Carol Platt Liebau: Since When?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Since When?

Here, James Taranto quotes from a letter released by Bob Kerrey, the head of The New School, the institution whose students heckled John McCain so rudely when he delivered the commencement address there.

Amazingly, he defends their behavior. And his statement moves me to wonder: Since when did it become "courageous" simply to interrupt a speaker with whom one disagrees? Why has it become so entirely praiseworthy to express one's opposition to one's ideological adversaries at all times in all places? When was it decided that no one should ever -- as a matter of courtesy, civility and politeness -- have to endure without comment arguments with which one disagrees?

As I've written here several times before, the speaker at my baccalaureate ceremony was Patricia Schroeder, a liberal feminist then-member of Congress. I disagreed with her on just about everything. But interrupting her or disrupting her speech seemed to me to be out of the question -- inappropriate and needlessly insulting.

Giving her the liberty to express her views unimpeded takes nothing from mine. And it's interesting that so many professors -- and college presidents like Kerrey -- are willing to defend behavior that is, at its core, entirely inimical to true freedom of inquiry and open debate.


Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

Sometimes the only way to be heard is to interrupt.

So feel free to interrupt any lefty speaker Carol! You have my permission :)

4:27 PM  
Blogger QuestRepublic said...

Maybe the issue at the New School is not mainly the political orientation of the speaker. Moreover, your comparison with the liberal Pat S. speaking to a more conservative audience than she is not very relevant.

The issue is the war in Iraq. I knew John McCain before he was shot down in Vietnam; back when I was a midshipman at the Naval Academy.

Despite my respect for him, his lack of leadership on Iraq is very troubling. He is one of the few national politicians with a personal history of another time of political deception before the Iraq war and the costs that it bore, that is, in Vietnam.

Please contrast the boorish and clumsy behavior of some college students, who are frustrated by a war that did not need to happen and which has been managed ineptly. Their rude behavior pales compares to the cost in lives and treasure that have been wasted in Iraq.

I can relate to the discomfort of trying to recruit college students to the Navy, while being protested on campus. On most of the "liberal" campus' the administration was able to give us speaking time and still allow the students to protest. We got our recruits to continue our defensive posture against the Soviets and the students acted as one of the noticable forces against what was also, an immoral war.

I see you are for a string defense; me too, a lifelong registered-Republican and 26-year Navy vet. I now work with veterans at a VA Medical Center. Any week I do NOT get new PTSD cases to handle is a GOOD week for me!


4:38 PM  
Blogger One Salient Oversight said...


We may differ on politics, but I wish to commend you on your work with veterans. While they rightly deserve our respect and admiration, many vets carry deep scars that will never heal.

Keep up the good work.

PS - a blogsite from you would be great.

6:06 PM  
Blogger The Flomblog said...

I lived in Pat S's district, BTW. When I had problems with the VA as a student, hr office jumped right in and helped me. She may have been a liberal, but she DID represent her district.

My son, who was involved heavily in politics in high school, got into a few debates with the lady. She always treated him respectfully. She is a Class Lady and that comes from a Republican, who voted for her many times.

7:08 PM  
Blogger wrabkin said...

And yet... right-wing students at a Missouri university not only booed their Democratic congressman when he gave a commencement address, but became so threatening that security had to escort the speaker off campus for fear of his life.

And those right-wing students are never mentioned on this blog.

7:40 AM  
Blogger The Flomblog said...

wrabkin, please state your source?

Thank you

8:54 AM  
Blogger wrabkin said...

Here is Rightwing blogger "Gateway pundit" blathering on about what an inspiring moment it was:

He's got links to local (and also approving) right-wing talk radio on the subject.

10:54 AM  
Blogger The Flomblog said...



We both should agree on this point then,

Oh My G-d. He/She is saying something I might disagree with, I had better stop ANYONE from listening.

Lets ALL quiet down and listen to what the otehr person is saying, without throwing personal insults.

I firmly believe that all censorship is wrong, as long as people will stand behind what they say.

Shouting someone down is just a crude method of censorship.

11:17 AM  
Blogger suek said...

>>Shouting someone down is just a crude method of censorship.>>

I agree with this, but it seems that turning the other cheek is as ineffective with "lefties" as it is with Muslims. The "lefties" are teaching by example. It would be better if authorities in each case would remove those who are disrupting such occasions, but it seems that since they are in agreement, the peace is not enforced. Until the peace is enforced, such activities are likely to become more and more disruptive.

10:36 AM  
Blogger The Flomblog said...


I totally agree. Lets insist on proper decorum and respect in all directions!

3:45 PM  
Blogger Dr Faust said...

Students will always question the stupidity of war and killing. McCain was a wuss unable to handle the situation. He called the students dull minded and his chief of staff called them idiots. McCain proved he could not handle being president.

7:22 PM  

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