When David Horowitz speaks about campus anti-Semitism and appeasement of radical Islam at the University of California, Santa Barbara on May 26, it will be against a backdrop of soft censorship and suppression of free speech that has come to characterize the UCSB public square.
The school’s Associated Students (AS) financial board, heavily influenced by the UCSB Muslim Students Association acting in concert with left-wing groups, illegally refused a funding request last week by the College Republicans to fund the event. After a protest by students anxious to hear Horowitz, the AS granted a part of the sum initially requested by College Republicans, but only after encouraging a campaign portraying Horowitz as a racist, Islamophobe, and practitioner of hate speech.
The May 26 speech will touch on themes similar those in a previous Horowitz lecture at Santa Barbara three years ago in which he challenged — without success — students heckling from the audience to denounce the terror group Hamas and its intention to wipe Israel, and all Jews, off the face of the map.
The memory of that confrontation was one factor that led the College Republicans’ request for $2000, for audiovisual and security expenses (and not including an honorarium) to be turned down by the Associated Students board on May 2. Citing court decisions requiring viewpoint neutrality when student fees are allocated for speakers, College Republicans protested. At a raucous public forum on May 5, the AS approved $1100 for the event. This amount was then reduced to $800 as a result of a campaign by Islamic and left groups, which also made it clear that they intended to disrupt the event. And then the AS further denigrated the College Republicans’ request by allocating comparable funding for a campus wide “Anti-Hate Workshop” to take place at the same time as Horowitz’s May 26 lecture.
Forcing some student groups to shoulder the burden of security costs when others threaten an event with violence is appropriately called the “heckler’s veto,” and in this case it has produced the same speech-suppression that the AS financial board initially tried to achieve by denying funding of the Horowitz event altogether. The discriminatory actions of the student board caused the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a non-profit dedicated to protecting free speech on campus, to send a letter warning UCSB chancellor Henry Yang that it was “prepared to use all of our resources to see this…through to a just and moral conclusion.”