Although William Schabas has mocked calls by eminent jurists for him to step down from the UN’s Gaza inquiry on account of bias — refusing to provide any legal response, instead telling an Arab newspaper that “even if Spider-Man were appointed to head the commission they would attack him — when he himself was once in the dock, Schabas tried to evade conviction by accusing all members of the tribunal with bias.
In 1974, when Schabas was a Ph.D. student in history at the University of Toronto, and a leader in the radical SDS group, he was charged and convicted with violating human rights and freedoms by physically obstructing a visiting Harvard professor from speaking on campus.
Schabas was found guilty on four charges and suspended from the university for four years, later reduced to two.
Interviewed about the episode in 2003, Schabas was “unrepentant about the incident,” reported Toronto Star literary critic Philip Marchand (“Monsters deserve to have their say, too,” Toronto Star, Feb. 1, 2003.)
“Human rights takes the view that speech that promotes hate should be prohibited by law,” said Schabas. “My view hasn’t changed one iota on that.”
Schabas’ actions marked a turning point in Canadian academic culture, according to Marchand, setting a negative precedent for “political correctness and ideological bullying,” and putting an end to “a genuinely adventurous spirit on university campuses.” The episode paved the way to “a pervasive culture of belligerent complaint allied to whining self-righteousness.”