On Tuesday, in a self-immolating display of narcissistic stupidity, The Daily Californian – the student newspaper for UC Berkeley – ran an op-ed defending the use of violence in shutting down a speech by alt-right popularizer and professional provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. The op-ed, titled “Violence as self-defense,” was a whole series of op-eds talking about why violence was useful in shutting down political debate.
“To people with platforms who decide when a protest should and should not be violent: You speak from a place of immense privilege. As I recently wrote in a tirade against this brand of idiocy, asking people to maintain peaceful dialogue with those who legitimately do not think their lives matter is a violent act,” wrote Nisa Dang, an alumna of the university.
This is actually evil – the notion that words are violence when the words do not explicitly call for violence is an excuse to beat the living hell out of anyone with whom you disagree. It’s also worthwhile noting that Yiannopoulos, for all his myriad faults, has never said that individuals’ lives don’t matter. That’s a baseless slur.
Illegal immigrant student Juan Prieto explained in an op-ed titled “Violence helped ensure safety of students”: “We share our stories and provide insight to the reality of the flawed immigration system. To out us is to remove that agency from us.” In other words, he’s here illegally, so more illegal activity is necessary to promote the original illegality. Got it.
Neil Lawrence, a former Daily Californian columnist, wrote that the so-called Black Bloc “was made up of people with the most to fight for and the most to lose,” and “did what campus should have.” Except that the vast majority of such protesters live in Mommy’s basement and all the students at UC Berkeley are sponsored by taxpayers to be there majoring in Useless.
One Desmond Meagley wrote, “I put my safety and my freedom on the line because letting Yiannopoulos speak was more terrifying to me than potential injury or arrest.” First off, you shouldn’t be terrified by other people speaking unless they’re violently threatening you. Second, no one worried about protesters putting their own safety on the line. We all worried about protesters beating the bejesus out of anyone who disagreed.
Finally, Josh Hardman wrote, “The principle of freedom of speech should not be extended to envelop freedom of hate speech, for the unchecked normalization of hate speech will have real consequences.” If leftists were truly worried about normalizing Yiannopoulos, burning things and breaking windows did more to make Yiannopoulos a mainstream victim than anything Yiannopoulos has ever said or done. It gave Yiannopoulos the ability to don his College Republican outfit on Tucker Carlson, dump all the talk about “thick-as-pig-shit media Jews,” and pretend to be a normal conservative.
The students at UC Berkeley don't seem to understand the crucial mistake they made last week. That means they'll repeat it. And that's no good for anyone.