A jury Thursday found 10 Muslim university students guilty of disrupting a speech by an Israeli diplomat at UC Irvine last year, in a case that focused on free speech.The idea that this was a "free speech" case was bogus from the start. If they had been allowed to get away with that defense every immature moron that wanted to could disrupt any public event and claim immunity from prosecution.
The six-man, six-woman jury found the students guilty on all counts of misdemeanor disturbing a public meeting and conspiracy in connection with the Feb. 8, 2010, talk by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
The prosecution said the defendants used a "heckler's veto" to thwart the free speech rights of the speaker and others in the audience, while the defense countered that what the protesters did was a lawful expression of their free speech.
After months of pretrial motion, the trial lasted eight days, including about two days spent on closing arguments by one prosecutor and six defense attorneys earlier this week.
Assistant District Attorney Dan Wagner told jurors the protesters' actions amounted to censorship when they planned to disrupt Oren and tried to cover it up.
The right to free speech is not absolute, he said, and it does not include canceling out the speech of others.
"If heckler's veto was allowed, then no one would have the right to free speech," he said. "Freedom does not mean that no one can tell me what I can do. That's not freedom; that's anarchy."
These people conspired and acted together to prevent Oren from being heard. That's not free speech, that's a temper tantrum.
Ten Muslim students found guilty of conspiring to disrupt -– and then disrupting –- a speech at UC Irvine by Israel's ambassador were sentenced Friday afternoon to three years informal probation. They will not serve any jail time.So basically, they got away with it. Didn't even get any community service time. I think picking up trash along the freeway might have done them some good.
At least they'll have those misdemeanor convictions follow them around for the rest of their lives.
CORRECTION: Apparently they did get a small fine and 56 hours of community service. They should make them go wait tables at the Jewish Community Center.