Letter to the Editor: Should speech from Student for Justice in Palestine be protected?

To the editor:

Dear Ms. Robinson,

Your essay on banning SJP is very thoughtful, but it does omit some relevant considerations.

Speech is unprotected if it advocates violence, particularly if its advocacy is not merely theoretical but immediate, and the fact that violence ensued and was not disowned might allow an inference to be drawn that immediate violence was embraced in the call.聽 Courts would easily understand that universities have an obligation to protect their students from violence, particularly if it emanates from an incendiary speech on campus.

It is also unlawful to provide aid to a terrorist organization.聽 SJP’s speech, as quoted, could easily be construed as a plea for recruitment to a violent terrorist organization. I doubt that would be protected under existing Supreme Court doctrine.

I agree with you that we need more free speech on campus, not less, but SJP’s speeches at various campuses may have crossed the lines I’ve tried to mark.

Don Horowitz

Chevy Chase, MD