Some people don’t understand free speech

Or how universities work. If they did, they’d see that this short video illustrates a perfectly normal, routine event. Someone asks to make an announcement in an MIT math class, waits politely for the professor to let them go, and then leads students in a chant as they march out of the classroom.

Oh yeah? So?

I’ve had students ask to announce an anti-abortion talk in my class. I am ferociously against that idea, but I let her speak…then I continued on.

I’ve had a student raise a hand in class in order to inform us all that there was a talk by a creationist in a local church that night. Fine. I wasn’t able to go to that one, but I’m sure it was entertaining.

I had students announce a protest march against the Iraq war…oh, wait, I agreed with that, and joined the march that afternoon.

I’ve had advocates for climate change protests, BLM, conservation, vegetarianism, gay & trans rights, etc. take a moment to make announcements in class. It’s fine.

I can’t emphasize enough how totally unremarkable this sort of thing is. Our students have diverse views, we’re at a goddamn university, and we encourage students to be aware, to be activists, to express themselves. What I see in that video is a tolerant professor giving a minute of time to let students voice their opposition to an ongoing violent political event, and they then left to protest.

And now assholes are showing that short clip and announcing that “wokeness” has gone too far, that anyone they disagree with is abusing free speech. I am unimpressed. I take that back — I am disgusted.


  1. microraptor says

    I’m pretty sure they said the same thing back when college students were being gunned down by the National Guard for protesting the Vietnam War.

  2. wzrd1 says

    Free speech within the Fascist States of America shall only consist on what is pre-approved of by the god carrying the machine gun nuke launcher.
    Votes shall only consist of pre-approved ballots, selected by the god-emperor.
    It’s expressly stated in the constitution, as expressed in secret by the god-emperor.

    Who has already stated he’s going to run yet again after taking office again and if someone does better in the polls, will be arrested and charged with imaginary crimes.
    I wish I was joking, but alas, I’m not. The fascists took a while longer than expected, but they won WWII.

    (In the background, “Springtime for Hitler and Germany” from “The Producers” merrily playing in the background…)

  3. says

    Better woke than comatose.

    Better woke than unaware, shuffling through the days leading up to some English-only-spoken-here version of “Dienst ist Dienst” (one must remember that as horrible as that context was, it wasn’t just about Jews). And disco.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    I’ve had students ask … I let her speak…

    I’ve known persons-identified-as-female to take on plural pronouns, but not (until now) vice-versa.

    This 21st-century stuff gets confusinger every day.

  5. says

    @3 wzrd1 is not subtle, but his and the other comments here are all quite pertinent. I am a proponent of free speech, even when it says something with which I disagree. It is best if it is in a well attended open public forum and rational, not purely emotional. But, Kent State (and some more recent atrocities) make that rather impossible.

  6. nomdeplume says

    Clear from the start that in the nonsense about “woke” and “cancel culture” that the Right were determined to stamp out any non-Right Wing iews in western society. And with the help of the media, who have uncritically adopted these memes, it is happening.

  7. indianajones says

    What got me about it was how it was actually the right type of protest accoreding to qay anti-protest type of person I have ever heard of. They got permission, and when given conditions, stuck by them. They were other wise quiet and polite. They didn’t disrupt any functions of society where they were protesting. They didn’t even swear./ And yet all the usual suspects are tut tutting.

    No wonder protestors often break windows and burn shit. If ya gonna cop the grief anyway,why not break windows, burn shit and generally make life unpleasant for the oppressors?

  8. John Morales says

    “I’m disgusted too. But not, I suspect, for the same reasons you are.”

    Given PZ has written this very post and specifically expounded on the basis for his concluding phrase and you’re read the post, and given that you presumably know your own reasons for your purported disgust, and given that you are not an idiot, you perforce must know exactly that your reasons are not the same. No suspicion can exist without all three premises being false.

    So, disingenuous, with all the implications that entails.
    Subtle, not-so-much.

    Anyway, I have no doubt your suspicion is very well-founded.
    And at least you share PZ’s reaction to the event, so that right there is literal condolence.

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