Christopher Cole
Christopher Cole was a fixture in leftist and progressive politics in Los Angeles in the late 1980s and early '90s. In 1988 he founded the first Los Angeles chapter of the influential leftist organization Refuse and Resist. As head of the L.A. chapter of R&R, Cole organized benefit concerts and promotional gigs with artists such as Sinead O'Connor, Michelle Shocked, and Fishbone. Cole was also instrumental in organizing the network of politically and socially conscious organizations that toured with the Lollapalooza festival. Cole was a founding member of the Ad Hoc Coalition for Freedom of Expression, which was formed in 1989 to protest the Bush Administration's denial of NEA grant money to controversial artists. Other members of the Coalition included officials of L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art, and the legendary L.A. performance art space, Highways. From 1989 through 1992, the Coalition organized art shows across Southern California, showcasing the works of censored artists. A member of the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the National Writers Union, and the National Abortion Rights Action League, Cole helped organize a pro choice concert for L.A. talk radio station KFI in 1990, featuring Sinead O'Connor and Susan Sarandon. That same year, Cole helped organize a concert at L.A.'s Wilshire Ebell Theatre to raise funds for the new democratic government of Czechoslovakia. Cole served as head of the L.A. chapter of Refuse and Resist until 1991, when he became troubled by what he saw as a growing desire among some on the left to censor views they didn't agree with, as evidenced by the clamor for campus "speech codes" in the early '90s. Cole left the ACLU in 1992 in protest of what he saw as that organization's reluctance to take a clear and unambiguous stand against censorship in all its forms. Since the mid'90s, Cole has been an occasional oped contributor to the Los Angeles Times, writing on free speech issues. Cole co-founded the Campaign to Decriminalize World War II History because, as he puts it: "This issue is the test of one's commitment to free speech. Liberals cried 'censorship' when CBS moved the Ronald Reagan TV movie to the Show time cable network, and when an appearance by Tim Robbins at the Baseball Hall of Fame was cancelled because of the actor's views on the Iraq war. None of these examples of so-called censorship compare to the draconian measures being carried out by the nations of the West against Holocaust revisionists. Yet who has the courage to stand up for the rights of these people? Anyone who is truly against censorship should feel impelled to speak out on this issue. So-called 'anti-censorship' activists who confine their righteous indignation to safe and comfortable controversies are cowards, pure and simple."

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