A Tribute to Dr. Dana Cloud of the University of Texas

My dear Dana, you have truly made not only my day and week but quite possibly my month. What boon have you done me you ask? Well I am not quite sure how to put this Doctor Cloud but your over educated and DETERMINEDLY ignorant stance in defense of the indefensible overloads my humour hopper with raw materials for commentary about the silliness of you and all whom you call ally. I know this is rude but you measured the rope and put it around your neck and jumped. I just came along afterward to use your folly to create cautionary tales for those who still can be saved.

Truly, after the easy fun shredding your “rebuke” of David Horowitz, how wondrerful to find a whole blogrole of Radical, Progressive Thought to play in like a sandbox of the illogical.

On to the first victim: one Billie Murray, snickeringly enough considering today’s posts a Doc candidate in Communications Studies, will give us her devastatingly poignant tale of hate speech, violence and censorship….by the Left.

Account of UNC protester on Tancredo visit 4/14April 21, 2009
The letter was written by Billie Murray, Ph.D. Candidate at UNC Chapel Hill. H

April 16, 2009

Dear Chancellor Thorp:

I want to express my concerns over the events of April 14, 2009. Currently, I am a Doctoral Candidate and Teaching Fellow in the Department of Communication Studies specializing in the rhetoric of social protest.

Specializing in what again? A specialist in the rhetoric of protest? Is that the same as Guru of Spin? Yes? O.K. lets move on then.

I have been a part of the UNC system for 6 years and a student and member of the UNC-Chapel Hill community for over 4 years. During that time I have witnessed some of UNC’s proudest, shining moments and consider those less shining to be opportunities for growth and progress. As a member of this community, a first-hand witness to the protest events on April 14th, and as a scholar of free speech issues, (GDeW) A scholar of Free Speech that does not appear to know free speech LAW) I believe it is my responsibility to address what I see as precisely one of those opportunities.

Billie knows what is good, and what is bad, and will now lay down the law as to what the chancellor SHOULD be thinking. Billie must have a thought police badge, that or delusions of relevance.

In the days leading up to April 14th, I reviewed a number of emails, websites and other literature about the Youth for Western Civilization, Tom Tancredo, and proposed responses to his presence and the presence of the YWC chapter on campus. I attended the event on the 14th as a researcher of social protest and free speech and to stand in solidarity with those students who felt threatened by the presence of the YWC and Mr. Tancredo in our community.

As far as I can tell this means Billie went there mainly to study the effectiveness of the protest tactics while taking part in said protest.

During the protest, I watched as some of my students were roughly pushed to the ground by police officers, sprayed withpepper spray, and threatened with a taser.

Billie doesn’t mention until later that these students were loudly doing their best to disrupt the speech when the police did these things in an attempt to get the overgrown children to obey the law and the customs of all decent adults on the Right as well as the those on the Left.

I helped some students to the bathroom on the second floor of Bingham Hall to rinse the spray from their noses, mouths, and eyes. Needless to say I was afraid for their safety and my own.

Well when you break the law, violently disrespect your university and the guest speaking, and won’t back down until the police threaten to taser you, then YES Virginia, you SHOULD feel you have led them into an unsafe venture. That twinge you felt was maturity trying to be born.

The Students for a Democratic Society released a statement today detailing a side of this story that has been absent from police accounts, the Daily Tar Heel, and other mainstream media sources. In the interests of free speech, that side of the story deserves to be heard, and I encourage you to hear their voices.

That side has been missing to this point because it is so self serving and inane that no one with sense has brought it up til now. Thank you for correcting our oversight Billie!

I can’t say I wasn’t warned that something violent might occur at this event. A faculty member in my department who researches hate speech sent out an email requesting that anyone deciding to take part in the protest use caution because demonstrations against hate groups can increase the likelihood of violence. I suppose I should have known from my own extensive experience and research that this violence most often comes not from protestors(sic), but from the “protectors” of free speech. It seems only Mr. Tancredo’s free speech rights and safety were of concern on Tuesday, not the free speech rights and safety of your own students. The apology issued to Mr. Tancredo on the grounds that he felt threatened and was unable to be heard was out of place. An apology should be issued to those students who feel threatened by the presence of the YWC and Mr. Tancredo and the violent silencing of their own voices at the hands of police officers.

Let me be short and sweet Billie, free speech is what you disrupted, you never had YOUR turn at the podium, and you prevented the dissenters with real questions from being heard.

