Free Speech Defended, Support of Israel Labeled Hate Speech on CBS’s ‘The Good Wife’

In the episode “Judged,” CBS’s The Good Wife  turned again to highlighting how the Left curtails freedom of speech.

Liberal lawyer Diane (Christine Baranski) came to the defense of a big client’s daughter over a college newspaper op-ed. The student defended Israel against the leftist student council’s vote to divest from Israel and boycott Israeli goods from settlements – more university BDS (“Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions”) nonsense.  

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The op-ed is labeled as hate speech - "It's hate speech, and this campus is supposed to be a safe space!" one student protests to administrators. In true fascist liberal form, the school’s student handbook is twisted to allow the censoring of a writer supporting Israel because one special snowflake claimed he felt under attack and disrespected. 

Instead of encouraging an honest debate of ideas – you know, like the college experience is supposed to do – the dean of Illinois Park College, a private university, approves shutting down the campus newspaper to "enforce progressive notions of fairness." To counter this, Diane makes the argument that the college is really a state actor – a self-contained mini-city and functioning as such – and thus must obey the First Amendment.

Martha: Ms. Lockhart has argued that Illinois Park is a state actor. We don't agree with this characterization but think it's irrelevant. Even in public colleges, students don't have unfettered rights of expression.

Diane: Nothing my client has done rises to a level of...

Martha: Schools are allowed to prohibit any expression that creates material and substantial disruptions in school activities or invades the rights of others

Mediator: Do you have any evidence of such invasion or disruption?

Martha: Mr. Binazir, you requested the school boycott Israeli goods from the settlements?

Binazir:  Yes. Endorsing them is endorsing a decades-long occupation that has led to thousands of deaths.

Martha: And how did it feel when they decided to boycott the products?

Binazir: I felt heard and respected.

Martha: And when she published her editorial?

Binazir:  Under attack, disrespected, unsafe.

Mediator: Here's what I don't understand, Mr. Binazir. You're on a politically engaged campus. How is this controversy different from all the others? Black Lives Matter? The Iraq War?

Binazir: It's never got physical before. Uh, my roommate was pushed to the ground and stepped on just trying to get to class.

Mediator: Okay, got it. Ms. Lockhart?

Diane: Ms. Stowe, was it your intent to disrupt student activities?

Imogen: Not at all.

Diane: Was it your intent to infringe on the rights of other students?

Imogen:  No, I was just speaking my mind, trying to engage them. It's important for someone to present a contrary viewpoint.

Diane: At any cost?

Imogen: No. But to be fair, the disruption Binazir is describing was temporary. People are already settling down. And in a few days, they'll be on to the next crusade.

Diane: But you won't, because the only permanent disruption here is leaving the school without a freely functioning newspaper.

The dean claims the student handbook is legally binding, and includes a mandate to encourage the development of personal responsibility in students. Therefore, since the aggrieved student filed a petition with the student council and the vote was passed to disband the newspaper, he says it was up to the school to enforce the vote.

However, Diane points out that the administration is in charge over the student council, not vice versal – it disciplined a student for going as Caitlyn Jenner for Halloween because it was offensive to transgenders! – and the mediator rules in favor of the young writer and the decision to close the newspaper is reversed.

Martha: Does the book say "Park is dedicated to empowering students by encouraging autonomy and the development of personal responsibility"?

Dean:  It does.

Martha:  And did the student body demonstrate this responsibility in their reaction to Ms. Stowe's editorial?

Dean: Oh, yes, they're the ones who petitioned the student council to have Ms. Stowe removed and the paper defunded.

Martha: This was entirely a student body move?

Dean: Yes.

Martha:  Thank you, Dean.

Diane:  Do you agree with the way the students handled Imogen's op-ed?

Dean: I do.

Diane:  And if you didn't?

Dean: Well, if the council voted one way or the other, I'd respect it. Part of learning how to make decisions is learning how to live with poor decisions.

Diane: Last Halloween, you disciplined a student for wearing a "Caitlyn" costume, which you said made fun of trans students. You did, not the student council.

Dean: Well, no one brought a petition to the student council, but that didn't mean that the...

Diane:  Yes, but before the council acts, after it acts, whether it acts at all, you do. The final responsibility rests with the adult faculty, not the students.

Martha: If we could just look at chapter three of the student handbook…

Mediator: I think we've all heard enough about the handbook, Ms. Reed. Ms. Lockhart is right. The administration is really still in charge, and since we're considering them state actors, they can't censor the newspaper. The defunding of the student paper is hereby reversed. Have a nice day, everyone.

Freedom of speech is not just for the leftists on college campuses. Labeling a differing opinion as hate speech is standard practice on the left. The lesson learned by the young man who felt hurt by an op-ed? He is no more special than the others on campus. He got schooled the best possible way.

Karen Townsend
Karen Townsend is an MRC Culture TV Blogger