September 23, 2011

"California Jury Convicts 10 Muslim Students of Interrupting Campus Speech."

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:
The students interrupted a February 2010 speech by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, by taking turns standing up and shouting their objections to Israeli-government policies...

Both prosecutors and lawyers for the defendants said they were protecting the principle of freedom of speech. The prosecutors accused the students of deliberate censorship, while the students' lawyers argued that their clients were conducting a common campus protest and should not have been prevented from expressing their views....
The protest took place at the University of California at Irvine. Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the law school there said it was a "terrible mistake" to prosecute the students. But he's also written that it does not violate free speech rights to ban the disruption of a speech:
[T]here are now posters around campus referring to the unjust treatment of the "Irvine 11" and saying they were just engaging in speech themselves. However... [t]he government, including public universities, always can impose time, place and manner restrictions on speech. A person who comes into my classroom and shouts so that I cannot teach surely can be punished without offending the 1st Amendment. Likewise, those who yelled to keep the ambassador from being heard were not engaged in constitutionally protected behavior.

Freedom of speech, on campuses and elsewhere, is rendered meaningless if speakers can be shouted down by those who disagree. The law is well established that the government can act to prevent a heckler's veto -- to prevent the reaction of the audience from silencing the speaker. There is simply no 1st Amendment right to go into an auditorium and prevent a speaker from being heard, no matter who the speaker is or how strongly one disagrees with his or her message.
Do you think Dean Chemerinsky would be impressed by the argument that Oren was an outsider who made an antagonistic deliberate transgression on a community?

35 comments:

Shanna said...

All they needed to do was evict them from the speech.

The Drill SGT said...

Do you think Dean Chemerinsky would be impressed by the argument that Oren was an outsider who made an antagonistic deliberate transgression on a community?

A few points:

1. In the UW case, it was an outsider, taking a position in opposition to the University. In the UCI case, Oren was invited by a UCI organization into a University Venue. A community dedicated to learning, etc.

2. Not all the 10 were UCI students.

(PS: I'm a UCI Business School MBA)

Almost Ali said...

All they needed to do was evict them from the speech.

Sorry, they were scared dung-less.

Carol_Herman said...

Bet'cha, this gets reversed!

Free speech is free speech ... And, students who break campus rules can be tossed OUT.

Won't be the first time, though, that California judges just never read the US Constitution.

There was a recent case ... where a woman was convicted (I think of murder.) But the judge didn't allow in the "jury detail" ... that exists ... in the 14th Amendment. Pick another number if my Amendment reference is wrong.

Coketown said...

Erwin Chemerinsky is one of my favorite liberals to listen to. He's very reasonable and oftentimes very persuasive. But most of that is from his Delicious Dish-style of talking, which is mellow and makes other speakers sound hysterical by comparison. Hugh Hewitt has him on once a week to discuss hot legal issues with another conservative legal scholar, and the exchanges are interesting--especially when the two agree on outcomes but for different reasons.

I'll check yesterday's show to see if Erwin discusses this.

edutcher said...

I'm not surprised the dean of the law school has no problem with shouting down someone who was invited to speak as long as it's somebody whose ideas he presumably doesn't like.

It's how Adolf and Benito and Nikolai got where they were.

I am surprised a CA jury had sense enough to nail the would-be Brownshirts.

The Drill SGT said...

Shanna said...
All they needed to do was evict them from the speech.


They conspired to stretch out the disruption. 1 Student stood up and disrupted. The rest chimed it. They ultimately, after pleading for civility, would remove the standing student. At that point, the speech would resume and then the next student stood, rinse and repeat....

art.the.nerd said...

I am completely confused by your attempt to suggest a parallel between the UC Irvine case and the Sara Goldrick situation. Can you elaborate?

Coketown said...

I am completely confused by your attempt to suggest a parallel between the UC Irvine case and the Sara Goldrick situation.