Go reserve your own space and say what you will. That is free speech. Making sure an opinion you don’t agree with is not heard at all is simple censorship no matter who does it.

I am afraid you suffer from the arrogance of self assurance, You feel that you are so “right” that you can do no wrong in defense of it. If I were your chancellor I would assign you several semesters of remedial history to learn the many examples of why that is a bad idea.

Other arguments have surfaced since the events that a cursory review of the history of protest would reveal as commonplace. For example, protests just give those protested against the publicity they crave, and there are better ways to deal with these groups. But I ask you, what are these better ways? In your notice to students you suggest that: “There’s a way to protest that respects free speech and allows people with opposing views to be heard. Here that’s often meant that groups protesting a speaker have displayed signs or banners, silently expressing their opinions while the speaker had his or her say.”

And this is bad to you? You get the hives if someone you don’t like actually gets to have their say? How fascist is that?

While I might agree that sometimes silence can be golden, Alice Walker reminds us that “no person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”

This demand for silence also reveals a misunderstanding about one of the main goals of protest, both historically and in the current moment, to disrupt. Protestors(sic) often seek to disrupt our comfort zones in order to bring light to injustices. Silence is not disruptive. Disruption requires volume, and they were loud. Yes, a window was broken. But there seems to be more concern over this small piece of damaged property than over the overreaction of police in spraying and threatening bodily harm to the students.

Silly Me! Here I thought legitimate protest was about communicating to the public urgent information. But all along it was supposed to be about disrupting legitimate speech in order to obtain political hegemony by intimidation and provocation. I feel SO STUPID. Or maybe it is Billie who is misunderstanding things?

Threats of criminal and Honor Court charges against the students who exercised their free speech rights is indicative of how effectively they embodied their power to express themselves and protect their community from the silencing effect of hate speech.

You mean the scheduled speech of a peaceful group was violently disrupted by illegal protest designed to stifle free expression, and the perpetrators then turned around and claimed victim status for not being held up as heroes for violating the civil rights of people with opinions of which they disapprove? That IS what you are saying, isn’t it Billie?

We often lament the lack of involvement of young people in politics and issues of importance. But how quick we have been to encourage their silence, demonize their expressions, chill their participation, and discipline and punish them when they have any real effect.

I would have hoped you would have noticed, at your advanced age, but adults tend to get down on children whenever they try to ape adult activities but do not understand reality and break laws and ,and begin to hurt people and property. They especially do not like children causing such chaos and then blaming the adults. In a nutshell – if you and your friends would stop behaving like asses and you would find that your opportunities for effective public discourse will expand exponentially.

Some have argued that it is not entirely clear that YWC or Mr. Tancredo are/were engaging in hate speech. Your own comments refer to his talk as being about “immigration.” However, a review of Mr. Tancredo’s past speeches and YWC literature makes it quite clear that a rhetoric of “anti-immigration” is being used to thinly disguise intolerance, racism, fear, and attacks on the cultural identities of people of color who should “assimilate” into Western Culture.

Why should any culture allow people who CHOOSE to come to their land, but refuse to follow the laws of the new culture, to demand a rightto create an indigestible foreign body in that culture? Do you similarly defend the rights of Americans to move to Saudi Arabia and vent their spleens all over the law because the law is misogynistic and homophobic? No? WHY THE HELL NOT?

It is quite clear that whatever hidden agendas might, or might not, be held by YWC, our dear Billie has no more to go on than her own desire to believe that their message is invalid and void of meaningful content. And “Our Local Radical” feels this is sufficient to raise dramatically the bar on banning disruptive protests.

As purveyors of higher education, we have a responsibility to our students to be more critical and discerning and to teach them to be more critical and discerning about the rhetoric to which they are exposed.

Shocking isn’t it? But I guess you have to be allowed to have your say in an open forum too, despite your self-serving lunacy. That is called free speech. If your view was valid, anyone who honestly FELT that YOUR message was hateful, not a hard argument to make, could rightly disrupt YOUR efforts to make yourself heard in an open forum. Can you spell hypocrisy? Knew you could.

You don’t need to be a rhetorical scholar to see the insidiousness of this rhetoric. Hate speech (or if you prefer to err on the side of simple racist rhetoric) does not promote social justice or any other democratic values. Hate speech silences free speech by humiliating, denigrating, instilling fear, and inciting violence.

We still have to establish that the goal of the group and speaker were to make hateful speeches with no practical content. All we have is YOUR feelings that their message is somehow so evil that to even hear it would taint the tender minds of “your” students and so constitute “hate speech“.

