Hecklers' (Terrorists'?)Veto at University of Leeds?:

From Scholars for Peace in the Middle East:

On Wednesday morning March 14, just hours before an invited academic talk and two-day academic workshop series by SPME Board member, Matthias Kuentzel, German scholar, the University of Leeds cancelled this invited, university- sponsored, two-day workshop on "Hitler's Legacy: Islamic Antisemitism in the Middle East."

Dr Kuentzel's talk is part of a series of scholars' and artists' talks at the German Department. The series is supported by a grant form the School of Modern Languages, who did not raise any issues during the grant application process. The University cited security reasons for cancelling the workshop based on threatening emails it received to the Office of Vice Chancellor.

Dr. Kuentzel is a research assistant of one the world's leading institute in the research of antisemitism, the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the board of directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, an academic society with about 0ver 9000 faculty throughout the world. who is a Research Associate at the Vidal Sasson Institute on Anti-Semitism of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The series of events had been well publicised for several weeks.

Members of SPME and other academics of good will from around the world are being asked to immediately write to the Vice Chancellor's Office at 0113-3434030 or e-mail to demand that this event be allowed to continue with appropriate security.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Censorship at the University of Leeds:
  2. Hecklers' (Terrorists'?)Veto at University of Leeds?:
BobNSF (mail):
You think someone sent an email threatening to heckle?
3.14.2007 5:11pm
RMCACE (mail):

I may have missed the sarcasm in your post. If so, I apologize.

Heckler's veto is a First Amendment doctrine that permits authorities to halt speech from a speaker in order to stop a reaction from a re-acting party. It is a pretty limited doctrine. See Feiner (sp?) v. NY.

Terrorist veto is what happened here. Threats made caused the authority to censor speech.
3.14.2007 5:23pm
I think it's terrible that this sort of thing happens, and if it was me bearing the risk, I like to think that I'd choose to suffer the risk rather than allow myself to be cowed into silence by terrorist threats. But it's not me bearing the risk, which is why I'm sort of uncomfortable with these campaigns built around the notion of demanding that others assume the risk.

In other words, it's one thing to reprint the Mohammed cartoons yourself, and it's quite another thing to go around judging people who choose not to reprint them, particularly when those people are in a more vulnerable position. Demanding bravery from others shouldn't be mistaken for actual bravery.
3.14.2007 5:40pm
Kris Stanya:
They need to drop the "Vidal Sasoon" sponsorship from the name. I can't stop giggling at that name.
3.14.2007 6:07pm
Waldensian (mail):
An institution in the United Kingdom showing little respect for free speech? I am shocked. Shocked!

Seriously, what's the point of this?
3.14.2007 6:25pm
Spartacus (www):
They need to drop the "Vidal Sasoon" sponsorship from the name. I can't stop giggling at that name.

If you don't look good, we don't look good.
3.14.2007 6:52pm
BobNSF (mail):

I may have missed the sarcasm in your post. If so, I apologize.

Ignorance, not sarcasm, on my part. I'm not trained in the law. Thanks for the explanation.

My point, such as it was, is that there isn't enough information to conclude whether the university officials simply caved into intimidation or whether there was sufficient reason to suspect a real terrorist attack. We sometimes forget that -- in terms of frequency of actual explosions -- other countries experience more than we do.

That said, they -- and we -- need to find a way to support freedom of speech, even if it means intrusive screening of the audience.
3.14.2007 7:26pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Well, yeah, every high school principal in the USA has to decide how to deal with phoned in threats to blow up the school.

At least where I live, they shrug them off.

A Muslim threat would require more due diligence, though.

So my question is, what does the college have aside from an e-mail?
3.14.2007 8:37pm

Shouldn't that be:

If Jew don't look good, we don't look good.
3.14.2007 9:05pm
Ken Arromdee:
it's not me bearing the risk, which is why I'm sort of uncomfortable with these campaigns built around the notion of demanding that others assume the risk.

The problem is that we can't know whether they genuinely stopped it because of the risk, or whether they were ideologically opposed to it and were looking for an excuse, or if they were being bribed to stop it, or even if they were just expecting non-violent bad responses (being called Islamophobic in the media) and chose to falsely portray it as a risk of violence in order to make the refusal sound more reasonable.

Considering that almost any public figure receives threatening emails anyway, and considering that the emails were not detailed enough that they could go to the police, I find it hard to believe that the emails are not just an excuse. It's one thing not to question someone's sincere decision that a threat is dangerous; it's another to question whether their decision is sincere in the first place.
3.14.2007 10:10pm
Burrnini (mail):
Hmm...with a name like "Hitler's Legacy: Islamic Antisemitism in the Middle East" are they surprised that people were offended? What exactly does Hitler have to do with islamic antisemitism? (And I question that term too, there are several valid reasons for some islamic countries/groups to dislike isreal and not everyone who is anti-isreal is an anti-semite).

I'd rather write the vice chancellor and thank him for putting a stop to something clearly meant to offend.
3.15.2007 3:13pm
Oh well, we can't risk offending anyone can we? Anything offensive has to be stopped, and lucky for us, someone was willing to threaten violence. What a happy day. Burrnini, if you don't know of the link between Islamic Anti-semitism and Hitler, you can pick up a book - there are several on the topic. Or you could go to this seminar...oh, I guess not. Well, sleep easy tonight, knowing you wont be offended by academic inquiry.
3.15.2007 3:25pm