Free Speech Denied at Berkeley

ThoughtCrime: 10/13/94
Published: 1994-10-13

"Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death."
George Orwell

On October 13, at the University of California at Berkeley, the university chancellor cancelled a hall contract for British historian David Irving. It was claimed that the last minute cancellation was due to insufficient security resources. The organizers of Mr. Irving's lecture were forced to move the evening's event down the street to the main meeting room of the YWCA at 2600 Bancroft Way.

Intimidated by the hostile picketers outside the Alumni House, only 100 of the original audience, some of whom had come from as far as Nevada and Oregon, reached the YWCA hall.

As Mr. Irving was about to speak two hundred people including members of the Jewish fraternity Alpha-Epsilon-Pi and mobsters hired by the Anti-Defamation League and its strong-arm gang, the Jewish Defense League, arrived and stormed the building; one thug had the specific task of throwing over the book tables and trampling books, cassettes, and the speaker underfoot. Although Leslie Katz of the Jewish Bulletin claimed afterwards that the protest was "reportedly organized by a student communist group, Young Spartacists", many of the thugs were in fact in their fifties, and the language of their leaflets was taken straight out of ADL literature with vicious embellishments.

In the ensuing disturbance Mr. Irving was thrown around violently, but escaped serious injury. Several members of his audience were less fortunate and had to be taken to the hospital, to the jeers of the mob, as the newspapers reported. The university's Daily Californian identified the "Spartacist" leader as Barbara Frank; the student newspaper also quoted Shadow Moyer of the International Socialist Organization as saying: "I think what happened here was 100 percent justifiable."

In the ten minutes that passed before police in riot gear arrived damage estimated at several thousand dollars was done to the YWCA building: every table was splintered, its legs torn off for use as clubs; lamps were smashed, chairs were ruined, pictures ripped from walls, windows and mirrors smashed. Tapes spilling out of smashed cassettes littered the floor with torn book jackets and books.

"It was horrible, just horrible", Katz quoted YWCA director Sharon Bettinelli as stating. Vicious tomcat girls with cameras wildly kicked out the panels of doors as members of the audience tried to force them shut. A reporter of the Berkeley Daily Californian interviewed Mr. Irving as he knelt to pick up the pieces and quoted him as saying: "You can judge for yourself who's using the fascist methods. What are they afraid of, free speech?" He added (not reported by the newspaper): "You should ask who puts up the money to stage demos like this- and why."

Then he delivered his talk to a rapt if disheveled audience: one man had blood streaming down his forehead, the speaker himself had blood on the bridge of his nose – he found three pairs of spectacles in his pocket afterwards, of which only one was his.

He has promised Berkeley to return: to show that he cannot be intimidated.


Adapted from: David Irving's Action Report Supplement Nov. 2, 1994


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Author(s): CODOH News
Title: Free Speech Denied at Berkeley, ThoughtCrime: 10/13/94
Sources: David Irving's Action Report Supplement Nov. 2, 1994
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Published: 1994-10-13
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 1996, 7 p.m.
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