As I watched, with tears in my eyes, the funeral of police officer Rafael Ramos who was ambushed along with fellow officer, Wenjian Liu, in revenge for the deaths of two black young men who were killed by policemen, I could not help thinking of the following horrible words tweeted by a bigoted young woman named Khadijah Lynch, on the day the police officers were murdered in cold blood, and the day after:
"i have no sympathy for the nypd officers who were murdered today." (December 20, 2014)
"lmao, all i just really dont have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist f...ing country."(December 21, 2014)
Khadijah Lynch is a Brandeis University junior who at the time she wrote the tweet was the undergraduate representative in the Brandeis African and Afro-American studies department.
Nor was this her first bigoted tweet. She has apparently described her college as "a social themed institution grounded in Zionism. Word. That a f…ing fanny dooly." And she cannot understand why "black people have not burned this country down…." She describes herself as "in riot mode. F… this f…ing country." She has apparently said that she would like to get a gun and has called for an intifada: "Amerikkka needs an intifada. Enough is enough. " "What the f… even IS 'non-violence'. "
Ms. Lynch is certainly entitled to express such despicable views, just as Nazis, Klansmen and other bigots are entitled to express theirs. But when another Brandeis student, named Daniel Mael, decided to post her public tweets on a website, Lynch threatened to sue him for "slander". Republishing someone's own published words could not possibly constitute slander, libel or any other form of defamation, because you can't be slandered by your own words. You can, of course, be embarrassed, condemned, ostracized or "unfriended" due your own words, as Donald Sterling, the former owner of the LA Clippers, was. But Sterling's bigoted words were never intended to be public, whereas Lynch's tweets were publicly circulated.
People, even students, are responsible for the words they write, speak or tweet in public. They should not be able to hide behind absurd claims of slander. Moreover, other students have the right to know that one of their classmates is advocating intifada against America and is considering getting a gun. They are entitled to have this information in order to judge the character of those with whom they associate. Lynch has now apparently made her Twitter profile private, which may be even more dangerous because she can continue to express her incendiary views to those who support them, without others being made aware of her dangerous advocacy.
Mael had the right -- and was right -- to expose Lynch's words for public assessment and criticism. Now hard left students at Brandeis are calling for Mael's head -- or at least his expulsion -- for exercising his freedom of expression. He has been accused of "stalking", "cyberbullying" and "inciting racial hatred and oppression" for merely republishing what Lynch published.
The most remarkable statement came from the Brandeis Asian American Society. One of the assassinated officers was Asian American. Yet the Asian American Society "stands by" Lynch, who in their view has been "wrongfully targeted and harassed" for essentially expressing lack of sympathy for the two assassinated police officers. They asserted Lynch's right to speak freely -- a right no one has disputed -- but not Mael's right to republish her tweets, which is also a form of free expression.
So welcome to the topsy-turvy world of the academic hard left, where bigoted speech by fellow hard leftists is protected, but counter-expression is labeled as "embarrassment", "incitement" and "bullying".
I hope Brandeis will do the right thing this time, as it certainly did not do when it caved to hard left pressures to withdraw an honorary degree from Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Free speech for me but not for thee cannot become the operative motto of a great university. There is every indication that Brandeis will be according protection to Mael and defending his freedom of expression, and that it will guarantee the safety of all of its students against other students who go beyond advocacy of violence and try to bring guns onto the campus. I would hope that Brandeis would also express opposition to the kind of bigotry expressed by Khadijah Lynch and those who support her views.
Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School (emeritus) and author of "Terror Tunnels: The Case for Israel's Just War Against Hamas" (Rosetta Books 2014).