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Civil Libertarians and Academics Who Support Censors
by Alan M. Dershowitz
Should students who conspire to "shut down" an invited speaker with whom they disagree be prosecuted for the misdemeanor of conspiracy to disturb a meeting? That is the question roiling the University of California. The facts are not really in dispute. Israel's Ambassador to the United States—a moderate academic named Michael Oren—was invited to present a talk at the University of California at Irvine, a hotbed of radical Islamic hate speech against Israel. The Muslim Student Union organized an effort, in the words of one of its leaders, to "shut down" Oren's speech—that is to prevent Oren from expressing his views and to stop the audience who came to hear him from listening to them. Here is the way the Dean of the law school, who opposes any criminal prosecution, described what happened:.
The dean's description is something of an understatement —as anyone can see by watching a video of the event, available online. This was more than a "concerted effort to disrupt the speech. It was a concerted effort to stop it completely—to "shut [it] down."
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