Hofstra University has invited disbarred attorney Lynne Stewart to speak at a legal ethics conference. Stewart, along with two of her assistants, was convicted in 2005 of providing assistance to the terrorists she represented; thus, having her speak on any topic at a university conference on legal ethics is a joke.
Contrary to the whining of Alan Colmes and Temple University’s Mark Lamont Hill, the issue here isn’t free speech at all. As Rabbi Avi Weiss said of the Columbia/Ahmadinejad controversy on Monday, it’s a question of judgment. No one is obligated to give a platform to anyone, but universities seem bent on giving platforms to US enemies like Ahmadinejad on the one hand and criminals like Lynne Stewart on the other. The real question is, is Hofstra wise to invite a lawyer who has been disbarred and convicted of breaching legal ethics by helping terrorists who want to destroy our way of life, to speak on the topic of legal ethics or “representing clients on the edge” as they fashionably state her case? Is there anything wrong with criticizing Hofstra’s decision? To the latter question, Colmes and Hill obviously answer “Yes”: There is something wrong with criticizing Hofstra for this decision. Colmes and Hill essentially promote Lynne Stewart’s free speech at the expense of anyone who wants to criticize the decision by demagoguing it into a free speech issue.
But isn’t criticizing Hofstra’s decision also within the bounds of free speech? So who are Colmes and Hill to judge the judgment of Sean Hannity and Powerline’s Scott Johnson for criticizing Hofstra, if criticism amounts to some kind of clamp on free speech?
Colmes’ and Hill’s framing the entire controversy as a free speech issue is juvenile.