Phi Beta Cons

Arrests for Students who Disrupted Mueller Talk

It’s not too uncommon for protesters to disrupt a speaker at Harvard–in this instance, it was Robert Mueller, with the rather retrograde cri de coeur, “We will never forget the role of the FBI in McCarthyism!” (Such sloganeering opens up whole epistemological questions about whether a 20-something can actually remember what they didn’t witness, but we needn’t go there).

Anyways, this protest was a rare exception–because four of the protesters who shouted equally weird slogans (“stop the unconstitutional repression of the environment”?) were arrested on charges of “disturbing a public assembly.”
I know a couple of those protesters, and they’re certainly nice enough people. But I often wonder what’s going through such people’s heads when they’re shouting one-liners to interrupt a speaker when they could instead pose a detailed question. (It’s the unbending policy of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum that speakers there take questions at the end of their talks). I’ve never seen a student interrupt the lunatic (and inevitably well-attended) rantings of Noam Chomsky, yet a Mueller or a Gonzales never fail to attract protests inimical to the university’s spirit of open dialogue.
I suppose we’ll see whether a prosecution sends the right message–though I suppose it’ll only encourage others. Getting arrested, after all, has enormous sex appeal to the protester community.

Travis Kavulla — Travis Kavulla is director of Energy and Environmental Policy at the R Street Institute. He is a former president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners who held elected office as a Montana public service commissioner for eight years. Before that, he was an associate editor for National Review.

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