Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sticks and stones . . .

Since when did it become illegal for students, or anyone in the U.S. for that matter, to voice their disagreement/disapproval/displeasure with anyone else whether it be a private or public forum? Ten students from the University of Southern California are on trial for expressing themselves during a speech made on campus. Because of that, they are facing possible jail time, probation and more. This is far from news for that university and many, many others. University students were among the loudest protestors during the Vietnam era. Students around the country invaded and camped out in administrative buildings to protest the war, the draft and military recruiting on campus. In other words, student protests are nothing new. I suspect the difference in this case is that the students are Muslims and spoke out during a university-sponsored speech by Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Yes, it was rude to interrupt a guest speaker; but unlawful? No! Besides, I'm sure Ambassador Oren expected and was prepared for some "feedback" from his audience. Yes, the university was embarrassed by the unsolicited input from the students. I hardly think that punishing the Muslim Student Union is an appropriate reaction. Would the results have been the same had a member of an Evangelical Christian organization spoken up? Allowing free speech means accepting that speakers may pipe up in situations that might be embarrassing. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed that it is lawful for hate-filled, so-called Christians to picket military funerals causing extreme anguish for families and friends of the fallen. By comparison uttering "It's a shame this university has sponsored a mass murderer like yourself" to an Israeli official is pretty tame.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

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