“Free speech for me, but not for thee”

Posted by: ST on February 12, 2007 at 12:36 pm

Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush has the details on how San Francisco State University is attempting to stifle the free speech rights of the SFSU College Republicans group. What started it all?

The College Republicans hosted an anti-terrorist rally on campus last October and some of the participants stepped on handmade Hezbollah and Hamas flags. Debra J. Saunders wrote in the SF Chronicle last week:

This story starts with an “anti-terrorism rally” held last October on campus by the College Republicans. To emphasize their point, students stomped on Hezbollah and Hamas flags. According to the college paper, the Golden Gate (X)Press, members of Students Against War and the International Socialist Organization showed up to call the Republicans “racists,” while the president of the General Union of Palestinian Students accused the Repubs of spreading false information about Muslims.

In November, the Associated Students board passed a unanimous resolution, which the (X)Press reported, denounced the California Republicans for “hateful religious intolerance” and criticized those who “pre-meditated the stomping of the flags knowing it would offend some people and possibly incite violence.”

Now you know that there are students who are opposed to desecrating flags on campus — that is, if the flags represent terrorist organizations.

But wait — there’s more. A student filed a complaint with the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development. OSPLD Director Joey Greenwell wrote to the College Republicans informing them that his office had completed an investigation of the complaint and forwarded the report to the Student Organization Hearing Panel, which will adjudicate the charge. At issue is the charge that College Republicans had walked on “a banner with the world ‘Allah’ written in Arabic script” — it turns out Allah’s name is incorporated into Hamas and Hezbollah flags — and “allegations of attempts to incite violence and create a hostile environment,” as well as “actions of incivility.”

At an unnamed date, the student panel could decide to issue a warning to, suspend or expel the GOP club from campus.

Maybe SFSU should just put up a sign that reads: Conservatives need not apply.

FIRE, thankfully, is all over this one.

It never ceases to amaze me how often we hear about stories of liberal intolerance towards opposing viewpoints at colleges/universities across this country. I thought the left were supposed to be the champions of free speech in this country? Or at least that’s what they want you to think, anyway.

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11 Responses to ““Free speech for me, but not for thee””


  1. Ryan says:

    Had American flags been stepped on there would be no problem at SFSU.

  2. Roy says:

    My letter to the SFSU President:

    I am deeply disturbed by your conduct in the events of the College Republicans on your campus.

    The idea that you can trample on the free speech of those who have an unpopular viewpoint because they express their speech by trampling a piece of cloth nauseates me.

    For years the intellectuals at your campus and other California campus’s have upheld the right of demonstrators to burn, trample on, and desecrate the American flag which has the sacred symbol of the blood of our founders and troops on it. Yet you hold more sacred the banner of the enemy. How hypocritical and traitorous!

    Rectify this error sir; it will surely follow your career.

  3. G-Monster says:

    If you go to ProtestWarrior.com, you will see how the left reacts when the righties show up to practice thier right to free speech. It is obvious from the videos, the left has no interest in free speech, other than thier own.

  4. sanity says:

    Why is it that so many say their “rights” of freedom of speech are being impeded though?

    They quote their 1st amendment rights…

    Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    You have the right to spreak freely, meaning you have the right for the government not to impede your freedom of speech.

    Not sure if the SFSU is federally funded or could be considered “government” but is it within their rights to curb what they do not want?

    Do I htink it’s right what they did, don’t know, but I am sure it is hypocricy on their part of what they will and will not allow.

    Maybe I am misunderstanding the 1st Amendment, but I believe it has to do with government not impeding your right to free speech, and I do not see where it applies to every aspect of life that everyone seems to throw out there though.

    So when everyone goes ape about someone ‘supressing’ their rights to freedom of speech, it doesn’t make sense to me, since not everyone is the Government, and that is what the 1st Amendment pertains to.

  5. Severian says:

    What part of San Francisco State University don’t you understand sanity? State universities are run and funded by the state government. I worked for a state university, and my paychecks came from the state government.

  6. sanity says:

    Ah but that is the dig sev, 1st amendment as I read it is the government, during such times I do not believe it meant states.

    I also think each state has it’s own version of rights that go beyond the federal ones in the bill of rights.

    But mainly my statement goes beyond this conotation ino evey day life where you have people like the dixi chicks and others who whine and moan about their freedom of speech being impeded on, when no government authority is squashing that right.

    The state government may have more or less rules concerning this, who knows, perhaps the SFSU allows support for terrorists propaganda but not for the protesting of it. You have terrorist speakers or those associated with terrorism speaking at universities or universities extending invitiations to them to speak to their students. (Just once I would like to see someone like chavez accept that invitation and get hit with a pie – but Noooo that would be wrong, pies are only for republican or conservative speakers…)

    As for this whole debacle, I think it is leading more from the fact that the word Allah was written in arabic on the flags they were stomping on.

    Did the SFSU go to far, perhaps, but do they have the rightto step in and stop something that may cause a riot or violence? I think believe so, as long as this is not politically motivated.

    Think of the storm ensued by the prophet cartoons, then think of how some may blow this up to that level of indignation, the lives of these republicans, the other students and the SFSU could have been at risk if this blew up enough like hte cartoons did.

