UConn President’s Reaction To Outrageous Behavior Is Even More Outrageous Than The Offense

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/12/12/uconn-presidents-reaction-to-outrageous-behavior-is-even-more-outrageous-than-the-offense/

Why is it that every time there’s a free-speech outrage on campus college administrators learn the wrong lessons?

State authorities in Connecticut have determined that Gateway Pundit correspondent Lucian Wintrich did nothing illegal when he tried to retrieve his lecture notes from a social justice warrior who stole them from the lectern during a contentious talk at the University of Connecticut last month. Instead, the woman who took the papers is being charged with larceny and disorderly conduct.

For some reason, Wintrich was arrested by police officers when the woman used a lull in the proceedings during an extended walk-out to grab the papers and make for an exit. Video shows that Wintrich caught up to her and made contact with her to get his papers back. Prosecutors made the right call to drop charges against him Monday.

But while the arrest grabbed the headlines, the real story of the event is the behavior of dozens of left-wing students – and the behavior of school administrators afterward.

A video of the event shows that leftists from the start heckled and talked over the UConn Republican Club member who led off the program and introduced Wintrich; and then they heckled and chanted and talked over Wintrich. On and on it went, for 15 minutes or more. A UConn security guard did nothing.

Free speech includes the ability to give a talk and be heard by people who want to hear you. It does not include the ability to go to someone else’s event and disrupt it.

At Harvard College – yes, that Harvard – the rules are clear:  If you disrupt an event, you get kicked out. Protest all you want, but do it outside the hall. That way, people can hold an event.

How hard is that to figure out?

So what lesson did UConn officials learn from the Wintrich event?

They are horrified that a man who accompanied Wintrich may have an unsavory past. From now on, student groups will have to disclose the identities not only of speakers but of people who accompany them. (Should be interesting if a Nation of Islam speaker comes to campus.)

Mind you, there’s no allegation that the man who accompanied Wentrich did anything untoward at UConn. The miscreants at UConn weren’t outside agitators; they were UConn students.

But not according to UConn president Susan Herbst, who released a statement three days after the event, on December 1, calling Wintrich’s comments “loathsome.”

That’s interesting. A video of the entire event posted by the college Republican club shows a performance so disjointed by interruptions that it’s hard to tell what Wintrich is saying.

The title of the talk, “It’s O.K. To Be White,” was obviously meant to provoke. So what?

Herbst’s statement has been reported in some quarters as an endorsement of free speech. It isn’t.

After making the usual perfunctory comments about the right of free expression, she gets to the heart of her message:

“At the same time, event organizers must also be prepared for the potential consequences of their choices, especially with respect to controversial or extreme speakers. We all share in a responsibility to help create and support respectful dialogue on our campuses, and this did not fall into that category. What the impact of a particular program may be must be a key consideration in planning it, including its costs, both financial and with respect to how a program may be received by the campus community.”

Liberals used to call this sort of language a “chilling effect.”

There’s more:

“Having the right to do something and the wisdom of that choice can be two very different things.”

Making a list, checking it twice

“Going forward, the university will strengthen and enhance existing protocols to help ensure proper planning well in advance and to make the potential consequences and costs of their choices clearer to student groups.”

Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice

The clear implication is that it’s the College Republicans who are at fault for what she called “a disappointment in every respect,” for inviting a speaker that many people on campus don’t like.

But the real failures are the leftist students, whose disrespect and bad manners are a disgrace; and UConn administrators, who at a more advanced age have yet to master simple concepts like free speech.

We get where the leftist students are coming from, who apparently got so little discipline at home that they think they should be able to shout over any opinions they don’t like.

But what is Herbst’s excuse?