Those defending the "Irvine 11 (minus 1)" have had to try and make the case into something it is not, attempting to downplay what actually occurred (but the video does not lie), and trying to divert the focus to the supposedly violated rights of the students, while ignoring those of the Israeli ambassador and those who came to hear him. "Freedom of speech for me, but not for thee," indeed.
One need only imagine their response had the shoe been on the other foot to realize the double standard that is at work.
The prosecutor says it well. Their carefully planned spectacle was an act of "censorship by a few." And it is indeed a victory for free speech, intellectual freedom, and basic standards of acceptable behavior that they were convicted.
(Reuters) - Ten Muslim college students from Southern California were convicted on Friday of unlawfully disrupting a speech by Israel's ambassador to the United States last year and placed on probation.
The students, whose so-called "Irvine 11" case touched off a furor over free speech rights at the University of California at Irvine, were also ordered to perform 56 hours of community service.
An Orange County Superior Court jury of six men and six women convicted them of one count each of conspiracy and disturbing an assembly -- a verdict that was greeted by wails from spectators in a packed Santa Ana courtroom.
The students were to remain on probation for three years but could have that reduced to a year once they complete the community service. Charges have been tentatively dismissed against an 11th defendant.
"We're going to continue fighting this. We're going to appeal this decision," supporter Marya Bangee, 25, told Reuters outside the court....
And it goes on like that. The prosecutor's statement: "‘Irvine 11’: Prosecutor calls verdict a victory for free speech," from the Los Angeles Times, September 23:
As protesters took to Twitter to express disappointment and anger at the conviction of 10 Muslim students over a campus protest last year, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas called the verdict a clean victory for free speech.
“Today, an Orange County jury sent a strong message that 1st Amendment rights belong to every American and we will not tolerate a small band of people who want to hijack our freedoms,” the district attorney said Friday in a prepared statement.
Rackauckas said the actions of the students – who became known collectively as the Irvine 11 – amounted to “organized thuggery.”
“This is censorship by a few and it is illegal," he said. "The defendants acted as censors to block the free flow of ideas and infringed on the rights of 700 people who had gone to the campus that evening…. History requires us to draw a line in the sand against this sort of organized thuggery.”