University of Pittsburgh Students Disrupt Pro-Life Conference

We have been discussing how faculty and students are increasingly shutting down speakers or destroying opposing memorialsin the name of free speech. The latest such example is at University of Pittsburgh where abortion activists disrupted a conference on fetal tissue research held by a pro-life group. The university is investigating but apparently no students were stopped or identified at the event by campus security despite their forcing the suspension of the event.

Videos from the November 8 event show 15 to 20 individuals taking over the stage to stop the presentation with banners and loud chanting. They refused to let the event continue as they continued to chant “Working women give them Hell, it is right to rebel!”, “We demand justice!”, and “Abortion is healthcare!” The protesters tore up the speaker’s notes and event programs and ripped the microphone out of the presenter’s hands after she asked them to leave.

Some of the students (like the one who took over the microphone) are clearly shown without masks so it would seem relatively simple to identify some of the organizers.

The university rules state conditions that appear to have been violated:

Students or student groups who engage in an on-campus demonstration must refrain from disrupting the educational process and from infringing upon the rights of other members of the University community…

3. No demonstration shall impede pedestrian and/or vehicular traffic.

4. No demonstration shall block or otherwise interfere with any person’s ability to enter or exit any University property (buildings/patios/plaza/gathering spaces, etc.).

5. No demonstration shall obstruct or disrupt activity related to the University’s educational process, including, but not limited to, activity occurring in classrooms, offices, laboratories or other University facilities or grounds, except as may be permitted under the Event Scheduling Guidelines, which outlines appropriate means to demonstrate during a sponsored event.

…7. Use of sound/voice amplifiers is prohibited inside University owned or operated facilities. Use of sound/voice amplifiers is also prohibited if it disrupts activity related to the University’s educational process.

8. Demonstrators shall not engage in any behavior or activity that causes or threatens to cause physical injury to another person.

We have previously discussed the worrisome signs of a rising generation of censors in the country as leaders and writers embrace censorship and blacklisting. The latest chilling poll was released by 2021 College Free Speech Rankings after questioning a huge body of 37,000 students at 159 top-ranked U.S. colleges and universities. It found that sixty-six percent of college students think shouting down a speaker to stop them from speaking is a legitimate form of free speech.  Another 23 percent believe violence can be used to cancel a speech. That is roughly one out of four supporting violence.

The issue is not engaging in protest against such speakers, but to enter events for the purpose of preventing others from hearing such speakers. Universities create forums for the discussion of a diversity of opinions. Entering a classroom or event to prevent others from speaking is barring free speech. I would feel the same way about preventing such people from protests outside such events. However, the concern is not with outdoor events where all groups can be as loud and cantankerous as their voices will bear. Both sides have free speech rights to express. The issue on campus is the entrance into halls, or classrooms to prevent others from hearing speakers or opposing viewpoints by disputing events.

This has been an issue of contention with some academics who believe that free speech includes the right to silence others.  Berkeley has been the focus of much concern over the use of a heckler’s veto on our campuses as violent protesters have succeeded in silencing speakers, even including a few speakers like an ACLU official.  Both students and some faculty have maintained the position that they have a right to silence those with whom they disagree and even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech.  At another University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.  In the meantime, academics and deans have said that there is no free speech protection for offensive or “disingenuous” speech.  CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek showed how far this trend has gone. When conservative law professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech,”  Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech. (Bilek later cancelled herself and resigned after she made a single analogy to acting like a “slaveholder” as a self-criticism for failing to achieve equity and reparations for black faculty and students). We also  previously discussed the case of Fresno State University Public Health Professor Dr. Gregory Thatcher who recruited students to destroy pro-life messages written on the sidewalks and wrongly told the pro-life students that they had no free speech rights in the matter.

Absent enforcement of school rules on such disruptions, there is little hope for the open exchange of ideas and a diversity of opinions on campus. It can unleash a type of tit-for-tat pattern of retaliation as speakers are prevented from speaking on controversial subjects. Our campuses then become little more than screaming matches. The rules of most schools properly draw the line between protests and disruptions. Everyone is allowed to be heard. However, if you enter to disrupt it, you are disrupting free speech.

131 thoughts on “University of Pittsburgh Students Disrupt Pro-Life Conference”

  1. It is wrong to let people who are wrong about everything run anything, especially a society.
    Our society is too precious to be put in the hands of all and sundry.
    Only people who are right should have any power or influence in society.
    If you want to vote, you have to pass something like a GED test.
    That’s my excellent proposal.

  2. The Constitution should be amended to get rid of the clause against cruel and unusual punishment.
    What criminals do to their victims is cruel and unusual, while they get relatively pampered in prison.

  3. People don’t get shot enough for violating each other’s rights.
    If they did, there would be fewer violations.

    1. Well, you don’t need a Wild West society, if you have codes of laws based in Civics, and you enforce them.

      The perverse side effect of relaxing relatively mild standards in a free society is that some will react by calling for harsher restrictions than the ones that actually worked before. See the reaction to 9/11. Simple measures were ignored, which helped lead to a terror attack. The response was to go overboard with stuff like the Patriot Act and mass surveillance.

      People need to think. A stitch in time saves nine, as it were.

  4. Thanks to liberalism, now we have wild mobs of Hispanic transsexuals looting purses from shopping malls in California.
    This is the “strength” of diversity? It seems more like a weakness.

    1. Planned parent/hood (i.e. her, his Choice) includes over half a million grandmas and grandpas this past year, and over half a million babies, annually, in America alone.

