The Students of Berkeley vs. Free Speech

The UC Berkeley College Republicans were forced to cancel a speaking engagement featuring Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos after protests turned violent.

From The SF Gate:

The Berkeley Police Department said people threw bricks, smoking objects, and fireworks at police officers. University police locked down all buildings and ordered a shelter in place, and later fired rubber pellets into the crowd of protesters who defied orders to leave the area.

“This is what tolerance looks like at UC Berkeley,” said Mike Wright, a Berkeley College Republican member said as smoke bombs went off around him. Someone threw red paint on him. “It’s sad.”

Protesters argued that hate speech isn’t free speech, countering the university’s explanation — free speech — on why it had allowed the event to proceed even as students demanded that the university cancel it.

When are the Millennials going to get it?  Hate speech is, indeed, free speech.  So is stupid speech.  And racist speech.  And ignorant, obnoxious, vile, disgusting, insulting speech.  In fact, any speech that does not pose a clear and present threat of inciting violence is protected by the First Amendment (yes, I’m treating “First Amendment” speech as interchangeable with “free speech” because the First Amendment is the broadest protection of speech in human history; anything less would not be free speech, anything greater would be even-freer speech).  Yiannopoulos may be a giant turd, but he’s got a right to open his mouth and expose himself as such.

The irony — that is no doubt lost on these students — is that speech that can be curtailed as posing a “clear and present danger” is usually the kind of rhetoric that might incite the very same type of violent outburst displayed by these protestors, who can now pat themselves on the back for having defended their own precious sensibilities at the cost of open discourse.  What a wonderful and appropriate talking point for Yiannopoulos’s next column, courtesy of a group of dumb youngsters on the Left!

It’s a bit embarrassing for older progressives to watch this sort of childish nonsense unfold.  I’ve said it before: on the issue of free speech on college campuses, the conservatives are winning the debate.  Because the kids are letting them.

Here’s a lovely update:


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