New Mexico Students Shutdown Conservative Speaker in Latest Attack on Free Speech

We have another anti-free speech incident involving liberal protesters shutting down an event. Fox News pundit Tomi Lahren was cancelled at the University of New Mexico by students who refused to let others hear her remarks.  There is, however, a major (and hopeful) difference in this incident: the school is actually pledging to hold the students accountable. Some of us have called for such action for years to quell the anti-free speech movement sweeping across campuses.Groups organized on social media by posting an image which read “F**K WHITE SUPREMACY — Rally Against Tomi Lahren’s Speech at UNM — We Won’t Allow Racist Rhetoric to be Spread on Our Campus Unopposed.” The result was pandemonium as students entered the auditorium chanting “F**k Tomi Lahren” while others banged on the door. The threats led to Lahren, her father and a Turning Point USA representative having to lock themselves in a “back room” until local police arrived to support the campus cops already on scene.

The students celebrated their shutting down the free speech of others.

Fox News reported that “the University of New Mexico insists students will be held accountable for their actions” and added

“The safety of our campus community and visitors is our first priority. We are deeply disappointed in the actions of those individuals who intentionally chose to disrupt a scheduled speaker and infringed upon the rights of the speaker and those who attended the event to listen and engage, vandalized University property and unlawfully pulled a fire alarm. UNM is investigating these incidents and will hold anyone who violated the law or University policies accountable.”

If the university fulfills its promise, it will be a rare example of such accountability. Universities often mouth support for a diversity of viewpoints while not taking actions to discipline those who deny the free speech of others. That is a common pattern in schools ranging from Yale to Northwestern to Georgetown.  Blocking others from speaking is not the exercise of free speech. It is the very antithesis of free speech. Nevertheless, faculty have supported such claims. 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).

The most chilling aspect of this story is how many on the left applaud such censorship. A prior poll shows roughly half of the public supporting not just corporate censorship but government censorship of anything deemed “misinformation.” We discussed this issue with regard to a lawsuit against SUNY. It is also discussed in my law review article, Jonathan Turley, Harm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

We have seen how in universities (including state schools) this can turn into a type of “heckler’s veto” where speeches are cancelled in advance or terminated suddenly due to the disruption of protesters. 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.

The University of New Mexico can defend diversity of viewpoints by holding these students accountable. Those who entered the event to disrupt it (or engaged in threatening conduct) should be reprimanded, suspended or expelled depending on the gravity of their conduct. We are at a critical point in higher education where we must either fight to preserve free speech or yield to a mob-led orthodoxy on our campuses.


170 thoughts on “New Mexico Students Shutdown Conservative Speaker in Latest Attack on Free Speech”

  1. We have our very own heckler’s veto on this wonderful site in one particular Anonymous jerk. This one particular Anonymous (I know there are multiple people that fail to create a name and go by Anonymous) posts 100s of times a day, literally 100s of times a day on each and every story and frankly he is marring the comments section. Everyone wants to give an opinion or two, everyone wants to reply to others and even rebut a few comebacks, but what this guy does in frankly nuts and oppressive.

    I am NOT calling for this fool to be banned, that is a lefty construct, but I will ask (beg) everyone else to NOT use the name Anonymous in order that we can more easily ignore the one jerk. Come on folks, make up a name, it’s easy and can be fun. My name, Hullbobby, is a take on my childhood idol, the Golden Jet of hockey fame. Please folks, make up a name, drop the Anonymous moniker so we can shun the one jerk that ruins the section.

    1. The Anonymous who comments most often is the guy who also posts as S Meyer. Good luck convincing him to give up his anonymous comments.

    2. Hullbobby, take note of Jonathan’s statement below. Do you think he goofed forgetting the Anonymous ATS account and using the Johnathan account instead? If I am correct this icon and name are new or at least very infrequent but the comment he made is one he repeatedly makes as ATS.

      I’ll quote the comment:

      “The Anonymous who comments most often is the guy who also posts as S Meyer. Good luck convincing him to give up his anonymous comments.”

  2. There is only a fine line that separates the groupthink behavior of the activists who seek to disrupt any person who dares challenge a “narrative” and Jim Jones. Those who thoughtlessly follow in this dynamic also risk (hopefully not so dramatically) the same fate of the victims of the Jonestown massacre. It won’t end well.

    If a narrative has substance then it should be put into the arena of debate and see if it stands. It is imperative to challenge those in power. To challenge the implied truth. Make them stand on substance and defend their position. Instead, they have taken to the community tyrannical methods of cancelation, shushing, punishment to those who speak out.

