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Tuesday, 17 November 2015


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I think this would be a great opportunity for you to post the actual text of the first amendment, so that readers see the actual text, and know how well our founding fathers protected this essential freedom in a democracy.

I don't know where these imaginary politically correct "rules" come from. They seem to be invented on the spot. To quote a line from "Ferris Beuller's Day Off" "I weep for the future."

After perusing Tim's website it is apparent to me that he is a very talented and serious photographer. All the more reason why he should be at events like the one videoed and record the split seconds of time that the world needs to see to accurately reflect back on its actions. That is why the Constitution was written, and subsequent court rulings have upheld the premise.

Professor Click needs to be fired on the basis of incompetence. It's this kind of "teaching" by example that leads to these kinds of confrontations. In her position as an educator at the scene, she had the opportunity and the responsibility to explain First Ammendment rights to the students that were harassing the photographer, yet she chose to escalate the situation by calling for more students to join in and harass the videographer.

There's absolutely no excuse for this. A basic understanding of the First Ammendment ought to be prerequisite to making one's living "educating" students in communications. You can't teach what you don't know.

[It's weird behavior, when you think about it. Doesn't feel rational to me. What are their aims in trying to keep reporters away? Psychologically the only thing I can think of to explain it is that, surrounded by people of like mind and upset and flustered about the injustices she was protesting, she succumbed to mob mentality. --Mike]

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

Unfortunately, like trying to read some security guard your Bert Krages right-to-photograph card, this knowledge gets you nowhere in the heat of a moment.

Ms. Click, as you may or may not know, took to social media before she appeared in that video, begging the media to come to the university and cover the event.

She's probably waited her whole life to have something to get all upset about, no matter what it was. The phenomenon is very well explained by a guest on Bill Maher's show recently.

Well Tim stays cooler than I fear I would have. I struggle to understand the protesters' behavior; I can only think of it as a desperate need to curate the narrative of their own protest. I fear it would take a smarter group of protesters to do this successfully. I will say, and I am not sure this is a fair comparison although it is an inevitable one, that Martin King and the freedom riders of the 1960s had a much more sophisticated (and successful, in practical terms) view of how to manage the public view of their protests.

As a man, I am deeply appalled and offended by the professor objectivizing men as "muscle"... how sexist of her! (s/a)

Speaking of learning opportunities, this might be a good time to remind readers that the First Amendment does not apply to the actions of private persons, only to the actions of the government and its agents. (If you don't agree, then read the opening of its first sentence again carefully: "Congress shall make no law...")(emphasis added)

While Tim Tai's right to freely express himself was clearly being restricted, this restriction was imposed upon him by private persons, not the government or its agents, and therefore it didn't violate his First Amendment rights, as many have been quick to claim.

A possible exception might occur if one can successfully argue Professor Click was acting in her official capacity, therefore she was an agent of the government because she was an employee of a taxpayer funded public university, but that is quite a stretch based upon what I saw of her actions on the video.

Mind you, I'm not suggesting the students' and faculty's actions were appropriate, because they weren't. I am only pointing out that the Constitution doesn't protect the press from the people, only from their government.

As a photographer who dabbled in protest photography, I feel his pain. Years ago I found myself between mounted NYPD officers and angry anti-war protesters (pre-Iraq II).

The protesters took exception of me taking their images, asking for press ID (which I refused) and accusing me of being a police officer and the cops charged at me just like they did at the protesters.

Can't win...

At the same time, the media's presence does change the dynamics. Often, a protest gets louder and more animated when cameras are present, esp. when TV cameras get lifted on shoulders.

As a journalist, I'm ashamed of that professor and think she should have resigned immediately. If she's doesn't, she should be fired. Then again, I also think Brian Williams should have been kicked out right away and made to pay back his undeserved millions.

I can understand how, in our the highly polarized and politicized U.S. society — effects which are amplified in all dimensions on university campuses — a teacher might let her indignation and self-righteousness cloud her judgement during a highly politicized public event. After all, it’s very easy under such circumstances to fall into the trap of dividing people between “us” and “them” and to assume that all of “them” are against you and are out to undo whatever you’re setting out to accomplish.

So if Ms. Click sees and understands the error she committed, and sincerely apologizes for it, and makes restitution or atonement somehow, then this could be a very useful “teachable moment” in which the teacher is the one who is taught.

Someone smeared a swastika and someone else called someone the "n" word and the protestors come off as the bad guys. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. If they were trying to manage the media they could not have done a worse job..

Separately - it's important to understand, not condone, but understand, that the students had been fighting a lot of false or misleading impressions and reporting in the media, and many were highly distrustful of anyone at that point. They were wrong, and the faculty on hand performed a massive disservice to their charges. Scared, frustrated, angry people aren't known for making great snap decisions. A lot of the initial twitter reaction, media wise, honestly had a bit of 'but we're on their side!' to it - which is also a good teaching moment, as no...no you weren't.

Mike, you're lacking a lot of context here, and I don't think it serves you well.

