So you read it here first -- unless you read Armenian-American newspapers -- but let me count the ways in which the story has gotten picked up. I love starting memes, especially when they are something important like the First Amendment!
In case you hadn't heard, CGU sent their lawyers after an independent filmed maker openly recorded statements made by an Armenian-genocide denying Turkish diplomat. They said that his open filming somehow "harassed" the students that were present. The filmmaker, Peter Musurlian, whose video is linked above, created a website called Claremontgenocideuniversity.com.
After yours truly covered it, other places chimed in.
First, our friends at the Claremont Insider picked up the story and placed it in its proper place within the sadly large constellation of speech codes and restrictions at the Claremont Colleges. Then, the local press picked it up and finally, Foundation Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) ran with it earlier today. Yes, that is the same FIRE that went after the colleges for their bias-related incidents nonsense.
Thankfully we got our credit. Here's The Claremont Conservative mention.
I know it's summer and all, but shouldn't the school's Holocaust Center have some kind of a statement about this? I guess they have bigger fish to fry, with their head stepping down and all that after allegations that he extorted a Holocaust victim surfaced. CGU didn't learn the lesson from being involved in holocaust politics: Don't bring in the lawyers because then people think you are being heavy handed.
Universities have the prerogative to host whatever speakers and events they like, however controversial their views might be. What they don't have a right to do is censor news coverage of those events to avoid criticism from the press. Charles Johnson of The Claremont Conservative reports on just such a story at Claremont Graduate University (CGU).
On June 10, CGU hosted a lecture by Turkish Consul General Hakan Tekin. Independent journalist Peter Musurlian filmed the event for a segment on Horizon Armenian TV and posted the video clip on YouTube. On June 23, Paul Silvio Berra, an attorney for CGU, called Musurlian and told him that he "had no authority to publish" the video and that YouTube would be told that the video was posted illegally. According to Musurlian, Berra's bizarre argument against posting the clip was that showing the faces of the students on video constituted "harassment."
Never fear, The Claremont Conservative is here! We've been anti-genocide, pro-free speech since 1988 before Darfur was even on the map.
Here's the coverage in The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
Notice the bold statements below. I wonder why CGU has no comment. How do you say "PR screw up" in Armenian?
Filmmaker claims censoring attemptArticle Created: 07/26/2008 10:43:27 PM PDTCLAREMONT - A man who filmed a June 10 lecture by a Turkish diplomat at Claremont Graduate University now has a Web site criticizing the university, alleging it is trying to censor his film on the Internet.
In fact, he has created the site - at www.claremontgenocideuniversity.com - describing his attempts to place his film on YouTube.
His reason for the Web site, which has a title of "Claremont Graduate University Censorship," is that videographer Peter Musurlian's YouTube video about the lecture was blurred and briefly pulled down.
In the video, Musurlian comments on how the speaker, R. Hakan Tekin, the consul general of Turkey in Los Angeles, at "age 41 he mathematically could be the grandson of a perpetrator of the Armenian genocide. ... Instead he's armed with rhetorical skills, a smile and Turkish government talking points and propaganda."
During World War I, as many as one and a half million Armenians were treated as possible enemies and killed after being forced into concentration camps when Turkey joined the Central Powers against Russia.
The conflict goes back to at least the 1800s when Armenians, identified with the Christian religion, were placed at odds with Turkey's Muslim factions.
The Turkish government has denied there ever was an Armenian genocide.
Musurlian, 46, is a station manager for Burbank's government access channel and also a board member on the Armenian National Committee of America's Western Region.
He said he was not at the "The Role and Challenges of Turkey in a Globalizing World" lecture on behalf of the national committee and just wanted to tape the event for his channel.
Musurlian said he had a campus lawyer, identified as Paul S. Berra, tell him to blur student faces or the university would have the video pulled.
"He initially said some of the students were being harassed," Musurlian said.
But the video doesn't focus in on students and he said he wasn't given a specific reason about the kind of harassment.
In a letter claimed to be from Berra posted on Musurlian's Web site, the lawyer wrote " ... I asked you to voluntarily remove your video from YouTube because you had no authority to publish it. I explained that you needed to obtain, for starters, the students' consent before doing so."
When reached at his Santa Monica law office on Friday, Berra said he had no comment.
The video, Musurlian said, was posted June 14, and about nine days later Berra contacted him, he said.
A YouTube e-mail Musurlian sent from his account Friday shows the video was removed June 25 "as a result of a third-party notification by Claremont Graduate University claiming that this material is infringing."
Musurlian e-mailed back a counter-notification and on July 10 the video was restored.
When asked, Claremont Graduate University spokesman Nikolaos Johnson said the campus had no comment on its filming procedures, the genocide Web site or its use of a lawyer.
Rachel Matteo-Boehm, a partner at Holme, Roberts and Owen, is general counsel to the California First Amendment Coalition.
Matteo-Boehm said that because no one had objected to Musurlian's attendance, there didn't appear to be any potential privacy issues.
"I don't see any legal basis to request student faces to be blurred based on the facts as I understand them," Matteo- Boehm said.
Musurlian said he set up a large tripod, a camera and placed a wireless microphone on the podium and was actually encouraged to ask a question at the lecture.
"It was a pleasant experience," he said.
The Web site now has more than 5,800 hits. Musurlian said he has "no plans" of taking the Web site or any of his videos down.
"The Web site, I paid for it to be up for a year," Musurlian said.