Harvard Law School Fails Our Test: Its Censoring of Our Posters and Blog Betrayed Its Committment to Freedom of Expression

Before delving into the specifics of Harvard Law School’s bogus blacklisting of our blog, and other examples of censorship at the Law School showing this was not an isolated episode, we pause to observe that the Law School’s successful pressuring of WordPress.com, via DMCA claims, to delete our blog betrayed the free speech principles it had previously committed to following.  The Law School betrayed these principles even though we gave it the benefit of every doubt, and took care to eliminate any pretext on which it could censor our speech.

In blogging about issues of corruption and conflict of interest at Harvard Law School, we did nothing wrong.  All we did was take seriously past expressions about the honored place of free expression at Harvard University, and especially at the Law School.

Harvard’s University-Wide Statement on Rights and Responsibilities places great emphasis on Harvard being “a community ideally characterized by free expression, free inquiry, intellectual honesty, respect for the dignity of others, and openness to constructive change.”  It promises:  “The University must affirm, assure, and protect the rights of its members to . . . advocate, and publicize opinion by print, sign, and voice.”  Among the “essential” values Harvard promises to uphold “are freedom of speech and academic freedom,”and interference with this freedom “must be regarded as a serious violation of the personal rights upon which the community is based.”

Harvard Law School’s Community Principles set forth the Law School’s commitment to “free expression and inquiry.”  Two years ago, Dean Martha Minow wrote to the entire Law School community to reassert the Law School’s commitment to “important community principles and ideals,” including “freedom of expression.”

Two years earlier, in his 2008 Constitution Day speech, Professor Cass Sunstein expressed concern about the growing trend toward speech on controversial subjects being conducted largely on-line, with many consumers of information self-selecting forums which present information that mostly mirrors their existing views.  This trend, he pointed out, threatens to reduce the diversity of perspectives which traditionally has been characteristic of the public arena.  We share his concern.

Professor Sunstein expounded on the benefits of a rich, real-world free-speech environment in which people can encounter ideas different from their own, so that their deliberations and actions will tend toward productive moderation.  He quoted John Stuart Mill’s remarks on the value “of placing people in contact with . . . modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar.”

In particular, Professor Sunstein argued for greater reliance on printed materials, placed in public spaces, as part of an “architecture of serendipity” which can lead to “unchosen, unanticipated encounters “– the opportunity to brush, by accident, over headlines or photos that might not be self-selected, but that nevertheless hold the potential to change readers’ perceptions of matters they may not otherwise have even considered.

Inspired by Professor Sunstein’s advocacy of increasing the diversity of opinions people are exposed to, particularly though the use of printed materials placed such that people not otherwise attuned to the messages will encounter them serendipitously, starting in early April we and others acting under the “Unbound” label began placing posters around the Law School campus, addressing ethical issues raised by the recruiting efforts of large law firms on campus.  (You can read more about the “Firmly Refuse” campaign here and here.)

Next, a very small group of the original “Unbound” group, acting under the label “Harvard Law Unbound” (i.e., us), carried out what ended up (it did not start that way) amounting to a test of whether Harvard Law School is truly committed to freedom of speech at the Law School, even when (especially when) that speech is deeply critical of the Law School’s actions.

On the morning of Friday, April 20, about 10 hours before the President of Harvard University, the Dean of the Law School, and the former Dean (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan) would together dedicate the new Caspersen Student Center, named after Law School alumnus Finn M.W. Caspersen, those arriving at the Law School for the day (including alumni visiting for class reunions) serendipitously encountered this poster which we placed on bulletin boards around the Law School, with facts about Mr. Caspersen probably unlike those with which they were familiar (given the Law School’s uniformly laudatory coverage of Mr. Caspersen’s biography, for example, here and here):

A more detailed poster, and a parallel entry on our original “Harvard Unbound” blog (located at http://harvardunbound.wordpress.com), went into further detail about the spectacle of the Law School stripping the name of a selfless philanthropist, Edward S. Harkness, off the Harkness Commons, thereby dishonoring him, to instead honor cowardly tax cheat Finn Capersen — even though Harkness had given Harvard five times more money (in inflation-adjusted dollars) than Caspersen. A copy of the detailed April 20 blog post (including an image of the poster) is reproduced here.

