By now most of you probably have seen thispathetic (but still pretty funny) video of the young man from the University of Florida who rambled on and disrupted the illustrious Senator, John Kerry during a speaking engagement on Monday. Since then, the student and the video have been the butt of many a talk show host’s joke--and some say this may have been his intent all along.
Whatever may be the facts in this case--whether he planned to get on TV or whether he actually was disturbed by conspiracy theories regarding John Kerry’s membership in that "evil" organization for world domination, Skull and Bones, I don’t know. But his behavior and that of Code Pink at last week’s hearings with Petraus--aside from being great comic relief--tell us something important about the left. They point to a kind of childish petulance in them.
Forget all the arguments about "free speech"--who was denying this young gentleman the freedom to talk? He asked many questions--and in a most rude and irritating way. He was tolerated far too long. The audience is clapping in the video--not because they like him or his questions--but because someone is finally doing something to shut him up. His line of questioning was going no where and it was time for him to sit down and yield the floor to someone else. When someone has been invited to speak, as was John Kerry, the members of the audience do not have the freedom to shout him down and deprive the rest of those present the opportunity of hearing him speak. Only the left could imagine such a right. One may, of course, say whatever he likes about the speech on his own time. But the freedom of speech surely does not guarantee one the right to an audience.
But this is to be expected from a generation raised by children of the 60s. When we learned about the freedom of speech, it was always in the context of those protest marches of our parents. We were not taught anything about civil and enlightened discourse--rather it was always about marching around shouting with signs and looking menacing. That’s what I remember from every textbook I ever encountered on the "freedom of speech" question. It was either that or porn.
I remember well my freshman year in college and my first, last, and only experience with protesting. I joined the College Republicans (that’s probably shocking, I know) and a group of freshmen members were
suckered, I mean recruited to go and protest outside of the local office of the district’s Democratic Congressman about proposed tax increases. Being young and inexperienced, I thought this was what politics was all about so I was eager to join the effort. The handful of us spent several hours diligently working on signs and slogans. We marched down to the office (since none of us had cars--this took awhile) and we stood outside of the office holding signs and encouraging passing cars to "honk" if they didn’t want their taxes raised. Of course, most people "honked"--but what else came of it? Eventually, a staff person for this Congressman approached our band of protesters and began peppering us with questions. He cited facts and figures, statistics, and quotes from leading politicians and so forth. We attempted to argue with him on the basis of principle, but we were too green. We were just kids and we really didn’t know anything. Our instincts were correct, but we needed ammunition. There had to be a better way of going about this thing. We knew we were beat.
When I went home that evening I had a pile of neglected homework facing me. I gulped down a hasty dinner and calculated that I had spent something like 10 hours that week on this fool’s errand when I could have been learning something instead. So I decided that at 18 years of age, I probably had to do a bit of thinking on things before I again attempted to swim among the sharks. I needed better gear and, more important, a different method. Shouting and marching were pretty ineffective when push came to shove. Our College Republicans never planned another protest (as least while I was there) and instead, we focused on inviting speakers, learning about the issues, and well--to put it bluntly--growing up. I realize that the right has its share of protester/activist types, but there is a reason why you don’t see too many "tazer boys" on our side. At some point, most of us learn that this kind of thing is a game for kids.