You can't see the parallel between intrusive activists shutting down a speaker and denying them their first amendment rights and intrusive activists shutting down a speaker and denying them their first amendment rights?

Brian O'Connell said...

I think this is better understood as an issue of trespass rather than free speech. When you aim to prevent others from speaking or being heard at an event like this one, whether or not you are engaging in speech, you exceed the implied bounds of your invitation, and so you are trespassing. Imagine this took place in a movie theater. It's clear that a person has no right to disrupt others from watching and hearing the movie, regardless of free speech rights. That the forum in question might be govt-run should have no bearing.

These Muslims may have been specially selected- I'm not familiar with other prosecutions like this. But the fix there is to prosecute others, like that mob of UW racialists.

And generally, using free speech rights to prevent others from exercising their free speech rights is a pretty poor use of them. It goes against the spirit of those rights, even when the letter of the law is ambivalent about it.

Ann Althouse said...

"I am completely confused by your attempt to suggest a parallel between the UC Irvine case and the Sara Goldrick situation. Can you elaborate?"

They both involve a speaker being disrupted by student (or mostly student) protesters, with some people defending the students.

Why is that confusing???

Henry said...

I'm struck by the phrase "a common campus protest".

Where but a campus is shouting down speech common?

Coketown said...

It would have been funny if right when the jury was about to read their verdict, a rabble of supporters broke into the courtroom and drowned them out.

Shanna said...

They conspired to stretch out the disruption. 1 Student stood up and disrupted. The rest chimed it. They ultimately, after pleading for civility, would remove the standing student. At that point, the speech would resume and then the next student stood, rinse and repeat....

Interesting. That would be very irritating and this verdict makes a little more sense...

The Drill SGT said...

Coketown said...
It would have been funny if right when the jury was about to read their verdict, a rabble of supporters broke into the courtroom and drowned them out.


Fun, but likely a negative impact on sentencing :)

In my experience, Judges has a high humor threshold....

Quaestor said...

It is about fucking time. Anybody who gets invited to speak on any subject on any campus or off-campus venue deserves to be heard without heckling or demonstrations staged by anybody. Period. If you don't agree with the speaker don't attend his speech, or better yet hold your own speaking event and refute the bastard with evidence and logic.

Back in the 1950's the Big Cause on Campus was the free speech movement, which could be boiled down to the principles I bluntly outlined above. OK, 'nuff said. Now here's where it gets interesting: The paladins of the movement were in many cases the exact same people who having made the march through the institutions imposed even more draconian speech codes than the conservative academicians had ever contemplated. How, one may ask, could such staunch supporters of free speech promote and implement such a travesty, how could one advocate such blatant hypocrisy and keep one's honor, and why was this not a surprising development? Because "free speech" on the lips of liberals is always code for "speech we like" rather than the real, non-hypocritical meaning. But I suppose it's too much to ask of anybody on the left to be non-hypocritical, is it not?

Is it possible the academy has finally turned the corner on this multi-culti pc bullshit? I doubt it.

mesquito said...

Back before anybody outside of Texas geard of R Perot, I went and heard him speak in Austin. It was a fucking circus.

Carol_Herman said...

No. Oren was not "transgressing" on the community!

But let's switch this around a bit.

Instead of a college, let's say it was an Orthodox wedding. And, 10 stupid muslims "fell in." Would they make it out, alive?

To "distrupt" this speech ... the college has an "environment problem" ... where money is spent by people who (maybe) get it from the saud's? And,they actually ADORE this publicity.

Nipped in the bud ... could have been security.

But just like the hotel in Madison ... where "someone" knew how to go behind the security setup. By going through the kitchen ... No one is alert enough to see a SECURITY FAIL.

Not an issue for the courts.

And, this arrest and trial is not going to make a dent in the real security issue ... where muslims run wild ON PRIVATE PROPERTY, here.

And, union goons running wild in Madison.

Outcome is the same.

YOU NEED BETTER SECURITY!

