June 24, 2002

SFSU UPDATE: Erin O’Connor is happy that the anti-semitic GUPS website is down, but unhappy that the University’s action in taking it down looks like censorship.

As I said earlier, I’d rather see them punished for their violent actions, which they appear to be. It’s a somewhat more complicated question whether taking down their website, hosted on the University server, is censorship, or at least censorship that violates the First Amendment. My own feeling is that campus speech codes are wrong, and they’re usually held unconstitutional. But when you’re an accredited student organization, and your site is hosted by the University, it’s arguably not just your speech, but theirs — at least enough that they can make you abide by a “no hate speech” rule for what’s there. And it gives them a colorable claim that they should be able to limit what you say on that site. That’s a distinct matter from punishing you for things you say elsewhere. (And it’s one reason why I don’t have InstaPundit on the University of Tennessee’s servers, where I could host it for free if I wanted. I don’t want any confusion about who’ in charge of this site.)

I believe in punishing actions, not speech, and that’s what was really called for with regard to GUPS. The website was more illustrative (as Glenn Frazier points out) of what GUPS was like than it was a problem in itself.

And that’s one reason why the University’s action is more troubling than it might otherwise be. While the website was up, it was obvious to the world what kind of a group this was. Now it’s not. Which coincidentally (?) makes life easier for the University as it faces charges of not being hard enough on the group for its actions.

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish has a post on this too.

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