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by Dale Connelly, 11/26/99

DC: Increasingly, political activists are using the technique of shouting down their opposition at public events, speeches and rallies. This tactic can be disruptive, infuriating and quite successful. But it's not easy to shout someone down. That's why ...

Pm: (off mic) Yes it is! You're lying! You know you're lying!

DC: ... there's a school where you can learn how to be more effective and organized in modern techniques for shouting people down. With me ...

Pm: Stop spreading poison lies! (chanting) Shame on you! Shame on you!

DC: With me is Daniel Hackler, an instructor at the Free Speech Institute for Forceful Expression. Mr. Hackler. I was wondering how you would feel if someone did to you what you do to those who don't ...

Pm: 2-4-6-8! I won't take your stupid bait! 2-4-6-8! I won't take your stupid bait!

DC: Mr. Hackler ... will you knock it off? I just want to ask you a question. I ...

Pm: You're trying to embarrass me! Leading question! Leading questions!
I won't be an accomplice to your treachery!

DC: I simply want to ask WHY you see fit to interrupt opponents and how does ...

Pm: 2-4-6-8! I won't take your stupid bait!

DC: Well let me go in a different direction. What ... what makes someone good at shouting down others.

(sfx: quick footsteps up)

Pm: (complete change) Oh, that's an interesting question. Basically you have to be totally convinced that you're right. Everything else follows that. And it helps if you feel that the person trying to talk has done you wrong on some way or another. That feeling of moral and political superiority is a great high, and is very useful.

DC: I can't believe I got a calm, thoughtful answer out of you.

Pm: You asked me something worth answering.

DC: If this becomes the prevailing debate tactic, though, what real use is that?
I mean ... at some point you have to let people have their say so we can ...

(sfx: quick footsteps off)

Pm: (off mic) Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!

DC: Why are you afraid to answer these questions? What are you hiding?
Why are you teaching people to do this?

Pm: (suddenly interested) It's obvious that I teach because people want to learn it.
If there were no students there'd be no role for me, now would there?

DC: I suppose there wouldn't because ...

Pm: Please ... I'm not done. What were you, born in a barn?

DC: Sorry.

Pm: The real attraction in this approach is that it levels the playing field.

DC: It actually helps to be an outsider.

Pm: Oh, yes! You can't shout someone down if you're up there sharing the speaker's table with them. I mean ... maybe they do that on the Jerry Springer show, but in sophisticated public discourse, it's different. You need distance.

DC: That's why you have to move off to the other side of the room when you heckle me, isn't it.

Pm: Absolutely. And at the Free Speech Institute for Forceful Expression, we teach that.

DC: I find it ironic that your school is called the Free Speech Institute when there's no free speech at all for the people you oppose.

(sfx: rapid walking off)

I mean, if you shout someone down before they even have a chance to get their message out, doesn't that in effect squash their opportunity to ...

Pm: (off mic) Lies, Lies! Exaggeration! We don't want your obfuscation!

DC: Can't you ... aren't you supposed to have a group of people doing this?

(sfx: quick footsteps up)

Pm: I'm glad you pointed that out ... that's a very important part of what we teach. You need help, a group of people to lock arms, and if necessary, to chain themselves to a bulldozer or a tree or a set of risers or something.
I'm working alone today because you asked for only one person to interview.

(sfx: quick footsteps off)

DC: Yes, I thought it would be easy to talk about this practice of shouting people down if we only dealt with one person, but I know it's a group effort.
What sorts of people are attrated to ...

Pm: (off mic) Stereotypes are dead! Don't lump us together!
(chanting) Snake! Serpent! Evil Troll! Don't put me in your pigeon hole!

DC: Joining us to talk about shouting people down, Daniel Hackler, an instructor at the Free Speech Institute for Forceful Expression.

(sfx: quick footsteps up)

Pm: Thank you very much. I enjoyed the exchange.

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