[sixties-l] More on Berkeley free speech

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 12/13/00

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    From: "Joseph One" <joseph_one@hotmail.com>
    Subject: Response to Mayor Dean and the FSM letter signers
    Submitted to "the Berkeley Daily Planet":
    December 12, 2000
    To the editor:
       Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean sadly demeans herself, churning nonsense
    about protesters violating the "free speech" rights of 'poor, besieged'
    Benjamin Netanyahu--as well as falsely claiming that the protesters
    object to "controversial figures." (We object to mass human rights
       As we said in the '90's, "Puh-lease!" Netanyahu has more "free
    speech" than all the protesters combined.
       In case it has escaped the Mayor's notice, Netanyahu--an omnipresent
    figure on American TV, with plenty of U.S. financial and media
    support--gets to speak all the time. You could hardly avoid hearing
    him. For those who felt so traumatized about missing Netanyahu's PR
    speech, you can catch him almost any week, on any American TV set near
    you. And yet, in the U.S. major media, the dissent of even large
    nonviolent protests is only featured when protesters engage in bold
    civic actions that "make news." Netanyahu's cancellation made the
    protest "news."
       Netanyahu would have never allowed any dissidents in the auditorium
    the free speech to morally challenge his involvement in Israel's
    internationally condemned mass human rights violations. In fact,
    Netanyahu led a state whose very policies deny the free speech of those
    it oppresses.
       But Dean is not alone in defending the freedom of a mass human rights
    violator to carry on without inconvenient interruptions. I guess, over
    the years, the FSM signers of the Dec 7th letter to the Berkeley Daily
    Planet have become staid and forgotten a few things about the
    lopsidedness of power and dissent. In such lopsidedness, the protest
    against Netanyahu actually constituted a strike *for* free speech. Only
    the peaceful disruption (in the tradition of sit-ins) brought some
    national attention to the moral issue of Israel's oppression of
    Palestinians. This *increased* free speech to voices typically censored
    by the American media.
       Mario Savio, an incisive and charismatic leader of the FSM,
    championed the free speech rights of those without institutional or
    state power to speak truth *to* power. Savio didn't champion the free
    speech rights *of* power: power by its very nature already has this
       Savio also proclaimed that we must throw our bodies on the gears of
    state power when it becomes heinously oppressive--and in a way, that's
    what the protesters did. We know what Netanyahu stands for: he stands
    for state oppression. No business-as-usual for him.
       There is no true "free speech" without the opportunity to critically
    challenge power; and meaningfully none, when the major media is
    politically controlled and dissent is barred access. Then, there is
    only power's propaganda. By unthinkingly criticizing the protesters as
    attacking "free speech," Mayor Dean and the FSM letter writers subvert
    the very foundation of "free speech": speaking truth to power.
    Joseph Anderson,
    Netanyahu protester,
    Berkeley resident

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