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Freedom of Speech

By Shelby Benz, Reporter

Freedom of Speech.  A part of the 1st Amendment in the Constitution that necessitates the ability of Americans to voice their opinions without restraint or censorship.  On Wednesday night, February 1, 2017, controversy struck the UC Berkeley campus when Mr. Yiannopoulos was invited by the Berkeley College Republicans, to deliver a speech to counter the extreme liberalism that the campus is known for.  Over 100 of the faculty members called for the cancellation of the event however its continuance was the root of a large protest that, in some respects, turned violent and led to the revocation of the speaker as well as the lock-down of the campus.  Mr. Yiannopoulos has been known for making very unagreeable statements to the public, evoking the criticism of many liberals across the country.  He encouraged the harassment of actress, Leslie Jones, for starring in Ghostbusters, and has notably called feminism a “cancer” however being the senior editor of Breitbart news had already given him a name of controversy through the racial ties known of the website.

The protest at UC Berkeley was peaceful until anarchy struck when a group of masked figures emerged throwing firecrackers, rocks, and shattering windows (New York Times).  UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks condemned the situation as one undergone by outsiders, however, the situation provides a platform for much controversy over the extent of freedom of speech in the country.  What extent of bigotry can be tolerated without the proposition of closing an event.  While I disagree with the views of Mr. Yiannopoulos, other people such as the Berkeley College Republicans were raised and founded upon the principles in which he teaches.  For me, it is a question of how to terminate this belief system.  But how could I declare my own reasoning and assert my political views if I were not allowed to speak?  And so it is for all.  Freedom of speech is subjective and political perspectives vary from person to person.  I may not agree with anything that the man has to say, but the cancellation of an event based on personal bias and beliefs would be unconstitutional.  If a student organization proposed the presence of an ultra-conservative flame thrower… well they can have their voice but I will have mine.  

So comes the question of whether Berkeley students had the right to protest.  The large group exercised their first amendment right but their display was penetrated by those who wanted an excuse to create anarchy.  The peaceful portion of the protest was a beautiful display because freedom of speech and freedom of liberty is what Makes America Great. Milo Yiannopoulos, and all other supporters of his cause, the world is watching you and ready to peacefully combat hate without taking your voice and without the permeable adulteration of violence.

View the source, “A Free Speech Battle at the Birthplace of a Movement at Berkeley,” (NYTimes).

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Shelby Benz, Editor

Shelby Benz is a Senior at Modesto High School who is currently enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Programme. She is a very involved student who...

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Freedom of Speech