“It is a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” — George Orwell
In Sunday’s newspaper, Comrade John Nichols invokes the holy names of Old Fighting Bob and Wild Bill Evjue by way of establishing that, once upon a time, The Capital Times actually defended free speech. That time being World War 1, an even 100 years ago.
Lately, not so much.
- The Capital Times remained silent in the 1990s when UW-Madison chancellor Donna Shalala imposed speech codes that civil libertarians like Alan Dershowitz cited as among the most punitive in the nation.
- “Your Progressive Voice” was mum when anonymous speech complaint boxes were posted around campus a little bit later. Not at UW-Madison would the accused be afforded the right to confront his accuser.
- The Democratic party organ practiced omerta when death threats were issued against the young Republican woman who booked David Horowitz on campus in 2007 to speak about the mistreatment of women in Moslem countries. The university sent her a bill for the cost of the body guard it assigned her.
- Within the past few months, protestors stopped Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at UC-Berkeley; disrupted Ben Shapiro at Wisconsin; roughed up a faculty member attending to Charles Murray’s appearance at Middlebury; and stopped Heather MacDonald at Claremont-McKenna College.
The Capital Times yawned. It had too much invested in identity politics, grievances, class consciousness, and the Trump Resistance to chastise its cadres who were making revolution in the streets and lecture halls.
Antifa, the Resistance, the race and gender guerrillas aren’t disrupting conservative speakers at Madison and campuses around the nation. No, It’s actually Republican legislators who are gagging speakers, Nichols says! Talk about Alt Facts!
Wisconsin Republicans, he says, want to “restrict discourse on UW campuses — and to punish students who exercise their right to dissent in ways that do not please.”
Exactly what “ways do not please” the state reps? Let’s go to the text: Senate Bill 250 would penalize “violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, obscene, unreasonably loud, or other disorderly conduct that interferes with the free expression of others.”
If “violent and abusive” displeases Republicans, is it pleasing to Nichols? We can quibble with “profane” niggle over “boisterous” and try to define “obscene” but the nexus is that “conduct that interferes with the free expression of others.”
Supporters of the legislation, Nichols spins, “suggest that it will protect fragile conservative speakers from interruptions by fact-wielding students.”
But the young people who harassed conservative author Ben Shapiro on Nov. 17 wielded no facts — unless facts be nothing more than sloganeering and rhyming chants.
Protestors repeatedly interrupt[ed] Shapiro’s speech yelling the words “shame” and “safety.” Tensions came to a head when protesters formed a line in front of the stage … and repeated their “safety” chant.
That’s the fact, Jack … I mean, John.
Blaska’s Bottom Line — The Capital Times could have excoriated the speech thugs then and now, here in Madison and in Berkeley. Instead, it looked the other way and, by so doing, tacitly encouraged the heckler’s veto. They were, after all, following The Capital Times’ playbook. No enemies on the Left. By any means necessary. Fail at the ballot box, flail in the streets.
Now, by excusing the disrupters and opposing the Campus Free Speech Act, Nichols and The Capital Times have shown their hand.
The legislation is already working!