It has been argued in the past couple of days that supporters of free speech should be tolerant of all speech.

Yes, it has, by the bloody U.S. Supreme court, in accordance with decades and decades of concurring opinions.

While I am of the view that as a democratic society we must be tolerant of dissenting views, in no way does this mean that all speech promotes democratic ends or should be tolerated. Put simply, some stories are better than others.

Why not just come right out and say “Free speech is for Me, not for Thee”, sign your PC-Nazi, Party card and be done with it. Do you really think your chancellor will be impressed by your stunning “logic” and arrogantly ignorant attitude of moral superiority?

The litmus test for these “better stories” include those that promote tolerance, acceptance, social justice, equality, and yes, free speech. The rhetoric espoused by YWC and Mr. Tancredo does not promote tolerance of difference and silences those who are “different.”

We only can allow “free speech” that promotes tolerance? What about speech about intolerant people like racists and thugs and dictators? What about speech that condemns hateful speech? My dear Billie YOU are guilty of promoting an intolerant attitude toward this group and this speaker! Should YOU be suppressed in your ideal world? You created the incident, you created the only hate speech to be heard that day, and you now want to be lionized for all your efforts to “enlighten” the poor ignorant administration and petted over as a victim in a crises that you yourself precipitated in all its glorious fascist glamour.

Why then should we be tolerant of a rhetoric that in no way promotes the goals of a democracy and that creates a culture of fear and hate? Hate speech silences free speech.

1) Who told YOU what these mysterious new goals of “a democracy” were, and assigned you as the gatekeeper against the expression of any ideas contrary to those goals? I thought that was for the democracy to decide on its own.

2) You are the one who seems to hate and fear the message they bring. Could it be that YOU are the one that needs to open your mind?

3) Your hate speech did indeed silence free speech, including that of DECENT members of your own general ideology. Aren’t you PROUD of yourself? Someone noticed you.

Mr. Tancredois a former Congressperson and Presidential candidate. Therefore, he is someone with a great deal of political power, who has had many and will continue to have many opportunities to have his voice heard. I do not lament his speech being disrupted in this particular instance.

Well, it seems Billie feels that Mr. Tancredo has had more of a platform than Billie feels he should be allowed. According to her inbred sense of “truth” it is evident that God Almighty wants Billie to rein in Mr. Tancredo’s arrogant and hateful activities until such time as the LEFT has had an opportunity to counter program any potential audiences.

What I do lament is that the students who attended Mr. Tancredo’s speech with the goal of engaging in dialogue or debate with him, did not get the opportunity to have their voices heard. Their voices are too often silenced it seems.

Yes Billie, your group’s protest silenced the voices of citizens, not The School or the student group or the speaker or the police; you.

However, it is my understanding that the groups who organized the protest have since been in conversation with these students to apologize and find productive ways to work in solidarity so as to avoid a similar clash of communication strategies in the future.

You call tactics to disallow a group’s ability to communicate at all a “communication strategy”? Do you consider the death penalty to be a rehabilitative measure?

But as a teacher of communication, (Sniggering laugh, Dr. Pepper in nose, wet keyboard; sorry, could NOT help it) I would say to those students desiring dialogue, I admire your resolve.

However Billie plans to thwart it if possible so nya nya nya!

However, to have a truly productive dialogue with someone holding contrary views, all must come to the table willing to respect the diversity of others, trust in their goodwill, and prepared to be honest and open-minded. I do not believe that given the opportunity to dialogue with Mr. Tancredo or members of the YWC, you would have found these conditions to be present.

Well that is for sure; you have demonstrated that you have no respect for this group, you have no trust for their stated, declare yourself to be untrustworthy (for righteous you claim) yourself, AND you have a closed mind & are proud of it.  As to your honesty, well anyone who commits a crime both legal, and then claims that it was a moral necessity forced on them by the opposition has a bit to learn about the subject.

In closing, I would like to ask you, Chancellor Thorp, to use this moment as an opportunity to truly hear your students’ diverse voices when they say to you that they will not be silent when racism threatens their community. Use this opportunity to forge a dialogue among students, faculty, staff, and university police so as to have more productive, peaceful interactions in the future that protect our students and their rights.

Yes chancellor Thorp, let your students know that unless they respect the universal rules of civil discourse they will be censured, and then if they persist in their brown shirt tactics, expelled as incorrigible troublemakers unable to “play nice with others”.

Respectfully,
Billie Murray

Dear little Billie,  just what was respectful about that diatribe?

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