Cheney Protest at Brigham Young University

Dick Cheney is scheduled to be the commencement speaker at Brigham Young University in Utah. Brigham Young Democrats had received permission to conduct a three hour protest Wednesday. Only, they were not allowed to speak. The university limited their protest to sitting on the sidewalk and carrying signs.

The protest, attended by hundreds of students, proceeded more or less one would expect, until the end.

NPR left. The local TV news cameras left. The newspaper reporters packed their things and left. And the only people around to document anything were students and our film crew. Our cameras kept rolling to witness what happened next.

As soon as 1:00 hit and the time for free speech expired, after an impromptu performance of the Star Spangled Banner by the BYU Democrats, men from BYU dressed in suits and sunglasses with Secret Service-style earpieces roughly rounded up all of the signage and banners. "You'll be able to use it all again. We're just going to keep it for you. So you don't carry it around campus, we'll take it to a safe place until the next designated protest."

It was like Daddy deciding that the kids had had enough play time and was taking their toys away.

Who knew free speech has a time limit -- or that it prohibits speaking?

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    In a word..... (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 06:25:18 AM EST
    embarassing.  Embarassing for my country, and embarassing for the protesters.  I mean, what protestor worthy of the title agrees to stay silent and hands over their sign when asked by a suit?  

    Sheep (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 06:48:56 AM EST
    non-sequitur (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 09:47:40 AM EST
    No one is arguing that, but it is hardly the point of the thread.

    Private property.... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 05:55:52 PM EST
    yes.  But is BYU really private property?  Do they get no money what so ever from the state?  

    And what about the students, they pay tuition.  Don't they have a right to speak on campus and hold a sign?  I think so...I hope so.


    Good Points kdog (none / 0) (#28)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 06:20:56 PM EST
    And certainly the University does not have the right to take away their property.  

    I'm no lawyer, obviously (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 06, 2007 at 01:05:06 PM EST
    Isn't there a distinction between a dorm/dorm rules and outdoor campus spaces?

    A tuition-paying student, I would hope, has the right to occupy communal campus space holding a sign...in America.

    Regardless....what a bunch of piker protesters.


    Hell Yeah..... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Sat Apr 07, 2007 at 09:27:03 AM EST
    I do.  I think BYU campus rules prohibiting assembled sign-holding are lame.  And the state law.

    I don't see who gets hurt by speaking your mind.  The best way to counter speech you disagree with is your own speech, not silencing your opponent.


    Designated protest? (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Edger on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 07:09:09 AM EST
    we'll take it to a safe place until the next designated protest WTF?

    Talk about an oxymoron.... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 07:14:37 AM EST
    designated protest...or state-approved protest.

    I get it. (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Edger on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 07:16:26 AM EST
    Like the intelligence Bush used to justify the war? heh.

    Civil Obedience (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 07:31:00 AM EST
    hat tip, squeaky (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Edger on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 07:59:38 AM EST
    Emerson: What are you doing in there, Henry?

    Thoreau: No, Waldo, the question is: What are you doing out there?

    Civil Disgust. (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Edger on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 08:12:43 AM EST
    Cheney speech at BYU causes outcry
    Utah Daily Herald, March 27, 2007

    At BYU -- in the heart of what has been called the reddest county in the nation -- the mere possibility of Vice President Dick Cheney coming to campus is getting some blue blood boiling. ... BYU Marriott School professor Warner Woodworth said that he has received e-mails from all over the world expressing dismay over Cheney's visit.
    "Cheney's coming here is a contradiction of what we're trying to do," he said. "We represent an institution of peace, he represents an institution of war ... an institution of deception and outright lies." he said.

    Right (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 08:28:38 AM EST
    We represent an institution of peace...
    SO why aren't all those christianists protesting the war and threatening to cut off donations to the neocon politicians and their war industry?   Could it be because the christianists represent a
    an institution of deception and outright lies.
    Is their hand in the till as well?

    Probably. (none / 0) (#12)
    by Edger on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 09:19:40 AM EST
    I hope professor Woodworth has tenure at BYU. I wonder how much of the university admin is trying to squeeze him out now.?

