Free Speech Fight: Campus Anti-Zionism May Result in Hate Speech Ban

August 24, 2012

No part of American society is supposed to value free speech more than our colleges and universities, but the University of California is now rethinking that idea.

University of California President Mark Yudof assembled a team earlier this summer to assess "campus climate" in response to a series of Anti-Zionist protests and demonstrations.

Yudof’s fact-finding team made a series of recommendations after visiting campuses, including banning hate speech.

"When you ban speech, it has a funny habit of boomeranging back at you," says Will Creeley, Director of Legal and Public Advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. "Instead of pulling these often noxious or repellant ideas out from behind closed doors and debating them in open sunlight, you see these kind of fears silenced. And that kind of silencing builds a kind of repression, hate, fear, paranoia."

The prospect of a ban on free speech has students up in arms, including members of the Jewish community.

"Jewish students, Muslim students, students of all creeds, faiths, colors, national origins, religions, sexualities can be trusted to defend their own point of view, to speak and enunciate their ideas clearly enough, to have good ideas triumph over ill-founded ones," Creeley says.

President Yudof has said that he is currently reviewing the recommendations, but understands the first amendment concerns. However, he is still considering the report.

About 3 minutes.

Produced by Tracy Oppenheimer. Shot by Josh Swain and Zach Weissmueller.

Music by Case Newsom.

Schools: University of California Cases: University of California System: Recommendations for “Hate Speech” Policy