Shouting Fire
Print Friendly and PDF

From Mark Steyn's blog, on the subject of the anti-Ann Coulter riot in Canada:

I've been traveling for most of the last day and so I'm late getting to the Coulter-cancelled-in-Canada story. Kathy Shaidle has three great round-ups here, here and here. Perhaps my single favourite line came from Kate McMillan:

See? You can yell "fire" in a crowded theatre after all!

Indeed. If this doesn't kill the laziest trope of the brain-dead statist control freak, nothing will. This was a literal re-enactment of the full Oliver Wendell: In Ottawa, the fire alarm was set off even though there was no fire but only a visiting conservative blonde. As Rebekah recounts:

Then the fire alarm went off. Do you know how loud industrial fire alarms are? Do you know what they sound like when they go on for about ten minutes?!

People in the auditorium seemed to be very confused about what was going on. It was impossible to tell what was happening outside. The rumors that I collected (true or not I'm not entirely sure) indicated that there were protesters outside yelling "No hate speech on campus", they had barricaded a door, they were pounding on the auditorium door...
My notes at the time read "We're trapped in here. No bathroom... This might get REALLY interesting."

Indeed.  As Michelle Malkin discusses in her column tonight, various people who want to restrict conservative speech are always claiming it will incite violence, most of which is imaginary or faked. Few of the fire/theater people know or care that what Justice Holmes wrote in Schenck v. United States was "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic." (My emphasis.) Of course, that's exactly what the anti-Coulter forces were trying to do.

However, at, we're not falsely shouting fire—we're warning of "preventable evils."

Print Friendly and PDF