By John Dodge
CHICAGO (CBS) — The president of DePaul University apologized after protesters disrupted an on-campus forum led by an outspoken conservative columnist.
Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider wrote the letter while on a trip in France after viewing online videos of the protest, which shut down an event led by Milo Yiannopoulos, who is the tech editor at Brietbart and self-proclaimed “Internet supervillian” known for his anti-feminist views. The event on Tuesday was sponsored by the university’s College Republicans.
In the letter to students, Holtschneider said:
“Yesterday’s speaker was invited to speak at DePaul, and those who interrupted the speech were wrong to do so. Universities welcome speakers, give their ideas a respectful hearing, and then respond with additional speech countering the ideas. I was ashamed for DePaul University when I saw a student rip the microphone from the hands of the conference moderator and wave it in the face of our speaker.”
Videos posted online show a protester affiliated with Black Lives Matter entering the conference room blowing a whistle and yelling at Yiannopoulous, “This man is an idiot.” That protester was later identified in published reports as student and church minister Edward Ward.
In an interview Ward said, “This is not a point of shutting down free speech, it’s the point of shutting down hate speech.”
He was joined by a handful of other protesters; one of them ripped the microphone from the moderators hand and yelled in Yiannopoulous’ face.
According to a report in the DePaulia, the crowd yelled back at the protesters, “build the wall,” “CPD” and “Blue Lives Matter.”
“On behalf of the university, I apologize to the DePaul College Republicans,” Holtschneider wrote. “They deserved an opportunity to hear their speaker uninterrupted, and were denied it.”
Holtschneider also chided Yainnopoulous, calling him a self-serving provocateur.
“Generally, I do not respond to speakers of Mr. Yiannopoulos’ ilk, as I believe they are more entertainers and self-serving provocateurs than the public intellectuals they purport to be. Their shtick is to shock and incite a strong emotional response they can then use to discredit the moral high ground claimed by their opponents. This is unworthy of university discourse, but not unfamiliar across American higher education. There will always be speakers who exploit the differences within our human community to their own benefit, blissfully unconcerned with the damage they leave behind.”