Thursday, February 20, 2003

Professor Volokh has a post on the indictments against Sami Al-Arian, and its implications for academic freedom and free speech. I'm not sure that I agree. Calling for death to Israel and fundraising for terrorists seems to go beyond mere advocacy or argument for unpopular ideas. Guys like this also have a tendency to be pretty intolerant of opinions they disagree with. There are pretty well documented cases of professors around the country who make it clear that arguing with their political views will be grounds for lowering grades. Do they deserve protection? Do they deserve to live off the taxes of others? I think we make a mistake if we claim that speech is never action. Inciting to riot has been regularly practiced by professors for years with impunity, but they should remember the civil in civil disobedience, and that free will doesn't always keep one out of jail. Somehow, I don't think most Americans would be moved by Al-Arian's claims of persecution or pause for long if he starved himself in emulation of Ghandi. That only works in cases where the injustice of one's imprisonment is manifest.


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