UPDATE: Muslim rights group seeks investigation into arrests of UCI students, fears their free speech rights were violated. (Details after the jump.) . . .
UC Irvine School of Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky gives a public talk at noon today titled, “First
Amendment in a Multicultural Society.” He will include comments about Muslim Student Union members repeatedly interrupting a lecture on campus Monday by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. We already know what noted constitutional law expert Chemerinsky will say about the incident: Students violated Oren's right to free speech.
“They shouted him down,” Chemerinsky told the Orange County Register's Gary Robbins. “Imagine if they had
brought their own speaker and that person had been shouted down. There
would be no free speech. There is no right to a 'heckler's veto.'”
After being interrupted 10 times while trying to discuss U.S.-Israel relations
before an audience of 500 people in the UCI Student Center, Oren took a 20-minute break, during which political science professor Mark Petracca scolded those making the outbursts and asked them to leave. Oren then returned–and was promptly interrupted six more times.
Campus police escorted each shouter out of the auditorium and made 11 arrests for disrupting a public event. Chemerinsky told Robbins the campus cops had every right to do so.
UPDATE: But the Muslim Public Affairs Council is not so sure. The group sent a letter Wednesday to UCI
Chancellor Michael Drake saying it is unclear what laws the students
broke, the Associated Press reports. Schools should not discourage students from expressing their First Amendment rights, contends the council.
Chemerinsky's talk will be held at the UCI Cross-Cultural Center, across
from Aldrich Hall.
Hopefully, that's a free-speech zone.