Community Reacts to Free Speech Hullabaloo

Reginald Zelnik, Bettina Aptheker, Mal Burnstein, Kate Coleman, Tom Savio, Lee Felsenstein and David Goines contributed to this submission. Respond at [email protected]

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As former members and supporters of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, all currently active in efforts to preserve the movement's legacy, we wish to affirm that the right of free speech exists even when the speaker or the content of the speech is unpopular or offensive, as the views and actions of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are to many of us ("Netanyahu Calls Off Speech," Nov. 29).

While peaceful and even vigorous protests are more than warranted, we are very disturbed by attempts of participants and critics of the Nov. 28 incident to justify preventing the speaker from addressing his audience by associating this position with the Free Speech Movement.

Although the Free Speech Movement began as an attempt to protect the free-speech rights of students engaged in the civil rights movement, it never limited its defense of free speech to those with whom we agree or to advocates of causes we like, a position that would have been hypocritical to say the least. Free speech, as Mario Savio has said, is not just "a tactic for political ends;" it is a good in and of itself, a touchstone of humanity.

Berkeley is, should be, and will remain a bastion of free speech and free assembly.

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