This editorial ran in the Monday, Oct. 9 edition of The (Champaign) News-Gazette.

Tale of two schools sends a message.

There was a protest on the University of Illinois campus Thursday, a small group of people expressing their disdain for the supposedly "controversial conservative" speaker named Charlie Kirk.

Identified as a founder of Turning Point USA, Kirk, a member of President Donald Trump's transition team, spoke in favor of such concepts as the virtues of capitalism, the system on which this country's economy operates; fiscal responsibility, surely a relevant topic in a state that is effectively bankrupt; and limited government, a subject deeply relevant considering the U.S. Constitution was written as a means of limiting government's control over we the people.

Kirk's critics, perhaps getting carried away with emotion, called him a fascist, a label some people apply uniformly to those with whom they disagree on even such mundane topics.

But here is what matters. The protesters protested. Those who wished to hear Kirk speak at a room in the Illini Union were able to hear his speech uninterrupted.

In case of a problem — there was none — there was sufficient security to keep the two sides apart and avoid any trouble.

That's the way it should be. Everybody got their chance to speak and be heard.

That doesn't happen every day on college campuses, where weak-kneed administrators are scared of their own shadows and too often inclined to submit to hecklers' vetoes.

Consider what happened recently at William & Mary in Maryland, where a speech by one of the university's graduates now with the American Civil Liberties Union was scheduled.

The irony of what occurred is disgracefully delicious.

Invited guest Claire Gastanaga intended to deliver a lecture titled "Students and the First Amendment," certainly a timely subject from which students could learn.

But protesters from Black Lives Matter took over the room and halted the proceedings with chants that included, "ACLU, you protect Hitler, too," ''the oppressed are not impressed" and "shame, shame, shame, shame."

They even fired a shot across the bow of liberals who've shown a disturbing lack of outrage when campus leftists shout down conservative speakers.

"Liberalism is white supremacy," the Black Lives Matter protesters shouted.

In an amazing display of unpardonable acquiescence, the meeting organizers turned the microphone over to protesters who read a statement denouncing the proceedings as well as the ACLU's long-standing practice of defending free speech rights for all.

Then organizers declared the meeting closed and audience members were directed to leave.

Some audience members declined to go, seeking to speak with the ACLU's Gastanaga. But protesters surrounded Gastanaga so no one could get close to talk to her and shouted loudly so no one could speak with her through the curtain of people surrounding her.

In the aftermath of this abomination at a supposed bastion of free discussion and inquiry, William & Mary officials issued a statement expressing regret over what occurred. They warned that "silencing certain voices to advance the cause of others is not acceptable" and said William & Mary "must be a campus that welcomes difficult conversations."

Easy ones, too. Just what's so hard about listening to a talk on "Students and the First Amendment"? Those words, however, are meaningless if university officials take this kind of conduct lying down. The wrongdoers must be identified and sanctioned, or there will be more assaults on speech at William & Mary.

It's good that the UI wasn't the site of a similar disgrace. But the protest here wasn't much because the event wasn't much. Those expressing outrage over Kirk's appearance probably never heard of him a week before learning he was coming to the Illini Union and won't remember his name a week from now. Non-entities rarely spark real moral outrage.

So the issue at the UI is not closed, by any means. Tougher tests will come. If they do, it's our hope, though not our expectation, that UI officials will respond more vigorously than their counterparts at William & Mary who did little more than issue a statement containing platitudes while cowering beneath their desks.

October 9, 2017

The (Champaign) News-Gazette

Tale of two schools sends a message.

There was a protest on the University of Illinois campus Thursday, a small group of people expressing their disdain for the supposedly "controversial conservative" speaker named Charlie Kirk.

Identified as a founder of Turning Point USA, Kirk, a member of President Donald Trump's transition team, spoke in favor of such concepts as the virtues of capitalism, the system on which this country's economy operates; fiscal responsibility, surely a relevant topic in a state that is effectively bankrupt; and limited government, a subject deeply relevant considering the U.S. Constitution was written as a means of limiting government's control over we the people.

Kirk's critics, perhaps getting carried away with emotion, called him a fascist, a label some people apply uniformly to those with whom they disagree on even such mundane topics.

But here is what matters. The protesters protested. Those who wished to hear Kirk speak at a room in the Illini Union were able to hear his speech uninterrupted.

In case of a problem — there was none — there was sufficient security to keep the two sides apart and avoid any trouble.

That's the way it should be. Everybody got their chance to speak and be heard.

That doesn't happen every day on college campuses, where weak-kneed administrators are scared of their own shadows and too often inclined to submit to hecklers' vetoes.

Consider what happened recently at William & Mary in Maryland, where a speech by one of the university's graduates now with the American Civil Liberties Union was scheduled.

The irony of what occurred is disgracefully delicious.

Invited guest Claire Gastanaga intended to deliver a lecture titled "Students and the First Amendment," certainly a timely subject from which students could learn.

But protesters from Black Lives Matter took over the room and halted the proceedings with chants that included, "ACLU, you protect Hitler, too," ''the oppressed are not impressed" and "shame, shame, shame, shame."

They even fired a shot across the bow of liberals who've shown a disturbing lack of outrage when campus leftists shout down conservative speakers.

"Liberalism is white supremacy," the Black Lives Matter protesters shouted.

In an amazing display of unpardonable acquiescence, the meeting organizers turned the microphone over to protesters who read a statement denouncing the proceedings as well as the ACLU's long-standing practice of defending free speech rights for all.

Then organizers declared the meeting closed and audience members were directed to leave.

Some audience members declined to go, seeking to speak with the ACLU's Gastanaga. But protesters surrounded Gastanaga so no one could get close to talk to her and shouted loudly so no one could speak with her through the curtain of people surrounding her.

In the aftermath of this abomination at a supposed bastion of free discussion and inquiry, William & Mary officials issued a statement expressing regret over what occurred. They warned that "silencing certain voices to advance the cause of others is not acceptable" and said William & Mary "must be a campus that welcomes difficult conversations."

Easy ones, too. Just what's so hard about listening to a talk on "Students and the First Amendment"? Those words, however, are meaningless if university officials take this kind of conduct lying down. The wrongdoers must be identified and sanctioned, or there will be more assaults on speech at William & Mary.

It's good that the UI wasn't the site of a similar disgrace. But the protest here wasn't much because the event wasn't much. Those expressing outrage over Kirk's appearance probably never heard of him a week before learning he was coming to the Illini Union and won't remember his name a week from now. Non-entities rarely spark real moral outrage.

So the issue at the UI is not closed, by any means. Tougher tests will come. If they do, it's our hope, though not our expectation, that UI officials will respond more vigorously than their counterparts at William & Mary who did little more than issue a statement containing platitudes while cowering beneath their desks.

Angry
0
Sad
0
Funny
0
Wow
0
Love
0

Load comments