December 12, 2009

Arlene Violet: "Brown University over-reacts to Young"

Monique Chartier

Rhode Island political junkies will recall that Chris Young was literally dragged away by police from a microphone at the Brown University health care forum starring Congressman Patrick Kennedy ten days ago and then criminally charged.

Ahlene has an excellent analysis of the incident and its First Amendment implications in Thursday's Valley Breeze. Excerpt:

... In a free society, somebody who voices an unpopular view in a strident voice at a public forum where audience participation is encouraged shouldn't be dragged into court. No warning was given to this speaker of such a dire consequence. He was merely told that he had 15 seconds, an admonition most people don't take literally as opposed to shorten your remarks. Ironically, an audience member right before him went up to the microphone twice with rather longwinded rhetoric with impunity. Moderators handle this eventuality often by gently coaxing the participant to ask the question succinctly. Warnings as to the "rules" governing the discourse are announced before the open session of questioning. Neither approach was unequivocally used here.

Brown University needs to make amends. It should drop the charges. As a bastion to the First Amendment it puts itself in the untenable position of pushing a prosecution which is the antithesis of the First Amendment freedom of speech and freedom of religion. ...

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After principle comes practicality. While I fully agree with Violet on the principles argued, and especially on fairness and equanimity, let me also say that in the realm of public discourse in Rhode Island, Christopher Young is something of a special case, with a long and undistinguished history, and to no small extent has brought this on himself. This may have shocked some in the state, but it hasn't shocked anyone in Providence.

Mr. Young has repeatedly taken to showing up at public events and seizing the floor, then carrying on for as loud and as long as he can get away with it. He has been forcibly removed from State House chambers during public debates, to which he has contributed nothing constructive. His views are not simply unpopular, they are bizarre. I personally witnessed him explain to the Senate Judiciary Committee how Rhode Island is properly ruled under Roman Catholic canon law.

While people will stray past minor rules, Mr. Young seems to feel that no rules apply to him. He ran for Mayor of Providence while legally a resident of Narragansett -- and five other offices, including U.S. Senator, at the same time. I won't go into detail about it here, but I've also witnessed him blatantly disregarding federal laws (with predictable results). His disregard for local campaign rules required the removal -- at taxpayer expense -- of fixed signage at extreme heights on public property.

So it's not necessarily that Brown did not treat him fairly and equally so much as the fact that we've all seen his act so many times already that we already know how it ends. Perhaps Brown simply wanted to cut to the chase and spare us all what we've seen before.

It's easy to look at this from outside as a case of leftist elites unfairly beating down conservative views, and under different circumstances I might be inclined to agree. But many of us in the capital city have grown tired of Young's childish shenanigans after so many years of it. If he had something new (or even sane) to offer, or hadn't treated us to his one-man circus act so many times before, this likely would have ended differently.

Posted by: Wess at December 13, 2009 1:27 AM

"Perhaps Brown simply wanted to cut to the chase and spare us all what we've seen before.

It's easy to look at this from outside as a case of leftist elites unfairly beating down conservative views, ..."

His views are irrelevant to the point here, Wess. "Cutting to the chase", by definition, means stopping someone from speaking. That's not good.

Additionally, he was treated differently than other speakers; i.e., 1.) given less time to speak and 2.) removed with force instead of verbally chastised by the moderator.

Another problem is the precedent. Would you like to show up to speak in a public forum on a public matter, Wess, and have them say, "Oh, no need, Wess, we know what you're going to say. Next!"

No question, many people speaking in public take too long to get to their point. Arlene points out that the prior speaker at this forum did exactly that. The rub is they all need to be treated equally. The prior speaker, who apparently agreed with the panel, droned on too long but was indulged; Young, who did not agree with the panel, was yanked. Was it a coincidence that the one who was cut off was the one who disagreed?

Posted by: Monique at December 13, 2009 8:25 AM

Brown has a poor record on 1st Amendment rights. I am sure many will recall the incident where the school paper was seized and destroyed by students because it contained an ad for a talk in opposition to slavery reparations. I have never heard of any real investigation of that matter.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at December 13, 2009 8:48 AM

Brown has not been a bastion of free speech in several decades. It is like a nebula of Leftism, creating Leftist stars from its superheated core and spinning them off to form new, alien solar systems.

Posted by: BobN at December 13, 2009 9:24 AM

When i testified before the House Judiciary Committee,everyone was supposed to get 3 minutes.
Some retired minister was given about 12 minutes.Next was Harry Staley-out came the egg timer and he was cut off precisely after 3 minutes.Then I began to testify and the egg timer went into action again.
i don't know why this blowhard ex-minister got twice the time the next two speakers had combined just because he had his collar turned around for umpteen years.
Guess what?He was pro-illegal alien.What a surprise.
Okay,so Chris goes on at length.
Anyone ever get treated to seeing David St.Germain testify?That walking compost heap is a professional complainer and once he gets the microphone he never shuts up.He makes outlandish statements like comparing US immigration laws to the Nuremberg Laws.He says the same thing every time.But since he's an "advocate"he gets special treatment.
Chris' treatment by Brown was an overreaction.
I am not on the same page with Chris by any means,but he is an intelligent man and perhaps he has a bizarre speaking style,but so far we are still individuals.
I once confronted the former Immigration&Naturalization service Commissioner at Brown during a forum.
Ruth Simmons was looking daggers at me,but I was allowed sufficient time to make my points.I made my accusations in a forceful,yet courteous manner.I did not use abusive language and I did not yell.I was well received by the audience as evidenced by people who approached me outside the room later.
They can't frog-march you out if you maintain control of your emotions and try to sound rational.
I'd like to see Patrick Kennedy try that sometime.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 13, 2009 2:28 PM

I would agree with Arlene if not for the fact that this man is a bully, pure and simple. I have less problem with the substance of what he says than I do with the fact that he engages in downright intimidation whether he's in front of a microphone or not.
Actually, it might be better to let him have the microphone - it'll keep him from screaming directly in people's faces, particularly women. Chris Young is another reason why God allowed women to have Mace.

