Written February 1, 2017
“Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.” ~ Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874 – 1965), a British statesman and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, an officer in the British Army, a non-academic historian, a writer (as Winston S. Churchill) who won the Nobel Peace Prize and an artist. He was the first of only eight people to be made an honorary citizen of the United States. When he wrote/said the above quote around the time of the second World War, Freedom of Speech was under assault.
Free speech had been under assault for many years before this but because of World War I, World War II and the beginning of the Espionage Act, free speech was under assault. At the time there were a number of small groups who began fighting against repression by the majority. Many of our First Amendment victories came out of the struggles of groups that are still extremely unpopular today like outrageous journalists, pornographers and even the KKK. As Americans, we owe a certain debt of gratitude to some of those groups that history despises most. Fast forward 75 – 100yrs to today.
There has been a phenomenon in America lately. Free speech is being shut down by free speech. Perhaps the most egregious acts in recent days happened at UC Berkeley in California and NYU in New York. A couple of speakers were scheduled to speak to the students at both colleges but they were shut down by violent protesters. It’s worth mentioning that Berkeley has prided itself on its liberalism and political correctness since it became the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement in the 1960’s. Now, some 50yrs later, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement has become its graveyard.
The irony of the historical Freedom of Speech Movement is that it has turned into a suppression of unpopular views recently. The mayhem during what was to be a peaceful protest is proof positive of this. The anarchical events on those 2 nights achieved their goals – the speaker appearances by Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley and Gavin McInnes at NYU were inevitably cancelled. Yiannopoulos is a British journalist, author, entrepreneur, public speaker, and senior editor for Breitbart News, whose comments have been criticized as racist, misogynist and anti-Muslim. Similarly, the combative right-wing speaker Gavin McInnes Canadian who is a writer, actor, comedian, co-founder of Vice Media, and the host of The Gavin McInnes Show on Compound Media. He too has been called many of those same names.
In the Berkeley incident, I find it rather comical that it was liberals who silenced a gay immigrant and vandalized a building named after a Civil Rights legend. Who knew there were so many homophobic, racist xenophobes at Berkeley? McInnis is also an immigrant. I’d like to point out the fact that these men fit into what some classify as minority groups. The very same groups of people that the left(democrats and liberals) is quick to defend. I guess they are until someone speaks in opposition to their views. Since these men are outspoken about their political views they are branded with names I mentioned along with others I chose to not repeat.
The events that took place at UC Berkeley and NYU are beyond reprehensible as well as inexcusable. It’s becoming increasingly more evident that there are people in the left leaning parties who preach tolerance but practice intolerance. They also see how these riots and protests that are violent or seditious(incite violence) do nothing more than discredit the cause and drive the wedge of divisiveness even deeper. The events that unfolded the other night on the campus was proof positive that this is the case. It is also one of the biggest reasons President Trump was elected.
I don’t care what political party you align yourself with – wrong is wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for exercising Freedom of Speech by protesting peacefully. At what point do we draw the line between rioting, violent protesting, felony destruction of property and killing free speech with violent free speech? Why do we shut them down and verbally beat them into submission? Why do we spread lies and false narratives to get what we want?
As is sit back and look at it all, it is this writer’s opinion that the people who act like this are nothing more than spoiled little brats who don’t get their way so they throw temper tantrums until they get what they want. People like this are self centered and think only about their wants and needs. They do not consider the needs of the many. I blame this in part on the creation of “safe spaces” on our college campuses. That’s a discussion for another day.
At the end of the day, no matter who has been chosen to be President of our great country, we need to a couple things. First and foremost is tolerance of others whose ideas are different from our own. Just like there isn’t only one way to get from Point A to Point B, there are multiple thoughts on how we should live our lives. Something else that’s very important is that we listen to each other without shouting over each other. I know that when I’m in a meeting with even 5 people who have different ideas about certain things and were all talking over each other I can’t hear them, let alone my own rational thoughts. We all want to live in a great country but it’s not possible when we suppress each other’s thoughts, feelings and words.
Thought for the day: A “…protest of political speech is itself protected speech, but a protest cannot be so forceful or dominant that it vetoes the speaker.” ~Judge Andrew Napolitano.