Reminded of something said by President Erdoğan, President of Turkey
Let’s first clarify that there is no First Amendment right to shout down a speaker. If a governmental actor, such a public university, sides with the heckler by canceling the event or refusing to protect the speaker against use of force, it has failed to uphold the speaker’s free speech rights. In Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992), the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects “[t]hose wishing to express views unpopular with bottle throwers . . . Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.”
The increasing use of the heckler’s veto is distressing considering that the judiciary has been overruling the heckler’s veto since the Civil Rights Movement, when black protestors were frequently arrested for peacefully occupying segregated areas because their acts unnerved and unsettled onlookers. The Court addressed this practice in Brown v. Louisiana (1966), ruling that the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights may not be curtailed merely because “their critics might react with disorder or violence.”
But now that the people being shut down by the heckler’s veto are the Right seeking to reduce the size of government, and not the Left agitating for civil rights, the Left seem perfectly fine with forcibly shutting down speech.
It reminds me of a supposed quote by President Erdoğan:
Erdogan once said that democracy for him is a bus ride. “Once I get to my stop, I’m getting off.” — King Abdullah II of Jordan
For the Left, apparently the protections of free speech is like a bus ride: now that they are at their stop, it’s time to get off.
And it’s time for Fascism to cover the country, in the guise of protecting a weak population from those horrible conservatives.
I’ve heard a number of people on the Left recently argue that “free speech” only protects you against the government interfering with speech–but it does not obligate institutions and governments to pro-actively protect free speech.
Had they made these arguments in the 1960’s, Martin Luther King Jr. would never have been able to give his I Have a Dream speech.