American University: Denial of Right to Videotape Public Events
American University (AU) has punished an undergraduate student journalist for videotaping a public speech by Tipper Gore. A kangaroo court at AU found the student guilty of "possession of stolen property." Ben Wetmore was charged with seven violations of campus policy, including "theft" of Tipper Gore's "intellectual property." These charges came after a long history of the university targeting Wetmore for his protected speech. In a revealing response to a letter about the case, AU Vice President and University Counsel Mary E. Kennard criticized Wetmore for ignoring the University's "admonitions" not "to post derogatory materials about staff on his website"—as if it were a crime to be publicly critical of the university. Kennard's letter confirms what AU's behavior already revealed: the appalling treatment of Ben Wetmore was due to his political speech and journalistic activities.
- "FIRE's Adam Kissel Discusses American University's Alex Knepper ," March 30, 2010: At a forum sponsored by Students for Individual Liberty at the University of Virginia, Adam Kissel (director, Individual Rights Defense Program) of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, see www.thefire.org) discusses a current controversy at American University in Washington, D.C., involving student journalist and political commentator Alex Knepper. Knepper wrote a provocative op-ed in the AU Eagle newspaper about sexual behavior and "date rape" that has resulted in a firestorm of criticism and national attention.Recorded on March 30, 2010, in Newcomb Hall on the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
- "Student Journalist at American University Punished for Videotaping Public Speech by Tipper Gore," August 12, 2002: Despite nationwide attention, American University (AU) in Washington, DC is denying a student journalist both free speech and due process for trying to tape a public speech by Tipper Gore. Rather than addressing the appalling mistreatment of the student, administrators used the incident as an opportunity to prosecute their frequent critic
- "American University Prosecutes Student Critic; Tramples Free Speech and Due Process," July 22, 2002: FIRE is defending the rights of Ben Wetmore, a student at American University (AU) in Washington, DC. Wetmore publishes a website critical of AU President Benjamin Ladner. AU police wrongly detained Wetmore for "possession of stolen property" after he videotaped a public speech by Tipper Gore. In addition to being roughed up by campus officers, Wetmore was convicted in a trial that denied an impartial hearing or an appeal. FIRE has secured legal representation for this undergraduate.
- "FIRE’s Response to American University’s ‘Statement from Vice President of Campus Life Gail Short Hanson Regarding an Incident Involving AU Student Ben Wetmore’," July 18, 2002
- "FIRE Letter to American University Board of Trustees, July 16, 2002," July 16, 2002
- "Statement from Vice President of Campus Life Gail Short Hanson Regarding an Incident Involving AU Student Ben Wetmore," July 12, 2002
- "Letter from American University Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Faith C. Leonard to FIRE, June 26, 2002," June 26, 2002
- "FIRE Letter to American University President Benjamin Ladner, June 11, 2002," June 11, 2002
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by Charles Freund, Reason, November 1, 2002
- "Outrage of the Week,"
by Kathleen Reeder, SheThinks.org, October 17, 2002
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by Lou Marano, United Press International, August 21, 2002
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by Jessica Cantelon, CNSNews, August 14, 2002
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by Greg Lukianoff, The Washington Times, August 4, 2002
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by Brett Zongker, University Wire, July 29, 2002
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July 25, 2002
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FOX News Channel, July 23, 2002
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July 23, 2002
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by Jonathan Polland, Fox Newswire, July 23, 2002
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by Amy Argetsinger, Washington Post, July 22, 2002
- "The Rules of Justice Are Different When the Court's on Campus,"
by Samar Farah, The Christian Science Monitor, May 16, 2002