The Philadelphia Bulletin has an in-depth article today about the ongoing betrayal of free speech at San Francisco State University (SFSU). Bulletin columnist Joe Murray leads off with a discussion of SFSU’s history of censorship, pointing out the hypocrisy of those currently seeking to censor conservative voices at SFSU:
SFSU is not a stranger to First Amendment controversy, for in 1968 a student strike organized by the leftist Third World Liberation Front completely overwhelmed the campus. The strike, which was supported by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Black Panthers, disrupted campus activities, called for an end to the Vietnam War and demanded the creation of a Black Studies Department.
The strike garnished national media attention and tested the university’s commitment to an open marketplace of ideas. In the midst of the strike, the university reached a breaking point and S. I. Hayakawa, the university’s president, effectively slammed shut the doors of the marketplace when he pulled the plug, literally, on a student rally, severely disrupting it.Today, the administration at SFSU is facing a free speech crisis of a different nature. It is a crisis in which the children of the SDS have grown up to determine what was good for the goose is not good for the gander.
Murray goes on to address the current plight of the College Republicans, who as Torch readers know were tried by a university hearing panel on Friday for stepping on pieces of paper on which they had drawn the Hamas and Hezbollah flags. Murray spoke with College Republican Leigh Wolf, who represented his organization at the hearing. Wolf expressed his concern over the hearing panel’s apparent disregard for the law, and also about its objectivity:
Wolf said that when he tried to raise constitutional arguments, one of the board members quipped, “We are not here to speak about constitutional law, just about SFSU’s speech codes.”
According to Wolf, Brian Gallagher, the non-Muslim student who filed the complaint, asked the board, “How can we let the College Republicans have such a rally that was politically motivated and one sided?”Wolf also expressed concern over the review board’s objectivity, for two of the board members reviewing Gallagher’s complaints were also members of SFSU’s student government. The problem is that the student government passed a resolution condemning the College Republicans and one of the board members involved in Friday’s hearing had voted in favor of that resolution.
College administrators should eliminate speech codes and defend free speech in all cases. No hypocrisy. No double standards.
Creating a “genocide” exception to free speech only opens the door to more speech restrictions and selective enforcement.
Frederick Douglass argued that freedom of speech was essential in maintaining one’s liberty. In the minds of Douglass and other abolitionists, the free exchange of ideas produced greater political freedom.
Special guest post by Stephen Rohde on the string of controversies regarding free speech and anti-Semitism on college campuses.