Free speech or hate speech?

Photo Credit: Pam Tapper / Staff Reporter
Photo Credit: Pam Tapper / Staff Reporter

A picture of President Obama with a Hitler-style mustache adorned a booth on campus during Greek Week. When asked how Obama compared with Hitler, the response was, “Read the literature.” The young adults manning the booth could not articulate the problem in their own words, but relied heavily on their printed materials. Asked if they were CSUN students, they responded with pride, “Oh no, we are working for the Lyndon LaRouche Political Action Committee.”

Lyndon LaRouche, is an 87-year-old, self-proclaimed economist. He was born in Rochester, New Hampshire in 1922 and attended Northeastern University in Boston, but never finished. He served in the military in World War II between 1944 and 1946. He went to work for his father in the footwear industry in 1947. In 1972, he left the footwear business and began publishing his own works of philosophy and science. He has run for president eight times since 1976. He ran once with the Labor Party and seven times with the Democratic Party. He has run in some primaries, but has never made it to the general election. He believes that Obama’s healthcare plan compares to Hitler’s healthcare plan of 1939, thus the Hitler-style mustache on Obama’s picture.

Concerned that non-students had a booth on campus, I inquired with the Matador Involvement Center, of the Student Affairs Department, as to what an organization has to do to get a booth on campus. I was told that a student organization had to fill out proper forms and paperwork and be approved to have a booth on campus. I asked how a non-student group like the Lyndon LaRouche Political Action Committee could have a booth on campus. The reply was that as long as they comply with their paperwork, they do not obstruct traffic and they do not go into any school buildings, they have a right to be on state property. I told the Matador Involvement Center that the young adults at LaRousche’s booth were not CSUN students. Matador Involvement was aware of this and told me that, “They are paid activists.”

After observing the distorted picture of President Obama, English professor, Elyce Wakerman said, “My first reaction to the poster was shock. Hitler is like the symbol of evil and to put his mustache on a face is to demonize the person. It’s demonizing Obama without any basis. It’s hate speech.”

Professor Wakerman went on to say, “I have relatives that were killed in the Holocaust, and for me the image was troubling. If I had to look at that poster every day, it would be very chilling to me.” Professor Wakerman asked the people in the booth how Obama compared with Hitler, and their response was, “He (Obama) wants to kill us if we get too expensive.”

When asked about the claim of hate speech, CSUN media law professor, Jens Koepke said, “It sounds like the speech doesn’t come close to constituting legal hate speech.” He asked, “Does this speech constitute ‘fighting words’ as the Supreme Court defined it? Does the speech pose an imminent threat of violence or an incitement to violence or an attempt to intimidate?”

The distorted, Hitler-like picture may not be hate speech. It may not pose an imminent threat of violence or incite to violence or attempt to intimidate, but it is hurtful and offensive and a form of abuse. With professor Waterman’s family history, to have to look at a reminder of the man who caused her family’s tragedy, is abuse to her, and to anyone else whose family was involved in the Holocaust.

Hitler is the epitome of evil. To put his mustache on a picture is to malign the subject, to defile it and to demonize it.  Imagine the pride of black students to have the first African American President in the history of the United States, only to have the president maligned, defiled and demonized, by such a picture. It is insulting to all American citizens to have their elected president to be dishonored in such a way.

Would it be possible to distinguish between Greek Week and a political week? Could we have a political week later in the semester, where any political organization could come on campus and express their views, no matter how far left or how far right they might be. We could leave Greek Week for just fraternities and sororities and campus organizations and associations.

CSUN is a very liberal school and we accept any point of view, but the first week of school should just be to showcase our campus organizations and associations for new students. It doesn’t need to be controversial. This year students are so confused as to which classes they will get and which classes have been dropped or closed. They are just trying to get settled into their classes and settled into school. They don’t need to be bombarded with the additional stress of having our president vilified. Perhaps the Matador Involvement Center could be a little more sensitive in the future during the first week of school.

  • Sasa Espinoza

    You can be sued with your post, well I hope not. Is there anyone here know something where I can get eyelash growth?

  • Oops Sorry , I just came to read and listen you guys comment, but for me i have no comment.

  • Emily

    Today when a student engaged in open debate with these people they responded not with intelligent debate, but name calling. When asked to define facism, these people call the student a “faggot”.

    They are idiots, plain and simple. Someone calls you out? Call ’em names! This is the tactic of persons who have absolutely NO idea what they are talking about. They need to get off our campus and stop harassing us; I don’t pay the ridiculous amounts I do for these people to harass me and I don’t think anyone else does either.

  • Steve

    I am a longtime LaRouche supporter, but I don’t choose to argue the criticisms posted here. Others have already done so. Those who care about the truth will check out the various LaRouche websites and see for themselves. Those who do not chose to do so are not too credible on the subject, IMO.

