Often lauded as one of the top universities in the world, University of California, Berkeley, has recently come to the forefront of the recent epidemic of campus protests and riots. These riots began on February 1 when Breitbart News Senior Editor (now former), Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak. According to the university, “150 masked agitators” caused about $100,000 in damages because they did not want anyone to have the opportunity to hear what Mr. Yiannopoulos had to say. These people threw Molotov cocktails, sprayed Trump supporters with pepper spray, and smashed windows. The rioters even shot fireworks at police officers, and eventually succeeded in cancelling the Yiannopoulos speech by making the campus too dangerous for Yiannopoulos to speak.
This is part of a recent trend of leftist students and professors doing anything and everything to assure that conservatives cannot even have a voice, and forcing conservatives to fear for their lives when they simply want to listen to what someone has to say.
One month later, Trump supporters organized a march at Berkeley to show their support for the president and were met by rioters brandishing metal pipes, bricks, and even a dagger. This, in combination with the inevitable pepper spray attack, led to ten arrests and seven reported injuries. Two weeks later, a group of conservatives were scheduled to speak during another Trump rally. This, once again, drew out the rioters who attacked with pepper spray, smoke bombs, and even a knife. A person was stabbed because the rioters did not want to let Lauren Southern, Brittany Pettibone, and others speak.
Perhaps the most jarring act of violence was from a man who appeared to be Diablo Valley College professor, Eric Clanton. Clanton appears to be the man who was captured on video taking a metal, U-shaped bicycle lock and smashing it on the head of a student named Sean Stiles. Stiles was peacefully showing his support for Trump at the rally, and at the time of his beating, was on one knee trying to stop the radical leftists from attacking the Trump supporters. Stiles is now pressing charges against Clanton, who has somehow avoided any mention of his name on CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
Now, two weeks since the most recent riots, we appear to be on the brink of another. Conservative author and spokesperson, Ann Coulter, was scheduled to speak at Berkeley on April 27, but had her speech canceled by university administration in fear of more riots. Then, the university decided it would not be intimidated by the rioters and scheduled Coulter for May 2 at a venue that would be heavily protected. This was not acceptable for Coulter because she is not available on the second which also happens to be a week where there are no classes at Berkeley. Coulter decided to speak on the originally scheduled date anyways which was again cancelled by the administration.
Now, the plan is to have Pettibone, Southern, and Gavin McInnes read Coulter’s speech while Coulter attends to only have a meet and greet with her fans. When we wake up on the 28 we will likely read headlines similar to what we have seen every other time a conservative has been scheduled to speak at Berkeley this year.
Unfortunately, 2017 at U.C. Berkeley is only part of a trend from the left trying to stop conservatives from speaking their mind. Last year, we saw California State University, Los Angeles students attempt to stop a Ben Shapiro speech by barricading the entrance of the venue and also pulling fire alarms. In March, a professor at Middlebury College was attacked by students who did not like the fact that she attended a speech by a conservative. A few weeks ago, Claremont McKenna College students could not listen to conservative Heather MacDonald because 300 students barricaded the entrance to her venue. Also a few weeks ago, Notre Dame protestors almost shut down a speech from conservative, Charles Murray.
There are also many other instances of similar events that are too numerous to mention. The one thing all of these have in common is they all involve left-wing protestors doing as much as possible to stop speech from conservatives.
This abhorrent trend must stop for many reasons. First, it is in no one’s best interest to have people being stabbed, pepper sprayed, and beaten over the head with metal objects. Nobody should want to see this kind of violence brought upon peaceful protestors, those with any form of political belief, and people who simply want to listen to what others have to say. In addition, this use of intimidation and violence to further a political agenda is a blatant attack on free speech that must be stopped.
“I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym,” said Van Jones, former advisor to President Obama. “This is the gym. You can’t live on a campus where people say stuff you don’t like?!”
Jones argues that liberals cannot hide from speech with which they disagree. Jones also says that liberal students must “learn how to speak back.” The American Civil Liberties Union also agrees with Jones, releasing the following statement on the recent riots.
“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects speech no matter how offensive its content.”
They also suggest that the solution to this is “more speech” and they also say “This is particularly true at universities, whose mission is to facilitate learning through open debate and study, and to enlighten.” This kind of censorship creates a toxic environment in universities where only one opinion is allowed.
These leftist rioters must stop their forced censorship of conservatives, and conservatives must not begin to act in the same way. This culture of shutting down speech must stop and be replaced with one that promotes respectful discussion and debate. Rather than forcing censorship on people with other opinions, the rioters should make a counterpoint. There is no reason why anyone must resort to violence and riots to stop this kind of speech.