Re: [sixties-l] Infringing on Free Speech (Berkeley)

From: monkerud (
Date: 12/11/00

  • Next message: radman: "[sixties-l] U. Massachusetts prof publishes 60s rock n roll book"

    Maybe you should have called out some people with rifles and shot a few
    people.... Netanyahu supporters of course. That would be true free speech
    as practiced in Israel.....
    best, Don
    >Infringing on Free Speech
    >Debate rages on canceled talk in Berkeley
    >Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff
    >Sunday, December 10, 2000
    >A hullabaloo over free speech has again cast an embarrassing cloud over
    >Berkeley and challenged what many see as a core part of the city's soul.
    >Most of the almost daily letters and columns in the news last week said
    >leftist protesters, who forced the cancellation of a speech by former
    >Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have stained the city's famous
    >badge of honor as birthplace of the Free Speech Movement.
    >The uproar was sparked Nov. 28 when about 200 demonstrators, outraged by
    >the recent killing of Palestinians by Israeli troops, broke through a
    >police barricade and blocked the entrance to the Berkeley Community
    >Theatre, where the hawkish Netanyahu was to speak. Some also taunted the
    >2,000 waiting ticket- holders who were trapped outside.
    >A columnist for the New York Daily News chastised the "mob of demonstrators
    >waving signs and screaming into bullhorns," and singled out a quote from
    >protester Lori Berlin of Berkeley, who said, "I don't believe in free
    >speech for war criminals."
    >Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean declared in a column: "We must never, ever
    >forget that Free Speech is for everyone, not just the politically correct."
    >A letter in the Chronicle from Berkeley resident Dan Spitzer called the
    >protesters "Berkeley brown shirts," a reference to Nazis. Even some members
    >of the original Free Speech Movement joined the fray in a joint letter,
    >calling infringement of speech "a serious violation of the principles for
    >which thousands of students struggled in 1964."
    >The uproar is fueled by a cumulative frustration over several years of
    >leftist demonstrators, particularly at the UC campus, disrupting the
    >speeches of those they view as criminal in one form or another.  Targets
    >have included Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Supreme Court Justice
    >Sandra Day O'Connor, former United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and
    >several others. Berkeley is not the only city to see such disruptions, but
    >it stands out because of the frequency of the disruptions and the pride it
    >takes in its free speech heritage.
    >The city could end up losing the chance to see a range of speakers "as
    >prominent figures who visit Berkeley continue to be shouted down or
    >intimidated by disruptive Berkeleyans," said an editorial in the Daily
    >Californian, campus newspaper at the University of California.
    >The organizer of the Netanyahu talk, Bruce Vogel, said he was considering
    >pulling the acclaimed Marin-Peninsula-Berkeley Lecture Series out of
    >Berkeley. The 11-year-old series, which added Berkeley as a venue only this
    >year, has featured world leaders and other prominent figures.
    >Another reason the debate is so heated is that the protest leaders are
    >prominent members of the Berkeley community and the national left. A chief
    >organizer was Barbara Lubin, former school board president and head of the
    >Middle East Children's Alliance.
    >A co-sponsor of the protest was the International Action Center, founded by
    >former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. The other co-sponsors were the
    >Coalition of Jews for Justice in Israel and Palestine, the Arab American
    >Anti- Discrimination Committee and A Jewish Voice for Peace.
    >Many liberal Berkeley residents who criticize the protesters say they also
    >disagree with, if not abhor, Netanyahubut that the right to protest does
    >not include infringing on free speech.
    >Lubin claimed an equal right to engage in "civil disobedience": "He
    >(Netanyahu) has a right to free speech, but we have a right to try and stop
    >The Free Speech Movement also used civil disobedience when students
    >surrounded a police car in Sproul Plaza for 30 hours and staged a sit-in at
    >Sproul Hall, but Michael Rossman, a Berkeley
    >writer and member of the movement,  called the Netanyahu protesters'
    >definition of civil disobedience "illegitimate."
    >"That's like saying any time you do anything against the law for principle,
    >it's civil disobedience," he said.  "That's too broad."
    >And some who tried to get into the Netanyahu lecture said the protesters'
    >tactics were more like uncivil disobedience.
    >"Never in America have I waited, and been turned away from a paid lecture
    >that was unofficially canceled by a mob shouting accusations at me," wrote
    >ticket-holder Judy Norris. "Harassed, hassled, with accusations shouted at
    >me and my friend, as though we were Uzi-carrying slayers of children, we,
    >two quiet ladies from Moraga . . .  wanted to hear both sides of the issue."
    >Lubin said Netanyahu's views are easily heard: "If people are really
    >interested in what Mr. Netanyahu has to say, they can open up the New York
