First Lady Michelle Obama struggled to handle a heckler at a fundraiser last night. As I have absolutely no experience with this, I thought I should offer my advice. (More)
Squirrels don’t often get heckled. The occasional homeowner, gardener, or blue jay might yell at us, but that’s a spirited legal dispute over resource and property interests, rather than heckling. And no one’s ever heckled me while I’m here on the campus soapbox, so I have no actual experience of heckling at all.
But I am BPI’s roving reporter and that qualifies me to offer advice on any topic, regardless of my knowledge or experience. So herein is my open letter – journalists love to write those – to First Lady Michelle Obama:
Dear First Lady,
I understand your frustration at being heckled during your fundraiser last night. As I’m sure you know, heckling is protected speech under the First Amendment, as Bill Board explains in a reader comment here:
I guess the only free speech Moochelle believes in, is HERS.
However, the teacher’s edition of the Constitution notes that heckling is only allowed against Democrats, as Pete explains in a reader comment to this story from 2008:
Not only should these citizens have been removed for disrupting a presidential speech, but heckling the president while he is giving a 4th of July speech is outright unpatriotic. Protesting would be a good way to exercise freedom of speech, not slandering America’s leader from the crowd on independence day.
The Obamas get really, really angry when the serfs don’t do as they are told.
Acting like a ghetto hoodrat as usual.
Renowned public relations expert miss msry21952 had a slightly different take:
She could have held her temper and not acted like a petulant child, but the heckler was in the wrong and using the wrong time and place for this “protest.”
I understand that you have infinitely more experience with hecklers than I do, if only because I have none at all. However, I reviewed reader responses from across the conservative spectrum, and my research has led me to this conservative manual for How to Handle a Heckler, Black Democratic First Lady Edition:
- Put the microphone down,
- Leave the room,
- Leave the White House,
- Go back to Chicago.
Astonishingly, this almost precisely mirrors the conservative manual for How to Be President: Black Democrat Edition, although some editions of that manual include a fifth suggestion:
- Go to jail.
Of course, another strategy is to handle it as you did: by offering to end your speech and let the heckler take the microphone. However, I respectfully suggest it is now almost certain your next heckler will be a conservative … who will take you up on that offer if you make it, or complain about “freedom of speech” if you don’t.
All things considered, I think your best option is to adopt your husband’s method of letting the heckler talk for a few minutes, acknowledging their right to speak even if you disagree with what they say, and continuing your prepared remarks. I’m sure that’s as easy to do as it is to read online, and that’s why I feel confident giving you this advice.
Thank you for your time,
Regis Phlyphytyphts Phylyphytyl III (It’s Welsh)
Roving Reporter, Blogistan Polytechnic Institute
Good day and good nuts.