McWhorter hits the nail on the head when he surmises the trend of aggressive protests against college speakers as a gesture in the guise of action. People are far more concerned with the show aspect of protest than the injection of substance. Additionally McWhorter is right that the onus is on the universities to teach students that righteous indignation does not suffice in public discourse. They need to understand their antics will not be tolerated.
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Cuiusvis homines errare; nullius nisi insipientes, in errore perseverare. Those are the wise words of Marcus Tullius Cicero which are more poignant than ever when discussing today’s political discourse. As many who follow current events in the United States are aware this week the polarizing Ann Coulter made headlines as she was compelled by the powers that be into not conducting a guest lecture at the University of California at Berkeley. Naturally this has caused much turmoil between those on the right and principled liberals who value the American ethos found in the Constitution, and members of the progressive far left who believe certain ideas (not theirs of course) can be deemed hateful. With growing tensions in the community the school pulled out all stops to dissuade the event from happening citing past violence on the part of protesters as creating an unsafe environment. By declaring that safety is involved it gives the school the perfect alibi in the free speech debate without causing them to not appear against the principle and thus hypocritical. The local government of Berkeley has further shown its ineptitude by its insistence on not intervening in the situation and not performing its civic duties by protecting the rights of citizens in its jurisdiction. In other words Berkeley knows they are wrong but won’t do anything about it. The mayor of Berkeley has shown themselves to be ideologically aligned with those who infringe on the 1st amendment which is unbecoming of a public officer. The more troubling things I have been seeing though are the multitudes on social media who defend these actions due to a dislike of the individual speaker. This type of thinking is anti-enlightenment and has no place in American society and I shall explain why.
First I think I should go ahead and state that I in no way endorse the things Ann Coulter stands for or hold many of her political views. I was never a fervent Trump supporter and I don’t mind legal immigration unlike her. I also do have an affinity for the worlds game of football which I know she abhors. She is incredibly abrasive and I personally would not have gone to her lecture if given the choice. Those things being said, I still feel it is constitutionally imperative that her speech rights be protected and this scourge on the left is defeated. However I don’t believe violence to be the method to do so even if encountered with violence on the left.
This issue isn’t about protests. When people bring up the first amendment argument in defense of Ann Coulter’s right to speak at Berkeley it has nothing to do with not wanting other people to protest her coming. That is not the issue and a mere deflection from the heart of the matter which is that prohibiting others from going is criminal. You can protest outside the venue but what gives protesters the right to prohibit individuals from the right of entry into the venue? It appears some on the far left are unable to grasp that simple concept of not infringing on others right to assemble as well. Nobody is saying that the platform is part of the right. People are saying once the platform has been given then you need to conduct yourself in a civilized manner. Either attend the event and ask her questions or don’t attend at all. Rioting and becoming violent to prevent entry are not options.
I have seen some complain that this is simply a media spectacle and a right wing conspiracy. In some ways they are correct this is a media spectacle. The problem is the far left progressives are so obtuse and foolish that they are intent on falling right into the traps set by the right. Instead of behaving like mature adults with educations, they choose the barbaric route and in doing so turn Ann Coulter into a free speech martyr. It doesn’t even cross peoples minds that nobody would even know she went to Berkeley if the far left didn’t decide to shut down the event. Even the ACLU and Bernie Sanders are getting tired of this anti-constitutional tantrum nonsense on the left. You can’t complain about media manipulation when you walk right into the bear trap yet again. How can you refute the right wing claim of campus censorship with yet another public display of left wing condoned censorship? Remember what Cicero said, Cuiusvis homines errare; nullius nisi insipientes, in errore perseverare.
I don’t foresee these situations getting any better with both sides content to battle it out using violence if necessary. Its a sad state of affairs. The only bright side is it’s getting easier to identify those who believe in the Constitution and those who do when it suits their ideology.