Amos Guiora, professor of law and co-director for the Center of Global Justice at the S.J Quinney College of Law, University of Utah spoke about “Counter-Terrorism and International Law” in the student center Ballroom on Monday.
Guiora’s presentation raised many concerns in the minds of listeners, critically questioning the ways in which students, being the future leaders, think of not just of intolerance in the U.S. but also of the issues facing the whole of society.
Guiora began with two thought-provoking questions: “What limits of intolerance are we willing to tolerate and what limitations on free speech are we willing to place on them?”
Annaneisha Burks, a social work major was one of many students in attendance.
“What stood out is the problems people have in everyday society, the rapes and so on,” Burks said.
Nursing student Ebony Maclemore said “He brought up a lot of good points. A lot of controversies in society.”
The thin line between freedom of speech and the safety of citizens comes with no one-size-fits all solution. Guiora places a challenge upon these future leaders to begin a much-needed change in the way society views the issues of intolerance it faces.
“Who decides what is ok and not for free speech?” Guiora said.
Guiora said to do something the moment the process begins to harm another.
“The reality; we as a society don’t want to ask these difficult questions,” Guiora said. “We’ve done a piss poor job of answering these uncomfortable questions.”
He challenges students to begin to critically think about important questions at the heart of intolerance. Whom, if at all does the state owe a duty? What are the limits of that duty and what impact will they have? What are the dangers of these limitations and who will enforce them?
“Is there danger? You bet. Any limitation set will directly impact democracy,” Guiora said.
Audience members asked many questions concerning what should be done and what actions can be taken to combat intolerance in the future. The reality according to Guiora is that there is no simple solution.
According to Guiora, a growing threat to tolerance is emerging through the use of technology, specifically the internet in which Insighters are spreading their messages of intolerance in websites and blogs.
“Today it’s all about blogs. If bad guys can use it there is no reason good guys can’t too,” Guiora said. “There’s no reason why rational voices can’t use it and reclaim it”.
Guiora also urged students to “consistently confront” those who show intolerance.
“It is tiring but it is important to continue the dialog,” Guiora said.
Keith McMillen, history major and member of the College Democrats at EMU said in response to Guiora’s urges to blog back against intolerance, a successful blog needs to be eye-opening with an audience.
“Social media is great for someone like me to get my ideas out but I’d have to say something extreme to get an audience,” McMillen said.
Many students came in the hopes that Guiora would discuss further his essay “Targeted Killing as Active Self-Defense” which he originally presented at the War Crimes Research Symposium “Terrorist on Trial” at Case Western Reserve University School of Law Oct. 8, 2004.
“I did some research on him. His background, he worked in IDF for 20 years,” said Jenna Hamed, apparel and textile merchandising major. “My country and his country are at war. I wanted to ask questions and get his viewpoint on some things.”
International affairs major Ryan Sanabani also attended for in hopes that Guiora would discuss the counterterrorism measures discussed in ‘Targeted Killing as Active Self-Defense’.
“I’m totally against it,” Sanabani said. “I’m actually from Yemen targeted for many drone strikes as a means of counterterrorism and it’s totally ineffective.”
Guiora said in the beginning of his essay, “since June of 1967 Israel has implemented wide variety of measures to combat Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Examples of such measures include the sealing and demolition of terrorist homes, imposition of a curfew and other movement restricting measures.” Guiora also said the international laws currently in place are “ill-equipped to deal with today’s terrorists.”
The international law is based on the principles of military necessity, proportionality, collateral damage and the exhaustion of reasonable alternatives.
The questions raised concerning freedom of speech and intolerance are in debate world-wide and more importantly will be passed on for the next generation of leaders to shoulder. Solutions will not come easily as they would in a perfect world as Guiora stated many times throughout his presentation but there is hope a solution will be found.
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