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Report calls for regulating ‘hate speech’ at U.C.

by emma silvers, j. staff

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In a move that’s poised to spark a First Amendment debate at the birthplace of the 1960s Free Speech Movement, a fact-finding team issued a report last month recommending the U.C. system adopt a policy that bans “hate speech” on its 10 campuses.

The July 9 report on the campus climate confronting Jewish students at U.C. followed eight months of interviews with Jewish students and others about anti-Israel protests and issues of anti-Semitism at their schools. A parallel report was prepared looking at the campus climate for Muslim and Arab students.

The Jewish campus climate report was presented by Richard D. Barton and Alice Huffman, two members of U.C. President Mark Yudof’s 17-person Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion (CCCI) — a body formed in 2010 in the aftermath of a series of high-profile, racially loaded events at U.C. San Diego and U.C. Irvine.

Alice Huffman
Alice Huffman
The report has been presented to the rest of the advisory council and to Yudof. It will now go through a consultative process in which students, faculty and staff organizations will have the chance to weigh in on policy changes before any real action is taken, said Steve Montiel, media relations director for the U.C. Office of the President.

Montiel said it could be several months before the president moves forward based on any of the findings.

Previous CCCI studies have tackled topics such as campus safety, faculty diversity and LGBT issues — and the university took various actions, such as implementing safety training and forming an LGBT task force.

What comes out of Barton and Huffman’s recommendations remains to be seen.

The duo met with a wide range of people — from Jewish students and faculty to representatives of Jewish organizations to non-Jewish college administrators and community leaders — between October 2011 and May 2012 at six U.C. campuses: Santa Cruz, Davis, Irvine, Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Barton, a San Diego–based attorney, is the national chair of education for the Anti-Defamation League, and he also serves on the ADL’s national executive committee. Huffman is the president of the California NAACP.

The separate fact-finding team dealing with Arab and Muslim students at the same schools found that students who are visibly active in Muslim communities feel they’re often the victims of prejudice, both through harassment from other students and sometimes in the classroom, where faculty members have made reference to what students feel are stereotypes of Arabs as “terrorists.”

Richard D. Barton
Richard D. Barton
That report recommended more cultural competency training, the creation of a campus prayer/meditation space, and increased consistency and transparency with regard to how the administration interacts with student groups. Among its 11 recommendations, however, was nothing about hate speech. 

On the Jewish side of things, what Barton said he and Huffman discovered was a complex cultural and political landscape in which not a single Jewish student reported feeling physically threatened on campus — but a host of other challenges were made abundantly clear.

“What struck us first is how diverse Jewish students are in terms of their perceptions and involvement with Israel,” said Barton. “There’s a whole group in the middle that isn’t all that involved,” with others who feel their “identity is very connected to Israel” and others yet who sympathize with “the issues of Palestinians.”

Regardless, Barton continued, “It became very clear that the movement to bring BDS [boycott, divestment and sanction] and these ‘Israel apartheid’ weeks to schools is incredibly divisive and creates a lot of stress for these campuses … [Jewish students] feel marginalized and targeted by this movement.”

Then again, Barton said that in a general sense, “Jewish students are extremely happy to be part of the U.C. system in general.”

The recommendation to “seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus” and perhaps prevent “well-known bigoted and hate organizations from speaking on campus … such as the Ku Klux Klan” is one of eight recommendations in the Jewish campus climate report. No specific course of action is outlined for how to create a “hate speech–free” campus; rather, the document suggests Yudof should request an examination of potential policies by the university’s general counsel.

Other recommendations include establishing a university-wide definition of anti-Semitism (such as the European Union’s working definition), addressing the dietary needs of students who keep kosher and better accommodating observant students’ academic needs around the holidays.

But the idea of “prohibit[ing] hate speech” is the only one to draw criticism so far.

Lawyer Alan Dershowitz told the Jewish Daily Forward such a ban would be “a very serious mistake. The first victims of the policy would be pro-Israel advocates. It will backfire.” On Aug. 8, Yudof responded to a July 20 letter from “concerned members of the U.C. Jewish community,” saying that both reports would be analyzed by his office, and he welcomed further community input. But, emphasizing his commitment to constitutionally protected free speech, he wrote, “I believe our current policies may go as far as they can, given constitutional limitations.” While students, staff and faculty need to feel safe on campus, he wrote, “[T]he answer is not to restrict speech, but rather to see that all our community members feel supported by the University.” He endorsed the call to address dietary and living arrangement needs of Muslim and Jewish students, as well as the appropriateness of spaces for meditation or prayer on campus.


