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December 16, 2016

Don’t Ban Anti-Semitic Speech

On December 1, 2016 the US Senate passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act by unanimous consent. The bill tells the Department of Education how to determine if speech is anti-Semitic. The findings in the bill complain that a Dear Colleague Letter from the Department “did not provide guidance on current manifestation of anti-Semitism, including discriminatory anti-Semitic conduct that is couched [emphasis mine] as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist.”

I'm Jewish. I'm pro-Israel. I'm appalled by the anti-Semitism on campuses. And I'm adamantly against this law.

I won't have the freedom to criticize unless others are free to criticize me. I see no greater danger than empowering bureaucrats - or legislators - to decide what may or may not be said.

Freedom of speech - other than yelling fire in a crowded theater - is an absolute and an absolute necessity for a free society. We cannot be lulled into suppressing speech just because it is hateful to us.

Colleges should be cauldrons of controversy. They should be a place where citizens learn to debate issues, not how to suppress the speech of their opponents.

There is an Orwellian sentence at the end of the bill: “Nothing in this Act, or an amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” Does that mean if this passes I’m breaking the law by construing it as doing exactly that?  

If we don't come to the defense of the speech of others, who will be left to come to our defense?

For an opposite opinion, see the statement of the Anti-Defamation League here.

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