Did the reporter have a right to be there? Sure looks like it.
On July 14, Gov. Jay Nixon signed Senate Bill 93, also known as the “Campus Free Expression Act.” The bill expands free speech zones on the campuses of public institutions of higher education in Missouri, such as MU’s Speakers Circle, and allows protests and speeches to take place on any outdoor space.
By eliminating free speech zones, expressive acts, such as protests and speeches, can be held throughout campuses, making college campuses “traditional public forums,” according to the bill. The bill was passed unanimously in the state Senate, making Missouri the second state along with Virginia to have passed legislation of this kind to protect the First Amendment rights of students on college campuses.
Yes, it is terrifying that the state legislature had to reaffirm that public spaces operated by public universities are governed by the First Amendment, but you’re about to see why they felt the need. Here’s the tweet from the protest group that started it:
We ask for no media in the parameters so the place where people live, fellowship, & sleep can be protected from twisted insincere narratives
— ConcernedStudent1950 (@CS_1950) November 10, 2015
Local reporters politely declined the offer to stay away given that (a) this is a national news story and (b) when something is happening in public, the media has the same right to be there and document it as anyone else does. What we had here, in other words, was a clash of old-fashioned free-speech values and the newfangled “safe space” fascism of the vanguard of the campus left. Guess who won. Watch to the very end or else you’ll miss the most ominous parts — first when the protesters decide to “walk” the photographer away from the demonstrations by surrounding him and shoving him backward and second when a middle-aged woman in glasses literally calls for “muscle” to help remove the cameraman who’s been documenting all of this.
That woman, by the way? A professor of mass media:
The woman who tells cameraman he can’t be there & asks for “muscle” to remove him is Mizzou Assistant Professor of Mass Media @melissaclick
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) November 10, 2015
Nor is this clip the only example of physical intimidation that happened at the protest today, according to one of the school’s journalism professors:
— reedkath (@reedkath) November 9, 2015
You can watch more “muscle” at work right here. The only bright note in six hard minutes of this look at the Leaders of Tomorrow is the photographer, Tim Tai, who refuses to give an inch even as the crowd around him keeps getting angrier that he insists on standing on his First Amendment rights. This guy’s going to be famous tomorrow, with good reason.