Last week, University of California at Berkeley had to spend some $600,000 on security to protect my exercise of free speech and my audience’s First Amendment right to peaceful assembly. Why? Because there’s an entire contingent of students and agitators who don’t believe that those they disagree with should be allowed to speak.
How big is the pool from which Antifa draws? According to a new poll from Brookings Institute, pretty damn large. That poll shows that 19% of college students agree with the notion that using violence to silence a speaker who says “offensive and hurtful things” is appropriate; that includes 22% of Republicans. Furthermore, about four in ten Americans said that the First Amendment should not protect “hate speech” — leaving that term of art utterly undefined — and 51% backed the proposition that students should shout down offensive speakers.
This is terrifying.
Young Americans clearly don’t understand the meaning or purpose of the First Amendment. They believe that their feelings justify interference with the political expression of others. And that opinion is being coddled by administrators who see fit to “protect” students from so-called “microaggressions” with “trigger warnings.” The safe space mentality utterly perverts American freedom.
The result will be more violence, not less.
Unless, that is, we realize that Antifa isn’t the only problem: a philosophy of silencing dissent in the name of subjective feelings is the gas in the tank for Antifa.