Speech issues debated

    The Unified Campus Coalition debated hate speech at its Tuesday night meeting, featuring a panel of students discussing the issue and its relationship to the First Amendment.

    Tyler Huff

    About 30 students attended the meeting in Center Hall Rm. 109. Four student panelists represented different sides of the issue.

    One panelist was The Koala editor in chief George Liddle, who is involved in a Judicial Board process with UCSD regarding The Koala’s alleged disruption of a November 2001 MEChA meeting.

    Other panelists were Lance Miller, former president of Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi; Catherine Algeri, former A.S. commissioner of communications; and Robert Forouzandeh, president of the UCSD Freedom Alliance and vice chairman of the UCSD Conservative Union.

    Panelists responded to prewritten questions, as well as questions from the audience. Most questions and responses centered on the controversy surrounding The Koala, and the student periodical’s printing of an article in November 2001 that spoke of a fictitious Jewish fraternity, “”the Chikes,”” which is pronounced as a derogatory term toward Jewish people. In the same issue, a quote in the personals read, “”To all the Asians at this school: Nobody likes you. Go home.””

    The panelists represented different ideologies on hate speech, although all agreed that The Koala had the constitutional right to print whatever it wanted.

    Forouzandeh was emphatic on this point.

    “”I think that a lot of the time, people mistake racism with just empty words,”” Forouzandeh said. “”I want to make sure we distinguish what racism is and not detract from real racism, like discrimination and violence. When we put so much emphasis on words, we lose focus of the harmful things in society.””

    Algeri felt that it was expedient that students and citizens on the whole examine the origins of discrimination and violence.

    “”There is a notion that humor isn’t racism,”” she said. “”I think you need to look at what kind of society discrimination comes from.””

    Liddle, on the other hand, saw The Koala’s “”Chikes”” joke as beneficial to the campus community.

    “”I think one of the benefits of what we did was to show the hypocrisy of the school,”” Liddle said.

    Miller argued that while the speech is not illegal, it is violating to students and highly offensive.

    “”I’m not sure if I would describe that speech as hate speech,”” Miller said. “”I would say it is hateful speech.””

    Students had mixed reactions to the event. Joanna Kahn, a Thurgood Marshal College freshman, was disturbed by the joke.

    “”It’s distressing that when given the right to free speech, certain people would choose to use their right to belittle other minority groups,”” Kahn said. “”You would think that there would be more support for groups who have been historically discriminated against. There is just so much hate.””

    David Silverman, a Marshall fourth-year and an active member of AEPi, was concerned with the economic side of things.

    “”I think people are changing the issue,”” Silverman said. “”The issue is not whether hate speech is right or wrong, legally. The issue is the fact that students are forced to pay for the publication of hate speech. It’s not like you can change the channel when you are paying the station money to air the program you find offensive and don’t want to watch.””

    Silverman was reacting in part to a comment made by Forouzandeh.

    “”It is the right of every American to express their point of view,”” Forouzandeh had said. “”If you have a problem with The Koala, don’t read it. Write a letter to the editor. Do a demonstration. If you don’t like the channel, change it.””

    The “”Hate vs. Free Speech”” panel was part of a three-day event organized by the UCC. Monday night the group held a discussion on the issue of abortion, presenting authorities from religious, biological and feminist perspectives.

    Wednesday night addressed the issue of affirmative action, with Forouzandeh returning, accompanied by MEChA president Ernesto Martinez.

    UCC co-founder Brian Brook believed that the attendees, as well as all students, have a responsibility to unmask hard issues.

    “”At a university, we have a duty to take on the tough issues,”” Brook said. “”The goal of the UCC is to get past the rhetoric and to get to the heart of the issues.””

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