Civil Libertarians and Academics Who Support Censors

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Here is how the letter described the actions of the students who came to shut down the speaker:

“the students non-violently and verbally protested a university-invited speaker.  The students left the event peacefully.”

The letter then compared the actions of the censors with those who wanted to listen:

“[They] conducted themselves in less of a disruptive manner than some of the counter-protesters….”

Sounds as if the Muslim Student Union deserved a civil liberties award, while the students who came to listen to the invited speaker—“the counter-protestors”—deserve to be condemned.  In a more recent letter the ACLU leaders claim that “the students’ intent was not to censor the speaker….”

The problem with the ACLU account is that it is completely fictional—made up out of whole cloth—as anyone can see for themselves by viewing the video and listening to the Muslim Students Association leaders who described their aim to “shut down”—that is to censor—the speakers.  That is why these students are being prosecuted, according to the District Attorney—not for merely “protesting” the speaker’s views, but because they “meant to stop [Ambassador Oren’s] speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas.”  The students themselves have been more honest about their intentions than the ACLU leaders.  .  For instance, one student leader refused to acknowledge that Mr. Oren had First Amendment rights of his own by interrupting him and shouting, “Propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!”  Another student was caught on video telling a crowd assembled outside the event that “we pretty much shut them down.”

Ultimately a jury will decide whether the students conspired to “shut down” Oren’s talk, or whether they were merely “protesting” the content of his talk.  The evidence will clearly show a conspiracy to stop Oren from speaking.

Why then have the ACLU leaders distorted the facts and conveyed a totally misleading impression of what took place at the University of California?  The answer seems clear.  These leaders don’t like Israel and they support the censorship of pro-Israel views.  They would never take the same position if the shoe had been on the other foot:  If the speaker were from Hamas and the students trying to shut him down were pro-Israel.

The national ACLU must investigate this matter and take action to assure that its longstanding principle of neutral support for freedom of expression has not been compromised by local leaders who have placed their opposition to Israel above the principles of free speech.

Another group that has sought to pressure the District Attorney to give the censors a pass is comprised of 30 Jewish Studies faculty members at the University of California.  That may be surprising to some who believe that such professors would be sympathetic to students who wanted to listen to the Israeli Ambassador and history professor.

But it is not surprising to those who understand that many Jewish Studies have departments been hijacked by anti-Israeli extremists. Among the signers of this letter were academics who favor boycotts, divestment and demonization of Israel as an Apartheid or Nazi regime.

As a lifelong civil libertarian and defender of free speech, I hope the District Attorney will not succumb to these political pressures.  The values of the First Amendment favor prosecution in this case, just as they would if Jewish students conspired to shut down an Anti-Israel speaker.  The defense of freedom of speech must be neutral and vigorous.

Alan Dershowitz’s latest novel is The Trials of Zion. This article was originally published in the Orange County Register.

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  • davarino

    The protestors cant handle the truth. If truth were on their side why dont they hang around for the question and answer period. That way they could really hammer the speaker with the truth.

  • Charles

    This situation not only exemplifies the anti-Israel posture of many Muslims, "civil liberties" organizations and large swathes of academia, but, as Mr. Dershowitz fails to add, is reflective of a radical left influence among these groups.

  • StephenD

    You can picture the Wicked Witch of the West. As the truthful words of the speaker are heard…It Burns! IT Burns!!

  • tanstaafl

    This shouldn't surprise us. There is no debate in Islam o Land. Just force.

  • RobertPinkerton

    This is not the first time (in my memory, at least) that the ACLU has finked out on civil liberty basics: I remember that, in late 1968, the ACLU (Though whether this was national or merely the Ohio state affiliate I do not recall.) came out in favor of restriction on firearm ownership. This I saw as a betrayal of its professed mission of defending civil liberty; although antipathy to the commoner's Right of arms is consonant with the ACLU's socialist origins,

  • sedoanman

    "The national ACLU must investigate this matter and take action to assure that its longstanding principle of neutral support for freedom of expression has not been compromised …"

    What "longstanding principle of neutral support for freedom of expression"? The ACLU is very selective in the free-speech cases it takes, or doesn't take, so that its agenda of tearing at the fabric of society is furthered. This is not neutrality.

  • Alfonz Shmedlap

    M., 05/16/11 common era

    Censorship is free speech. Evil is good, and good is evil. Didn't Isaiah prophesize something like that? Hmmm, could it be that Mohammed will soon be permanently out of the religion business? Hold that thought!

  • steven l

    The US govt has already publicly, officially and blatantly censored free speech and given special status to Islam and the Qur' an while not supporting the same position vis a vis the other 2 monotheistic religions.
    BHO and his gvt have gone over this red line time after time.

  • Andres de Alamaya

    There needs to be an investigation into donations by CAIR or their like to the local chapter of ACLU and the culprits should be sued for perjury and interference with a police investigation. Also we need new legislation that blocks donations by foreign government or entities from making donations to U.S. colleges in their efforts to whitewash their own histories and brainwash naive Americans to their way of thinking. Middle East Studies departments funded by Saudi petro dollares are nothing more than propaganda departments using American colleges for their evil purpose.

  • kafir4life

    It is imperative that terrorist supporters (especially the terrorist supporters at the terrorist supporting hamas-linked terror supporting organization and their terror supporters over at cair) shout down any opposing viewpoint. They don't have the capacity to listen to others and get involved in a debate, as it's tough to justify murder, rape, terror, and genocide, so they have to scream and whine.
    It's just islam folks. Debate is hareem. Killing kufar is haleel.

    • Tanstasfl

      Exactly. The truth is not important. Only Islam is important.

  • Randall Reed

    I hope that Alan D. became just as upset over the left's suppression of conservative speakers on campus as he is over Muslim's suppression of Jewish views. If he was, then that is to his credit. I like to think he favors the allowance of opposing sides to make their cases without suppression (how much heckling/disruption becomes suppression?), but he is, after all, a liberal, and modern liberals typically have no basis for believing in objective value. Why would a liberal believe in a fair fight? Would his answer be for practical reasons, or because it is just right?

  • answer4everything

    If I was a leader of a biker gang I would view this as an opportunity. I would offer my biker gang as security for any conservative speaker that has to speak at any university. How many leftists are going to mouth off with a 1%er standing next to them? Every one knows that leftists only speak truth to power when there is no chance they may actually get hurt. Thats why they throw paint on rich women outside of fur stores but never show up outside of a biker bar to protest the wearing of leather.