So say Madison’s Leftists to cover for their complicity
in harassing conservative speakers
I am going to be sick all over my morning fishwrap. Who is threatening free speech on the University of Wisconsin’s flagship Madison campus? Who else but those all-purpose boogeymen the Koch Brothers and the Bradley Foundation?
That is if you believe The Capital Times, which was silent when Donna Shalala instituted her draconian speech codes, which acquiesced in the anonymous complaint drop boxes, which said nary a discouraging word when a phalanx of protestors interrupted conservative writer Ben Shapiro last November.
Let us ask this question: How many liberal speakers have been disrupted by conservatives on our campuses? Multiple choice answers, take your pick: a) Zero b) None c) Are you kidding?
For that matter, how many conservative speakers are invited to campus? That one’s easy. You hear about it because it makes the news.
The whole exercise is The Capital Times doing its usual partisan politicking. The Republican state legislature is trying to protect free speech and free inquiry on campus while those who make their living off the First Amendment, namely both Madison newspapers, have been complacent or complicit in Leftist attacks on conservative speakers.
What better way than to conjure some unholy conspiracy than to invoke the hated names of the nefarious Koch Brothers! (Sponsors of so many public television programs.) They and the Bradley Foundation “threaten UW free speech,” according to The Capital Times, “by “pour[ing] resources into putting a right-wing spin on the ongoing discussion about how to maintain a robust discourse on campuses that they see as too liberal.”
Let’s hurdle the bollixed syntax of that sentence to render it into plain English: according to The Capital Times, the Kochs and Bradleys are engaging in their own free speech from the conservative viewpoint. They are objecting to the Soros-driven bully-ragging of dissenters. THE HORROR!
As if the authors of the Campus Free Speech Act, Wisconsin legislators elected from their communities — people like Jessse Kremer of Kewaskum, Dave Murphy of Greenville, Robin Vos of Rochester, Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls — were helpless pawns inventing a problem that doesn’t exist.
The speech protestors are forceful, the UW is not
Almost as bad is the Wisconsin State Journal this morning (5-10-17) crediting UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank with making “forceful comments [that] should help allay concern that UW-Madison is restricting conservative views.”
“The university shouldn’t be mischaracterized as a highly political organization,” Blank is quoted.
“I know all of the complaints about Madison as being way too liberal,” Blank said. “And we surely have some liberal professors. But we also have some real diversity.”
If you say so, Chancellor Blank, but the Squire of the Stately Manor is not allayed. Guess we’ll have to take your word for it, absent actual, you know, examples.
Read “Chancellor sets right tone for free speech on UW-Madison campus” for yourself. If Blank made “forceful comments” why weren’t they quoted?
Forceful? How were Ben Shapiro’s disrupters disciplined? Or were they disciplined at all? What is the permissible amount of time to disrupt a speech at UW-Madison? 10 minutes? 20 minutes? (The Badger Herald photograph and story. It includes the tweet from Shapiro: “The intrepid administrators at UW-Madison have assigned 3 officers — yes, 3 — for a crowd of over 500, including 3 protest groups.”)
What part of ‘shall make no law’ don’t you get?
Back to The Capital Times: The final indignity is the artwork accompanying today’s editorial: a rendering of the Bill of Rights on parchment, specifically the First Amendment, to read “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”
Yet The Capital Times demands just such a law. (One example here.) They want to geld the First Amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision, which criminalized communities of citizens from commenting on issues of mutual concern during an election campaign if those citizens were organized as corporations — with a generous carve-out for newspapers, of course. They cheerlead Mark Pocan and Tammy Baldwin, both avid First Amendment trimmers.
So let us quote Floyd Abrams, the free speech attorney who defending the New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War:
Liberals seemed please with a First Amendment that protects radical hawkers of leaflets at the same time they despaired of a First Amendment that protects wealthier, more powerful speakers. Unhappy with who is speaking these days and how much they are speaking, liberals are promiscuously signing on to a variety of positions that simply ignore the core of First Amendment jurisprudence.
… the real news about the First Amendment was that increasingly its attackers were coming from the Left.
That is Abrams in his 2005 book, Speaking Freely; Trials of the First Amendment.
“The First Amendment protects all who wish to speak … from governmental decision-making about what and how much they may say,” Abrams writes.
Yet nascent totalitarians like Comrade Nichols and Chris Rickert — and their newspapers— defend pre-dawn speech police raids on the private homes of conservative activists. For the supposed sin of “conspiring” with others of like mind to influence public policy through the electoral process. In other words, they’ve got too much speech and the wrong kind.
Those who complain are, in Rickert’s words, “whining.”
For extra credit:
- The Wisconsin Campus Free Speech Act
- The speech nazis rousted Vicki McKenna at the Ben Shapiro speech.
- If Leonard Pitts understands the threat to free speech, why can’t Terese Berceau?
- From the National Review: Understanding the campus free speech crisis.