits idea of free speech to punish student protestors

NATIONAL ISSUES: The new policy comes amid a perceived "free speech" crisis.

wisconsin

On Friday, the governing board of the University of Wisconsin system approved a policy placing harsh sanctions — suspension or expulsion — on students who repeatedly disrupt campus speeches. The vote comes amid a perceived “free speech” crisis: a crippling disdain for conservative thought on liberal college campuses.

Did it ever occur to University of Wisconsin’s board of regents that heckling itself is a form of free speech? The policy explicitly reaffirms a commitment to free speech yet says members of the community cannot interfere with others right to “express views they reject or even loathe.”

In other words, don’t protest.

These restrictions would effectively turn college campuses into safe spaces for bigoted speech, actively muffling students threatened by the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos.

The proposal is also a part of a Republican-backed legislative bill that passed Wisconsin’s state assembly in June, but hasn’t yet gone to the senate.

The same people that tout their commitment to free speech are using it as a cover to curtail the First Amendment rights of marginalized students.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

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  • David

    Heckling is a physical act. They are physically generating so much noise with their vocal cords that the speaker can not be heard. Screaming in someone’s ear can physically harm their ear drums and so it is a form of assault. Standing on a stage and speaking in a measured tone does not physically harm anyone else nor does it physically prevent someone else from expressing an idea. At the end of the day what this comes down to is do we want to live in a country with an equal law for everyone or do we want the ability of people to express ideas to be determined by which side can bring more violence?

  • Marco Ramirez

    I think that the board and editors of this publication should resign. Opposition to free speech and endorsement of violent acts of groups such as antifa should have no place at this university or any other.

  • Kenneth Currie

    Precisely the drivel one would expect from this paper. The policy deals with disruption. I guess the editors missed that part. I’m sure if the college Republicans “heckled” a speech by a liberal, the paper would stand up for their right to free speech, right?

  • LordGreyFalcon

    Heckling may be a form of free speech but heckling to the point of disruption and preventing the speaker and the audience from continuing isn’t. If certain ideas are too difficult for you to hear, or, if you can’t wait until the Q&A to debate, or you can’t organize an event of your own to offer counter-point, then maybe it’s best you not attend.

    • BerCaley

      Everything you said is true except the part about heckling not affording counterpoint. But that aside, heckling is still free speech.

  • Alex Surf

    California is such an embarrassing State to live in. How wants to vote for a secession from them? Me!

  • BerCaley

    Whitney v. California opinion in 1927, “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

    Conservatives send Shapiro and Milo as their thought leaders which is their right. But it is also the right of audience to heckle right back.

    Y’all need to learn what free speech is.

    • LordGreyFalcon

      How about you offer debate. If Shapiro is scheduled, offer to debate him on the stage. Heckling offers no counter-point, it only says you think his ideas shouldn’t be heard.

      • lspanker

        How about you offer debate. If Shapiro is scheduled, offer to debate him on the stage.

        LOL – are you kidding? I’m all for it, but rest assured our resident troll-child would be the first to cut and run if actually forced to engage Shapiro or anyone else in civilized discussion.

    • Man with Axe

      Heckling is not free speech. It is disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. Hecklers can and should be put out of the venue by force if necessary. We see this all the time at non-college venues, such as political rallies, when a heckler tries to disrupt the speaker. The only reason it feels as if heckling is free speech is that the universities are too pusillanimous to throw the hecklers out.

    • California Defender

      I don’t think you know what heckle means. Occording to OED:

      “To interrupt (a public speaker) with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse.”

      Then again, heckling is the only form of argument that Berkeleyites know. I guess they’re just uncivilized brutes, but I need to have more sympathy as it’s not their fault. It’s the leftist so-called “educational” system, in this case Berkeley, that has failed them.

  • Carol Denney

    “In other words, don’t protest.” – Not at all. There are many ways to protest without effectively silencing one’s opponent, which robs anyone interested in listening of the opportunity to do so.

  • Ryan McCourt

    You know your commitment to free speech is suspiciously weak when you have to put the words in scare quotes!

    No, children, the policy does nothing to limit protesters free speech. It plainly disallows conduct which infringes on free expression. Pretending it does something else is not a valid argument.

  • John D. Horton

    Okay, free speech is only for LibTards?

  • Man with Axe

    The failure of this editorial is the lack of understanding of the golden rule. If you don’t want your speech disrupted don’t disrupt someone else’s speech. If we all heckle and disrupt and block and chant and stand up with signs and walk out and pull fire alarms and physically attack speakers, then no one gets to speak. Why would you want to live in that uncivilized world?