We expected the Law School administration to be upset about our choice of topic, and timing, in implementing Professor Sunstein’s suggestions about how to ensure consideration of a diversity of information in the marketplace of ideas, via paper-based communication with passersby.  We expected some sort of counter-speech (though we heard none). What we didn’t expect was something reminiscent of George Orwell’s novel 1984 — that the Harvard Law School administration would respond by censoring our speech, and acting to erase it from the historical record.

We didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition. Then again:

Our nearly two dozen posters were all ripped down within two hours of being put up, so that virtually no one saw them, and thus virtually no one was aware of our blog, referenced on them. Within 24 hours, and without any prior notice to us of any complaint of confusion that might be caused by the name of our original blog, “Harvard Unbound,” based on a DMCA claim backed by the Law School administration, WordPress.com deleted our blog.  (Given the detail in our “About” page indicating that our blog was written by a small subgroup of the original “Unbound” group, it had not occurred to us to include at the top of the blog an explicit disclaimer of any  connection to Unbound — Harvard Journal of the Legal Left.  Instead of asking us to include such a disclaimer, the Law School used our omission as an excuse to have our entire blog deleted.)  But for a tweet by Ramesh Ponnuru, even the fact that the blog had once existed would have likely escaped attention on the internet.

Rather than carp about this turn of events, or attack the Law School administration for censoring our speech in violation of its prior commitments to freedom of expression, we decided to take the high road, give the Law School administration the benefit of any doubt (after all, we had not included an explicit disclaimer in our original blog), and give the administration a second chance to live up to its professed principles, taking care this time to ensure there could be no credible ground for the administration pressing to have our blog deleted.  We laboriously recreated our blog, exactly as it existed before, changing only the title (to “Harvard Law Unbound”), and the web address (http://harvardlawunbound.wordpress.com), and adding an explicit disclaimer that our blog had no connection to the Journal and was not authorized in any way by Harvard Law School (see here and here).  We then added new posts about the scheduled May 23 visit to campus of the Class Day commencement speaker, Attorney General Eric Holder, and about our new series of posters (four in all).

We then published and publicized the blog via various e-mails to members of the Class of 2012 and others, and put up the posters, during the afternoon and evening of May 21 — two days before the Attorney General’s visit, in order to ensure ample time for counter-speech by anyone interested in the topic we chose to address: the “Fast and Furious” scandal in which the Attorney General is currently embroiled.

Again adhering to Professor Sunstein’s ideas for creative use of spaces that are open to large numbers of passersby, to deliver information they might not otherwise be exposed to, due to our efforts those at the Law School and reading our blog were able to see this attention-grabbing poster:

This was merely our “teaser” poster, to interest readers in our topic. The other three posters went into considerable detail about the deadly, “insane” Operation Fast and Furious overseen by the Attorney General, and about the evidence that the Attorney General lied to Congress concerning when and what he first learned about the Operation.  You can view the other posters here.  Our blog post introducing this new phase of our project is reproduced here.

Harvard Law School failed this test of its commitment to freedom of expression.  If it disagreed with our message, the Law School administration was free to put up its own posters, and/or place a message on its own website.  But it made no effort of any kind to engage in counter-speech — no effort to provide members of the Law School community with a perspective different from our own.  It simply censored our speech, and acted to remove it from the historical record, just as it had done before.

All of our posters (nearly three dozen this time) were ripped down within hours of them being put up, so that no one in the intended audience (graduating students, their families, and their guests attending the Class Day activities on May 23) ever saw them.

Based on another — this one entirely bogus — DMCA claim made by the Law School administration, our blog was deleted, again, even faster than it was deleted the first time.  As documented contemporaneously on Professor Jacobson’s website, the bogus DMCA claim was made at 11:34 a.m. on May 22, and our blog was deleted less than six hours later.  The only difference is that this time our blog did not vanish down a “memory hole” reminiscent of 1984, thanks to Professor Jacobson, who preserved it for historical purposes in PDF format here, where it has now been viewed 2.257 times (as of 1 p.m. on June 2).

