Remember the situation at Columbia where a group of students disrupted a speech by the founder of the Minutemen, jumping up on stage and preventing him from speaking? As I feared, the university has done pretty much nothing in response. Despite lots of lofty rhetoric from Columbia’s president Lee Bollinger, himself a first amendment scholar, the university finally handed down their “punishment” – and I use the term loosely: a letter of “disciplinary warning” will be placed in their filed. For a year and a half. One of the students being “punished” seems to have gotten the point:
“It’s a light punishment, it’s a slap on the wrist,” Monique Dols, GS, who was given a disciplinary warning, said. “It’s a victory for free speech and anti-racism.”
If only that was true. It’s a victory for those who, like Dols, oppose free speech and seek to destroy it for those they disagree with. Your freedom of speech does not include any right to drown out and disrupt someone else’s speech, a lesson that Columbia University has clearly failed to teach through their unwillingness to take these students’ behavior seriously. What does this letter actually do to the students? Nothing:
The resulting warnings, which will be notated on students’ transcripts and remain there until the end of 2008, are the lowest of four possible outcomes for those found to be in violation of the rules. Disciplinary warnings place no financial or academic constraints on the person charged and state “that future violations will be treated more seriously.”
It’s nothing more than a free pass to violate someone else’s right to free speech, at least once. Dols, meanwhile, can’t seem to keep her story straight or make anything like a coherent statement on what free speech means:
“The main point I think is that at the end of the day the University formally apologized to the Minutemen and punished the students who upheld values of free speech and anti-racism, and subjected us to an arbitrary process for doing so,” Dols said.
I’ll tell you what, Monique. Next time you or any other group you support wants to have an event on campus, how about we send a bunch of other students over with bullhorns to jump up on stage and make a bunch of noise to prevent you from being heard. I’d love to hear what you had to say then; my guess is all that talk about “free speech” would be right out the window if the shoe was on the other foot.