Not more legal arguments.

Because the students, ahead, will win on appeal. (And, the money will come from the saud's, who gleefully support this stuff.)

There's gotta be a better way to handle this.

Including RESTRAINT! Just because you can yell for the police ... doesn't mean it's a good idea to call them.

Kirby Olson said...

A year in prison is the sentence one student got. I'm not sure of the exact crime or what the sentencing guidelines suggested. That student must have done something violent in addition to shouting?

dbp said...

If there is a difference between the two protests, it would seem to fall into the category of conspiracy.

Clearly, the UCI protesters planned ahead of time to disrupt the speech. The mob at the hotel didn't seem to have a clear idea of what they would do once they got there.

One is a non-violent conspiracy to deprive others of their rights while the other is essentially participating in a riot, and act of violence. Both should be punished but I'm not sure which is worse--normally premeditation makes a crime worse, but violent crimes are usually punished more harshly than non-violent ones.

ricpic said...

Shouting someone down promotes freedom of speech?

SunnyJ said...

I really dislike hypotheticals. Too much room for progressive/lefty drama and so little emphasis on the facts.

Just looking at the facts we've seen in Madison and on some college campuses, at some events...there are people that believe that free speech entitles them to priority speech. In other words, that their right to dominate with volume, numbers, control of the mic whatever variables is some how guaranteed in the constitution. I fail to see that written anywhere. They then take these perceived priority speech rights and mingle them with some variation on civil disobedience. Often times, on private property and disrupting private meetings/speakers or pre-arranged speakers at public locations.

Civil disobedience is not equivalent to priority free speech. It's like some variation of Turret's democracy and they'd like it to be covered under the ADA.

Chuck66 said...

UC-Irvine has been a hotbed of anti-Semitism in the US. This could be a way that the college is trying to send a message to its neo-Nazi students that this sort of thing will not be tolorated and it embarrasses the school when they ask for money.

Lem said...

BIG NEWS!!

Ann Althouse said...

"These Muslims may have been specially selected- I'm not familiar with other prosecutions like this. But the fix there is to prosecute others, like that mob of UW racialists."

Read the article. It was a planned protest. The students were told they had to stop. The ones who continued were all arrested.

Indigo Red said...

The Drill SGT said...

They conspired to stretch out the disruption. 1 Student stood up and disrupted. The rest chimed it. They ultimately, after pleading for civility, would remove the standing student. At that point, the speech would resume and then the next student stood, rinse and repeat....
9/23/11 4:54 PM


I attended the UCI Mohammad Cartoon debate at the same location back on Feb 28, 2006. The Muslims in the audience behaved much the same way. They took up one row of seats with others scattered around. One would stand and start his protest, be booed, escorted out and another would stand to take his place. This continued throughout the first 30 or 40 minutes until the police determined the atmosphere was becoming too hostile and escorted out the Muslims who were seated together. Those Muslims who were scattered around the room attempted to continue the protest, but got nowhere and generally left for lack of support.

After the debate, outside the hall there was a very palpable tenseness. Muslim participants had occupied a few levels of the parking structure just yards in front of the hall entrance and were shouting aggressively at the infidels. Police went into the structure to clear the Muslims out before anyone could be hurt.

What the Muslim students said inside was not very significant compared to the physical and verbal intimidation they portrayed outside the hall.

Several months later, I attended another Islam/West debate at UCLA and the atmosphere was pretty much the same with one exception. One woman had to shout for a police escort to her car because she was being harassed by a couple of Muslim students who ran off before police could nab them. Shortly thereafter, the same Muslim students drove by shouting obscenities at the police.

These events are not unplanned family type outings. They are well organized and potentially very dangerous with the Muslims intimidating and baiting the infidel audience to respond with aggression. Fortunately, I never saw any non-Muslim respond to the baiting.

Bruce Hayden said...