    Thomas Sowell was asked what made him dramatically change his once favorable views of Marxism. He replied, “Facts.”

    What are they afraid of? Facts. Facts threaten them. If my father were still alive, he would tell the students, “Engage your brain!”

    1. My father went a little further, “Engage your brain before you engage your mouth,” or as Abe Lincoln said, “Better to be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”

  3. Civil War is coming they’re not going to make it.

    They are brainwashed and indoctrinated with Marist revolutionary nonsense.

    Their revolution is doomed to fail. 700 million guns.

    The 2nd Amendment will be the remedy.

  4. “We kicked @TomiLahren out of @UNM campus and it took less than an hour of disruption. It’s our duty to” be good little Brown Shirts. Is the DHS hiring?

  5. This is the left today,
    Romans 1:28-31

    28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

  6. The road to correction here will be slow but is obvious: remove the students who are disruptive and arrest them if they are not compliant. If they are convicted or plead guilty, expel them and refund their money. The problem is that the administrations are unwilling to treat these spoiled brats the way they deserve to be treated.

    1. Quiet Conservative – “refund their money.”

      It’s our money! These fleas suck the life blood from the working middle class. Didn’t the Democrats just make us pickup the tab on last group of malcontents?

  7. There are no such things as public schools, educational institutions, colleges, or universities. These have virtually all been transitioned to become Leftist Indoctrination Entities (also known by the acronym “LIEs”). Eventually, as the indoctrination process of the LIEs is completed, there will be no free thinking individuals or free speech or liberty. There will only be the views of the Authoritarian Global One-World Government. You can see the results of the LIEs, as they churn out endless, mindless dupes and drones who cheer on the destruction of American values. Many of them appear on this message board. And they are growing in ever larger numbers. That’s what happens when cancers are fed and unopposed.

    1. JFeldman,
      I think we are seeing the backlash to LIEs and the wokeism in public schools. More and more people are turning to homeschooling.
      I think we will also see more colleges form, filling in a need for high education that reject woekism and focus on actual academics, STEM, free speech. Those graduates will be the ones hired by companies. Not their woke counterparts who will continue their careers as baristas.

      1. The wokeism attempting to infiltrate public schools, in my estimation, is not coming from school boards or even the teachers for the most part. It’s coming from administration and even the school board associations or other state/federal level expectations.

    2. JFeldman,
      “There are no such things as public schools, educational institutions, colleges, or universities. These have virtually all been transitioned to become” corporate training grounds”

      We already know what your future will be–drones in the corporate world, so mouth what we expect, do the work we expect of you, and everything will be awesome. No need to know anything or be able to think beyond what we, the elite with our minions of “thought leaders”, induce you to think. You have no need to since you won’t (don’t?) get to make any governance decisions anyway; we, the corporate Eelite here and abroad, have quietly subverted meaningful self-governance, too.

      Everything is AWESOME!!!!!

    3. “and they are growing in ever larger numbers”

      What is with “ever”? This sort of phrasing is all over the place. That, or endless this or endless that. It is creeping into our linguistic habits (I don’t mean to emphasize just your use of it, JFeldman–many others are habitually using it, too, in speech, on products, in marketing…).

      Are we in the Infinity Wars????

  8. There is nothing surprising about the turn of events at Colleges like UNM. These students have been well taught by their totalitarian professors who disdain freedom of thought. The students are thugs in training and I suspect unless there are drastic reforms in the educational system we are on a trajectory to major civil strife and bloody conflict. This will not end well.

  9. If the University was truly serious about this event, they would have had the police out in force prior to the event with people ready to takes plenty of pictures and videos to use as evidence for the expulsion of the participating speech interrupters. The police already being on hand could have removed the interrupters so that the speech could have been finished. This was not a protest, but a plan and act to deny other citizens their use of free speech. I predict we will hear nothing because no actions will be taken. The University’s statement was simply pro forma.
    University’s consistently don’t plan for for these events, get no extra police ready, allow the interruption to take place and then cancel the speech because of “safety concerns” over the disturbance and then pledge to take action later after the event has already been lost. It’s like Kabuki theater with a highly stylized steps and costumes and the predictable outcome

  10. Today’s college students don’t know just how much they don’t know — and they’re too ignorant to understand how much college education in the US has deteriorated. They think that being accepted into a good college is the goal, and the rest they can buy. What they’re actually learning is thuggery. These bully tactics should be recognized for what they are — and there once was a time when parents fought against bullying. In a mob these intellectual lightweights feel powerful, but take them one at a time and they’ll crumple like a cheap suit, because not a single one of them could stand for long in a real debate with the Right. And that’s the real issue: the incompetence of the Left to actually argue their positions instead of cramming them down people’s throats. But how can one possibly argue for censorship, skin-color essentialism, gender confusion, mutilation of children, or any of the other unconstitutional and perverse “causes” of today’s unhinged liberals.

