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Mob rule at Georgetown U.;update: disruption called “minimal”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 1, 2006 10:46 PM

You ready to see the consequences of Columbia University’s refusal to punish the students who mobbed the stage to stop Minutemen co-founder Jim Gilchrist from speaking?

Well, let me tell you what I’m hearing about Minutemen co-founder Chris Simcox’s attempt to speak at Georgetown University tonight. A tipster just e-mailed:

Chris Simcox from the Minutemen was invited to speak at Georgetown and his speech was cut short (he was about 10 minutes into it) when someone turned on the fire alarm. Of course there were nuts protesting outside as well, shouting and cheering, and when the fire alarm went off, they all cheered. I’m meeting with students to find out exactly what happened. It’s just another Columbia U, but this time pulling the fire alarm was the tactic rather than actual physical violence. Insane. I will keep you posted.

WJLA, a local D.C. station, reported earlier today:

Some Georgetown University students are planning a protest tonight when the founder and president of the Minutemen speaks on campus.

Chris Simcox is scheduled to speak at the university tonight at 7:30 p.m. about “Border Security, Terrorism and Crime.” He’s the head of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, which has engaged in civilian patrols of the US border with Mexico.

The Georgetown group GU Students United Against Racism, Hate and Violence says it recognizes Simcox’s freedom of speech. But they say he shouldn’t be on their campus.

The students say the goals of the Minutemen undermine Georgetown’s identity as an international Catholic university rooted in Jesuit ideologies because they say the Minutemen perpetuate racism.

So nice to see liberal tolerance at work again at our nation’s prestigious institutions of higher learning.

Disagree with a speaker’s ideas?

Throw pies.

Rush the stage.

And now: Pull a fire alarm.

Are they in college–or junior high school?

***

Nothing up yet at The Hoya (Georgetown student newspaper) blog yet, but the editor-in-chief previewed Simcox’s appearance here and here. Another Hoya columnist, outraged at the decision to allow Simcox on campus, offered a warning:

Sensible people can only hope that no one plans to disrupt Simcox’s speech. Several weeks ago, students at Columbia University jumped on a stage and forced the founder of an organization called The Minuteman Project, a group similar to Simcox’s, to leave the building.

That was silencing speech. It made the Minutemen look great and the protestors like baboons. If that happened here, it would be an embarrassment to Georgetown and protestors alike and administrators know that.

***

A Hoya student report characterizes the disruption of Simcox’s speech as “minimal.” Compared to the Columbia debacle, that’s certainly true. But it’s quite a sad state of affairs when a campus can pat itself on the back for keeping speech-stifling disruptions to “only” 20-30 minutes.

Washington Times reports:

Yesterday’s rally, which was organized by the student-run Georgetown University Lecture Fund (GULF), drew dozens of protesters who said the group promotes hatred and violence against Hispanics. They remained outside, but could be heard chanting during Mr. Simcox’s speech.

About 10 minutes into the speech, a fire alarm was set off as a prank, university officials said. Mr. Simcox was not flustered or panicked by the interruption, and he continued his speech several minutes later.

Georgetown undergrad Ryan e-mails writes:

I was present at the Simcox speech tonight. My friend just told me that she had emailed you and you had posted her email. She was actually outside but got the story right. I was passing by around 7:15 when I encountered a decent sized demonstration going on in Red Square, the main demonstration/tabling area on our campus.

There were also quite a few barricades and a strong campus police presence. I recalled instantly that the speech was tonight, so I asked the Lecture Fund people near the door to the speech venue if I could get in. They said it was full, but that I could wait. The speech took place in what is known as Copley Formal Lounge, an oak paneled hall that is on the first floor of the Copley dormitory. Around 5 minutes before it was supposed to start, I was able to get in (I had been second in line). After a warning from the President of the Lecture Fund about the Speech and Expression Policy and what would happen if someone disrupted the speech, Simcox began to speak, focusing primarily on his experience of encountering migrants, drug traffickers, and human traffickers while camping in the desert near the border.

At around 7:42, the fire alarm began going off, and the speech was disrupted. Immediately, the numerous police began scurrying around while everyone else sat still, immediately realizing what had happened. Someone, I presume, must have pulled the alarm from within the dorm, which makes me wonder if they will ever be caught since there are no cameras inside. I had to leave anyhow right after the alarm went off, but as I understand from a friend who stayed to report for GU TV, the speech did not continue and was instead followed by a Q and A session. The protest outside was still going on very loudly, but at least for the 15 minutes of speech I saw, there was no violence or disruption in the lecture hall.

Georgetown has a bit of a history of heckling visiting dignitaries. Paul Wolfowitz came to speak in my freshman year (I am now a senior) and was screamed at by a student. I wrote a opinion piece on that incident (http://www.thehoya.com/viewpoint/120503/view1.cfm) and also a piece on how our pro-life group’s fliers get torn down (http://www.thehoya.com/viewpoint/033004/view3.cfm) These articles deal with Henry Kissinger canceling a speaking engagement at Georgetown because of fear of disruption: http://www.thehoya.com/news/042304/news2.cfm ; http://www.thehoya.com/editorials/042304/edit3.cfm; http://www.thehoya.com/editorials/042704/edit2.cfm. It really is quite alarming the attitude that certain students at this school have about freedom of expression. It is captured best in the section quoted in your blog:

The Georgetown group GU Students United Against Racism, Hate and Violence says it recognizes Simcox’s freedom of speech. But they say he shouldn’t be on their campus.

The students say the goals of the Minutemen undermine Georgetown’s identity as an international Catholic university rooted in Jesuit ideologies because they say the Minutemen perpetuate racism.

This is the QUINTESSENTIAL (illogical) argument of these people. Well, I respect his freedom to speak, just not where I don’t want to hear it. It’s incredibly stifling and frustrating to have to deal with this at what I thought would be an intellectual institution. Furthermore, the hackneyed argument that people at this school use about the Jesuit identity to further leftist social causes and stifle causes that actually have even some remote connection to Catholicism has got to go. People have tried to use Georgetown’s “Jesuit identity” as a reason to allow the sale of contraceptives on campus, to allow funding for a prochoice student group etc. etc.

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