Berkeley repents

The University of California has suddenly reversed its decision forbidding its own Emma Goldman Papers Project from printing quotations from Emma Goldman about war and the suppression of free speech. [See my post of three days ago.]

"Now I understand, maybe one tiny, tiny, tiny part of what Emma Goldman's life must have been like in the sense of both taking risks and also appreciating what it feels like when your voice is really speaking for others who have similar concerns," [the director of the Project, Dr. Candace S. Falk,] said.

She said she had been overwhelmed by public reaction to news reports about the deletions. Since Tuesday, Dr. Falk said, the Goldman Project had received more than 300 letters and e-mail messages from around the world, all but a few supporting her view that deleting the quotations amounted to censorship. The university had insisted the disagreement was about fund-raising techniques, not free speech.

This small victory is good news, but we still shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking it's free speech if an authority (any authority) is permitted to decide when it's not ok to speak freely, or even to decide when it is.