Brown University newspaper advertisement
Keith E. Whittington
kewhitt at PRINCETON.EDU
Tue Mar 20 13:16:59 PST 2001
Removing newspapers is certainly a kind of "protest speech," but it is unlikely that such actions draw more attention to the original speech or can be effectively combated with more speech. As a former college newspaper editor who was once plagued with these kinds of problems, I would note that such "protests" are usually silent and generate little or no publicity. Large quantities of newspapers simply disappear, rendering the printed message substantially less audible if not literally inaudible and conveying no message to the larger university audience. Unfortunately, such interference with the distribution of newspapers is fairly routine on college campuses, though more visible and on a larger scale when they come in response to
particular, already well publicized articles or ads (as in this case). The total effect of such behavior is simply to reduce the quantity and diversity of speech available to the university community.
gayle binion wrote:
> A long tradition in support of free speech similarly values the heckler's speech. I wonder if there should not also be recognition that the conduct of protesting a message by openly removing the vehicle of the message isn't also a form of protest speech... Had the behavior made the message inaudible it might be seen differently from an act of expressive protest that if anything has drawn more attention to the content of this ad and perhaps may be intended and/or have the effect of making people think more about the ad and its meaning for African-Americans... I am not sure that this kind of event inhibits free speech..
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