CLAREMONT, CA–All independent journalist Peter Musurlian wanted to do on June 10 was videotape Turkish Consul General Hakan Tekin’s lecture at Claremont Graduate University and produce a news story for Horizon Armenian TV, as well as post the story on YouTube. Musurlian did both.
Then Claremont Graduate University hired a slick Santa Monica entertainment attorney, Paul Silvio Berra, to make a "friendly" call to Musurlian 13 days later.
Musurlian was given "a couple of hours" before the attorney would contact YouTube to claim the video was posted illegally or, as Berra put it, "you had no authority to publish it."
"I was intimidated," said Musurlian. "I didn’t take it lightly that a high-priced lawyer, who has represented celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Lou Rawls, was hired by officials at a university–with unlimited spending power–to make my life miserable. I had no idea to what lengths Claremont Graduate University would go to jerk-around a little guy exercising his First Amendment Rights."
"Claremont officials had enough appreciation for Free Speech to allow an Armenian-Genocide denier to speak, as an honored guest, at their university. But, when it came to news coverage of the event, which is protected by the Untied States Constitution, they seemingly concocted a reason to squash free speech. I can only assume the phone call from a lawyer was a not-too-subtle effort to shut me up," Musurlian added.
The video was deleted by YouTube on June 25. Musurlian appealed. And, on July 10, realizing Claremont Graduate University’s claim was baseless, YouTube restored the video to Musurlian’s YouTube account: 301AD.
In the interim, Musurlian uploaded to YouTube, a censored version of the Turkish story, abiding by the inexplicable deman’s of Claremont’s attorney, who wanted Musurlian to "blur the faces of students." It would be hard to imagine CNN or Fox News being ordered by Claremont officials–hiding behind an attorney–to censor a news story.
The end result of Claremont’s ill-advised and boneheaded attempt at censorship and intimidation is that both stories are now available on YouTube. In addition, Musurlian has created a Website, http://www.ClaremontGenocideUniversity.com/, which, in its first 20 days, registered more than 5,000 hits.