William & Mary students, claiming to be affilaited with the Black Lives Matter movement, crashed an American Civil Liberties Union campus event this week and shouted down a speaker with chants of “Shame! Shame! Shame!”
At first, students organizing the ACLU event, titled, “Students and the First Amendment,” thought the protest was a demonstration of how to conduct campus civil disobedience. But imagine their surprise when it suddenly turned out that Black Lives Matter was there to protest campus leftists.
The ACLU’s Claire Gastañaga, a William & Mary alum speaking at the event, said, immediately, “Good, I like this,” as protesters streamed into the auditorium. “I’m going to talk to you about knowing your rights, and protests and demonstrations, which this illustrates very well. Then I’m going to respond to questions from the moderators, and then questions from the audience.”
Unfortunately, the BLM students weren’t interested in simply providing living examples for Gastañaga’s speech. According to the William & Mary event live-stream, those were the last words anyone got out before the protesters began chanting loudly in an attempt to drown out the speakers.
“ACLU, you protect Hitler, too,” they screamed, apparently referring to the ACLU’s stand in favor of the First Amendment in the wake of neo-Nazi demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia (a concrete scenario, incidentally, addressed directly by the Supreme Court). They went on, “the oppressed are not impressed,” and “shame, shame, shame, shame,” closing out with a very menacing chant, “the revolution will not uphold the Constitution.”
At least they understand the First Amendment protects Nazis, too?
When the speech resumed, protesters began yelling again, this time accusing the ACLU of racial bias. “Liberalism is white supremacy!” they chanted as they unfurled a huge banner that read “Blood On Your Hands.”
Organizers were eventually forced to cancel the event. They gave the protest leader a chance to speak and even provided a microphone so that the demonstrators could issue a prepared statement. But that wasn’t enough and, under the threat of more chanting, they just ended the panel.
The school later issued a statement:
William & Mary has a powerful commitment to the free play of ideas. We have a campus where respectful dialogue, especially in disagreement, is encouraged so that we can listen and learn from views that differ from our own, so that we can freely express our own views, and so that debate can occur. Unfortunately, that type of exchange was unable to take place Wednesday night when an event to discuss a very important matter – the meaning of the First Amendment — could not be held as planned. …
Silencing certain voices in order to advance the cause of others is not acceptable in our community. This stifles debate and prevents those who’ve come to hear a speaker, our students in particular, from asking questions, often hard questions, and from engaging in debate where the strength of ideas, not the power of shouting, is the currency. William & Mary must be a campus that welcomes difficult conversations, honest debate and civil dialogue.
The creep was inevitable; even with conservative speakers filtered out of the discussion, the far left is unhappy. A lack of right-leaning voices just leaves them with fewer events to protest, so naturally, they move on to liberal-leaning events, under the assumption that they can either move the discussion further to the left, or silence any differing opinion, even if that means taking on those students who would likely agree with them 90% of the time.
It’s not simply right-leaning voices these demonstrators wish to silence. It’s all voices but their own.