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37 Responses to Harvard Law School Fails Our Test: Its Censoring of Our Posters and Blog Betrayed Its Committment to Freedom of Expression

  1. Nudibranch says:

    But your deliberate misapplication of the ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘diversity’ and ‘academic freedom’ concepts against the high priests of just those concepts can only be described as politically incorrect. How could Harvard have behaved otherwise?

  2. Aaron says:

    Outstanding. If ever there was an ivory tower that needed to be breached, this is it.

    • Well, “breached” may be too strong a term. All we did was put up some posters on various bulletin boards throughout the Law School, and put up a blog — probably less than a hundredth of the disruption that was routinely caused at the Law School by various protests about a lack of diversity on the faculty (President Obama was involved in some of that, in the early ’90s, apparently). The reality that our speech was miniscule in terms of its footprint is why we didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition. Possibly the Law School took such abrupt and draconian action to signal that our tactics are unacceptable, and to deter us and others from repeating them on a wider scale. If so, that was a strategic mistake. Originally we had planned only to do the posters about Finn Caspersen (at least for this academic year, given that finals came shortly after that), and we only came up with the idea to do the Eric Holder posters out of a sense that we needed to test whether the Law School would suppress speech even absent a credible basis for doing so. Its suppression of our Eric Holder posters and blogging has only invigorated our movement (we’re actively considering expanding our membership, given the interest expressed by various students who’ve e-mailed us), and we now tentatively plan to continue our efforts for a few more months.

  3. It’s obvious that they are unprincipled in their commitment to free speech. And here’s why: The ugly truth of what is going on is coming out, and their fenced-in, leftist-thinking brains can’t handle the cognitive dissonance based on their belief in their superior morality over everyone else. Where they get this mindset I don’t know.

  4. Dantes says:

    Welcome to reality, baby. Nothing like a slap in the face from liberalism to wake you up.

  5. bflat879 says:

    Liberals only want “diversity” when they’re trying to tear down Conservative thought. They really don’t want to have a debate and they don’t really want diversity, they just want to talk about it and make themselves look good. Thank you for confirming what I’ve believed for a long time.

  6. Rich Vail says:

    You’re fighting the wealthiest, most Liberal university in America. Good luck…

    • What’s delicious about the fight, though, is that HLSBogus is using Harvard’s own words and policies to expose Harvard’s hypocrisy and lies.

      FWIW: Harvard’s current motto “Veritas” [Truth] replaced, in the mid-1840s, it’s original motto “Veritas pro Christo et Ecclesia” [Truth for Christ and Church].

  7. I hope you succeed but I expect that Harvard Law School and others will use the same tactics against you again.

    Why in blazes did you rename your blog after professor Bogus? The legal scholar who wrote “Why Lawsuits are Good For America”? The anti-gun campaigner who has virtually trademarked “Bogus”?

    As another prominent man once remarked: “Prepare for a lot of stinging.”

    • Actually, with the proceeds from our litigation against Harvard Law School arising from its bogus DMCA claim, we plan to endow a chair at Harvard Law School in honor of Carl T. Bogus, whose excellent work we’re familiar with. Occupants of the chair will be called the “Bogus Professor of Law.” Of course, for most professors at Harvard Law, that designation will be redundant.

  8. Stan says:

    As Kate says: “What is the opposite of diversity?
    University!”

  9. Hal Jordan says:

    Don’t use the words “Harvard” or “unbound” in the title of your blog and you should be fine. As long as Harvard can’t claim impersonation, they shouldn’t be able to touch your blog again.

    • We strongly believe that there was nothing wrong with the title of our blog, given the explicit disclaimer, a point we’ll be addressing in at least one post in the next few days. We plan to continue to press Harvard Law School to withdraw its DMCA claim, and ask WordPress.com to reinstate our blog in good standing. If it declines to do so, we will seriously consider litigation against Harvard Law School based on its bogus DMCA claim. To us it’s a matter of principle, and of deterring Harvard Law School and other institutions from doing this to bloggers in the future.

