My name is Jonah Naoum and I am the UC San Diego Chapter President for Young Americans for Liberty. Our group is dedicated to advocating for liberty, free markets, limited government, and the Constitution.
On Friday, Oct. 6, we were tabling with a free speech ball on Library Walk, exercising our First Amendment right to free speech through YAL’s National Fight for Free Speech campaign. We passed out pocket Constitutions, spoke to students and gave everyone the opportunity to write on our free speech ball.
Let me be very clear: We do NOT condone any markings of encouraging rape, anti-immigrant slogans, supremacy, or the like.
I can assure you that as a son of Iraqi immigrants I am very well aware of discrimination and do not condone any anti-immigrant slogans. However, everyone does have the right to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment; I acknowledge that right.
Members of YAL and the Leadership Institute had seen the student sign our petition and leave his e-mail, associating him with Groundwork Books. The student wrote “Sic semper tyrannis” on the beachball, which is often meant as “thus always to tyrants”, an abbreviated version of “Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis” (“Thus always I bring death to tyrants”). While this did seem a little frightening at first that the student possibly implied death or harm to us, the student and YAL could both agree that tyrants are awful and freedom is best.
Until further evidence surfaces, it is impossible to conclude exactly happened in the bookstore. I will not engage in a “he-said, she-said” battle. I will however, purport that it is important for all journalists writing this story to maintain their commitment to ethical reporting.The student in question was handcuffed, questioned, searched, and subsequently let go; the Campus Reform article provides evidentiary support for this assertion.
My final comments to the student and members of the UCSD Left: I am friends with some of you and I hope this does not strain relations between us or our two groups. I disagree with communism and socialism, however I am giving you free and complete reign over the platform, which is the free speech ball, to write whatever you’d like, as a symbol to illustrate our First Amendment rights.
I encourage you to come to our meetings, to talk to us, and let us try to better understand each other. I am neither furious nor angry, but simply disappointed. It is not our fault that some individuals chose to write things we disagree with on our free speech ball. Yet, reacting in a violent manner is always wrong. Under no circumstances is violence acceptable.
If you disagree with something, please engage in dialogue rather than violent tactics. This battle of ideas should not be fought with pocket knives, but with a pen and paper.
Jonah Galeb Naoum