On campuses and progressive enclaves, riots and violence against “offensive” speech are being normalized.
The student editors at the Wellesley College (Hillary’s alma mater) student newspaper wrote an editorial recently that rightly is getting much criticism and mockery.
The Editorial is titled Free Speech is Not Violated At Wellesley. The argument is that shutting down what the editors call “hate speech” is not a violation of free speech:
Many members of our community, including students, alumnae and faculty, have criticized the Wellesley community for becoming an environment where free speech is not allowed or is a violated right. Many outside sources have painted us as a bunch of hot house flowers who cannot exist in the real world. However, we fundamentally disagree with that characterization, and we disagree with the idea that free speech is infringed upon at Wellesley. Rather, our Wellesley community will not stand for hate speech, and will call it out when possible.
Countering “offensive” speech with more speech is in keeping with the tradition of free speech. But it doesn’t end there for the Wellesley Editors, they advocate shutting down speech they deem “hate speech”:
Wellesley students are generally correct in their attempts to differentiate what is viable discourse from what is just hate speech. Wellesley is certainly not a place for racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia or any other type of discriminatory speech. Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech; it is hate speech. The founding fathers put free speech in the Constitution as a way to protect the disenfranchised and to protect individual citizens from the power of the government. The spirit of free speech is to protect the suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable, no matter how hateful and damaging.
The attitude of the Wellesley editors is hardly uncommon on campus. We’ve covered dozens of stories in which allegedly “hateful” speech has been shut down by progressive protesters, sometimes violently. Middlebury College’s recent riot shocked even many progressives, Student Mob at Middlebury Attacks Speaker and Sends Prof to Hospital. But the logic behind and justification for the Middlebury College riot was exactly that as laid out in The Wellesley Editorial.
Which takes us to Berkeley.
A rally billed as “pro-free speech” was held in Berkeley, California, ostensibly by Trump supporters, on April 15, 2017.
It was planned to coincide with Tax Day rallies planned by Democrats to put pressure on Republicans in Congress.
The pro-Trump rally, in turn, was countered by the same so-called “Antifa” (anti-fascist) groups who, among other things, tried to set fire to the student center when Milo Yiannopolous appeared and beat people in the street.
(language warning for all videos in this post)
At the rally yesterday, it seems pretty clear, including from the CBS News report, that the event turned violent when Antifa confronted the Trump rally.
Was it a deliberate provocation? Well, yes if you consider that Berkeley Antifa doesn’t like people who disagree with them, so merely holding a Trump-related rally would be considered a provocation.
There seems to have been an element in the both crowds who were itching for a fight:
One guy, being described as a “white supremacist,” punched a girl in the face in a clip that is going viral:
While the “pro-Trump” group seemed to have some unsavory characters in it, even unsavory characters have a right to speech. Even in Berkeley.
It’s a thin line from the Editorial in the Wellesley student newspaper to the Antifa rioters in Berkeley. Indeed, if events at Middlebury College and elsewhere are any indication, there may be no line at all.