    Perhaps that is part of the thought on this, and if so, I would stop and give special consideration to something like that, but if it is politically motivated to supress anyting the republican group says or does on the SFSU campus, then I believe they are wrong in doing so.

  7. Severian says:

    Sanity, there is ample precedent in the courts that state governments cannot act in an unconstitutional manner. The fact that it is a state government does not get them off the hook. Various state constitutions may guarantee rights beyond those guaranteed in the US Constitution, as long as the don’t conflict with it, but it does not allow the states to trample on guaranteed federal rights. C’mon, you’re smart enough to know this.

  8. sanity says:

    I know this sev, but I am talking motivation though.

    You do not have the right ot walk into a college and yell fire.

    If what SFSU did was to prevent violence from breaking out (Stomping all over the arabic word of Allah), then I again would say i would have to give special consideration to this but again, if this was politically motivated by SFSU to supress and punish the republicans from speaking or protesting then i believe they are wrong in this.

  9. Severian says:

    Unfortunately, there is also more than ample precedent for universities stifling conservative and Republican viewpoints for reasons that have nothing to do with yelling fire in a crowded theater. Given the nature of SFSU, and the long litany of abuses by university administrations around the country against conservative thought, and the unequal way they treat different viewpoints and groups, there is little to no chance IMO that this was not politically motivated.

    And there is a difference between yelling fire, and using the excuse that they fear it will compel this group or that to violence. That is preciously close to the “she deserved to be raped because she wore a short skirt” argument, which is total BS. The answer is not to curtail individual liberty in order to appease the perpetually aggrieved, the answer is to smack down the violent and intolerant when they step over the line and break the law. Anything else sacrifices the rights of the many out of the fear of the few.

  10. Marshall Art says:

    “Racist”?? I guess burning a Nazi flag means you hate Germans??

    Sanity has a point as far as the possibility of reprisal goes. Considering the low IQ mentality of radical Islamists, they’d be incapable of understanding the point of the students stomping on the symbol of murderous groups like Hamas and Hezballah. I say that Bush should appoint John Kerry as our Ambassador of Nuance to go and educate them.

  11. Ian Thomas says:

    Open Letter to Debra J. Saunders
    Please Report the Entire Free Speech Story
    by Ian Thomas, Newspaper Editor
    February 8, 2007 4:14 PM

    Dear Debra J. Saunders,

    My name is Ian Thomas. I am the Editor of The Golden Gate [X]press.

    I continually appreciate your important and nuanced voice at the San Francisco Chronicle. Thank you for shedding more light on these important First Amendment issues looming at SF State.

    It is important for you to know and note the context for which the situation was born. Last summer the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) completed the process to send a mural to President Robert Corrigan for final approval. Associated Students Inc. had approved the mural through a democratic student government process by a 6-2 vote.

    Corrigan blocked the mural from going up by immediately placing a moratorium on all new murals, stating the mural is “conflict-centered” and it “runs counter to values that we hope have taken deep root at San Francisco State, among them, pride in one’s own culture expressed without hostility or denigration of another.”

    In an October meeting Corrigan reportedly called mural supporters “bigots,” which is the same term some people give to say… the Minutemen, which the Repubs have also rallied for on campus. [X]press supports this expression as well.

    A character in the mural, “Handala,” by acclaimed Arab cartoonist Naji al-Ali is shown holding a pen and a key. The key represents the Palestinian “right of return” to what they deem their homeland. Some say that “right of return” represents the destruction of Israel. Through research and interviews I have found that Handala is a refugee child and is a used in many different contexts, depending on the specific use and the viewer. He is normally depicted as poor, with his hands held behind his back, sometimes he is shown throwing rocks.

    See the story by Jason Shuffler at: LINK

    The Golden Gate [X]press supports full freedom of expression to all members of our community, see: LINK

    There is no difference between offensive speech of the Repubs stomping on flags containing the symbol for God or a Palestinian mural calling for a “right to return” in the eyes of the The Constitution. They are both protected expression.

    [X]press has recommended that the Student Organization Hearing Panel, the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development, ASI, and Corrigan dismiss any notion of sanctions against the Repubs.

    We call on all stakeholders to drop double standards.

    In the lead of your column “SF State- Heckers’ Paradise” (2-8-07) you asked:

    “What is San Francisco State University teaching that makes student leaders think that if they don’t like what other students say, they can use student organizations to stifle those with dissenting views? Do they even know about the First Amendment?”

    Excellent questions.

    In my opinion the story didn’t start with the Repubs, it started when Corrigan limited the free speech of GUPS and the democratic process of ASI. What is he teaching us? I, and many on this campus, posit that Corrigan has set a poor example by limiting expression when he and/or his advisers didn’t like what the mural had to say.

    Yes, it was a hypocritical move for ASI to pass a resolution condemning the Repubs for offensive speech. It would now be hypocritical if SOHP and Corrigan do not pass sanctions against the Repubs. This is convoluted due to Corrigan, our president, limiting free expression of GUPS.

    It is time for everyone to step back, think, and correct these mistakes.

    As a respected member of the San Francisco and national community, I trust that you will further consider, research and report this complex and important story that strikes at the very foundation of freedom of expression and education in our country.

    Mrs. Saunders, please help us encourage a truly open marketplace of ideas in the grand tradition of open debate, discussion, and democracy at SF State.

    I eagerly await your response.