Heckler’s Veto and Speech Codes Threaten Free Speech at Universities

By April 15, 2013

by Allan C. Brownfeld



(WASHINGTON DC) - Americans used to frequently quote Voltaire's declaration that, "I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." That is no longer the case at too many of our colleges and universities.

What some have called the "heckler's veto" has been one factor limiting free speech. Nat Hentoff once pointed out that, "First Amendment law is clear that everyone has the right to picket a speaker, and to go inside a hall and heckle him or her---but not to drown out the speaker, let alone rush the stage and stop the speech before it starts. That's called the 'heckler's veto...