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Free Speech Battle at UC Berkeley

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Free Speech Battle at UC Berkeley

Ava Ganz

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 Freedom of speech, included in the first amendment of the constitution, is one of the most fundamental rights to our freedom as Americans. Everyone deserves freedom of speech, even malevolent people deserve this right. If you don’t like what somebody is saying, you have the right to challenge them and protest what they are saying, and that is the beauty of this country. We are not a country who encourage violence over speech, which would make our next generation stupid animals who would rather hit each other than undergo a healthy intellectual debate. We are not a fascist country, like that of Nazi Germany, that shut down other people’s freedom of expression simply because they disagreed. We are not a country that provides college students with safe spaces because they can’t handle being opened up to new and/or opposing ideas. We are a country of liberty, a country that encourages and generates free-flowing discourse in order to achieve a flourishing democracy.

 

  The UC Berkeley campus possesses a glorious history of fostering free speech among their students. In fact, that’s where the Free Speech movement took place. Thousands of students unified in 1964 in order to protest a ban that forbade on-campus political activities. UC Berkeley students demanded acknowledgement of their right to academic freedom. They succeeded and the administration had no choice but to acquiesce.

 

  But times have changed – and for the worse. With the uprise of safe spaces and trigger warnings at universities all over the country, students are being held back and repressed from potential knowledge, simply because any opposing ideas to their own could be considered as “triggering.” The students are currently caged in an echo chamber in which there is no room for intellectual or social growth. Things have gotten so bad on campus that students, who are above this baby-like coddling treatment, orchestrated a free speech week where many speakers, who would be considered “dangerous” for their ideas, would come to campus to speak to anyone who wanted to listen.

 

  Recently, well-known Jewish conservative political commentator, Ben Shapiro, was the first speaker hosted on campus during this free speech week. Fortunately, no violence occurred, most likely due to the $600,000 that had to be spent in order to protect Shapiro’s right to speak, which goes to show how unappreciated free speech is at UC Berkeley in the current climate. The administration even deemed it necessary to block off the entire upper level of the auditorium in which Shapiro was speaking due to the fear that savage, free-speech-haters would take the chairs and throw them down onto the audience below them. Although there were many complications, Shapiro spoke and both people who agreed and disagreed with his ideas were glad that they could attend his presentation.

 

  Things were looking up for the remainder of free speech week, but UC Berkeley, where it all started, has completely failed in their commitment to implementing the first amendment on their campus. The upcoming speeches including “controversial” political figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter have been cancelled. Free speech week is over, after only one speech that actually went much more swimmingly than projected.

 

 So, what’s the issue? I suppose that would be the administration’s bias of free speech and opposing politics to their own leftist agenda. When students are exposed to more diverse ideas, they are more susceptible to discovering that they don’t agree with what they’ve always been told. That means potential lost votes for the left; they don’t like that very much. So UC Berkeley can continue to withhold “dangerous” ideas and politics from their students, but, in the end, the truth comes out. Facts outweigh feelings and the leftist narrative is crushed.

    

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