Washington State University: Administrative Support for Heckler's Veto of Student Play
Washington State University (WSU) rejected the use of a "heckler's veto" and warned students not to disrupt a controversial student-sponsored play—a reversal from its previous act of financing and organizing the disruption of a play earlier that year, when even campus security refused to remove individuals disrupting the play. In April of 2005, WSU paid for and trained students to disrupt student playwright Chris Lee's bitingly satirical Passion of the Musical, a play that Lee warned would be "offensive or inflammatory to all audiences." FIRE originally wrote WSU on two occasions after Lee enlisted its help, but WSU argued that the heckling was an exercise of students' free speech rights, despite the fact that the heckling included threats of physical violence directed at cast members. After FIRE took WSU's reactions public, WSU reversed its position and posted a new policy stating, "Please be aware that disruption to this performance, or any program will not be tolerated and will be dealt with accordingly, up to and including participants being escorted from the venue."
- "Schools Infringing on Free Speech Rights ," July 20, 2010: Watch John Stossel's interview with Greg and former Washington State University student Chris Lee, where they discuss WSU's deplorable attempts to censor Lee's satirical musical and the wider infirmity of politically correct speech codes on campus.
- "Victory for Freedom of Expression at Washington State," December 12, 2005: Thanks to a campaign led by FIRE, Washington State University has rejected the “heckler’s veto” and warned students not to disrupt a controversial play. The university financed and organized the disruption of a different play by the same student playwright earlier this year.
- "Washington State University ‘Mangina Monologues’ Notice," December 12, 2005
- "Washington State University Continues Campaign of Repression," October 12, 2005: In recent months, FIRE has intervened twice at Washington State University to protect students’ freedom of expression. After publicly proclaiming respect for their students’ rights, Washington State administrators have now made clear that, between their grading students on their politics and their paying for hecklers to disrupt student plays, liberty is still in dire straits in Pullman.
- "Letter from Washington State University Vice President for Equity and Diversity Michael Tate to Chris Lee, September 28, 2005," September 28, 2005
- "Letter from Chris Lee to Washington State University Vice President for Equity and Diversity Michael Tate, September 8, 2005," September 8, 2005
- "E-mail from Rich Kelley to Charlene Jaeger, July 19, 2005," July 19, 2005
- "Washington State University Bankrolls Vigilante Censorship," July 18, 2005: In a shameful distortion of the First Amendment, Washington State University has morally and financially supported disruptive heckling and threats at a controversial student play, even going so far as to pay for hecklers to attend the performance. The university allowed the hecklers to repeatedly disrupt the play through shouts and threats of violence, yet Washington State’s president later defended the hecklers’ behavior as a “responsible” exercise of free speech.
- "Letter from Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins to FIRE, July 12, 2005," July 12, 2005
- "FIRE Letter to Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins, July 1, 2005," July 1, 2005
- "Letter from Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins to FIRE, June 20, 2005," June 20, 2005
- "FIRE Letter to Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins, June 17, 2005," June 17, 2005
- "Report from Washington State University’s Center for Human Rights Regarding ‘Passion of the Musical,’ May 13, 2005," May 13, 2005
- "E-mail from Raul Sanchez to Various Washington State Administrators, April 29, 2005," April 29, 2005
- "Washington State University Interdepartmental Invoice for 40 Tickets to ‘Passion of the Musical’," April 21, 2005
- "New Video: How Washington State Censored a Student Musical," by Jaclyn Hall, February 8, 2011: In a new video from the 2010 Campus Freedom Network (CFN) Conference, former Washington State University (WSU) student Chris Lee discusses how administrators at WSU subsidized a group of protesters to disrupt his satirical play, Passion of the Musical.
- "Tonight on 'Stossel': Here Come the Speech Police," by Peter Bonilla, July 15, 2010
- "New FIRE Video on Vigilante Censorship Promotes Release of 'New Threats to Freedom'," by Robert Shibley, May 17, 2010: Tomorrow, Templeton Press' new book New Threats to Freedom hits bookstores. To mark the release of this volume, which features original essays from a wide variety of noted authors including playwright David Mamet (of Glengarry Glen Ross fame), journalist Christopher Hitchens, author Christina Hoff Sommers, and many others, FIRE is releasing a brand new video featuring one of the main cases covered in FIRE President Greg Lukianoff's own chapter of the book, "Students Against Liberty?" We need your help getting the word out about the video!
- "This Month in FIRE History: Washington State University Bankrolls Vigilante Censorship," by Claire Jenkins, July 29, 2009
- "'I Believe in Free Speech and All, but I Draw the Line at Comedy Musicals!',"
by Greg Lukianoff, The Huffington Post, May 17, 2010
- "University presidents battle for honors in spinelessness,"
by John Leo, Universal Press Syndicate, May 1, 2006
- "WSU ends ‘hecklers veto’ aid but threatens conservative student’s graduation,"
by Mark Tapscott, Townhall.com, December 17, 2005
- "WSU finally gets it: Heckling isn't free speech,"
by Tom Henderson, Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho), December 16, 2005
- "WSU takes hit on free speech,"
by Shawn Vestal, The Spokesman-Review, October 22, 2005
- "Student plans new plays,"
by Shawn Vestal, The Spokesman-Review, October 22, 2005
- "Challenging campus free speech through theater,"
by Elizabeth Martin, The Daily Evergreen (WSU), October 18, 2005
- "Race, free speech issues likely to linger,"
by E. Kirsten Peters, Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Wash.), August 27, 2005
- "Playing Politically Correct,"
by Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, July 28, 2005
- "Group Claims Biased Campus Officials Bankrolled Protest of Student Play,"
by Jim Brown, Agape Press, July 26, 2005
- "Why does Washington State University Pay Campus Hecklers?,"
by Mark Tapscott, Townhall, July 21, 2005
- "Rawlins wrong on free speech,"
The Spokesman-Review, July 18, 2005
- "Everyone's a Critic,"
by David Epstein, Inside Higher Ed, July 18, 2005
- "It's time for FIRE to shout in a crowded theater,"
by Tom Henderson, Lewiston Morning Tribune, July 18, 2005
- "Play sparks controversy at WSU,"
by Associated Press, The Associated Press State & Local Wire, July 15, 2005
- "WSU chief stands by protesters at biting play,"
by Shawn Vestal, The Spokesman-Review, July 14, 2005