Yale activists threatened legal action by Students for American Life | Media Pyro


After interviewing Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life America as part of a mock anti-abortion video, a group of Yale filmmakers have been hit with two cease and desist notices.

Miranda Wollen

12:27 am, November 09, 2022

Staff Reporter

By Maya Weldon

On October 14, 2022, Zoe Larkin ’24 and Ella Attell ’24 sat down with Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life America, for an interview.

The next day, Larkin and Attell received a cease and desist order from Hawkins’ attorney, Zac Kester.

The Students for Life America organization describes its mission as “to recruit, train and mobilize a generation of supporters to end abortion.”

The interview video was made as part of a Borat-esque video on campus conservatism called “Conservative Women for Conservative Values ​​Presents: Operation Save Yale Now, Our Movie,” by Larkin and Attell has been working since the summer. The cease and desist ordered them to delete Hawkins’ photos, alleging that the students had acted improperly by interviewing him under false pretenses and violating SFLA copyrighted material.

“We didn’t say it was a free speech issue as such,” Attell explained. “We didn’t think we might be sued, but what we wanted was to really focus on how happy people are to hear that a camp group is supporting them because they’re dead, they think because of the free method. on the noble camps.”

In the film, Larkin and Attell, as well as Reagan Smith and Bertha Childs, who are also comedians, invite Hawkins to appear on a podcast they are organizing. The couple knew Hawkins would get to Yale because of what he read internet he spoke at Saint Thomas Moore in New Haven.

At the interview, they received an award for “Conservative VIP of the Year,” a papier-mâché with a PVC flower painted in pink and orange, and honored him with their business concept: a line clothes aimed at mothers – “Do you think she has legs?” Larkin asked in the video; Hawkins replied, “On the Internet, of course.”

The method used by Kester is called “preemptive prevention” – and aims to eliminate inflammatory factors before they reach the general public through stop-and-go prevention. Prior restraint is strictly prohibited by the First Amendment against material that is offensive or offensive, as it is a form of restraint.

“The tone of the letters is very aggressive,” Larkin said. “It was clear that they wanted to scare us into canceling everything.”

Both sought legal counsel from David Schoen, whose long track record includes a long career as a civil rights lawyer and a shorter one as the lawyer who represented Donald Trump in his second Senate impeachment. . Schoen, the father of a friend, was interested in the case because he was troubled by issues of free speech and artistic expression.

The students also reached out to Dean Pericles Lewis, among other members of the Yale administration, whom SFLA contacted after the interview. Lewis responded via email, saying he would let them know if further action was needed and not asking them to refrain from posting the video.

Lewis declined to comment on the matter.

On October 27, a second cease and desist order came, partly doubling down and partly responding to complaints raised by Schoen in response to the first order.

Schoen said SFLA staff engaged in anti-Semitism against video director Leo Egger ’24 by telling him that Judaism was “half there” for Christianity. Kester responded by calling the students anti-Semitic for mocking a common type of genocide in which activists compare abortions to the Holocaust.

“[I]It is not against discussing the differences between religious views and trying to convince others that one religion is more religious than another,” Kester wrote in the second series.

As Jewish students themselves, Attell and Larkin were concerned about the harm they received and feared for their physical safety.

At Hawkins went on Instagram Live in the middle of the play to call the couple “odd,” the narrators respond “Wow. The devil is a deceiver” and “ask your guardian angel to protect you from harm” for students .

Larkin told the News that he believes Kester has given “illegal and illegal deadlines” for turning over their tapes in an attempt to intimidate students, under the assumption that they would not know the law to comb the validity of the application.

Attell and Larkin also said that Hawkins’ legal team had discovered Attell’s LinkedIn and threatened to contact his former internship employers, which Attell said was an intimidation tactic to scare them into firing.

Both consider the termination and ban an attack on their right to free speech.

“It’s a betrayal, because [SFLA] he has sued the universities on… grounds of copyright infringement for not giving them a title,” Larkin said.

Attell and Larkin also argue that they gave Hawkins numerous opportunities to retract their speeches, which often turned to nonsense. At some point in the interview, the two said, Hawkins was frustrated with Attell and Larkin’s views.

“We didn’t try to belittle him in any way,” Attell added. “We’re trying to bring the project to life and push it to a place where it shows its own stupidity … it’s less about doing it and more about thinking.”

In an email to the News, Kristi Hamrick, chief media and policy strategist for SFLA, called Larkin and Attell “deceptive and dishonest about themselves and the product they want to create.”

Hamrick said that Larkin and Attell were “badly” using the logos of SFLA and Yale — “two respected organizations” — urging SFLA to “end the ban. [sic] letter” requesting that Hawkins’ logo and video be removed from use.

“Satire is an art form that not everyone can master, and in this video, we don’t see success with style,” Hamrick said. “However, as these women’s careers progress, this article and other publications will be available to warn others that their attempts at humor will not be affected.”

The video was uploaded YouTube on November 5, 2022.


Miranda Wollen covers the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Law in Advertising; he also writes the most ridiculous segments for WKND. She is a sophomore at Silliman College double majoring in English and Studies.


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