Censorship via blackmail

And we thought the Associated Students of Madison was bad.

At Berkeley, the Associated Students of the University of California is demanding the Daily Californian, the student newspaper of UC-Berkeley, apologize for printing a controversial editorial cartoon in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The cartoon depicted two Muslim terrorists exulting about paradise, yet standing in the hand of the devil.

According to the ASUC’s resolution, the free thought displayed in the Daily Californian is not welcome at Berkeley.

“The Daily Californian’s editorial cartoon of two Muslims in the hand of the devil ? shows a complete disregard for the value of dynamic intellectual community and a desire to understand rather than condemn,” the resolution reads. “The cartoon may fall within the realm of fair comment and free speech, but falls outside of the realm of human decency, sensitivity, responsibility and respect.”

So, even though the newspaper is within its rights to print the cartoon, unless the Daily Californian pens a front-page apology, undergoes “diversity training” and commits to “a new record of dedication to truth,” the ASUC will increase the paper’s rent. In other words, ASUC is attempting to censor free speech via blackmail.

If this sounds familiar, it should.

Last spring, ASM also paid lip service to free speech, only to financially menace the Herald’s editorial independence by threatening to pull all student-funded ads if we at the Herald did not apologize for running the Horowitz ad. ASM’s actions last spring were wrong — just as ASUC’s are now.

Ideally, student governments protect all voices, including unpopular ones. But student governments, whether in Madison or Berkeley, threaten free speech whenever they flex their financial muscle in the media’s direction. Given this unfortunate trend, we hope the editors at Berkeley have the fortitude to protect their rights.


This article was published Oct 10, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Oct 10, 2001 at 12:00 am


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