    Authoritarians love conservative religions. (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by lilybart on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 08:27:28 AM EST
    And this is why we cannot let conservative religious people anywhere near our government.

    Yes.... Exactly. (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Edger on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 08:35:47 AM EST
    Ironically.... (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by desertswine on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 10:22:01 AM EST
    and irony still exists. BYU did not seek out cheney for their commencement speaker, but rather, it was the office of the v-president who contacted BYU.  Evidently Cheney was looking for a "safe" place to make a commencement address.

    That is the essence of Utah! (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by mjvpi on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 02:11:15 PM EST
    I lived there for 12 years. Some people learn compassion and social justice from their religion. some just confirm their perspective as the center of the universe and get their marching orders. You gotcher' Harry Reids and your Orin Hatches. Did they take away the signs from both sides? Rocky Anderson will make you believe in "Never Say Never"!

    Speech on Universities (1.00 / 3) (#13)
    by Gabriel Malor on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 09:29:51 AM EST
    Who knew free speech has a time limit -- or that it prohibits speaking?

    Public universities are allowed to impose only reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. But they must be narrowly tailored and related to a compelling state interest.

    Free speech zones have been instituted at many public schools, as administrators claim in the name of "tolerance" that allowing unrestricted speech on campus would disrupt their educative mission.

    Such zones are unconstitutional because it is simply unreasonable to confine speech to a few select places on public universities. When challenged over free speech zones, universities have uniformly backed down, wisely choosing not to  pursue their illegal speech zones in the courts.

    However, when it comes to private institutions, the First Amendment does not apply. The First Amendment operates as a restriction on government, not on private individuals. Because students at private universities cannot claim a First Amendment protection against their schools, they must rely on the protections of contract law or other state protections.

    Simply put, universities that hold themselves out to students as open, enlightened, tolerant, or in any other way supportive of free speech, can be contractually held to that position. On the other hand, schools that have speech codes in place, or which have indicated to incoming students that they place other restrictions on speech, have put incoming students on notice that will not exercise unrestricted speech on campus. By choosing to attend a school in which speech is restricted despite having knowledge of such, the student may be contractually consenting.

    Students at private schools may also rely on state protections, constitutional or statutory. But the familiar cry, "What about free speech?!?" is largely inapposite at private universities like BYU.

    Jeralyn, just as you operate a restricted speech zone here at TalkLeft, BYU is free to operate a restricted speech zone on its campus.

    non-sequitur (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 09:48:50 AM EST
    No one is arguing that but it is hardly the point of the thread.

    Oh? (1.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Gabriel Malor on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 10:07:27 AM EST
    Jeralyn asked, "Who knew free speech has a time limit -- or that it prohibits speaking?" So I answered her. Everyone knows that free speech can be reasonably regulated as to time, place, and manner when it comes to public institutions. Most people are also aware that private institutions are not required to allow free speech at all.

    Her question is also a little unusual in this context because the protesters at BYU do not have "free speech" rights against the university. It is almost a non-sequitur on her part to bring up "free speech" in the context of a private university.

    Finally, I drew a parallel between BYU and TalkLeft. Just as Jeralyn has placed restrictions on who can post on the main page and on diaries, deleted comments which she doesn't like, and even banned commenters who violate her rules, BYU can put restrictions on speech on its campus. They both can "get away with it" because they are private institutions and are therefore not bound by the First Amendment.


    It's not working, Gabe. (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Edger on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 10:18:17 AM EST
    Not exactly (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by LarryE on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 11:10:22 AM EST
    free speech can be reasonably regulated as to time, place, and manner when it comes to public institutions

    Not exactly - it can be regulated related to its impact on others' ability to use the same facilities, i.e., a park, a street, a sidewalk, etc. So long as the activity is not causing a disturbance and does not deny access to others, it really can't be regulated. That's why, for example, we used to have marches down sidewalks: As long as we kept single file (so anyone else could also use the sidewalk) and followed traffic signals (so no traffic was blocked), no permit was necessary.

    private institutions are not required to allow free speech at all

    Again, not exactly, although the exceptions here are much narrower.