      • Hal Jordan says:

        The DMCA process is not that complicated. If Harvard complains to WordPress under the DMCA law that you are using their copyrighted material on your blog pages, WordPress is required to take it down. All you have to do is make a counter-claim that the material isn’t copyrighted, and explain why, and WordPress is required under the DMCA law to put the material back up. At that point, Harvard will need to start legal action if they want to take it any further, and things get expensive. But the first two changes cost nothing. It is more complicated if Harvard also claims you’ve violated the WordPress Terms of Service, but if it’s solely a DMCA claim, then it’s a simple two-step process at the start. You should consider taking the important second step of making a counter-claim under DMCA. There’s a pretty good discussion of it here, with a ton of external links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_Copyright_Infringement_Liability_Limitation_Act#Takedown_example

      • Thank you very much. We’ve just started looking at this. As best we can tell Harvard’s objection didn’t relate to copyright, but trademark (use-of-name rights). We’ll publish the exact text in our post analyzing the bogus DMCA claims (Professor Jacobson quoted it in his coverage). One reason we don’t blame WordPress.com in this affair is that apparently on DMCA claims involving trademark issues there isn’t a “safe harbor” provision like there is for copyright issues, so that a hosting company in the position of WordPress.com practically speaking may need to err on the side of rapidly taking down a site if there’s an alleged trademark issue.

        If it’s okay with you, we’ll e-mail you to alert you to our post(s) analyzing these issues, in case you have a chance to look at this further. Obviously we’ll have to make our own decisions, and we’re not looking to you as having any duty to give us sound advice on how to proceed, so feel free to offer any informal input you want, without necessarily getting into a detailed analysis.

      • Hal Jordan says:

        I would be happy to help in whatever way I can.

      • Many thanks. We’re starting to sort through the issues now, and will follow up with you in a week or so via e-mail. We have plenty of time this summer to sort through the issues regarding censorship of our blog, and how it reflects a deep-seated practice going back at least a couple decades of suppression of speech at Harvard Law, as the next chance we’ll have to put up the 2nd wave of Holder posters, and make further use of our old blog, won’t come until late August, when school resumes.

  10. Dennymack says:

    I think the big problem with your blog’s name is going to be on the posters. The web address appears to ascribe authorship to Unbound, and there is no disclaimer.

    • To date, no one affiliated with Harvard has expressed any legal objection to the posters — all that happened was that they were RIPPED DOWN.

      In any event, the posters say that they’re part of an “Unbound Campaign.” This is true of both the first set of “Firmly Refuse” posters, authored by the wider “Unbound” community (of which we were then a part), and our 2nd and 3rd sets, authored only by our small subset of the wider “Unbound” community. None of the posters purported to be authorized by the leadership of, or even by a majority of the staff of, the “Unbound” journal. Indeed, all of the posters have been put up anonymously, and the “Firmly Refuse” piece in the Record was also authored anonymously.

      As to any claim of confusion between the “Unbound” community and the “Unbound” journal, that’s simply inherent in the community’s decision to use the “Unbound” label to reference both the community and the journal, and the community’s decision not to register as a recognized student group. See, e.g., here. That inherent confusion, not created by us, is the reason we’ve been so careful to disclaim any connection to the journal or to the broader “Unbound” community. Anyone who might otherwise be confused by anything on the posters would of course have that confusion resolved by simply consulting the blog referenced on the posters, which includes the disclaimer.

      Things might be different if either the journal or the administration had registered a trademark for the word “Unbound,” at least when it appears with the word “Harvard,” but as we’ll address in a future post, there is no such registered trademark under either federal or Massachusetts law — and Harvard has hardly been shy about registering trademarks, even when they involve fairly common words. More on our use of “Unbound” here.

  11. Pingback: Harvard Law School Fails Our Test: Its Censoring of Our Posters and Blog Betrayed Its Committment to Freedom of Expression | Harvard Law School Is Bogus | jamesbbkk

  12. Resistwemuch says:

    Posters need to be handed out in person next time

  13. Owen Johnson says:

    Why don’t you simply get your own domain name and host host this blog off wordpress.com? It’s really easy to obtain hosting for a blog and install wordpress.

