The American Civil Liberties Union often gets criticized by conservatives for its penchant for going after the religious liberties of Christians. But at a free speech celebration at a college last week, they were swarmed by an angry crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters.
The celebration was being held at William & Mary College, a public research institution in Williamsburg, Virginia, when protesters showed up waving signs that read, “Blood on your hands.”
According to Fox News, ACLU executive director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga was trying to start her free speech address when the Black Lives Matter demonstrators shouted her down, yelling out things like “The oppressed are not impressed!” They also said, “The revolution will not uphold the Constitution,” suggesting that they wanted America to be remade from the ground up.
Student newspaper The Flat Hat reported that the protesters were upset that the ACLU has defended the free speech rights of the white supremacists who showed up in Charlottesville, Virginia in August and had a violent clash with Antifa members and others. At least one of the protesters held up a sign stating that the “ACLU enabled Heather Heyer’s death.” 32-year-old Heyer was killed when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd at the Charlottesville rally.
As Gastañaga tried to speak over the chanting crowd, she could be heard saying, “Good, I like this. 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."
But the Black Lives Matter demonstrators weren’t going to let her have her say and continued to drown her out. Finally, after 20 minutes, someone gave the protesters a microphone and allowed them to read a statement.
One of the protesters read aloud, “When is the free speech of the oppressed protected? We know from personal experience that rights granted to wealthy, white, cis, male, straight bodies do not trickle down to marginalized groups. We face greater barriers and consequences for speaking.”
After ten more minutes of chanting, the free speech celebration was canceled because no one else could get a word in edgewise. The irony was not lost on some in the audience.
Laith Hashem, a student at the college, said, “I think they had every right to do what they did. I don’t agree with their method, [but] they’re completely entitled to their opinions. But the thing I disagreed with most was that every opportunity they had to have a discussion, both with the speaker and the audience, they responded by increasing their volume and shouting louder.”
The college released a statement confirming the chain of events and rebuking the Black Lives Matter protesters for their attack on free speech.
“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,” William & Mary College President Taylor Reveley emphasized.
But he added, “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.”
What do you think of this? In other news, a former NSYNC member is bashing the Red Cross for their response in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting.