The UC Berkeley Riots and Freedom of Speech
Photo credit to Nazim Fethi
“The Fascists of the future will be the anti-fascists.” -Winston Churchill
The riots at UC Berkeley earlier this week gave the nation some much needed insight into the minds of the members of the regressive left.
The UC Berkeley riot began as a seemingly peaceful protest against the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos [an editor from right wing news outlet breitbart]. Milo Yiannopoulos’ news organization has had strong ties to white supremacists and white nationalist speakers within the alt right, although it is worth noting that leading figures within these movements have previously expressed disgust towards Yiannopoulos because his opinions do not match theirs, and he is openly homosexual. Yiannopoulos does not identify himself as alt-right, and has openly denounced hateful ideologies like white supremacy/nationalism. Since the riots, Yiannopoulos’ book, Dangerous, reached the #1 spot on Amazon.
The protest at UC Berkeley soon grew out of control when Yiannopoulos fans began to get beaten and harassed. Soon, there were Windows being broken, fires being ignited, and public property being destroyed. The university was forced to cancel Yiannopoulos’ talk at the university.
The real problem with the UC Berkeley “protest” lies within the framework of the first amendment. Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of intellectual progression and free thought. Furthermore, UC Berkeley has always been a proponent of freedom of expression. It is alarming to see Berkeley students rejecting freedom of expression unless it falls in line with ideas that they agree with. In a time that is so polarizing, the last thing people need is more separation. The regressive left silencing and discrediting those who do not agree with them is not helpful for anyone. In fact, the riots seem to have alienated moderate republicans and liberals who wish to have an objective discussion on the issues surrounding the riots.
Virtue signaling, thought policing, and discrediting slander inhibits any intelligent and constructive conversation on issues that deserve real attention. Banning language, and dictating thought are not going to solve the very real bigotry that exists in the US. There needs to be an open dialogue about social issues that includes everyone.
The cognitively adept are beginning to recognize the attempts of fighting hate with hate for what they are: complete nonsense. Fighting racism with blanket statement racism will do no good. Fighting sexism with sexist rhetoric will only alienate people further. America needs to be unified, especially right now. No one needs to embrace all ideas, but they should be heard out and put to the test in public domain. No one should be denied the opportunity to share their ideas, and the riots at UC Berkeley have shown Americans how badly that principle must be defended.