Last December, Breitbart editor and writer Milo Yiannapoulos announced his college campus tour in 2017. As a result, campus leftists across the country responded with outrage over the provocateur's imminent appearances in their safe spaces. During his event at the University of Washington, an individual was shot and seriously injured after the gunman suspected him to be a white supremacist.
After announcing that his tour included a visit to University of California, Berkeley in February, leftists implored the university to ban Yiannapoulos and threatened to protest the event, causing Berkeley College Republicans to pay thousands of dollars in security. In response, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent a message to the community yesterday calling to respect free speech.
Here's an excerpt of his statement recalling UC Berkeley's historic place in the history of free speech activism:
Berkeley is the home of the Free Speech Movement, and the commitment to free expression is embedded in our Principles of Community as the commitment “to ensur(e) freedom of expression and dialogue that elicits the full spectrum of views held by our varied communities.” As a campus administration, we have honored this principle by defending the right of community members who abide by our campus rules to express a wide range of often-conflicting points of view. We have gone so far as to defend in court the constitutional rights of students of all political persuasions to engage in unpopular expression on campus. Moreover, we are defending the right to free expression at an historic moment for our nation, when this right is once again of paramount importance. In this context, we cannot afford to undermine those rights, and feel a need to make a spirited defense of the principle of tolerance, even when it means we tolerate that which may appear to us as intolerant.
Following that premise, Dirks reaffirmed the university's commitment to free speech, stating that Yiannapoulos's right to free speech echoes the same right shared to everyone else.
As part of the defense of this crucial right, we have treated the BCR’s efforts to hold the Yiannopoulos event exactly as we would that of any other student group. Since the event was announced, staff from our Student Affairs office, as well as officers from the University of California Police Department (UCPD), have worked, as per policy and standard practice, with the BCR to ensure the event goes as planned, and to provide for the safety and security of those who attend, as well as those who will choose to protest Yiannopoulos’s appearance in a lawful manner.
Campus leftists often forget that their right to speech does not give them the right to silence those they disagree with. Thankfully, UC Berkeley's chancellor possesses the moral clarity that their predominantly leftist student body lacks when it comes to constitutional liberties and protections. It is not "free speech for me and not for thee"; it is free speech for all regardless of your opinions.
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