February 10th, 2010, 1:01 pm ·
posted by Gary Robbins, science writer-editor
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law and an internationally-renowned expert on the Constitution, says that the students who yelled at Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren during a campus lecture Monday were suppressing free speech. (Coverage of protest.)
Eleven students — eight from UCI, three from UC Riverside — were arrested by campus police and cited for disrupting a public event. The arrests occurred while Oren was trying to discuss U.S.-Israel relations before an audience of 500 people in the UCI Student Center.
“They shouted him down,” Chemerinsky said. “Imagine if they had brought their own speaker and that person had been shouted down. There would be no free speech. There is no right to a ‘heckler’s veto’ “.
University officials announced before the lecture that Oren would answer questions from the audience at the end of his talk, a plan that was canceled after the ambassador was interrupted on 10 separate occasions by protesters. Police escorted each protester from the auditorium, which Chemerinsky says the police were entitled to do.
Chemerinsky will give a public talk Thursday titled, “First Amendment in a Multicultural Society.” The talk, which is open to the public, will begin at noon at the UCI Cross-Cultural Center, across from Aldrich Hall. Chemerinsky says his talk will include comments about Monday’s protest during Oren’s speech.