    >Mayor Dean countered: "I don't want to hear what Netanyahu says through
    >something else. I think people have a right to hear him directly, to see
    >him, to experience him."
    >A volunteer at the International Action Center headquarters in New York
    >quoted a poem, "Don't Let the Fascists Speak," by the late African American
    >lesbian writer Pat Parker of San Francisco: "What the Nazis say will cause
    >people to hurt ME."
    >But critics say the no-speech-for-fascists standard relies on the
    >protesters' perception to define a fascist or war criminal and can easily
    >lead to repression of the left or the right.
    >"You are only defeating yourselves," UC senior Andrew Massey told the
    >protesters in a Daily Cal column, "as one day you might find your contrary
    >position makes the mob turn on you."
    >Laurie Polster of Jews for Justice said the demonstration was "incredibly
    >nonviolent" and that she had not gone there to stop the speech. But she
    >added that freedom of speech is not absolute, noting that Germany, for
    >example, bans public denial of the Holocaust and that most newspapers will
    >not publish racist ads.
    >Asked if there is a principle or standard to determine when it's legitimate
    >for protesters to infringe on a public speech, Polster raised the Hitler test.
    >"If Adolf Hitler were alive and came here to speak and preach hatred,
    >should I not try to stop the event?" she asked.
    >Mayor Dean's response: "The Supreme Court settled that issue in Skokie,
    >Illinois." The court ruled that Nazis had a freedom-of-speech right to
    >march in a town that was home to many Holocaust survivors.
    >Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center, said,
    >"Heckling is also a form of speech."
    >She said people like Netanyahu have generous funding and ready access to
    >the media to get their message out, while her organization does not have
    >adequate opportunity to tell what's happening to the Palestinians.
    >Asked if all groups who feel their message is not getting out, such as
    >white supremacists, should have license to disrupt speech, Polster said,
    >"It's a very, very tough issue, and I can only speak for this one event."
    >Alan Schlosser, managing attorney for the San Francisco office of the
    >American Civil Liberties Union, said, "It's not an easy question." The ACLU
    >swallowed a bitter pill to argue for the Nazi's right to march in Skokie.
    >"The right to protest includes the right to protest vigorously and loudly,"
    >he said, but not "the right to break the law or interfere with other people
    >attending the speech."
    >In general, Schlosser said, "The burden is on the government, in this case
    >the Berkeley police, to take all steps necessary to allow free speech to
    >take place and to allow protesters to express themselves."
    >Some protesters said police shared responsibility for cancellation of the
    >speech because they retreated behind a fence and did not arrest those who
    >blocked the theater.
    >Police said they had not received early notification of Netanyahu's
    >appearance and that attempting arrests with their stretched resources could
    >have escalated crowd anger and led to injuries.
    >HECKLED IN BERKELEY Here are some of the people whose speeches have been
    >disrupted or canceled by protesters in Berkeley.
    >-Benjamin Nentanyahu, former Israeli Prime Minister. His Nov. 28 speech was
    >canceled when protesters opposed to his hard line in the conflict with
    >Palestinians blocked the Berkeley Community Theatre.
    >-Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO commander.
    >His Oct. 19 speech at the Berkeley Community Theatre was disrupted by two
    >protesters chanting
    >""Wesley Clark, war criminal!"
    >-Dan Flynn, executive director of Accuracy in America, was disrupted by
    >hecklers on Sept. 27 during a University of California speech claiming
    >death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal is guilty.
    >-Madeleine Albright, U.S. Secretary of State. Her May 10 commencement
    >address at UC's Greek Theatre was interrupted repeatedly by protesters
    >opposed to U.S. sanctions against Iraq.
    >-David Irving, author who claims Holocaust was exaggerated. His Feb. 1995
    >talk at UC was cancelled by protesters who fought with his audience.
    >Protesters tossed rocks and bottles at his Oct. 1994 talk, injuring three
    >-Vincent Sarich, emeritus Berkeley professor who said affirmative action
    >discriminated against whites.  More than 50 protesters disrupted his
    >anthropology class in Nov. 1990.
    >-Sandra Day O'Connor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Protesters opposed to her
    >rulings restricting abortion and upholding an anti-sodomy law interrupted
    >her Jan. 1990 speech at UC.
    >-Clarence Pendleton, first black chairman of the U.S.  Commission on Civil
    >Rights. His April 1985 talk was interrupted by hecklers opposed to his
    >support of policies shunning racial quotas in employment and school
    >-Jeane Kirkpatrick, former ambassador to the United Nations. She left the
    >stage during a Feb.  1983 UC lecture, shouted down by hecklers opposed to
    >U.S. policy in El Salvador. She resumed her talk but canceled a lecture the
    >next day.
    >E-mail Charles Burress at <>.

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