The protestors had commandeered part of the quad as their living and discussion space. Some of the media entered there and behaved quite rudely, so the protestors tried to impose a perimeter.

Now, you can say that controlling space is only for the Legitimate Authorities, but the whole point of the protest was that the Authorities had forfeited their legitimacy by failing to address the students' concerns over a long period of time. In that space and time, the students were asserting their own authority.

Tim Tai had no obligation to recognize that authority, but calling this "persecution" and "authoritarian" is ridiculous. This was a raggedy band of students, not armed policemen.

You also cannot analyze this situation correctly without contemplating the effects of the students' race on how the media interprets their actions. And the historical role of the media in sensationalizing protests. Very often they have behaved as defenders of the status quo against legitimate grievances, and the students' distrust, fear, and anger towards them as a body are well deserved. Again, that's not Tim Tai's fault, but it's part of the story.

The rabble cries for media coverage - as long as they can control it. Faced with the reality of an honest portrayal they jump to censorship in a heartbeat.
No different from any other totalitarian group, is it?

[I think you're allowing your filters to overwhelm your perception. --Mike]

In her role serving on an advisory board for Student Media, I wonder how Ms. Click would advise student journalists on how to cover a protest? That sure would be amusing to hear...

Given the loud demands for the University president to be fired for events beyond his control, it's interesting that there's not similar demand for Click to be fired for her actions.

Voice from a different perspective:

The historical context is key — legally, the 1st Amendment does protect journalists. But journalists do not have a great track record of covering civil unrest fairly. In the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson commissioned a report to examine media coverage of race riots, which found that “media had sensationalized the disturbances, consistently overplaying violence and giving disproportionate amounts of time to emotional events and ‘militant’ leaders.” The Times had trouble covering the Watts riots. In covering protests in Baltimore earlier this year, many outlets gravitated first toward images of violence and fire.

“We were having some difficult dialogues there, talking about race,” said Jonathan Butler, the graduate student who went on a hunger strike. “That's a very sensitive space to be in and be vulnerable in. It was necessary to keep that space very healthy, a very open space for dialogue, versus it being a space where people are going to cover a story, exoticize people who are going through pain and struggle.”


And this


Why the different perspectives and focus? Maybe because the majority has no direct experience of what the students have experienced, have a hard time imagining it and thereby implicitly minimize it by reverting to another issue they can relate to.

Tim Tai exhibited dignified and courageous behavior. There was absolutely no excuse for how he was treated. The people who were bullying him don't understand basic civics and the value of polite discourse. Perhaps it's our times, with cable network shows, combined with a feeling of entitlement. For those protesters, it's their way or the highway. That attitude is not confined to that particular university. It's been happening at other universities in the US for at least the past several years. It just hasn't been covered much in the press.

The whole thing is just inept. The behavior of those involved has brought this to my attention, but left me with no idea whatsoever what they stand for and what their protest is about. Why make such an elaborate expression of free assembly and free speech if, when someone is looking, you aren't going to say anything?

And can someone explain to me what the rationale would be for restricting press access? It certainly gives the impression that you have something to hide, but I cannot for the life of me imagine what that would be.

I find it funny [in a depressed sort of way] that people who are rightly protesting over racial tension, fall into a similar trap that they are working against. We humans have a really hard time dealing with the 'other' whomever that might be. Racial issues are obviously about the 'other.' The opposite of racism is inclusion & understanding - but this is no easy solution. What ever failure of humanity that spawns racism, perhaps also manifests itself in how these protesters treated the reporter.

The same mechanisms of oppression are in us all.

Hmm in the UK, we don't have our rights neatly codified, but essentially a photographers rights here are similar.

I think had this situation occurred in the UK, and police been present, the photographer would have been asked to move back, or risk arrest for causing a breach of the peace.

To be honest I don't think he behaved sensibly. There was no need for him to be that close (at one stage he has to jump to get a shot with a longer lens). From a professional point of view, he failed to do his job .. he did not succeed in documenting the event, nor do I see how he could have from point blank range ... in any case instead of covering the story he became the story - surely a journalistic fail?

Yes, he may well have been within his rights, but I think everyone has a responsibility to exercise those rights with consideration for others feelings and concerns. Bring out the big gun of the 1st amendment was in this case overkill, unnecessary for the event coverage, and confrontational.

I think the media have covered this story spectacularly badly, because they identify with Tim Tai. And I'm surprised that Mike, who is usually eager to see all sides of an issue, framed the issue so tendentiously.

All of which is to say, reading the other comments here, I have the perception that people haven't heard both sides of the story. I urge you all to seek out some perspectives from people of color. Roxane Gay and Jelani Cobb have written well about it, for example.

[I'm not covering the whole story. I'm only covering the aspect of it that has to do with photographers' rights. I don't cover railroad accidents or railway safety either, only the incidents that involve photographers. Same idea. --Mike

Great story, shocking hysteria in the protesters. Wish there was a way I could share just this post from my Facebook page.

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