This is what we’ve come to.

A group of anti-Israel students showed up at a talk from an Israeli speaker, heckled and shouted him down, then claimed that their free speech rights were violated when the school disciplined them.

No wonder Florida Atlantic University ranks dead last for college life.

Carl Straumsheim of Inside Higher Ed reports.

Free Speech or Heckling?

A predictable pattern of events played out at Florida Atlantic University this spring: an Israeli speaker gave a presentation on campus, and pro-Palestinian students protested. But the way they protested — by interrupting his talk — has renewed a debate over free speech.

The protest occurred during a presentation on April 19 by Israeli Col. Bentzi Gruber titled “Ethics in the Field: An Inside Look at the Israel Defense Forces,” when five members of the FAU Students for Justice in Palestine unfurled a banner that read “WAR CRIMINAL” and accused Israeli troops of committing war crimes. The students were escorted out,  then continued their protest outside the venue as the event proceeded, according to a police report.

The office of student conduct quickly launched an investigation into the protest. The process concluded this month when the students signed an agreement that would keep the protest from becoming a permanent mark on their records. In return, the students accepted sanctions ranging from probation until graduation and a ban on holding leadership positions to attending diversity training programs and community service. The FAU’s code of conduct stipulates that “students are expected to govern their behavior at all University-sponsored events.”

Many campuses regularly see dueling protests or events related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with picketing, rallies and so forth designed to advance one idea or another, or to question the ideas of a speaker. But in a few cases in recent years, those protests have involved interrupting speakers, which many view differently. For example, after a group of Muslim students at the University of California at Irvine in 2010 heckled the Israeli ambassador to the United States, 10 of the “Irvine 11,” as they were branded, were found guilty of misdemeanors for conspiring to disrupt and disrupting a public speech. The case is still under appeal.