FIRE Defends a Professor—And One of His Fiercest Critics—On the Same Day
June 11, 2009
by Adam Kissel
Yesterday, FIRE sent out two letters. One, as Greg noted at The Huffington Post, was in defense of William Robinson, a University of California, Santa Barbara, professor who has been under investigation for months after writing his students an e-mail comparing the Nazi treatment of Jews with Israel's actions towards Palestinians.
The other letter was in defense of a student group that had brought conservative activist David Horowitz—whose organization is one of Robinson's fiercest critics—to a different campus. The student group was charged for extra security for Horowitz's visit simply because Horowitz was deemed "controversial." (He had criticized some of the university's professors and courses by name a couple of years ago.) Such charges are unconstitutional, as university after university finds out, for "[s]peech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob" (Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement, 505 U.S. 123, 134-135 (1992)). We are giving this latest university a couple of weeks to respond, so stay tuned for the result.