    1. Can you imagine having some of these people as employees or co-workers?
      Read a poll where 30% thought they should be allowed to bring their “activism” to work.

    2. “Today’s college students don’t know just how much they don’t know — and they’re too ignorant to understand how much college education in the US has deteriorated. They think that being accepted into a good college is the goal, and the rest they can buy.”

      This applies to too many adults, as well. To many adults don’t know just how much they don’t know. Once upon a time, that was a mark of being well-educated, and, better-yet, wise–being knowledgeable whilst also being aware of the vast expanse of your ignorance (and then also being inclined towards remedying that ignorance).

  11. To wokeist, the only acceptable speech is their speech. All other speech is racist or white supremacy.
    This is the party of tolerance. Looks more like the party of Mao.
    Given enough time, they will make the 2020 Summer of Love, fiery but mostly peaceful protests look like a picnic.

    1. Blame Nation At Risk, NCLB, Race to the Top, Common Core, and any other initiative designed to shoehorn education into a narrow “testable” mold so only what matters to statists or corporatists gets “measured”.

    1. Aka “Black racism”. If not for double standards, the disingenuous hypocrites of the Left (but I repeat myself) would have NO standards at all.

  12. Do independents want a constitutional republic, or do they want to be ruled by a bunch of gaslighting, sanctimonious hypocrites who can’t handle the truth?

    The Democrats claim they are “defending democracy,” but Hunter Biden and violent criminals are roaming free for documentable crimes while Democrats pursue non-stop investigations of an opposition president over dubious allegations even though he left office almost two years ago. Industrial-scale censorship is a constant fact of life in America now and it ain’t Republicans doing it. How does all this rate as “defending democracy?”

    These aren’t hypothetical questions anymore. They’re fair questions, given who is actually holding office right now. It’s just a question of how bad voters are willing to let it get before they lose control of events.

    The Democrat response is always a list of hypothetical horrors like Trump could become Hitler or voter ID might prevent votes or the GOP is gerrymandering. Trump left office, the Democrats gerrymander like crazy, and voter ID helps avoid civil conflicts over stolen elections (and that’s a pretty darn-good trade-off to most voters.)

    Democrats can’t handle the truth, so they cancel people and call it “defending democracy.” Please, vote these bums out!

  13. Rabble who get through college based on minority status and threats. When they finally leave in 5 or 6 years unable to get work as basket weavers they demand their loans be forgiven.

  14. Wow. Both of my brothers attended UNM and I used to have a good friend in admin there, and frankly, I’m stunned they are leading in anything. Given that, I have to say, ‘Yes, this is a positive sign.’. Bravo.

    1. Progressives? Truly a misnomer. Please…..try “regressive troglodytes” for a much better description!

  15. Unfortunately conduct should only be punished if one has views that differ from the accepted narrative.

  16. I’ll say it again.

    The left is on the wrong side of facts.
    They can only attempt to silence the truth. Frustration leads to violence. We know from the summer of love 2020 the left encourages violence and those that commit violence. The Current VP said before she was selected, that the violence would not stop after the election, nor should it stop.

    1. Iowan, you are right on the money. If you are on the right side of an issue you have no need to shut down opposing viewpoints. The media and the Dems try to push the lie that the Republicans are out of the mainstream, but it is the left that will not debate. Hochul, Fetterman and many others will not debate because they cannot win if the public sees their actual priorities.

      Colleges are now poison to the bloodstream of American policy and life in general. We have have the poisoning of the body politic and it is killing large swarths of our land. Name a big city that is now livable to anyone in the middle class. NYC, SF, LA, Baltimore, STL, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, etc etc, Boston hangs on but as we get new mayors and a Dem governor it will slowly go downhill as well.

      Proof of the destruction of society that is unstoppable is the “bail reform” movement. We see the damage in NYC and Chicago and daily so what happens next? The entire state of IL decides to follow suit and enact all of these insane laws. Now if a cop sees a serious crime and the perp takes off in a car the cops can’t pursue them!!!! ALso, if instead of prison a guy gets a ankle monitor the cops cannot go after the guy for leaving the jurisdiction FOR FORTY EIGHT HOURS! Think about that.

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