    What seriously concerns me is that nobody here chooses to discuss or evaluation LaRouche’s assertion that applying cost-benefit analysis to Medicare, via an “independent” advisory panel (the IMAC proposal – you can Google it) is comparable, if not identical to Hitlers “Tiergarten 4” panela in Nazi Germany. Why not figure out if the policies Obama is pushing really *will* result in the death of Medicare recipients before shooting off your mouths about “hate speech” which is arguably the simple truth.

    Just a thought,

  • Sam

    I heard about these guys in my Chicano Literature class, so I thought I’d check them out.

    I stood and talked to a guy their for a good 5-10 minutes. I let him do the talking, and I was not impressed. He insisted on eating an egg sandwich while talking with me, and he spoke with his mouth full. He claimed Obama’s “Death Panel’s” were “just like Hitler,” and concluded that Obama was trying to kill us all. He admitted the current health care system is not up to his standards either.

    Solutions, didn’t hear any. Just heard him try to confuse what he thought was a “naive freshman” with citing articles in the bill.

    I was glad to hear they were doing this last year with Bush, and would have done it with McCain if he won. At least they are not biased with their stupidity.

    I heard him out, and I was not impressed. They are idiots, plain and simple.

  • Lyn Marcus

    Silerchild 57. can you tell the world how much of the 34 million dollars that we took from the elderly has been repaid?

    As a Jewish person, can you shed some light for everyone about The Protocals of The Elders of Zion?

    Do you think that the words used in the Debbie Freeman pamphlet about an elected African American Senator in calling him a “House Nigger” are correct? Read that pamphlet to get a real taste of this nasty cult.

  • silverchild57

    I am horrified to witness young people being so “politically correct”, thoughtless, and controlled by popular opinion, as to react to the LaRouche organizers in the same way stupid “liberal” and “right-wing” baby boomers do.

    LaRouche has been fighting fascism his entire adult life, even when he was a voice crying in the wilderness, slandered by the rotten news media, unjustly thrown in prison by the George H.W. Bush Administration, etc. A courageous fighter for the truth no matter what was thrown at him. That is one of the things I most admire about him; he fights for what’s right, even if nobody else does! That takes some stones, something virtually nobody in Washington has anymore!

    I am Jewish, and I know there is not a racist or anti-Semitic bone in Lyndon’s body. As for Obama’s “health care” plan, just read E-Z-Kill Emmanuel’s writings-it’s all there-“if they’re too old, or too sick, let ’em die-we can’t afford ’em” If that aint Hitler, what is?

  • Lyn Marcus

    Larouche is not an economist but a convicted criminal and cult leader who was sent to prison in the 1980s for hijacking over 30 million dollars from people who thought that he was a legitimate person. In this regards, Larouche is more of a Bernie Madoff with his cult’s promissory note schemes and credit card fraud. Like Madoff, hardly anyone who lost a total of nearly 34 million dollars in this madmans delusions and fraud will ever see a dime.

    Larouche has been a socialist, communist, Christian, left/right winger, pro Russian, anti Russian and anything else you can imagine to sucker people to his delusions.For over 40 years he has been running a cult of endless economic collapse, New Dark Ages and Nuclear war to recruit enough naive colege kids to drop out of school and support him. His cult skips many labor laws as he has them called “volunteers” and has them running like hamsters 18 hours a day, 6 1/2 to 7 days a week with one crisis after another for about 20 to 40 dollars a week.

    This cult circus has been going on for over 40 years by Larouche who has to recruit new blood to replace the worn out and broken down cult members who are discarded or those who have figured out how this farce works. Several hundred people have left the cult and in the last dying days of the elderly Larouche, he needs a few naive people to keep him and his wife living that millionaire lifestyle.

    You can read about how this charade is run on sites like: under discussions where there are over 6K posts from former members about this lunacy.

    This is a bum who had the anti semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion placed in his propaganda.

    If you want to see what the real Larouche has to say about Obama, check out what he told his cult privately last year .

    ” I mean: Obama is a racist. I mean, with an African father–he wasn’t much of an African father, but was an African father of Kenya. He was part of a British operation, which took over Kenya, through MI5’s operation. But this guy was away from Kenya, and he married a Margaret Mead type, a woman who had a number of successive husbands, like Margaret Mead did. Went out to the poor, brown people, in Asia, and had sex with them! It was called “Coming in Samoa.” [groans, laughter] And she wore through a number of successive husbands, and by them, had various children. And therefore, you’ll find Obama’s ancestry, if you chase his family tree, everybody’s climbing and swinging from the branches there–from all over the world! All parts of the world! This guy is the universal man. Every monkey in every tree, from every part of the world, has participated in the sexual act of producing him. And he works for organized crime–which is a branch of British intelligence. ”

    If you give your name and phone number to the cult, they will be calling you endlessly to save humanity which seems to be only done by emptying your bank account with them. If you are in college, then the way to save humanity is for you to drop out of college, toil endlessly at their card table shrines or boiler rooms raising money for him. You basicaly work for free as most people do in cults.

