UC Berkeley's Opportunity to Defend Free Speech is Dwindling

Ben Shapiro is set to speak at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, on September 14th.  This will effectively grant the mighty leftist haven another opportunity to redeem themselves, and prove they value free speech, by protecting the rights of those with whom they disagree.  Conservatives aren’t going to be holding their breath, but eyes will be on the school and its administrators, who continue to claim they believe in everyone’s right to free speech.  AntiFa has been running rampant through the Bay Area, shutting down seemingly every non-left event, in the name of battling fascism… by using fascist tactics, no less.  The stage is set, AntiFa is certain to show up to the September 14th event, as well as mostly peaceful student protesters.  Let’s take a look at how Berkeley handled themselves, in recent situations where the university was charged with the responsibility of protecting the free speech rights of individuals, who hold values in opposition to the progressive “wisdom” which dominates their culture. 

February 2017- Milo Yiannopoulos.  Protests ahead of Milo’s speech caused $100,000 worth of damage to the Berkeley campus.  The university blamed “150 masked agitators,” who apparently weren’t part of the peaceful protest, and whose sole reason for showing up was for the “purpose of disturbance.”  Administrators cancelled the event two hours before the scheduled start time, citing “violence and destruction of property, and out of concern for public safety.”  Concern?  Where was the concern when masked thugs were destroying their campus?  Where was the Berkeley Police Department?  Milo Yiannopoulos is a crude, alt-right annoyance of a man, but he speaks out against radical leftist ideology, which makes him unacceptable and intolerable to those seeking to shut down those who oppose the left.

April 2017- Ann Coulter, who was invited by College Republicans to speak on campus at UC Berkeley, has her event cancelled, amid “safety concerns.”  Protests and potential for more vandalism and violence, designed to shut down free speech, was again the cause for the “precautionary measure” of cancellation.  The university managed a feeble attempt to invite the conservative speaker to speak the following week, in a “more secure setting.”  Apparently this magically secure space was conjured up, as soon as serious backlash befell the Berkeley administration.  Lawsuits were filed by YAF (Young America’s Foundation) and College Republicans, on behalf of Ms. Coulter, accusing the university of violating free speech rights.  Even though Ann Coulter never spoke, protesters showed up the day she had been invited to speak on.  How courageous.

July 2017- UC Berkeley officials claim they cannot find a suitable venue for an upcoming Ben Shapiro speaking event… which was set to take place in two months’ time!  The administration tried to hide behind police “maybe not granting certain hours of availability,” and adding events must be “held at a time and place which allow for the provision of required security measures.”  Okay.  Find a time and place which is suitable, right?  But again, amid mounting frustrations and accusations of censorship, on the part of UC Berkeley, they reversed course and invited Mr. Shapiro to speak on the original date requested, September 14th. 

To date, UC Berkeley has not released tickets to the event, which is scheduled to take place in a week.  Ben Shapiro stated, last week during his podcast, that the university was planning on forcing attendees to pick up their tickets, 24 hours in advance, at the Berkeley campus.  Seriously?  Other events taking place at Zellerbach Hall have utilized print-at-home tickets, as well as day-of ticket pickup.  Administrators continue to claim that Ben Shapiro is “welcome on campus,” and that they are doing everything they can to “make this event happen.”  They are charging the Berkeley College Republicans a fee of $15,000 for “additional security.”  This has been declared unconstitutional by many, because they are placing a premium on the values and message of the speaker.  You don’t see these outrageous security fees being charged for left-wing speakers.  The argument is that there is less need for security presence, essentially because the speaker isn’t speaking out against the prevailing ideology of the administrators, the student-body, and the surrounding public.  However, by allowing anyone to dictate who is able to speak, and how they come by their “permission,” UC Berkeley is effectively placing an unconstitutional limit on free speech.  What a shame, coming from the birthplace of the free-speech movement, over 50 years ago. 

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