‘I don’t know how I maintained my composure’
The City University of New York School of Law is blatantly misrepresenting what happened when its students confronted and heckled a visiting law professor, he told the New York Law Journal.
Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law said those hecklers did indeed take away both his rights and those of students who came to hear him at the Federalist Society chapter-sponsored event.
It wasn’t just a “reasonable exercise of free speech” that Blackman (below) tolerated by engaging with them for eight minutes, as Dean Mary Lu Bilek put it:
Looking back at it, I don’t know how I maintained my composure. It was very distracting. I absolutely lost my focus. I didn’t know what the heck was going on. I didn’t know the students were going to leave after eight or nine minutes. I thought they would be there for the whole hour. Even after they left, I worried that they might come back.
It absolutely disrupted what I wanted to do. I wasn’t able to give the speech I wanted. I didn’t have enough time to give it, or the energy to give it because I had to deal with all these other factors. …
[T]hey actually did interfere with my ability to exercise my rights. Even if it was just for 10 minutes, they succeeded on that front. Only one person can talk at the same time. If I’m trying to talk, and they are shouting over me, I’m not speaking.
He denounced the CUNY Law administrator who gave an initial warning and then “waited several minutes to come in” after they started heckling, saying she should have had the protesters “removed from the room”:
Can you imagine if Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg came on campus and a bunch of pro-life protesters came up to the front of the room with signs saying “Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is Enacting Genocide” and did that for 10 minutes? They’d have the cops on them. I can’t imagine the same reaction with a left-of-center speaker.
He praised law professors who have contacted him for agreeing that his treatment was abhorrent, but said the silence was deafening from CUNY Law faculty and law associations:
I may have been the first to be attacked, but they will come for everyone eventually. If any time a person speaks ideas that are uncomfortable to others, the remedy is to shut them down, no one will be left to speak. The protesters were shaming students for attending. They were shaming students for going to a lecture. What kind of intellectual climate is this where students are afraid of walking into a lecture?
IMAGE: Josh Blackman/Twitter