    Whatever is the current script is all just a mirage as it can change on a dime when Larouche needs you to raise money from another list of people. Last year, Obama was the devil incarnate,. Then , Obama is being advised by Larouche. Now Obama is Hitler. Read up on how this cult operates so you do not get hoodwinked by them.

    If you have a desire to do political work, find a real org instead of a cult to spend your time with.

    These cultists call themselves Democrats? Read what the cults LPAC National Leader had to say about a Black Democratic Senator years ago to see what sort of crazy town you are about to enter.

    Just google Debbie Freeman with Parren Mitchell and see that the Senator had to pull a gun on the cult gang sent to his house.

    “His outfit smacks of fascism to me,” Rep. Parren J. Mitchell (D-Md.) said in a statement introduced in the libel case. Mitchell said in an interview that LaRouche supporters tried to break up his political gatherings in Baltimore and distributed literature calling him a drug dealer and a “house nigger.” Mitchell said he received several anonymous telephone calls, including one death threat.

    “I knew it was them because I recognized some of their voices,” Mitchell said. He said the harassment ended soon after he pulled a gun on a group of LaRouche supporters gathered outside his Baltimore home. ”

    Please interview these cultist and ask them about things like the minimum wage , OT and how they pay their taxes as well as the business taxes. Use your camera phone to ask them specific questions about health care and see what fools they are. There may be a big story of the numerous wage and labor law abuses by this sweat shop for a journalist to uncover. They raise over 7 million a year and pay people a few dollars a DAY.

  • Tom Murr

    The more important question, I think, is would the writer of this article have even batted an eyelash at the many portrayals of former President Bush as Hitler that were ubiquitous over the past 8 years?

    See for example:

    I’d be quite shocked if nothing of the sort ever made it’s way onto the CSUN campus.

  • Elyce Wakerman

    I must commend the paper for taking on the Lyndon LaRouche table that recently spent entirely too many days on our campus. The piece by Pam Tapper covered many important bases. I must take issue, however, with the conclusion reached by the media law professor she cited. The image of the U.S. president with a Hitler moustache does, in my view, constitute “hate speech,” particularly when coupled with the LaRouche “paid activitist’s” statement about the similarity between Barack Obama and Hitler: “He wants to kill us if we get too expensive.” Well, what do we do with people who are killers? We hope that they find justice. It is all too clear to me that this image, which is appearing way beyond the borders of our campus, is meant to incite violence against the president. So on top of the offense it brings to anyone whose personal history brushed with the Holocaust, a subliminal message of violence is permeating our airwaves and newspapers, and now our campus.

    • Lisa Riccomini

      The President with Hitler’s moustache who “wants to kill us if we get too expensive” just doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

      Of course, it is meant to bolster hostility, fear and suspicion and, yes, promote violent reactions–sure seems like hate speech to me.

  • Kathy Dabbour

    I support anyone’s right to actively disagree with or promote government policy, whether during Greek Week or any other time–it’s what makes public higher education and this country great. However, what is paticularly hateful about the La Rouche group is that they often hire young people of color to cynically promote their subtle form of fascism in the guise of populism. Furthermore, likening Obama to Hitler is the pot calling the kettle black–wake up people, LaRouche is a known anti-semite with deep pockets! Putting a Hitler-style moustache on President Obama or anyone else they don’t like is childish vandalism at best and chillingly reminiscent of the blatantly anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews that circulated in pre-Nazi Germany at worst! However, these guys are smarter than Rush Limbaugh with his (and others’) lunatic “Swatstika in the health care reform logo” and the “euthanasia death camps” lies that we’ve been seeing in the media over Obama’s healthcare reform. I wouldn’t be surprised if La Rouche funding was behind a lot of these well-orchestrated, so-called “grassroots protests” at town hall meetings, too.

    • bob

      you obviously know nothing about Lyndon Larouche. I suggest you do some research before you “freely propagate” such “vile and contemptable nonsense.” Do your homework, and don’t be intellectually lazy. your comment is dangerously close to libel.

      • Paul

        “your comment is dangerously close to libel” I hope you aren’t being serious, I am pretty sure that the things these La Rouche protesters say and the posters they show are closer to libel than what Kathy said. In all honesty though these protestors seem to be a wannabe Westboro baptist church, maybe not in belief but in style.

      • Rachel Holmes

        Speaking of “dangerously close to libel,” Bob, why not mention that former longtime LaRouche associate Molly Kronberg has sued LaRouche and LaRouche PAC for harassment and libel?

        This is the latest development in a two-year battle between Kronberg and the LaRouche organization that started when Kronberg’s husband Ken, who ran LaRouche’s printing operation, committed suicide. The widow blames LaRouche, and LaRouche’s reaction has been unhinged.

        check out

        • tks

          Yeah, because someone suing someone else totally negates what that person has to say.

          Your logic is flawed.

          I got sued 5 years ago as a small business owner…does that mean my entire business is crap? Nope.

          Nice Ad hominem attack though. Make sure to do this in the future…just talk about the person instead of the topic…it’s good to distract people and mislead them.