The ACLU leaders, on the other hand, seem to be justifying the actions of the censoring students while limiting their condemnation to the pro-Israel students who wanted to hear the speaker.
After being criticized for supporting censorship, Villagro sought to justify his signing the letter by the following “logic”: “The district attorney’s action will undoubtedly intimidate students in Orange County and across the state and discourage them from engaging in any controversial speech or protest for fear of criminal charges.”
The opposite is true. If these students are let off with a slap on the wrist from the University, that will encourage other students around the nation and the world to continue with efforts to prevent pro-Israel speakers from delivering their speeches. The ACLU should be supporting a clear line between occasional heckling and outright censorship.
The ACLU leaders who signed the letter are on the wrong side of that line and should not be speaking for the ACLU.
Unless the ACLU explicitly renounces its leaders support for students who seek to censor pro-Israel speakers, the organization will lose the backing of many who believe that all speech should be protected – not only speech approved by its leaders.
Alan Dershowitz, a noted attorney and law professor, is the author, most recently, of the novel “The Trials of Zion.”