Posted by Dan Spitzer
08/09/2012  at  02:00 PM
I Just Resigned from My Membership in the Free Speech Mov't Organization...

because they opposed the report. When their co-ordinator Barbara Stack said there was nothing anti-Israel about the stance of anyone on the FSM board, I told her to look at Secretary Gar Smith, a member of Israel-hating JVP and Bettina Aptheker who has always expressed her contempt for Israel…

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Posted by Dan Spitzer
08/09/2012  at  02:05 PM
A Ban on Some Extreme Speech is not Unknown in...

parts of the West. Germany makes it illegal to advocate for Nazi politics as do some other members of the EU. And in the US, as is well known, it is illegal to cry “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

Well, on the UC campus, groups like Students for Justice in Palestine are pouring gasoline on their fires of hatred as is both the Black Student Union and the Muslim Student Union by bringing the overtly anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan to speak.

I am all for most forms of free speech, but clearcut bigotry-in the cases cited by the Barton and Huffman (of the NAACP) are unwarranted and shouldn’t be permitted anywhere within the realm of an institution of higher learning…

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Posted by Abraham Miller
08/09/2012  at  08:41 PM
Spitzer got it right

Dan Spitzer is spot on. Hate speech is incitement. Nonetheless, it will take the wisdom of Solomon to differentiate hate speech from legitimate criticism, but it is a goal toward which we should strive.

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Posted by Frank
08/11/2012  at  12:30 PM
"Politically correct" whitewash - "not a single Jewish student" felt "physically threatened"

“Barton said he and Huffman discovered was a complex cultural and political landscape in which not a single Jewish student reported feeling physically threatened on campus”.

This is patently absurd.  The physical violence and intimidation is known to all.

JWeekly, mainstream media, and even Israeli media reported the outrageous physical assault on U.C. Berkeley student Jessica Felber on March 10, 2010, by Husam Zakharia, a fellow student and the head of Students for Justice in Palestine, ramming into her with a metal cart because of the pro-Israel sign she was holding during a pro-Israel demonstration during “Apartheid Week”.  Jessica was treated for her injuries, and Zakharia was arrested for battery.

In November 2008, Zakharia was one of three student cited for battery in a physical altercation over displaying the Palestinian flag at a pro-Israel event.

Her law suit naming UC Berkeley claimed Muslim students had subjected Jewish students to slurs, threats and assaults; the antisemites went so far as to carry fake assault weapons and set up mock physical checkpoints on campus.

Berkeley and other campuses have provided a very inviting venue for muslim and “progressive” antisemites.  It has hired and retained notorious Israel-hating faculty, who have routinely subjected Jewish students to the most outrageous anti-Israel libels and diatribes in “classes” (including “classes” that had nothing at all to do with politics).  The “hate speech” has in good part come from “faculty” who have students at their mercy.

The claim that Muslim students face any sort of equivalent mistreatment is absurd.  This “report” is a “politically correct” whitewashing of the truth.  “Palestinians” are the darlings of the leftist administrations and ignorant students.  And the idea that the Islamitization of the universities should be supported is obscene.

I don’t like the idea of limiting free speech, but university employees who abuse their positions as employees (including any with tenure) need to be fired.  “Speech” which rises to the level of assault (where students are physically threatened or intimidated) is criminal and should lead to expulsion.  Any non-criminal student misconduct which disrupts or disrupts students’ unimpeded access to an unmolested education should be grounds for expulsion.  Terrorist supporting (e.g. Palestinian and leftist extremist) hate groups should not be allowed student body admission.

Tragically, the new anti-Semitism in the form of anti-Zionism (practiced by “progressives”, Muslims, Black antisemites, and European-style antisemites) has become accepted on UC’s leftist campuses, which perversely demonizes the good and supports the evil.

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Posted by dont_use_hate_speech
08/11/2012  at  10:21 PM
"not a single" - they must report it!

“The physical violence and intimidation is known to all.” It is not known to all outside of the closed university environment unless it is reported. The university can not well say it is not happening if there are reports on file in their own records, and with the police. 

California penal code makes it illegal to “intimidate… or threaten”. People who are doing this are subject to arrest. Please investigate CAL. PEN. CODE § 422.6 : California Code - Section 422.6. Exercise your right to make a report. It has a very damping effect on the momentum hate speech can gather when it is unchecked.

Hate speech gathers momentum most when the people it targets are silent - and when people standing by do not publicly call it out. Many unaffected people are often standing by passively who could make a difference by calling hate speech out, even though silence appears to hate speakers to be the same as agreement and even collusion. Calling out hate speech as unacceptable can stop it, and stop also the progression to a hate crime. If anyone reading this comment recognizes themselves, please consider or even practice speaking out, even though it may feel quite risky.  Your words can encourage others to do the same.

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