UPDATE: 9:00 pm Saturday: Southern Israel has just been hit by another terrorist missile fired by from Gaza by Hamas.
UPDATE: Two more rockets were fired by Palestinian terrorists in the middle of the night at the citizens of southern Israel. This brings to 88 the number of Qassams, Grads, and mortars launched from Gaza in the last six weeks–an average of two per day. As usual, the IDF did nothing in response.
Dear readers, allow your humble servant to briefly recapitulate what happened at the University of California, Davis on Monday night. Two Israeli speakers were verbally assaulted by hecklers–by one heckler in particular–in such a way that they were unable to begin their presentation.
Please note that this video clip is from the beginning of the presentation–not the end. The students who are all getting up and leaving were part of a Students For Justice In Palestine group who had posted their plans to walk out of the room shortly after the first speaker began talking. Their empty seats were soon filled by their confederates who were lining the walls of the lecture room or who had been unable to get in because the room was filled to capacity.
And also please note that despite pleading with the UCD Police to arrest him, the heckler was not even approached by the UCD police. Instead it was left to the organizers of the event to try to intervene. When I asked a UCD policeman why they were not acting to stop what was an obvious violation of the free speech rights of the presenters, I was remarkably told: We have been instructed by our superior not to stop hecklers, and if you try to stop the hecklers, we have been instructed to close down the program.”
So it continued for another 10 to 15 minutes until the main heckler eventually tired and was finally approached by a UCD policeman who gently coaxed the heckler out of the room and into a hallway. The heckler remained there until he returned to the room at the end of the presentation. Finally, the program was allowed to go on–though the Israeli speakers continued to be subject to scattered heckling.
The basic question that your humble servant asked back on Tuesday and Wednesday was why the UCD police failed to act? This question has just partially been answered in a letter written to the UCD community by UC-Davis Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter (who was at the Monday night event and also did not intervene), and John A. Meyer, UCD Vice Chancellor for Administrative and Resource Management–which follows in slightly abbreviated form (highlighting mine):
“Dear UC Davis Community,
As Occupy activities continue nationally and locally, some of you have expressed interest in knowing more about our approach to managing campus protests.
We’re writing to update you on this and the anticipated release of a report from the Reynoso Task Force, which has been conducting an inquiry into the pepper spraying of students last November 18 during a demonstration on the Quad.
The Task Force has indicated that it hopes to unveil the report and invite input at a public forum on our campus on March 6. Further details will be provided soon. . .
Meanwhile, since classes resumed in January there has been a brief occupation of the former Cross Cultural Center; placement of tents on the Quad; sustained efforts by a small group of demonstrators to deny access to employees and customers to the U.S. Bank office in Memorial Union; and, most recently, disruption of a lecture featuring Israeli soldiers.
Here are the principles underlying our efforts to protect lawful freedom of expression:
* The campus’s efforts to manage these situations have been, and are, guided by patience and restraint.
* When protesters’ actions exceed established guidelines for protected free speech, we are seeking to engage and listen to them while explaining the potential implications of their actions. At the former Cross Cultural Center, for example, this approach facilitated a peaceful end to a potentially divisive situation . . .
* We have formed engagement teams to visit protest sites and communicate directly with protesters. At the bank, we have consistently and persistently conveyed to demonstrators that they are violating campus and state regulations by denying access to customers and bank staff, and that they are subject to campus disciplinary and criminal misdemeanor sanctions . . .
* We will communicate similarly with any individuals participating in occupation activities on the Quad or elsewhere on campus, recognizing that campus police may be required to help respond to or resolve emergency situations.
* We will continue to monitor these situations and will take action as necessary to ensure that all members of our campus community can practice their First Amendment rights while also permitting the ongoing operations of the university’s teaching, research, and public service functions.
For many, these are difficult times. As a community, we respect the passion and energy of those seeking to create constructive economic and social change. We hope that participants in campus demonstrations will respect the rights of community members to freely engage in academic, professional and personal pursuits.”
Ralph J. Hexter Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
John A. Meyer
Vice Chancellor-Administrative and Resource Management
Clearly, the UCD Administration and Police have been intimidated by the Occupy Movement–and more specifically by the infamous pepper-spraying incident that took place at UCD this past year (an event that has already given rise to a major lawsuit against the university).
The guidelines expressed in the Hexter/Meyer letter read like Parent Effectiveness Training guidelines from the 1970s; to wit, whatever objectionable actions your children do, engage and reason with then, but never punish them. Always be sure to explain to them the implications of their actions. Respect their passion and energy–even if they are doing something grossly disrespectful or even dangerous.
But the remarkable fact about Monday night is that the UCD Police and UCD Administration did not initially follow their own guidelines at all in regard to the main heckler at the event–and did not follow them after the main heckler left the room and other heckling continued.
In fact, the policeman’s comments to me seem to be in direct violation of the “engage, listen to, and inform” part of the Hexter/Meyer guidelines.
When it quickly became obvious that the main heckler’s actions exceeded “established guidelines for protected free speech”, no policeman or administrative member sought “to engage and listen to him while explaining the potential implications of his actions.” The event organizers were forced to assume this responsibility in the face of UCD inaction.
More than this, no UCD representative initially “took action to ensure that all members of our campus community could practice our First Amendment rights.” On the contrary, they initially did nothing to ensure that the Israeli speakers could speak.
Finally, none of this even begins to address the defamatory slanders that were hurled at the first Israeli speaker (how many women have you raped? how many children have you raped? you are a child molester).
All in all, the UCD authorities were grossly derelict in their duties to stop the verbal assault that was taking place–and did not follow their own guidelines for doing so. The first amendment rights of the Israeli speakers–and of those of us in the audience who had come to listen to them–were egregiously violated.
This blog will continue to update you in the future as further developments unfold.