On Tuesday night, administrators at Canada College in Northern California allowed a small group of leftist hecklers to shout down and interrupt a speech by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Lapin had been invited to speak by the campus’ Young Americans for Freedom chapter to speak on the morality of capitalism.

About 20 minutes into the speech, the group started to scream names and chants at Rabbi Lapin including “fascist,” “bigot” and “homophobic.” They also held similar signs, including one that said “No White Supremacy.” Clearly they missed the irony that Rabbi Lapin, as his title would suggest, is in fact Jewish. The campus security in the room refused to remove the protesters, telling YAF staff that the only people with the “authority” to do anything about the protesters were the administrators in the room.

Video Credit: Joel Fine

The administrators, including Vice President of Student Services Kim Lopez, told YAF staff they they could not remove the protesters because they were “exercising their first amendment rights.” The students were allowed to yell and scream for thirty minutes, essentially drowning out Rabbi Lapin and his supporters. After a while, some students who had come to hear the Rabbi speak and exhausted from the protests, left.

Despite misinformation from the administrators, Canada College actually has written policy on these exact situations. Relevant portions included below:

“The following actions are prohibited and may lead to appropriate disciplinary action:

  • Disruptive behavior, continued disruptive behavior, continued willful disobedience, habitual profanity or vulgarity, the open and persistent defiance of the authority of, or persistent abuse of, College/District personnel, or violating the rights of other students.
  • Disorderly conduct or engaging in physical or verbal disruption of instructional or student services activities, administrative procedures, public service functions, or authorized curricular or co-curricular activities or prevention of authorized guests from carrying our the purpose for which they are on campus.
  • Disorderly conduct or lewd, indecent, or obscene conduct or expression including profanity of vulgarity; any expression which is obscene, libelous or slanderous according to current legal standards or which so incites students as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts, or the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the Community College on any College/District-owned or controlled property or at any College/District-sponsored or supervised function.”

Canada College didn’t even follow their own policy. Instead, they allowed a heckler’s veto to continue unabated for a significant amount of time. Even when students used loud profanity, including phrases like “F*** white supremacy,” the administrators did nothing to stop them. At one point, they even left the room, allowing the protesters to virtually control the event.

Eventually, the YAF chapter had to sneak guests out 4-5 at a time into a separate room to continue the lecture. The secondary theater was filled to capacity, and Rabbi Lapin was allowed to finish his talk uninterrupted.

The conduct on the part of the Canada College administration is obscene. They blatantly allowed Rabbi Lapin and the YAF’s chapters free speech rights to be trampled upon in favor of a few screaming protesters.

The YAF chapter is filing a complaint on the incident and hope to encourage disciplinary action against the protesters. Perhaps this will allow the Canada College administration to review and enforce their own procedures. And perhaps they should re-read the First Amendment while they’re at it.