Don't Be Afraid to Let Your Enemy Speak

In this post, when I said that I thought the university had a duty to
intervene with protests only when the protests had the effect of
silencing or preventing invited speakers from speaking, this is the
type of thing I was talking about

Students stormed the stage
at Columbia University's Roone auditorium yesterday, knocking over
chairs and tables and attacking Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the
Minutemen, a group that patrols the border between America and Mexico. 

Mr. Gilchrist and Marvin Stewart, another member of his group, were
in the process of giving a speech at the invitation of the Columbia
College Republicans. They were escorted off the stage unharmed and
exited the auditorium by a back door. 

Having wreaked havoc onstage, the students unrolled a banner that
read, in both Arabic and English, "No one is ever illegal." As security
guards closed the curtains and began escorting people from the
auditorium, the students jumped from the stage, pumping their fists,
chanting victoriously, "Si se pudo, si se pudo," Spanish for "Yes we could!"

I don' t think such thuggery is protected by the first ammendment, and
certainly a private institution should be able to make sure their
invited speakers actually get to speak.  Columbia really needs to rethink its free speech policies, if it allows this behavior to occur but shuts down the hockey team for this.

By the way, I am a strong detractor of the Minutemen, their goals, and
the activities.  It's good for the soul - everyone should take the time
to defend the free speech of someone they disagree with.  Mr. Gilchrist should have been allowed to speak.  This is unfortunately yet
another example of where I am horrified by the actions of people who
agree with me.  I mean, from a PR standpoint alone, the Minutemen could not have scripted a protest that would have done more than this one to enrage and energize its supporters.  STUPID!  For my fellow travellers in the pro-immigration
movement, I would suggest you read this:  Why its good to let your enemies speak.

Update:  I was correct -- immigration foes are using this stupidity as a rallying cry.  While I often disagree quite strongly with LGF on this issue, they have a good quote from the perpetrators of this protest that highlights exactly the "free speech for me but not for thee" logic that I hate.  First they say, as all free speech opponents say:

We celebrate free speech.

Uh, OK.  Then they continue:

for that reason we allowed the Minutemen to

Mr. Gilchrist was an invited guest of a private institution.  Your permission is not required or relevant.  The implication is that you somehow have a veto over everyone's speech, and they speak at your sufferance.  And finally this:

Minutemen are not a legitimate voice in the debate on immigration.

This is the key, absolutely dangerous assumption that all-too-many people hold in this country.  That somehow speech can be parsed into "legitimate" and "illegitimate", with the clear implication that illegitimate speech has no first amendment protection.  But who decides what is legitimate?  Of course, implicit to anyone who says this, is the assumption that "why, me and my guys would decide."  It is for this reason I have opposed "hate speech" laws in the past.



  1. Brock:

    "This is unfortunately yet another example of where I am horrified by the actions of people who agree with me."

    Extremely well put!

  2. Jim Collins:

    Personally I have no problem with the Minuteman organization.

    I have read Coyote's opinion on immigration and happen to agree with it. In my opinion the problem lies in the method used to gain entry into the US. Our current laws on immigration may be wrong and need to be overhauled, but at this time they are still the law. Since when are our laws something to be enforced or not enforced at the whim of political expediency. I don't get the option of ignoring a law because I don't like it, neither do you. This issue has nothing to do with race, but it is being made into a racial issue because the majority of the violators are of one race and our politicians are always quick to try to appease, with one exception, the offended race.

    People who are in the US without the proper Immigration status are criminals, plain and simple. No matter what their reasons, race or religion they are criminals. If the laws were changed to allow them to obtain legal status after registration and a background check, I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with being labeled a racist because I favor the laws of my county being enforced.

  3. Brock:

    "I don't get the option of ignoring a law because I don't like it, neither do you."

    Actually, you do. Sometimes, you're Rosa Parks. Sometimes you're Irwin Schiff.

    Immigration to the US is an economic issue. To the people who are crossing the border without going through all the red tape, the return is obviously worth the risk of detection. Calls for greater law enforcement are an attempt to increase the risk relative to the reward. The problem is, just like our failed drug war, any increase in risk automatically increases the reward; any drop in the labor supply rewards labor with higher wages, which restores or strengthens the original risk/return balance. The extra enforcement costs as well as the increased reward come partly from the contractors, farms, and factories where these people work, but mostly from the pockets of consumers of the goods they produce.

    The laws can be (and are) ignored because they are unenforcable. As you said, the answer is to increase throughput of the "official" channels so the labor market is not skewed by a government policy (disregarding minimum wage). That is the ONLY way to make the reward of undocumented entry less than the risk of detection.

    The "racist" label comes from treating immigration as a social issue. The Minutemen are racist (or more properly xenophobic) because they view immigration as purely social, and refuse to acknowledge the economic realities. None of their arguments are consistent with human and property rights.