Thursday, August 30, 2012

Free speech on campus; UC opposes anti-semitism resolution

Depending on who you talk to, this is both good and bad.  I see it as a win for the first amendment and a blow for freedom.  As much as I despise anti-Semites (along with the KKK, NS, Aryans, Neo-Nazis and the like,) I have stated publicly, and will continue to do so, that their right to speak is as valid as that of anyone else.  As long as the line is not crossed into actual calls for violence or an actual physical act, I will defend their right to say what they want.  Debate must always be ongoing, and we cannot have a conversation unless we have the freedom to speak our mind without interference or censorship.  Our guaranteed right to speak freely is especially made to cover speech we do not agree with; after all there is no need for the first amendment if we all agree on everything, is there?

From SFGate August 30 by Nanette Asimov

UC rejects anti-Semitism resolution

The University of California says it won't support a resolution condemning anti-Semitism on campus - approved unanimously by the state Assembly on Tuesday - because the resolution says "no public resources will be allowed to be used for any anti-Semitic or any intolerant agitation."

"We think it's problematic because of First Amendment concerns," said Steve Montiel, a UC spokesman.

The nonbinding resolution, says, in effect, that UC and other public universities should ban activity that could be interpreted as intolerant or anti-Semitic, including certain demonstrations, from taking place anywhere on its property.

The move is the latest chapter in a debate that arose this summer over whether students create an intolerable, anti-Semitic environment by staging annual, anti-Israel protests mimicking Israeli guards questioning Palestinians.

The Assembly resolution pitches lawmakers into that prickly First Amendment debate.

"California schools need to recognize that anti-Semitism is still a very real issue on college campuses," said Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, R-Fresno, who wrote the resolution with Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach.

Among the examples Halderman cited was the annual Israel Apartheid Week held on many campuses, in which "students pretending to be Palestinians collapse as if they had been murdered en masse by Israeli Jews." She referred to a study commissioned by UC to evaluate Jewish students' experiences after swastikas were found on several campuses.

Released in July, the report said students have a right to protest against Israel, but that such demonstrations often cross the line into discrimination. While not illegal, they violate "principles of community" that mandate a safe, humane environment for all students, according to its authors from the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP. The report urged UC to ban hate speech on campus and to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism.

Thousands of students and faculty members, many of them Jewish, responded with a petition condemning the report and urging UC President Mark Yudof to reject its recommendations.

Yudof, a First Amendment scholar, said he wouldn't violate the Constitution.

Bravo, Yudof.  Just keep reminding everyone, "It's the 1st amendment, stupid!"

Read it all

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