My view is that if Eugene Volokh thinks that the verdict was probably correct, it probably is. Here is his take on the subject:UC Irvine Students Convicted for Disrupting Speech.

If you read Volokh.com very religiously, you would probably see that Prof. Volokh is often one the first to call state suppression of speech an infringement of the 1st Amdt. This is one of the relatively rare times when he backs the state instead of the persons whose speech was curtailed.

andinista said...

Poor Prof. Chemerinsky. He must be quivering with catatonia from the dissonance.

As a high-status progressivista, and eager to remain so, this catch-22 puts him at risk.

On the preferred outcome side, he obviously sympathizes with the oppressed minority who feel they only the choice of civil disobedience agains the ruthless oppressor to force the plight of their unjust suffering into the public consciousness. While being willfully blind to the oppressor being another minority. Except that this oppressor has a culture that values education, self-improvement, moral-behavior, good works, and financial success. You know, they're not really minority minorities, but act like they deserve their success ... ahem ... got a little off topic there.

On the intellectual side, he knows that if he stands with the speech disruptors, then everyone knows he's a legal poseur. And, the next time he and Elizabeth Warren get up on the stage and proclaim the transcendent virtues of progressivism wrapped in intellectual rigor: he would have to tolerate a howling mob of Tea Party knuckle-draggers shouting him down: in which case the velvet glove would have to come off.

For some odd reason, the principle of "the best antidote for speech, is more speech", is no longer part of the American canon as held by the progressives.

andinista said...

corrections: ... who feel they have only the choice of civil disobedience against ...

wv: mistall: No, only some of it

art.the.nerd said...

Ann replied to me:

"They both involve a speaker being disrupted by student (or mostly student) protesters, with some people defending the students.

"Why is that confusing???"

Because I read Goldrick's blog post as being about perceived racism. Her second paragraph, in its entirety:

"What is noticeably absent from the responses is a candid admission that that race matters in how we understand and interpret the events. Let's be frank: a large group of mostly brown folks came into contact with a much smaller group of mostly white folks and it freaked out some of those the white folks."

The rest of her post is similarly concerned with the races of Mr. (Prof? Dr?) Clegg ("the whiteness of his skin"), the "young African-American woman", and her own "Jewish ancestry".

I was not thinking of the original situation and missed your point completely. Mea culpa.

pst314 said...

Kirby Olson said "A year in prison is the sentence one student got. I'm not sure of the exact crime or what the sentencing guidelines suggested. That student must have done something violent in addition to shouting?"

That seems very likely: UC Irvine has seen many years of non-stop Muslim mob action and thuggery.

It's about time the islamo-fascists get slapped down. Hard.

roesch-voltaire said...

Althouse from reports the speech at UW was over or at least the formal part of the press conference and the event was near adjourning so there is little comparison between the two types of disruption.

Shouting Thomas said...

Althouse from reports the speech at UW was over or at least the formal part of the press conference and the event was near adjourning so there is little comparison between the two types of disruption.

Yes, the mob of students at UW took a little while to break into the hotel. So, they couldn't shout down the press conference, although they intended to do just that.

r_v... please tell me you don't teach at a university. Your brain is completely fucked.

roesch-voltaire said...

Thomas in case you haven't noticed one does not break into a hotel, usually you just walk through the door to attend a public conference. Your brain, what's left of it, seems only full of cheap slogan and comments, which is why Althouse called one of your comments lacking in insight-I believe idiot was the term used, and had to pull another one off this board- sorry this is the first time I have sunk to your level of insult, and I will resist doing so in the future.

PatCA said...

Chemerinksy omits the fact that it was more than rumors about a disruption that caused UCI to worry; emails were forwarded anonymously to the school to let them know a "game plan" was being formulated to shut the speech down. Why didn't he mention that?

As for Oren, he was invited to speak by the school and no one was forced in any way to attend. He did not stand in the school plaza shouting insults, for instance, so I don't think he was an aggressor.