Criminal charge for parody

Students at Northwestern University face criminal charges for publishing
a parody
of the school’s student newspaper. It criticized the school’s
support for Israel and its atrocities in Gaza. They wrapped their parody
around some of the copies of the newspaper they were parodying.

They are being prosecuted under an obscure law against “theft of
advertising services”. It prohibits inserting other material into
newspapers. Does the law cover wrapping a different cover around the
newspaper? In terms of advertising, that is very different.

More deeply, prosecuting people for expressing their political views
in a parody is an attack on freedom of speech. No matter if it is
offensive to someone — since it is about a real political issue, we
must recognize its redeeming social value whether we agree with it or
not.

It seems clear that this is part of a campaign of persecution,
in the US, Britain and parts of Europe, of people who publicly
defend Palestinians rights.

I disagree with those people on a least one point. They call Israel’s
war in Gaza “genocide”; in my view, it has not reached that level yet,
but it is heading that way
.
But that disagreement is not pertinent to the issues of raised
by prosecuting them.

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