• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Rich Barlow

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 15 comments on Police Release Video of Suspect in Hate Posters’ Distribution

  1. The defacing private property charge is a little trumped up considering all the posters student groups place all over the place. BUPD should not selectively pursue individuals when they disagree with their messages. Either enforce the “law” to whatever extent BUPD does, and pursue all individuals who put up posters, or pursue none, but to pursue only those who post immoral messages seems to infringe on freedom of speech to an uncomfortable extent.

    1. Freedom of speech does not apply on private property. I am actually unaware about the details on this, but if this was placed on BU property or other private property, the university has every right to investigate and punish those responsible. Just because the university allows most posters doesn’t mean it has to allow all posters. If this were public property, then this would be an issue of free speech.

    2. There’s free speech and then there’s Nazi recruitment. If you can’t see the difference then I don’t know how you got into this school.

      1. It does not matter if they are recruiting for the democratic party, republican party, the green party, or even the nazi party. every citizen has their right to be to whatever political party they want. according to supreme court justices, free political speech is the most important right that is in our bill of rights.

    3. Legally speaking, the front doors of buildings are not considered designated public forums – while students may post on those doors on occasion, it is not an area that has been designated for free speech – the University may choose to leave up fliers on the front of their building or remove them, depending on their endorsement of the content. According to “The Law of Higher Education” by Kaplin & Lee, if the posting is in a “nonpublic forum” rather than a public forum, it will be very difficult for a student to prevail – there is court precedent (Desyllas v. Bernstine, 351 F.3d 934 (9th Cir. 2003)) where the court determined “campus areas not approved for posting ‘are not designated public fora because the university did not intend to open them for expression, as manifested by the univesity’s…policy.'” While not relevant here because this person brought their flyer to a non-public forum, an institution also can have some right to regulation of public forums in the case of obscenity and defamation.

    4. I’m not necessarily making a legal argument, I just do not agree with the selective enforcement here, and believe in the spirit of free speech more than political correctness. Whoever posted under “Are You?”, I suggest you read through the Constitution sometime…

    5. Daniel: you are either not a BU student or you are not aware. Yes, students sometimes post flyers. But they do NOT stick them “all over the place.” Students are not allowed to stick flyers on the front of building doors or on other similar property (and especially not with the highly sticky material that these posters involved). They restrict their flyers to billboards and so on where flyers are allowed to be posted. When students or others post flyers on glass doors or in areas where flyers are not already posted, they will indeed be liable. I’ve seen it happen, and with perfectly non-offensive speech. So if you see it happen, report it. And stop trying to defend people calling for the killing of African-Americans and Jews on the grounds of selective campus law enforcement. It’s just not a thing, and your attempts to call out the so-called PC police on campus are just sad misfires.

      1. I work in GSU and routinely take down student flyers posted on the doors. These students are not arrested. Also, I wouldmt say two flyers constitutes “all over the place”.

      2. Indeed, freedom of speech is very much a thing, but as I think I demonstrated above, the front of buildings do not count as forums for free speech.

  2. As I demonstrated above, I wasn’t making a legal argument, just stating my opinion that police should not be launching criminal investigations and seeking public assistance to pursue some idiot who posted two flyers. Many people post material on those doors. That material is simply removed, students may face some discipline from the school, but are not criminally pursued by the University’s police force. It is obvious in this case the message of the speech itself is the issue, which amounts to arbitrary enforcement of the law to punish those the University does not agree with. This flies in the face of the principles our country was founded upon. Morally, not legally, it flies against the spirit of freedom of speech. I’m not the only one who believes this, it has been challenged many, many times in court. The Supreme Court decided otherwise, as you stated, and I do not disagree with your point Dorise.

    1. Daniel, the police have a duty to investigate if a crime may have been committed. Once the investigation is complete charges may be brought, or not. But saying the police should make no effort to find out what happened, & whether a crime’s been committed, is irresponsible. You also aren’t paying attention to those here who’ve said — repeatedly — that laws protecting freedom of speech apply far more to public spaces, & less to private property like the BU campus. Would you defend the haters posting flyers on synagogues, Black churches, or your own home? I hope not.

  3. To reduce these flyers to free speech, imply that they are meaningless, or say they are just expressing harmless opinions is ridiculous. Such a claim can only come from the most ignorant view of society and history. The flyers border on hate speech, or incitement to violence, which is not protected. These flyers are calling for the killing of Jews!!!! And they are saying that the lives of millions of Americans don’t matter. That is something campus police should take seriously. If someone speaking Arabic can be removed from a plane for fear of him inciting violence (which happened on southwest) then this person posting inciting flyers can at least be caught and interviewed to ensure he is not a threat to the BU community. Get real.

    1. BUPD already announced the charges. They do not pursue these charges for all illegal posters. They took issue with the message, a message I do not condone, but this type of speech is protected, had it not been on private property. It does not pass the test for incitement, so would otherwise be protected. BUPD is, therefore, selectively enforcing this law in an attempt to crack down on the message of the speech. I don’t care if BU takes action administratively, and, as this is against the student handbook, they should, but to use the BU controlled police force to crack down on a type of speech is inappropriate.

  4. Reminds me of the scandal about black students feeling unsafe because someone wrote Trump’s name on campus, we are living in a PC world these days, it’s a shame.

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