My favorite liberal, Nat Hentoff, takes aim at the campus brownshirts seeking to eradicate free speech:
Hostility to the exercise of free speech on American college campuses is nothing new. But what happened at Yale University, the University of Missouri and other colleges over the past two weeks is something new and frightening. The suppression of speech in academia has begun to spiral out of control.
Nicholas Christakis is a professor at Yale who lives with his wife in a student residence hall on campus. An internationally renowned physician and sociologist, Dr. Christakis was surrounded by dozens of angry students who showered him with curses and threats. Dr. Christakis’ offense? He refused to publicly apologize for his wife’s email that defended free speech and urged tolerance of offensive Halloween costumes.
Greg Lukianoff, the President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), was on the Yale campus to attend a free speech symposium and witnessed the incident. In the video Lukianoff posted on FIRE’s website, Christakis appears on the verge of being physically assaulted.
“Nicholas addressed the crowd for more than an hour, even after it became clear that nothing short of begging for forgiveness would satisfy them,” Lukianoff wrote in The Washington Post. “I’ve witnessed some intense campus disputes during my 14 years fighting for free speech, but nothing like this.”
The next evening — at a William F. Buckley, Jr. Program conference on free speech that had been planned months in advance — Greg Lukianoff’s speech was interrupted by a student who rushed the podium, shouting, before he was dragged out of the building by campus police. Attendees then braved a gauntlet of angry Yale students who cursed and ridiculed them. The Yale Daily News reported that “several attendees were spat on as they left.”
At the University of Missouri, a student photographer freelancing for ESPN was confronted by a mob of angry anti-racism protesters who tried to eject him from the public commons area where they had gathered. After he refused to leave, the students begin a coordinated effort to both psychologically and physically intimidate the reporter into leaving.
The protesters subjected him to intense ridicule, sometimes chanting in unison, as they gradually forced him backwards. They then began to falsely accuse the reporter of the very conduct that they themselves were directing against him.
MU’s student body vice president later tried to justify the students’ self-imposed restrictions on the press during an interview on MSNBC. She suggested that the First Amendment “creates a hostile and unsafe learning environment.”