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U. Maryland president: Pro-Palestinian protesters shouting down lawmaker is ‘free speech’
Rep. Jamie Raskin, pro-Palestinian protests

University ends Democrat politician’s lecture early after repeated interruptions

University of Maryland President Darryll Pines defended pro-Palestinian protesters who shouted down a Democrat congressman while he was giving a guest lecture about democracy on campus.

Pines ended U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin’s talk early due to repeated interruptions; later, he described the protesters’ actions as “free speech,” according to the Maryland Reporter.

“What you saw play out actually was democracy and free speech and academic freedom,” Pines told the news outlet. “From our perspective as a university, there are the difficult conversations that we should be having.”

The university president also said the protesters should have been more civil.

Raskin, a Jewish Democrat who represents Maryland in Congress, was invited to give the Irving and Renee Milchberg Endowed Lecture on Thursday at the public university. His talk was titled “Democracy, Autocracy and the Threat to Reason in the 21st Century.”

The Maryland Reporter reports:

His remarks were interrupted just a few minutes later by pro-Palestinian protesters shouting that Raskin is was “complicit in genocide.” In response, Raskin said that he wished the protesters had engaged in a conversation with him, rather than “heckling.”

Raskin emphasized that he has taken a strong position on returning the hostages held by Hamas, has advocated a military ceasefire, and has championed a two-state solution. As he attempted to continue his lecture, protesters continued interrupting and shouting. Various protesters questioned Raskin’s actions since the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

“We need a new peace movement too, if you are the representatives of it,” Raskin said. “Because you’re not engaging in real dialogue with people and you’re not convincing anybody.”

Later, Raskin stopped his speech and welcomed questions instead, but the interruptions continued and administrators eventually shut down the event, according to the report.

Afterward, Raskin told the news outlet he believes “drowning out” a speaker is “totally antithetical to the spirit of free expression.”

Others criticized the university president for defending the protesters’ actions, including Nico Perrino, executive vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

“What you saw play out was mob censorship. It was a bastardization of free speech and the antithesis of democracy,” Perrino wrote on X. “These shout-downs happen far too often on college campuses — and with the approval of college administrators.”

Yale University Professor Nicholas Christakis agreed, writing on X: “Yet again: Preventing others from being heard is not free speech. Protest is fine. But not if it prevents others on a campus from hearing a speaker they want to hear.”

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IMAGE: MCPS for Palestine/Instagram

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.