Posted by: rhody at December 13, 2009 4:58 PM

You know,Rhody,I wonder if you'd be so forceful if Chris Young were standing in front of you?Or,letting that go, using your name while making accusations?
It seems very cowardly to run people down and accuse them of threatening behavior from behind the curtain of a screen name.
You did this with me on the N4N blog awhile back and I thought it sucked.
I am unaware of Chris Young ever having been arrested for threatening anyone,man or woman.I think,given his rather high local profile,it would've been reported.Threatening someone is NOT the same as making your point by screaming in someone's face,although the latter might be extremely rude and unacceptable conduct in most situations.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 13, 2009 6:11 PM

It's a toss up= Chris Young, Joe Bernstein. Hmmm?

Posted by: David S at December 13, 2009 7:30 PM

"They can't frog-march you out if you maintain control of your emotions and try to sound rational."

While I still think that Brown jumped the gun in this matter (and that they certainly should not press charges against Chris), there is some merit to what you say here, Joe.

Posted by: Monique at December 13, 2009 7:40 PM

I was not at the event, but my understanding was that he was ejected for placing/tossing/throwing/chucking a cd at Kennedy. Of course the choice of verb has a very different meaning. I saw one source say that he tossed it on the table in front of Kennedy, another said he threw it at Kennedy. If it was the latter, I would hope that anyone throwing any object at a US Congressman (as much as I dislike Kennedy, I respect the position), then the host should eject the thrower.

It's very possible that Brown overreacted and was ready for a big love-in on the night and was surprised by Young's actions.

Posted by: Patrick at December 13, 2009 7:53 PM

I just recalled that during a televised House hearing on same sex marriage,Chris was ejected for being out of order(he was),although the Capitol Police didn't bum rush him and handcuff him.They escorted him(presumably)into the hallway.
Right afterward,a bizarre gay activist dressed in priest's garb with a skullcap who claimed to represent the "Old Roman Catholic Church"and had previously testified,began elbowing and pushing a young woman named Kara who is always with Chris Young at his appearances at the Statehouse,and the camera stayed on the scene for a minute or so while she told him to stop repeatedly.He was committing what amounted to a physical assault right in front of the legislators,and they sat there like lumps of crap and ignored it.
I guess it was a good thing for the weirdo(no other way to describe him)that Chris young had been ejected because otherwise Capitol TV would've turned into the WWF for at least a short time.
David S-I've never been arrested nor ejected from any public event,so what the hell are you running your trap about?

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 13, 2009 8:40 PM

I don't believe anyone "infringed" on Mr. Young's right to be an insufferable blowhard until he approached Patches and threw something at him, later determined to be a CD or DVD.

A police officer can't assume that whatever it was that was thrown is harmless. Especially someone who clearly had an axe to grind with a Congressman.

Posted by: EMT at December 13, 2009 11:09 PM

Sorry, Joe, I didn't realize the right to physically get in one's face and intimidate them was part of the Constitution (I realize being a jerk is protected, however).
BTW, are you advocating or entertaining the possibility that Mr. Young threaten me with physical violence? I don't think you want to endorse that Bobby Oliveira stuff.

Posted by: rhody at December 14, 2009 12:53 AM

Rhody-you're again a liar.I said(READ IT AGAIN)that you lacked the courage to say to Chris Young's face what you say here behind an alias.Chris Young has no way of knowing who you are,so how can he possibly threaten you?
Same here.You have previously accused me of threatening people,which I've never done.
You're a pusillanimous piece of crap.
As usual with your ilk,the physical harrassment of Chris' female friend is not a problem for you.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 14, 2009 7:05 AM

Joe, you really need to change your computer password, because some hacker who wouldn't know what truth is if it hit him square in the face (or bellowed in it like Young) is trying to pass himself off as you in this forum.
I would get a lot more angry about that than a couple of simple comments from some dude you've never met.
I am impressed by the correct spelling of "pusillanimous," however.

Posted by: rhody at December 14, 2009 6:52 PM

I asked Mr. Kennedy, who I have been in debates with in the past, if I could give him a copy of a great documentary to support my statements called Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America. Maafa 21 is viewable on my website and it documents how Planned Parenthood was started and how eugenics evolved into abortion and black genocide.
Kennedy agreed that I could toss it over to him because a velvet rope stanchion blocked me from handing it to him. Kennedy, by nodding his head and holding his arms open to catch it, agreed for me to toss it. It landed on the table and Kennedy picked it up to look at it. Kennedy even stated to the media that he did not feel threatened by my actions. I have this on video tape. Then I went back to the microphone and was allowed to continue with my question.
All you seem to be able to do is to attack me from behind the safety of your keyboard. I would hope that if you are not cowards, then you may have the same courage, at least, to view the videos I have posted on my website. If you view these movies then wish to attack me then I would at least not think your are uninformed cowards.

Thanks for the support everyone else.
Your fellow Patriot,
Chris Young

Posted by: Chris Young at December 14, 2009 7:22 PM