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Subject: Holohoax divides UM
Date: Wed, 22 Dec 1999 22:11:15 -0000
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Ad denying Holocaust divides UMaine campus
By Associated Press, 12/21/1999 02:19
ORONO, Maine (AP) An advertisement in the University of Maine student
newspaper questioning whether the Holocaust ever happened has divided the
campus and plunged professors into a fiery debate over free speech.

The dispute was triggered by an Oct. 4 ad in the independent, student-run
Maine Campus newspaper that asked readers to doubt the truth of stories from
those who survived the Nazi death camps during World War II. The ad was
sponsored by Bradley Smith of San Diego, Calif., and the Committee for Open
Debate on the Holocaust. The group formed in 1987 to promote the idea that
the Holocaust never happened and ''eyewitnesses'' are lying.

The ad attacks the statements and writings of author and Nobel Peace
Prize-winner Elie Wiesel, who has written about his experiences in Nazi
concentration camps.

The ad has split those who believe the newspaper should have refused to
print the ad and those who said it was an issue of free speech.

''A Holocaust denial in the ... context of the 20th century history, is
tantamount to an explicit threat against Jewish people,'' UMaine history
Professor Jay Bregman said in a letter to the student paper.

Others defended the paper for being open to different viewpoints.

''Those who challenge the existence of the Holocaust and they are dead wrong
have a constitutional right to do so,'' Lyombe Eko, an assistant professor
of journalism and mass communication, said in a letter to the paper.

UMaine's student paper is not alone. Student editors at Hofstra University
and Ohio Wesleyan University also came under fire for running Smith's ad.

Maine Campus staffers discussed the ad and knew they did not have to run it.
But most were in favor of printing it because they felt it would prompt
people to ''think for themselves'' or research it, said Stanley Dankoski,
the paper's editor in chief.

Students sought advice from journalism instructor and editorial adviser
Katherine Heidinger, who helped them with an explanatory editorial that ran
four days after the ad did. The editorial ad explained that a paper is a
vehicle that gives everyone the opportunity to communicate ideas.

''To not run an advertisement because its content might offend would be ...
irresponsible in a country where free speech must be protected to be
preserved,'' the editorial said.

But Cab Howard, an associate professor at the University of Maine Law School
in Portland, said newspapers have complete discretion over what they print.

''That newspaper didn't have to run that ad at all,'' he said.

Amy Fried, an assistant political science professor, said she has not yet
formed an opinion on whether the ad should have run. But she does not
believe the case fits the First Amendment arguments being used, and would
have had fewer problems with it had editors run a statement saying they did
not agree with its content.

''Journalists and editors make decisions all the time on what to include and
what not to, and who's a credible source and who isn't,'' she said.

Professors plan a forum next semester to discuss the issues and uproar
surrounding publication of the ad.

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