  5. I wonder if Prof Turley is ever going to notice that it’s 90% his “side” that is violating the constitution, the law, other’s rights and is always violating the principles of civic engagement in a liberal society. One wonders how much longer he can pretend that these are exceptions and not the rule? It’s funny to watch him clutch his pearls at this point but still hold his nose and look down at conservatives. There are more than a few folks like him these days and after a while it just looks silly.

      1. Oh, it’s happening, Sweetheart!

        10:45 AM, or whatever, that’s about what time my wife used to start at an American-based, international, commercial jetliner manufacturer, and space and defense contractor, per her “Flex Hours.”

        She’s a baby boomer.

        Life is good for them too!

  6. If my ears are part of my body, and I have corporeal rights, then my right not to hear someone should
    outweigh their right to be heard.

    1. “If my [eyes] are part of my body, and I have corporeal rights, then my right not to [read such tripe] should
      outweigh their right to [to write it].”

  7. Sam asks:

    “So you interpret “dealt with accordingly” as calling for death . . .”?

    I don’t cotton to veiled threats. I have said that if you Trumpists dehumanize us as the “enemy,” and will lie to our faces with utter contempt, I say that you will have no compunction to ultimately kill.

    Consider this lying Trumpist who asked:

    ‘How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?’

    https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2021/10/27/when-do-we-get-use-guns-tpusa-owns-and-others-too/8570812002/

    There were those on 1/6 who wanted to hang Pence as a traitor. Whether it is your intention to physically harm/kill Liberals, there is no doubt you want us to fear the exercise of the full measure of your Second Amendment right.

    1. “There were those on 1/6 who wanted to hang Pence as a traitor.”

      Let us here the names and the proof. Check before presenting that they weren’t the words of a leftist or FBI accomplice.

      1. A probable Whitmer-closet event. Actually, Watergate, less the actual burglary, too. Demos-cracy is aborted at the Twilight fringe.

      1. Silberman will sell the matches and gasoline at a discount and then sit back on his lounge chair saying he is non-violent.

    2. Only Ashli Babbitt was aborted with plausible, not imminent, not probably, and not immediate cause, an invitation withdrawn, the people assembled assaulted, thus forcing a riot (“disorder”), and civil rights denied in progress.

  8. At some point, across the land, discipline will be imposed – voluntarily of success or involuntarily of disaster.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    “YOU GOT TO DRAW A HARD LINE”

    Beer for My Horses
    Toby Keith

    Well a man come on the 6 o’clock news
    Said somebody’s been shot, somebody’s been abused
    Somebody blew up a building, somebody stole a car
    Somebody got away, somebody didn’t get too far yeah
    They didn’t get too far

    Grandpappy told my pappy, back in my day, son
    A man had to answer for the wicked that he done
    Take all the rope in Texas find a tall oak tree,
    Round up all them bad boys hang them high in the street
    For all the people to see

    We got too many gangsters doing dirty deeds
    Too much corruption, and crime in the streets
    It’s time the long arm of the law put a few more in the ground
    Send ’em all to their maker and he’ll settle ’em down
    You can bet he’ll set ’em down

    ‘Cause justice is the one thing you should always find
    You got to saddle up your boys, you got to draw a hard line
    When the gun smoke settles we’ll sing a victory tune
    We’ll all meet back at the local saloon
    And we’ll raise up our glasses against evil forces singing
    Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses

  9. (music)
    I believe in Dog!
    Ummm bumm umm obi
    I believe in Dog!
    Number mummo too.
    I believe in Dog! Dog!
    All ya gotta do …
    Etc

    God spelled backwards is dog

  10. Universities are getting a bad reputation for closed mindedness, censorship, and harassment of conservatives.

  11. “Abortion is healthcare”….that kind of vomit is something akin to what George Orwell would have included in his work “1984”. Let’s rephrase this for the pro abort crowd thusly : “Unborn meat is unequal to born meat”. It is as grotesque as they sound when worded properly.

    1. Even progressives believe that a woman’s right to Choose should be restricted. In some sects to the second trimester, in others to the third, and the modern liberal to the fourth, with the approval of feminists and masculinists alike.

      That said, there is no mystery in sex and conception, a woman and man have four choices: abstention, prevention, adoption, and compassion, and still six weeks. Baby steps.

  12. Like the Antifa / BLM riots, this will continue until it is stopped, with prejudice, if needed. Another example of what happens when good people do nothing.

  13. This just points out how misguided was the Supreme Court ruling in the Westboro Baptist case (Snyder v. Phelps).

    That decision gave organized protestors Constitutional rights to disrupt events. How foolish and elitist of them, knowing that they
    command the right to maintain “order in the Court”.

  14. These censorious children are merely living out what they have been taught and the examples of their elders.

    For over 120 years, Progressives have held that the Constitution is obsolete and should be continuously reinterpreted to serve the fashion of the day. For over 50 years enlightened opinion has been that tolerance requires repression of those whom we think intolerant. For at least that long such opinion has held emotions as more important than facts and logic. I wager the great majority of these children come from liberal homes and communities and K-12 schools.

    They are doing what they were raised and trained to do.

  15. Some years ago, I gave a speech at UC Berkeley, in defense of America. I had to be protected by a phalanx of police officers, from my car, during the speech/q&a, and back to my car. The weeks leading up to the event, in consultation with law enforcement, were like preparing to enter a foreign war zone.

    The “Life of the Mind” is not supposed to be like that.

      1. Jeff, I believe that you might have stated that you are agnostic. But I am aware that you are of Jewish descent. So, Happy Hanukkah!!!

  16. I doubt that you would ever see students from a Christian university looting and setting fires and beating people into silence.

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