  • Rollie

    Did it ever occur to University of Wisconsin’s board of regents that heckling itself is a form of free speech? The policy explicitly reaffirms a commitment to free speech yet says members of the community cannot interfere with others right to “express views they reject or even loathe.”

    In other words, don’t protest.

    Same logic-free exaggeration as usual, from this editorial board. Clearly, no one’s ability to protest is being threatened, nor are anyone’s efforts to do so even being discouraged. The persecution is only in your imagination, which evidently operates on the absurd notion that censorship and silencing hosted speakers are themselves forms of free speech.

    More importantly, heckling to silence someone is a cheap and cowardly tactic. It reflects an argument without confidence, utterly fearful of being challenged. Worst of all, it claims the right to prevent others from hearing what they have every right to hear, if they choose to. What gives the hecklers such a right?

  • zzz

    The reason as a child adults tell you to play fair is because of you are constantly cheating no one will want to play with you. As you get older unless you are a sociopath you learn to get along with people around you in a way that they will want to associate with you, if you keep borrowing money then “forgetting” and then refusing to pay people back, they will stop associating with you.

    As an adult you need to have a coherent world view other than “I want,” if your every political thought is “how do I rework this situation so that I can get over” people will think of you as a somewhat sophisticated child or AM radio idiot. This “heckling itself is a form of free speech?” non sense is just a way to rework childish behavior into some pseudo intellectual framework.

  • jeyhovah

    Okay so this is good to know. Not only are you not okay with Milo speaking on campus, but you’re also okay with people shouting him down. Do yo realize how partisan you are? Seriously. Do you realize that you aren’t learning anything objective, you’ve just learned enough so that you can argue for whatever you believe in and ignore everything you dont? I wish you were principled. I weep for the future. Because Cal is the best and brightest and this is what we are getting.

  • Killer Marmot

    I keep assuming that an editorial board of a student newspaper must have a solid grounding in the fundamentals of free speech — what it is and what it isn’t — and I keep getting proved wrong.

    • Nunya Beeswax

      Where a high-school graduate from 30 years ago would have had a basic knowledge of the Bill of Rights, these kids have Critical Race Theory.

    • BerCaley

      30 years ago? Let’s try Justice Brandeis opinion from 90 years:

      Whitney v. California opinion in 1927, “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

      You need to learn what free speech is.

      • California Defender

        Whitney v. California was overruled 40 years later in Brandenberg v. Ohio.

        From that case came the Brandenberg Test which supports the ideals of Brandeis and protects Milo, Shapiro, Coulter, etc, and actually might strip protection from the protesters opposing them.

        Every argument you make for free speech supports my opinion and damages yours. Keep going, this is fun!

    • David

      They support censorship because they don’t believe that it will be turned against them. They’re wrong.

      • Killer Marmot

        It’s surprising how many can not — or will not — see more than one move down the chess board.

        • lspanker

          Consider the sources. I submit that many of those whining are the self-described “marginalized minorities” who would not have been admitted to Cal in the first place if academic and intellectual standards weren’t compromised for the sake of admitting more members of certain “under-represented groups”.

  • SecludedCompoundTTYS

    Wow, you are jumping to something so stupidly it is mind numbing. You are choosing to conflate protesting with heckling a speech to a point of a “Hecklers Veto” which is very different. You can protest a speech outside with free speech (no violence or call for violence) but you cannot disrupt a speech by yelling in the room or coming up and blocking viewers. It’s really not that hard to understand, so it is interesting that you are so indoctrinated that you cannot even comprehend the differences between “who repeatedly disrupt campus speeches” and protests. If the school meant protests, they would have said protests. Stop trying to fit your agenda youngins. You’re only fooling yourself and look really stupid to people outside of your group think. You are trying to paint republicans as the ones against free speech because you cannot handle that the the left is the one trying to stop free speech. Liberals are the ones who do not want people to speak and that is obvious to anyone who has critical thinking skills and actually cares to pay attention objectively to the world around us. I hope none of the editorial board is going to Law School or they may be sad when they realize certain words have powerful meaning in real life.

  • Bob

    Freedom of speech includes the audience’s right to listen to a speech or lecture. As opined by University of California, Irvine Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, once I (or any speaker) begin an invited lecture, “You have the right—if you disagree with me—to go outside and perform your protest. But you don’t get the right to come in when I’m talking and shout me down. Otherwise people can always silence a speaker by heckler’s veto, and Babel results.”

    • California Defender

      Provided that the protest outside does not prevent people from attending the event or create an environment of harassment, threats, or violence that would discourage attendance.

      • Bob

        Exactly. Thank you for contributing that point.