    • Because we did nothing wrong, and we plan to use the suppression of our free speech, on a free blog, to try to make Harvard Law School pay a price for betraying its commitment to freedom of expression. To set up a “Harvard Law Unbound” on another hosting site where it might be more difficult for Harvard Law School to take it down might be seen as legitimating the Law School’s original censorship, and as suggesting that we’re somehow fugitives. The bogus DMCA claim the Law School used to have our blog deleted was totally illegitimate, and the sooner it recognizes and admits that, and asks WordPress.com to restore our blog at its original url, the better for everyone.

  14. Miriam says:

    It might be an idea to put posters back up and then (surreptitiously) film what happens. Then post the videos on Youtube under ‘Harvard Censorship’. Also send to media outlets (PJM, as well as national and local general news outlets). Lather, rinse, repeat.

  15. Insufficiently Sensitive says:

    Congratulations to Harvard Law Unbound, which has been making exemplary use of its Harvard education in this erudite campaign to hold Harvard Law to its own (stated) principles. Its underlying (unstated) principles are long overdue for thorough illumination and examination, and best of luck and fortune to you who operate the spotlight.

  16. What you should have done was to anticipate Harvard’s tactic and create identical blogs with a variety of names– Harvard Unbound, Harvard Law Unbound, Law Unbound, Harvard Students for Freedom, Unfettered Law, and so forth.

    Even if Harvard were to be right on the merits of applying trademark law, an administration that believed in free speech, or in good manners, would have contacted you first and asked you just to change the name.

    Remember Alinsky’s idea from Rules from Radicals: name him and shame him (maybe my aphoristic form). Find the person at fault, and publicize his action. If there’s more than one, focus on one. “Harvard” won’t mind the negative attention much. “John. Q. Smith” will.

    • Professor Rasmusen,

      We appreciate your interest in our blog. We hope you’ll comment in the future on anything we say that seems worthwhile.

      We don’t plan to set up alternate blogs replicating the original because we want to force Harvard to admit that what it did to our blog was improper. See here. Hopefully by doing so we’ll help deter Harvard and others from filing bogus DMCA blogs to take down criticism blogs in the future.

      We know the names of at least one student and one administrator who actively pursued the bogus DMCA claim until our blog was deleted, but we don’t plan to target them by name, and we hope others will refrain from doing so. We don’t ascribe any special fault to these individuals; we think their actions flowed from a general, basically corrupt, mindset toward freedom of expression at Harvard Law School.

      Perhaps it wouldn’t be unfair to target them to polarize the issue and get attention (frankly we don’t have a lot of problems, at least in abstract, with many of the tactics Alinsky used), but we very much want to take the high road regarding the specifics of the trashing of our posters and the deletion of our blog — we want to focus on the institutional history and dynamics behind that censorship, and try to change Harvard Law School from within so that it will be more receptive to dissenting speech in the future.

      We don’t want to achieve reform by trying to frighten specific individuals so that others will be afraid to censor in the future. Instead, we want to encourage administrators, professors, and students at the Law School to reflect on the institution’s commitment to freedom of expression, and reaffirm that commitment, possibly by putting in place mechanisms to ensure that the commitment is honored in the future. We don’t pretend to have any thought-out answers as to what any such mechanisms might be, but perhaps the Law School ought to have a designated “Free Speech Czar” (obviously not using that exact name) such that no action can be taken by the Law School to censor or punish speech at the Law School unless that official has authorized it in advance, and has certified that any such action is compatible with Harvard’s commitment to free expression. Such a system would help ensure high-level attention to freedom of expression issues, and under such a system the actions of the named responsible official would presumably be fair game for criticism.

      These are just tentative, perhaps naive, thoughts. Our main point is that we want to try to avoid personalizing our objection to the institutional mindset that resulted in the hurried trashing of our posters and deletion of our blog. However, readers who stick with us in the coming weeks will see us mention by name particular individuals who, in our view, egregiously trampled on free speech values in the past by attacking those who engaged in legitimate freedom of expression related to the Law School. We will feel much freer to focus on specific individuals in our historical discussion of past censorship given that we will not be discussing any adverse actions directed at us personally; a frank discussion of past free speech abuses will not personalize our existing dispute with the administration regarding our own free speech.

