In Defense of My Right to Free Speech
By Debi Ghate (The Tucson Citizen, March 11, 2006)
Although I was unable to get into the February 28th University of California, Irvine (UCI) event to watch the unveiling of the Danish cartoons and the panel discussion on terrorism (I was told by security that the hall was filled to capacity), I did have an opportunity to closely observe the mob of protestors demonstrating against the event. Amongst those chanting "Allah Aqubar" and holding signs such as "Mohammed Protector of Women" and "Young Republicans = the new KKK", were a noticeable number of people wearing green arm bands nearly identical to those worn by Hamas suicide bombers in the Middle East. Apparently this is not the first time these armbands have been worn by students on the UCI campus. To learn that there are people right here in my own backyard who openly display support for a terrorist organization like Hamas was a real wake up call.
I'd gone to the event in defense of my right to free speech, and my right to see the Danish cartoonists' message without fear of violence or intimidation. What I came away with was the realization that my right to free speech and my right to life were under a much more immediate threat.