The Jewish Daily Forward is reporting a backward proposal in the University of California (UC) system. Motivated by concern for the environment for Jewish students on campus, UC President Mark G. Yudof’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion released a July 9th report recommending the adoption of a hate speech code that would prohibit much speech protected by the First Amendment.
FIRE will be commenting on this illiberal proposal further over the next few days, but two quotes are worth reviewing at the outset. First, Harvard Law professor and member of the FIRE Board of Editors Alan Dershowitz, an outspoken defender of Israel, noted that the proposal was "a very serious mistake… The first victims of the policy would be pro-Israel advocates. It will backfire."
Even if the policy works as intended—indeed, especially if the policy works as intended—it is obviously unconstitutional. The authors of the anti-speech recommendation admit as much when they state that the panel "recognizes that changes to UC hate speech policies may result in legal challenge, but offer that UC accept the challenge." Wow! It’s not every day a university advisory panel comes out and concedes that the First Amendment is an impediment that should be steamrolled over.
More to come over the next few days.
UPDATE: Popehat blogger Ken White has published a guest piece at Salon criticizing the council’s unconstitutional recommendations. Read it here.