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Category Archives: Free Speech

This page was formed in light of the recent event at UC Irvine in which 11 members of the Muslim Student Union @ UCI were arrested for attempts to silence and censor a speaker whose views they disagreed with. Free speech is NOT negotiable!

Here is the link to their Facebook Page.

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Joshua Suddock in the OC Register writes

UCI student Mohamed Abdekany asks law school dean Irwin Chemerinsky why acts of civil disobedience by 11 pro-Palestinian demonstrators during a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren were not protected under the First Amendment. Chemerinsky asserted that their outbursts were actually an affront to the speaker’s free speech, arguing that their act of civil disobedience amounted to a “heckler’s veto” on the speaker’s right to be heard during a pre-arranged presentation on campus.

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore’s recent post in the OCblog:

Daniel Pipes, UCI, Free Speech and the MSU

Tonight at UCI should be interesting. Daniel Pipes is speaking at the Pacific Ballroom D from 7 to 9 p.m. Pipes is a senior Giuliani foreign policy adviser. The last time he spoke on campus, members of the Muslim Student Union disrupted his speech.

Free speech ought to mean that anyone can speak (write) their mind about issues. It does not give free license to shout down others. That isn’t free speech – it’s doing violence on the free speech of others.

If Daniel Pipes wants to, for example, discuss the Republic of the Sudan’s use of Islamic Sharia law to charge a British teacher with inciting religious hatred after she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Muhammad, an offense that could subject her to 40 lashes then that’s his right.

If UCI’s Muslim Student Union wants to have a meeting discussing the Republic of the Sudan’s use of Islamic Sharia law and why they agree or disagree with its applications, then anyone should be free to listen without disrupting the talk.

I expect to attend tonight’s meeting. I will be watching to see if Mr. Pipes is allowed to speak without disruption and, if he is disrupted, what, if anything, will be done to defend his First Amendment rights in a citadel of academic freedom.

All the best,

Chuck DeVore
State Assemblyman, 70th District
www.ChuckDeVore.com

Today’s editorial: UCI falls short on a test of leadership

Defending free speech is responsible, but so is denouncing hateful speech.

An Orange County Register editorial

We’re used to seeing disturbing pictures of angry political conflict from the Middle East, but not used to seeing such anger here in Orange County. Specifically, we’ve been a bit shocked by ongoing events at UC Irvine where Muslim and Jewish students have been in a state of simmering conflict, stemming in part from a series of Muslim speakers and protests highly critical of Israel.

Unfortunately, the school administration seems to be punting in its response – firm in its defense of free speech, to its credit, yet reluctant to criticize clearly objectionable behavior and actions. Both are in order.

Jewish groups say they feel intimidation on campus. The Register’s Opinion pages have carried letters and columns debating whether UCI has a safe atmosphere for Jewish students, after incendiary words were uttered by some invited Islamist speakers, a Holocaust memorial was defaced and some other incidents. Muslim students were the ones complaining this week, regarding a Bren Events Center program sponsored by UCI Republicans that featured three self-proclaimed former terrorists who denounced Islamic fundamentalism. Reports indicate that security was intense.

Several hundred Jewish students and leaders met Wednesday night with UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake. “We promote dialogue, understanding, growth and tolerance at UCI,” he said, according to a Register report. “We have 1,000 guest speakers on campus every year. Could I evaluate them and say this one is anti-Semitic? I could not. What I could say is that as a person and a campus, we abhor hate speech, period.”

We applaud the chancellor’s unwillingness to abridge free speech. We believe that debate – even angry, tense debate – can be a good thing. Once you get into the business of outlawing “hate speech,” then that stifles freedom and allows officials to depict any words they don’t like as “hate.” Still, the administration needs to do more as the situation continues to affect campus life on a wider scale. Think about it – parents of students and potential students are beginning to develop a generalized fear about UCI. People on campus regularly tell us the tension is growing, and is not just periodic.

It’s the role of the school administration to draw distinctions between speech and actions, and to set some standards of behavior at meetings, in the classroom, in the dorms.

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, has been actively monitoring the situation at UCI. He attended a recent speech by one invitee of the Muslim Students Union, where he tried to openly videotape the event despite a UCI policy allowing the student group to forbid such taping. In a letter sent to the chancellor this week, Mr. DeVore wrote, “Hate speech is, of course, protected under the First Amendment. That said, it is incumbent on community leaders, including leaders of the academic community, to criticize or condemn hate speech as it happens because such speech can easily lead to acts of violence.”

If the chancellor is unwilling to do that, Mr. DeVore argues, then he should at least eliminate the campus policy – specific to UCI but not other UC campuses – that allows student groups to ban the recording of public events. Perhaps if these speakers knew that their speeches could be viewed on YouTube.com, he reasons, they might be more inclined to engage in civil debate rather than angry diatribes.

Not a bad idea, and one of a number that should be considered as a fuller, deeper response to what is happening on campus. Speech should be open on college campuses, but such speech should also be freely disseminated, discussed and criticized – without fear.

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