Adam Sostrin
Not a Spare

Interesting Times

I just had dinner with an old friend.  Our discussion came down to one big thing: the zombie apocalypse.  While preaching to the one man choir, he tried to but essentially butchered the quote “[c]ivilization is but a thin veneer stretched across the passions of the human heart.  And civilization doesn’t just happen; we have to make it happen.”  It certainly was apropos for the interesting times we are living in, which means we are cursed.  [Bill Moyers, the former Press Secretary for President Johnson, said it first.]

We are alarmed – but when can you expect from anyone these days – that on December 5, 2023, three university presidents of famously expensive schools in the United States all but declared – in testimony given to Congress – that calling for the genocide of Jews on campus is not against campus regulations unless calls for genocide are made to a specific student and/or a genocide is acted upon him or her.

Of course, their responses were feebly obtained.  No one really knows how a single person can be genocid-ed, nor did I agree with them when they inferred that if a specific student were genocid-ed that that would meet a legal definition of ‘harassment,’ which in turn the university and/or next of kin, could act upon.  Genocide and harassment are not the same according to Black’s Law Dictionary, at least according to Black Law Dictionary and my neighbor, Michelle.  [She doesn’t know that I’m writing this, nor did we discuss it; also, in honor of George Santos, I needed to fabricate a random female who would agree with me.]

While preparing their confused testimony, I am assuming university lawyers conveyed to them – and rightly so – that calling for genocide writ large is not a violation of the First Amendment.  The direct examination of the witnesses by members of Congress did not focus on the Constitution, however; rather, the inquiry centered on whether calling for the death of Jews was a violation of university policies and regulations.  Those are different things, like owning a home versus renting an apartment.

Understandably, many of us were disappointed after listening to so many non-answers based on – intentionally – misapplied legal analysis; and they were so glib while enabling speech calling for the death of Jewish students.  One can conceive that they’re answers might have been different if the speech at issue enabled the misgendering of classmates — that could get someone kicked off campus.

I have been to Holocaust museums and concentrations camps.  At every one of those sad occasions, I wondered how a society – unlike ours, of course – gets to such a stage where Jews are so diminished in the eyes of others that their murder becomes tolerable.  Moral cowardice of administrators, obtuseness, and willful ignorance are as good an explanation as any.  The veneer of civilization is being chipped away.

About the Author
Adam is an attorney based in Southern California. He practices criminal law. He has two dogs whom he loves, and is deeply involved in animal rescue. Also, Adam enjoys photography and posts images to an unsuccessful instagram account. Adam could have been a comedian and instead chose a different path.
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