      • Just don’t forget that your institution is like a man who may have once been a decent person but who’s become a lazy, arrogant, abusive and self-important drunk. His titles and money are still there and he’s been getting away with it for a long time. He may know something is not right but he gets angry by any talk of AA, humility or redemption.

        So as you put on your boxing gloves remember they do not guard well against a knee to the groin.

      • You need to proceed along two paths. The first path is the legal one: assert your legal rights. The second is the moral one: tell individual administrators, and the world, that even if Harvard has the legal right to (a) take down the webpages, and (b) do nothing when posters are ripped down, it is immoral to exercise those rights. Harvard should gently warn a noncompliant student group at the first offense and explain its legal position. Harvard should also condemn the ripping down of posters, in general and these posters in particular. This is a fight within a community, and you don’t bring out the brass knuckles against your students. At least, not right away. (You go easy on suing them, too, if a cause of action comes up.)

      • Thank you — very helpful. Your point that Harvard, just from a moral/practical point of view, should have contacted us to warn us of its position on use-of-name rights and/or confusion, to give us an opportunity to resolve any issues informally and without bother to WordPress.com, really resonates with us. Both when it took down our first blog in April, and our second blog in May despite the fact that we’d added lots of detailed disclaimers in light of the first take-down, Harvard never once contacted us, either before or after the take-downs. It just stuck DMCA notices on our blogs as comments (really an abuse of the commenting feature, in our view, so now we’ve had to screen all comments on this blog to avoid a repeat of that) and contacted WordPress.com directly.

        As to asking Harvard to condemn the ripping down of posters, we have no evidence that anyone BUT Harvard ripped down the posters! It’s difficult to think that anyone BUT the Harvard administration much cared about the posters we put up on April which were critical of a deceased cowardly tax-cheat alumnus, Finn Caspersen, and the Harvard administrators who agreed to take the Harkness name off the old student center, and put up Caspersen’s name, as part of a $30 donation deal. Given how quickly those came down, we presume at the direction of Harvard administrators, we tend to think that they also were behind the Holder posters coming down just as quickly. Sure, as to those posters some students might well have had a motive to take them down (the more actively progressive students, or the class marshalls, for example), but given that all of the nearly three dozen posters were taken down within hours of them being put up, just as had happened in April with the Caspersen posters, we tend to think the Harvard administration was behind it, especially given that in both instances the administration was simultaneously working to take down our blogs.

        In general, though, our stance is not to whine too much about any of this. The main point of the Holder posters and blog postings, as we’ve said, was to test the Harvard administrators on whether they’d be willing to stick to their commitment to freedom of expression even when they were sorely tempted to engage in censorship given the content of the speech — a test they failed. At the risk of taking too much literary license, it’s a bit like the plot of some of the “Saw” movies, in which often the characters don’t realize that they’re being tested — in one movie, a key character is told to just do nothing, and chat with the antagonist for a couple hours, and everything will turn out fine, but he just can’t bring himself to do nothing. Here, the Harvard Law administrators didn’t realize they were being tested, and that the only way to pass the test was to do nothing, and to tolerate truthful speech relating to the Law School that violated no rule, even though it’s speech they obviously hated.

        The reason they hated the speech so much was the same reason the speech was so valuable: it presented an important, truthful perspective on the Holder visit that absent the posters and blog those attending would never hear, precisely because it was not in the interests of the administrators, or of the students organizing the event, to address such matters. By flunking the test, the Harvard Law School administrators highlighted a practice of censoring and punishing speech at Harvard Law School that has long existed, the history of which we think readers will be interested in learning more about in light of this blatant recent censorship. Had the Harvard Law School administrators done nothing, it would have been an indication that the practice of censoring and punishing speech at Harvard Law School had come to an end, rendering it unnecessary for us to blog further about such issues. Probably the administrators are not going to like the blogging on free speech issues which we intend to do this summer, but they have only themselves to blame for this development.

