These are from Tuesday, April 29th 2008 in Berkeley, CA.

Zombie was kind enough to send me a note saying that Daniel Pipes and Victor Davis Hanson and Yaron Brook (who I wasn't familiar with but who is the head of the Ayn Rand Institute - the others are prominent conservatives if you don't know) would be giving a panel discussion on "The Threat of Totalitarian Islam" on the UC Berkeley campus, and the last time Daniel Pipes spoke it was heavily protested. According to audience members who were there last time so many people disrupted the meeting that half the audience was thrown out. Pipes has a discussion of this on his blog if you want the details. And even if there weren't crazies to photograph, hey, should be an interesting talk. So I went.

Update: Welcome Lizards! Feel free to poke around the site while you're here.

Right away I could see this wasn't a normal lecture. There was at least one officer with a dog, they'd shut down some internal corridors of the Life Sciences building so you could only approach the lecture hall from one entrance...

...and to enter you had to run a security gauntlet - being wanded, bags searched, etc. No banners or flags or anything like that were allowed in. This appeared to be effective - as far as I can tell nobody attempted any kind of major disruption.

Inside the lecture hall there were 7-8 police officers and the room was basically sealed - you couldn't go to the bathroom and then re-enter, as an example. It was made very clear that any disruptions would result in ejection and possible legal issues. This picture was taken well before the lecture started as the seats were slowly filling as people made it through security.

If you can't make out the signs, left to right that's Dr. Brook, Dr. Pipes, and Dr. Hanson.

It was your basic panel discussion - they all said some introductory statements, there were some canned statements, and then they took both written and oral audience questions. They made it very clear that the oral questions were a bit of an experiment and they'd stop if need be. This actually worked very well - you could tell there were some people waiting in line who wanted to ask something "interesting" because when somebody on the panel would say something positive about corporations or against the UN their heads were about to explode. Luckily none of these folks got a chance to ask questions (by the time everybody spoke on every issue, and alternating with written questions, there were only a few oral questions), and they decided it wasn't worth just starting shouting or whatever. And they did take one written question that was fairly out there - basically why did we force our culture on the Middle East after World War One (Brook: "I wish we had").

One of the guys in line was wearing this. I would have liked to have heard his question!

I thought this was classy - this guy was next in line when they cut off questions, and he really, really, wanted to ask something, and Dr. Hanson stayed behind to talk to him for a bit.

So the good news is UC Berkeley can have conservative speakers without major incident. The bad news is this involves maybe a dozen UC police, metal detectors, police lines, a K9... well, it's a start.

Update: Zombie has some additional pictures and a little bit of video on the zomblog!



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