Tam Duong Jr.
We as American citizens have the right to freely speak, but free speech becomes a problem when protests turn violent. Violent protests do not help pave the way for a better tomorrow, and yet they keep happening.
On Sept. 24 Milo Yiannopoulos appeared for a brief speech on Berkeley campus. The prestigious U.C. Berkeley campus and the notorious British political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos collided in what turned out to be another theatrical free-speech drama show.
The planned Free Speech Week was canceled by the Berkeley Patriot, the student group who organized the event. Berkeley spent an estimated $800,000 in law enforcement to make sure riots didn’t break out like they did at UC Davis, according to The Mercury News. Yiannopoulos had not paid for the rental of his lecture auditorium and said that he will just host it outside of the venue, which is a recipe for disaster at these events since it’s much more difficult to control a crowd in an open environment.
Many were there to hear him speak, but students and locals protested his arrival. This turned out to be more of a photo-op for Yiannopoulos than anything: he was there for a mere fifteen minutes. By abusing the first amendment as a loophole to incite hate, Milo is disrespecting the people and taking leaps backward from what our nation has become.
Whether you’re left or right wing, or no wing, your voice will go unnoticed if ears are distracted by other nonsense. Many of these “forward thinkers” speak at public events just for the glory, and aren’t actually trying to accomplish anything significant.
This event did not render the positive attention that U.C. Berkeley needs, as the message that Milo is bringing to the stage is crude and backward, just to be different. On his nationwide tour of college campuses, Yiannopoulos is polluting young minds to promote white supremacy by using hate as his weapon of choice.
Yiannopoulos doesn’t need to be stirring the pot of an already tense environment as we progress into Trump’s presidency, who recently threatened to cut Berkeley funding. This was a major part of the reason why students did not want Milo to appear at the event, and why the Berkeley Patriot canceled the event in the first place. Milo used the student-run Berkeley Patriot news forum, who had been planning the event, as a step ladder to show up with his entourage.
The content of his speeches and that of his peers are nothing short of barbaric, self-centered, and unconstitutional. He is simply trying to convince students that white supremacy should be a modern topic of conversation.
It’s unfortunate that these harmful ideas have not been left in the past, and surprising that colleges would let them host such meetings. Several campuses before Berkeley rejected Yiannopoulos for security reasons because he is causing a ruckus that is uncalled for. Free speech should not include hate speech, and while we are allowed to speak our minds, breeding hate is a negative form of criticism. The issues presented by Milo are of his own ideology, they are not real issues. The real issue that lies within his speeches is the issue of safety, not one of free speech. These free speech weeks have been more about inciting hate among students, and people respond violently to his ideas.
“He takes no responsibility for his speeches, the colleges have to shell out for his words of hate, and that money comes out of our pockets,” says Otis Taylor, columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle who reported on these issues in that paper. “There is no advance in discourse, no place for inciting hate,” he continues, “They don’t want to talk to the people, they want them to fight.”
There is a section of the First Amendment, which Yiannopoulos ironically tries to wear as a license to disrupt, that states if speech incites a riot, it is no longer protected by the First Amendment. While free speech is an important foundation of our country, this loophole is being abused by Yiannopoulos. Berkeley seems to always be center stage for political battlegrounds, and luckily for East Bay Hayward students, this popularity contest will not be taking place here.
Free speech is a powerful mechanism, and if demonstrated properly and peacefully, it can have an amazing impact on the way we think. Here on East Bay campus, we recently had a preacher of some sort spouting his rage to the students that would listen to his biblical babble. While it is unclear if he was trying to invoke any positive response, at least he wasn’t causing the quad to break out in a riot.
Some students shouted back to tell others not to listen to his insanity, but the scene was humorous nonetheless. That’s about as much as we may get in terms of a free speech week on our campus, and it makes you wonder why Yiannopoulos only targets larger campuses. He might actually get away with his abuse of the First Amendment at East Bay, because the chance of starting a riot here is much lower.