      • A general principle in disputes like this is to not argue based on presumptions you can’t prove. Maybe the Dean tore down the posters, but you don’t have a scintilla of evidence, just some speculation about motive. The facts you do have are (1) Harvard behaved badly over the DCMA notices, and (2) someone tore down your posters, an inexcusable act. Give the Administration the benefit of the doubt, and ask them to condemn the tearing-down, to threaten harsh penalties on whoever did it, and to offer a reward for tips to catch the perpetrator. If they refuse, then you have a new fact, Harvard’s refusal, and you can criticize that. If they agree, you have won a point, and have laid the ground for better results if someone plays whistleblower.

      • You’re right — we can’t prove the administration had anything to do with removing any of the posters (even though that’s by far the most logical explanation), so as we’ve done previously both the practical and moral thing to do is give the administrators the benefit of the doubt and ask for some sort of policy condemning poster tear-downs and seeking to deter same in the future. Your point that whatever Harvard does in response to that request, we’ll be better off, whereas if we allege wrongdoing by the administration that we can’t prove, that could easily backfire on us.

        Thanks so much for this suggestion. It’s amazing how the internet allows a disparate group of people to combine their knowledge to battle against a giant institution like Harvard Law School. Somebody ought to write a book about that kind of thing!

  17. One question I’ve been wondering. I agree that the DMCA claims are ridiculous. That’s something for another day. As far as the posters go however, does Harvard have any sort of policy about posters needing to be approved? At my university, I believe all posters have to be approved and stamped by Student Activities. If they aren’t, they’ll be torn down regardless of what they say. (Even if advertising a university event, organization, etc.)

    Especially because of the graduating students’ families, alumni, and VIPs coming to campus on the times the posters were hung, I wouldn’t be surprised if Harvard enforced that policy. Sure it may contradict their devotion to “free speech”, but I think most universities would quickly do the same to avoid ostracizing potential donors. Principles are great, but money is more important. I guess that’s your point.

    Just curious if Harvard has any such policy about poster use. If you put up a poster saying “I Love Harvard”, there’s a good chance it would be torn down as well.

    Regardless, good work on exposing this.

    • Good questions about posters. Harvard undergrad has relatively strict and quite specific rules, along the lines of your university apparently: http://webdocs.registrar.fas.harvard.edu/ugrad_handbook/2009_2010/chapter9/publicity.html.

      However, the Law School lacks such rules limiting posters and flyers on bulletin boards to officially recognized student groups, which is why the original “Firmly Refuse” posters put up in April, by the broad “Unbound” community, were okay (as mentioned in an earlier post, the “Unbound” community has refused to comply with the rules for getting recognition as a student group, something that was joked about in the annual Parody show held in March).

      The only rules on posters and flyers of which we’re aware are: (1) absolutely everything must go on the bulletin boards, not on any walls, doors, elevators, etc.; and (2) absolutely everything is taken down every Sunday, even if some items relate to events after Sunday (makes it easy for those maintaining the building to keep things orderly).

  18. brian levene says:

    Mexican drug cartels killed 50,000 people in Mexico last year. These are some of the most depraved and dangerous people on the planet. You really believe that they were waiting around for Eric Holder’s guns in order to kill DEA agents? And before you protest (“the serial numbers matched!”), do you really think they wouldn’t have gotten the guns somewhere else?

    Look, it was a stupid program, okay. But you’re not really “sticking it to the man” by pointing this out.

    I await your solution to the drug problem in the United States, preferably one that doesn’t involve killing 50,000 people in Mexico.

    • We weren’t addressing “Fast and Furious” in the abstract, or making any judgment about its importance compared with other factors relating to the drug problem.

      Our two linked concerns, relating specifically to the Attorney General’s official visit to the Harvard Law School campus for Class Day, were: (1) he was under a serious ethical cloud, as there’s substantial evidence that he lied to Congress in pretending that he first heard of the deadly & insane “Fast and Furious” program many months after he was, in fact, briefed on it in detail; and (2) the last time a sitting Attorney General visited the campus, under an ethical cloud much less serious, the students aggressively heckled and harassed him. See here.

      You may have some good points, but we thought our points about the Attorney General’s visit to the campus as an honored guest were worthwhile, and should not have been censored and suppressed by the Law School. Judging from our site meter, more than 12,000 people think our points deserve some thought, so we don’t feel too stupid about the effort we put into this.

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