    First, they can restrict speech but must do it in a non-discriminatory manner. That is, for example, a shopping mall can't allow the Young Moderates for Truth and Honor a forum while denying one to the Wild-Eyed Leftists Out to Destroy America, Inc.

    Second, schools and particularly universities have generally been treated somewhat differently than commercial establishments precisely because of their character as places of learning and debate.

    Third, this was not an internal school event as it was open to more than students, administration, and faculty, which introduces a little gray into the discussion.

    Fourth, the comparison between BYU and TalkLeft is a false one. In terms of how they have been treated (as least so far) blogs are legally closer to your home than to either a commercial establishment or a university. A store that says "come one, come all" can't then say "except for you." At your home, you can. (Although the two can be related in that a store can remove someone who is causing a disturbance - which is exactly what TalkLeft reserves the right to do.)

    The bottom line here is that the baseline assertion that private institutions are completely free of the First Amendment and can institute whatever restrictions on speech they desire and can enforce them in whatever manner they desire, no matter how discriminatory, is not true.


    Careful Gabe (none / 0) (#33)
    by Iamme on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 02:53:42 PM EST
    You are calling the pot black.  And they hate that around here.  

    To his point Jeralyn limited my postings and not others for the same behaviour.  So It seems you want to challenge the right to free speech but you want me censored on this site.  So what is it?  You want free speech for only those that agree with what you think???  Hypocritical.


    Cracks: from the perspective of an ex-fundie (none / 0) (#20)
    by Edger on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 10:35:30 AM EST
    (Part 1), where the cracks appear (Part 2), and how we can help a recovering fundie (Part 3). Well worth a read.

    Cracks In The Wall, Part I: Defining the Authoritarian Personality
    Thursday, August 10, 2006  
    by Sara Robinson

    Here's the good news. That Great Wall that separates our little reality-based community from The Fantasyland Next Door is not a monolith. Nor are the inmates of that Otherworld necessarily locked in there for all time and eternity. There's evidence -- from scientists, from experience, from history -- that there are cracks in that wall. They are small and subtle, to be sure (that's why nobody's ever noticed them before): at this point, they are mere hairlines, faint traces that are hard to spot without a good flashlight in the hands of someone who knows where to look. But, as someone who's spent much of her life pacing one side or the other of this wall, I am here to tell you: there are places where it fails. People do cross it, and survive to tell the tale. And, rather than continue to wallow in our frustration, it's high time we mapped those cracks, find effective ways to widen them, and eventually exploit them to help both afflicted individuals and our larger culture break through the insanity.

    High-SDO people are characterized by four core traits: they are dominating, opposed to equality, committed to expanding their own personal power, and amoral. These are usually accompanied by other unsavory traits, many of which render them patently unsuitable for leadership roles in a democracy:

    Gabe - you'll find the "point" in these articles ;-)

    Thanks. (3.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Gabriel Malor on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 11:08:39 AM EST
    I'm glad you posted that, Edger. I'm always interested in conversion stories.

    Knowing you (3.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Edger on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 11:28:19 AM EST
    I though you might find it useful... to help you recognize the symptoms of an impending desertion from the ranks of unthinking authoritarian worshipping republican/bush supporters, and give you an opportunity to stop the process in it's tracks before another dangerous anti-authoritarian free-thinking liberal with no religion is created.

    Heh. (1.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Gabriel Malor on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 11:57:36 AM EST
    I can't say I'm surprised by that personal attack, Edger. I've come to expect them.

    Attack? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Edger on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 12:06:42 PM EST
    No. If I wanted to attack it would be very clear.

    I'm trying help you Gabe.


    I think it's a positive sign (none / 0) (#34)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 03:09:06 PM EST
    that there was a protest AT ALL deep in the heart of Mormon country.

    That spineless cadaver Cheney's people you can bet were doing their utmost to insure he'd have a venue involving a sea of sunny, pink, completely-in-denial-and-subjection faces.

    Since this didnt completely pan out, the next high profile gig, just to be on the safe side, will probobly be at Bob Jones.


    One of the unfortunate (none / 0) (#35)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 03:13:27 PM EST
    side effects of supporting a movement (and I do mean movement), that ran this country into the toilet for eight years.