Free speech on campus and maintaining order
In order for free speech to exist, those in authority must not be allowed to engage in content-based censorship. But that is not the only important element to maintaining the free exchange of ideas. Those in authority should not allow censorship by mob rule. Even when universities are not trampling free speech with abominations such as "speech codes" they too often allow free speech to be snuffed out with a "heckler's veto."
Mona Charen shares an example of this, with an unruly mob shouting down New York City's police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, during a lecture at Brown University. Authorities at Brown pleaded with the mob to contain themselves, but did not do what was necessary for free speech to take place.
The episode is shameful. It makes the administration look weak and pathetic, unable to contain an angry mob. By not enforcing order, the administration is just as guilty of censorship as the unruly mob who showed great disrespect to Mr. Kelly and law enforcement. It should have been stopped.
Locally, Indiana University has done a much better job at maintaining order. The police removed disruptive audience members at Ann Coulter's speech in February 2006, though campus authorities could have been more aggressive in maintaining order. The response was much improved a half-dozen years later at Doug Wilson's speech in Ballentine Hall, with campus police quickly removing disruptive students.
I strongly disagree with the "stop and frisk" policy by New York City's Nanny-In-Chief, Michael Bloomberg. It unnecessarily targets law-abiding black men for what can only be described as harassment. It is just one more example of the authoritarian streak that Bloomberg has demonstrated time and time again in office. But if we want to oppose this wrong-headed policy, we need to do so in a civil and intellectual manner, not by shouting down opponents. The unruly mob at Brown did no favors for the cause.