Turkish Suit Against U. of Minnesota Dismissed

Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at University of Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS—A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a brought against the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities by a Turkish advocacy group, saying the university was within its rights when it discouraged students from using a Web site that challenges the Armenian Genocide, reported Chronicle.com.

US District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank said in his ruling that the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies was protected by academic freedom when it told students that the Turkish Coalition of America’s Web site was unreliable and rejected TCA’s claims of defamation. Judge Frank held that the center’s assessment of the site was a constitutionally protected academic opinion and not a purported statement of fact that could conceivably be proved false in court, according to Chronicle.com.

“The ability of the university and its faculty to determine the reliability of sources available to students to use in their research falls squarely within the university’s freedom to determine how particular course work shall be taught,” the ruling says. The center’s conclusion that the killing of Armenians during World War I was an act of genocide similarly is a viewpoint “within the purview of the university’s academic freedom to comment on and critique academic views held and expressed by others,” wrote Judge Frank.

“We welcome the Federal District Court decision throwing out the Turkish Coalition of America’s unfounded lawsuit against the University of Minnesota,” said Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

“Today’s ruling, coming, as it does, at the very outset of the Turkish Coalition’s case, clearly underscores that its efforts have little to do with the law. From Massachusetts to California and Minnesota, U.S. courts are refusing to serve as tools of Turkish denial. It is, thankfully, just as clear that – no matter what allies of Ankara spend – the truth about the Armenian Genocide cannot be silenced, nor can our drive for justice for this crime be obstructed.”

TCA’s lawsuit was closely watched by academic circles, with The Middle East Studies Association warning of threats to academic freedom and The International Association of Genocide Scholars and the Society for Armenian Studies siding with the university and discouraging the use of the site.

Notorious Genocide-denier Bruce Fein, the attorney representing the TCA expressed his disappointment in Wednesday’s ruling.

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8 Comments

  1. Justice Prevails said:

    Justice has prevailed.

    True scholarship based on truth and integrity has won against denialist quack pseudo-scholarship.

  2. jda said:

    The TCA never had any belief this case could be won.

    They hoped it would get into the post-pleading discovery phase during which they would seek to annoy and vex scholars with whom they disagree, and whom they fear. They also had a secondary goal of scaring other scholars and universities. Their tactic is similar to that of nationalist lawyers in Turkey, who just got an award of money damages aginst Orhan Pamuk for saying that one million Armenians died there in 1915. They wish to Turkify the American legal system.

    They failed. But they did succeed in scaring the SPLC into settling a very winnable defamation case brought by Guenter Lewy, and issuing a statement implying that denialism is almost respectable.

    Fortunately, the University had more guts and resources.

  3. Alex Postallian said:

    Proof positive the turks dont get it.The illiteratcy rate is70%,and it shows.Only the stooges who promote their agenda,with signs on their backs……FOR SALE !!!!!

  4. jda said:

    Alex,

    Never underestimate the enemy.

    Turkish fascists and nationalists are very smart people, and they hire very smart lawyers and lobbyists. Bruce Fein is no fool. He has done cowardly and foolish things, but I bet clients pay him princely sums to tell Nazi lies.

  5. Robert said:

    This decision is actually an interesting thing. It will now open numerous doors of biasness, leading to several opportunities for reversal upon appeal! This may very well be a silver lining. Who knows how many, and what other, doors this will allow to be openned! Upon appeal, I’m sure that Balakian, Papazian, etc will ALL be brought under careful, and well deserved, scrutiny. So, to all of you celebrating dashnaks…go ahead and celebrate into the wee hours if you wish. Just remember that many things can (and will) be overturned, then let’s see who does the celebrating tomorrow!

  6. Jda said:

    Robert betrays that he understands nothing about the legal system.
    The issues framed by the Turks’ defective pleadings have nothing to do with scholars other than those who placed the alleged defamation on the University website.

    So far the legal geniuses at TALDF have (1) lost the Griswold case, thereby making the teaching of the AG immune from Turkish whining; (2) lost this case, making the words “Turkish” and “enemy of the First Amendment” synonymous; (3) electrified the legal corpse Jean Schmidt, exposing her to an embarassing Congressional ethics probe and thereby (4) allowing Mark Geragos to depose Sybil Edmonds, who detailed Turkish corruption of Congress.

    Sure Robert, plenty of silver lining.

  7. Random Armenian said:

    Robert,

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Are you hoping for victory through an appeal that will reverse the decision? If it’s reversed then any anti-armenian-genocide academic could also be sued. This cuts both ways. This ruling preserves the right of academia to make academic decisions on academic subjects.

    Many Turks and Armenians need to understand that this court decision was not evaluating the history of the genocide, it had to do with academic freedom and how the Turkish groups tried to use the law to force anti-genocide material into academia. It’s analogous to how creationist groups sued to have religious creationism be taught in high school science classes (Dover school system).

    Note: Like 99% of people posting here, I’m not a lawyer.

  8. Grish Begian said:

    Robert,
    Even after 95 years of nightmares for the survivors of Armenian Genocide, US easy and “justifiable” laws are so suitable for many hungry attorneys, when the old one is retired, the new one will, popped out of “Alladin wonder lamp”… like pack of wolves, they can smell of Turkish delights, even it is thousands of miles away from their beautiful mansions!!

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