California: Jury Finds Muslim Students Guilty of Disrupting Israeli Diplomat’s UC Irvine Speech
Excellent news!—And, from a Californian jury, too, if you can believe it! What do you know, pigs can fly!
Muslim students guilty of disturbing speech
By VIK JOLLY and LARRY WELBORN / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
SANTA ANA – A jury Thursday found 10 Muslim university students guilty of disrupting a speech by an Israeli diplomat at UC Irvine last year, in a case that focused on free speech.
The six-man, six-woman jury found the students guilty on all counts of misdemeanor disturbing a public meeting and conspiracy in connection with the Feb. 8, 2010, talk by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
“We’re delighted the jury saw this the same way we saw it,” said Assistant District Attorney Dan Wagner.
The prosecution said the defendants used a “heckler’s veto” to thwart the free speech rights of the speaker and others in the audience, while the defense countered what the protesters did was a lawful expression of their free speech.
Wagner told jurors the protesters actions amounted to censorship when they planned to disrupt Oren and tried to cover it up.
The right to free speech is not absolute, he said, and it does not include canceling out the speech of others.
“If heckler’s veto was allowed, then no one would have the right to free speech,” he said. “Freedom does not mean that no one can tell me what I can do. That’s not freedom; that’s anarchy.”
Defense attorney Jacqueline Goodman referred to the students as “heroes” who acted in the “tradition of the finest American political activists.”
“On a college campus we’re going to let them criminalize dissent?” she said in her closing arguments. “What are we doing?”
“There was a disruption,” Goodman acknowledged. “But it was not substantial in the context of a political speech.”
Wagner argued it would not have mattered if the defendants had read from the phone book or shouted “Mickey Mouse” during Oren speech, because it was their conduct – and not the content – that forced Oren off the stage.
The “intent of the conspiracy was to rob the speaker of his free speech rights,” Wagner told jurors, adding that a planned Q&A would have given students ample opportunity to have their say, not yelling out “something non-responsive that violates the rules we all live with.”
When in an emailed “game plan” before the event students expressed willingness to disrupt regardless of what the university officials and police would do, that Wagner said was proof of conspiracy and the unlawfulness of the plan.Explore posts in the same categories: Freedom of Speech, Justice System, Muslim whining, Muslims in The USA