Thursday, October 16, 2008

David Horowitz Trying to Suppress Freedom of the Press

In the midst of "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week," David Horowitz isn't satisfied with trying to silence Muslim Student Associations on campus. Now he's going after student newspapers that dare to print criticism of them.

In a fundraising letter he emailed today, Horowitz wrote: “The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student newspaper, while running our full-page ad exposing the link between the radical Muslim Brotherhood and college Muslim student groups, previewed the ad to the Muslim Student Association, allowed them to copy the design of our ad, and let the Muslim Student Association run a full-page ad next to our ad at no cost. Along with not teaching about radical Islam on its campus, it's evident UW-Milwaukee isn't teaching ethics, either.”

Actually, there's absolutely nothing unethical about letting people respond to the content of the newspaper. To the contrary, what the UWM newspaper did was highly ethical: they let Horowitz buy his ad and express his viewpoint, but they let the other side express their point of view about his ridiculous lies. This is a model of how newspapers ought to ethically respond to offensive advertising.

Horowitz obviously doesn't agree, because he writes: “Rest assured, in the case of UW-M, we are going to take action and get our money returned or have the Muslim Student Association pay for their advertisement.”

This is extremely disturbing. In essence, Horowitz wants to punish the UW Milwaukee newspaper for printing content critical of him. In a free society, newspapers can print whatever they want to. If they want to print criticism of their advertisers, more power to them. And unless Horowitz has a written contract with the newspaper explicitly stating that they will not run any content attacking him, he has no legal justification for refusing to pay his bills.

This isn't the first time Horowitz has pulled this kind of scam. Back in 2001, he refused to pay the Daily Princetonian for an ad because it ran an editorial criticizing him. Amazingly, Horowitz wasn't ashamed of his efforts to intimidate newspapers from writing criticism; in fact, he wrote a column for Salon proudly declaring it.

I'd love to see Horowitz try to march into a court and declare that he doesn't have to pay his bills unless he approves of the content in the rest of the newspaper. It's a laughable claim. But what's not so laughable is Horowitz's unconstitutional crusade to ban Muslim Student Associations from receiving student fee funding, and his attempts to intimidate newspaper editors who allow criticism of him.

Crossposted at CollegeFreedom.

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