Holocaust denier to speak at Cal State Fullerton today “A university is a marketplace of ideas”

Contact: Office of Milton A. Gordon,  President:

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(UPDATE:  ”   Holocaust deniers speech covered live by the CSF Daily Titan.)

Holocaust to be questioned on campus

By Christine Amarantus and Michael Arellano
Published: May 05, 2010

The founder of the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust is scheduled to speak in the Titan Student Union’s Alvarado AB at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 6.

Bradley Smith, whose organization contends that the Holocaust did not occur, will talk about what he calls forbidden topics within student journalism.

Smith has a history of causing controversy on university campuses across the United States. In February of this year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s student newspaper was met with strong opposition when they ran an online advertisement purchased by Smith.

“Some members of Madison’s Jewish community, and others, are outraged that the Herald would give this infamous denier a platform to spew his veiled anti-Semitism,” said Nick Penzenstadler, the UW paper’s publisher.

A self-proclaimed “Holocaust revisionist,” Smith argues the Nazi gas chambers did not exist and spoke at the 2006 Holocaust conference hosted by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, Iran.

“Well, I don’t have an ideology,” Smith said. “Essentially, I’m encouraging a free exchange of ideas about a taboo question.”

CSUF’s Hillel club adviser Mark Filowitz commented on Smith’s coming to campus.

“I am a firm believer in free speech,” Filowitz said, “but I strongly object to deceptive practices that dupe students into hearing a single point of view, as opposed to healthy academic debate, where all sides of an issue is examined.”

Filowitz, who is the associate dean of the College of Natural Science and Mathematics, further stated his opinion of Smith’s beliefs.

“On the level of an individual, and as the son of Holocaust survivors, I am thoroughly disgusted that people like Bradley Smith abuse our hard-fought freedoms to deceptively spread their vile venom among the impressionable, who may not know better despite all of the hard evidence of history,” he said.

Smith, who currently resides in Mexico, contacted Cal State Fullerton’s University Conference Center a week ago about renting a room in the TSU to discuss free speech.

Kurt Borsting, the director of the TSU, was involved in the reviewing process of Smith’s contract.

“A university is a marketplace of ideas,” Borsting said. “Even when those ideas may be offensive.”

While most students hear controversial speakers in the Quad and on Titan Walk, Borsting said that the reason Smith is holding his discussion in the TSU is because he paid a fee and made a reservation request in advance.

Borsting said he was familiar with Smith’s background before granting his request. To reject Smith’s speaking engagement would infringe on his Frist Amendment rights.

Smith is allowed to rent the facility as a private individual who is exercising his First Amendment rights, Borsting said.

Associated Students Incorporated president Juliana Santos said that ASI had “no legal grounds to deny him to speak in the TSU.”

“Bradley Smith contacted the university conference center … (which) didn’t know his true intentions,” Santos said. “His title seemed pretty benign.”

Santos recalls only one group denied access to TSU this year, a nudist group that was denied due to indecent exposure being against the law, she said.

Santos said ASI is not sponsoring Smith’s event.

The TSU’s policy regarding outside groups states that they allow, “all other off-campus groups and individuals whose events are consistent with the with the mission and purpose of the University” to use the facility as a forum.

The university’s mission statement has among its goals to, “affirm the university’s commitment to freedom of thought, inquiry and speech.”

“I do think that the university should always allow free speech on Titan Way or the Quad,” Filowitz said. “But when a University facility is used, it implies some sort of endorsement of the views presented. Therefore, I would urge some consideration of procedures by which our facilities are used on campus.”

“I am a firm believer in free speech,” Filowitz said. “But I strongly object to deceptive practices that dupe students into hearing a single point of view, as opposed to healthy academic debate, where all sides of an issue are examined.”

Filowitz, who is the associate dean of the College of Natural Science and Mathematics, further stated his opinion of Smith’s beliefs.

“On the level of an individual, and as the son of Holocaust survivors, I am thoroughly disgusted that people like Bradley Smith abuse our hard-fought freedoms to deceptively spread their vile venom among the impressionable, who may not know better despite all of the hard evidence of history,” Filowitz said.

Smith, who currently resides in Mexico, contacted CSUF’s University Conference Center a week ago about renting a room in the TSU to discuss free speech.

Kurt Borsting, the director of the TSU, was involved in the reviewing process of Smith’s contract.

“A university is a marketplace of ideas,” Borsting said. “Even when those ideas may be offensive.”

While most students hear controversial speakers in the Quad and on Titan Walk, Borsting said that the reason Smith is holding his discussion in the TSU is because he paid a fee and made a reservation request in advance.

Borsting said he was familiar with Smith’s background before granting his request. To reject Smith’s speaking engagement would infringe on his Frist Amendment rights.

Smith is allowed to rent the facility as a private individual who is exercising his First Amendment rights, Borsting said.

Associated Students Inc. President Juli Santos said that ASI had “no legal grounds to deny him to speak in the TSU.”

“Bradley Smith contacted the university conference center… (which) didn’t know his true intentions,” Santos said. “His title seemed pretty benign.”

Santos recalls only one group denied access to TSU this year, a nudist group that was denied due to indecent exposure being against the law, she said.

Santos said ASI is not sponsoring Smith’s event.

The TSU’s policy regarding outside groups states that they allow, “all other off-campus groups and individuals whose events are consistent with the with the mission and purpose of the university” to use the facility as a forum.

The university’s mission statement has among its goals to, “affirm the university’s commitment to freedom of thought, inquiry and speech.”

“I do think that the university should always allow free speech on Titan Walk or the Quad,” Filowitz said.

“But when a university facility is used, it implies some sort of endorsement of the views presented. Therefore, I would urge some consideration of procedures by which our facilities are used on campus.”

CSUF’s Hillel club founder Jeffrey Reinstein, 24, disagrees with Smith’s stance on the Holocaust.

“To deny the Holocaust in the year 2010 is like to deny that Cal State Fullerton needs more parking, teachers and more funding,” Reinstein said. “Although I support free speech and the First Amendment in its entirety, I sincerely hope that no individual gives this man a proper audience. Remnants of the world’s prejudice past should be just that – the past.” 

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