Thursday, February 17, 2011

OC DA and Freedom of Speech

It was indefensible for members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other outspoken members of the Muslim student community from UC Irvine and other college campuses to intentionally disrupt the public speaking engagement of Michael Oren. According to many reports, police personnel were on site in the event that any trouble may occur. A number of students were removed, arrested, and punished by their respective schools after a series of students would rise up, shout opposition to the key-note speaker, only to be followed by another student interrupting in turn.

The Orange County District Attorney has decided to file conspiracy charges against those individuals. He is well within his rights and responsibilities to do so, and I believe that it should be done. UC Irvine is become a tense location for Muslim -- Jewish relations. The rhetoric, in some cases, has become quite nasty. Despite the weighing in by campus officials, including the Dean of the relatively new law school, the campus needs to take extra precautions that further planned disruptions do not occur.

Freedom of speech will not be imperilled by holding those students accountable.
They are not being punished for sharing their views. They are being held to answer for disrupting a public form to hear from the Israeli Ambassador to the United States. It is important to keep in mind that freedom of speech is not just the freedom to be heard, including the right to not hear, but also the right to hear in the first place. If any party or individual disagrees with statements, ideas, or ideologies of another group, they have the right to respond in a manner which emboldens their own right to expression without impinging on the rights of others to speak.

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