Fox's Lawrence Jones, Rachel Campos-Duffy and Pete Hegseth did their best to help a right-wing judge and the Washington Free Beacon distort what happened during a protest during an event at Yale Law School this Saturday. The hosts of Fox & Friends Weekend showed a brief clip of the students who showed up to protest the university inviting Kristen Waggoner to participate in a debate on free speech, and then heaped praise on Judge Laurence Silberman, who sent an email to "almost every federal judge in the United States urging them to blacklist the students" who participated.
It's always something to watch the mental gymnastics going on at Fox where they're carping about "cancel culture" and people shutting down free speech in one breath, and then praising someone for doing exactly that in the next. Jones accused "the left" of wanting to shut down debate, and expecting the "other side" to "submit," and told the audience he wished more judges would "speak out," and then Campos-Duffy launched into a tirade about schools and what they're teaching children as young as kindergarten.
CAMPOS-DUFFY: You're so right Lawrence. It started in college campuses. We see it. Pete, you've been covering what it has been doing to our, you know, K-12 schools. I've been seeing it in medical schools, where professors talking about biology are shouted down or turned in by their students for being trans-phobic for suggesting there are males and females.
A if you are smart, if you're deviously smart on the left, this is exactly what you would do. You would go in and infect our law schools, because if you can get the future legal leaders of this country to undermine our constitution, our notions of free speech and justice, and equal justice, this experiment that we are all enjoying is... it's over.
Hegseth then proceeded to complain that this would somehow lead to "activist" judges in the courtrooms "with a preconceived notion whether you are guilty or not based on billing other than the Constitution" and the system eroding if "you don't have equal justice." Lawrence Jones wrapped things up by accusing the left of "wanting to get rid of the Constitution."
Of course, they all were distorting what actually happened during the protest and according to a report at Slate, no one's "free speech" was actually shut down: The Truth About the Yale Law Protest That Prompted a Federal Judge to Threaten a Clerkship Blacklist
A Ronald Reagan nominee and aficionado of judicial listservs, Silberman appears to enjoy kicking up controversy over email. His strongly worded email was in response to a March 16 article by Aaron Sibarium of the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative outlet, which claimed that “more than 100 students at Yale Law School attempted to shout down a bipartisan panel on civil liberties.”
But interviews with participants and witnesses at the demonstration, as well as multiple videos, reveal that this account distorts reality. The students made their point at the very start of the event and walked out before the conversation began. Their exercise in free speech, however rowdy or distasteful, did not prevent the panelists from expressing their views. And their demonstration did not—contrary to the Free Beacon’s reporting—require administrators to summon the police.
The March 10 event at the heart of this controversy was a conversation between Monica Miller of the American Humanist Association and Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom, hosted by the Yale Federalist Society. Waggoner’s organization supports criminalization of homosexuality, nullification of same-sex marriages, an end to same-sex adoption, and a ban on gender-affirming health care for minors, among other anti-LGBTQ policies. YLS students opposed the Federalist Society’s decision to invite a member of an organization that seeks to, for instance, imprison gay people and trans-friendly doctors.
But the group of roughly a hundred students who protested the event expressly chose not to shout the panelists into silence. Instead, they stayed within YLS’s “three strikes” rule, which governs the line between expressing your own views and silencing others. Under this rule, students who disrupt an event are first given an extensive warning laying out the school’s free speech policy. If they continue with their disruption, they’re given a shorter, second warning. At that point, if they do not relent, administrators must ask them to leave—or call the Yale police, who are authorized to remove them if necessary.
The one thing the article at Slate didn't bother to point out is that much like the idiotic op-ed recently published at The New York Times, no one's "free speech" was actually being shut down. That op-ed was widely panned on Twitter, as it deserved to be and the responses to that column should be applied here as well.