Free speech is dead. At least, that’s the case at UC Berkeley, where what was once the home of the Free Speech movement has become a national symbol for minds and doors closed against speakers and ideas that challenge the leftist status quo on campus.
The most recent casualty on UCB's campus was Free Speech Week, scheduled for Sept. 24th-27th but officially cancelled Saturday in a letter from an attorney for the Berkeley Patriot, the conservative student paper which was sponsoring the series of lectures. The decision was made among what Patriot claimed was a litany of obstacles placed by the administration.
Likewise, for the past few weeks, faculty and staff had attacked the event, which was set to feature politically conservative speakers spearheaded by the controversial Milo Yiannopoulos. The Berkeley Patriot is thus “contemplating initiating litigation against the responsible parties and the administration for violation of [their] civil rights.”
With the event canceled and the unlikelihood that any advertised speakers would actually appear, Yiannopoulous announced that he would be on campus Sunday at noon “come hell or high water.”
“I can’t promise you’re going to be safe,” Milo said in a Facebook Live conference ahead of Sunday. “It’s not an official event.”
He was right not to promise safety — his planned appearance earlier this year at UC Berkeley resulted in violence and vandalism by the anarchists of Antifa and other radical leftists.
Provocateur Milo Yiannopolous did indeed arrive Sunday to a rousing reception Sunday at the school’s Sproul Plaza, as promised.
Wearing a blue jean jacket and American flag hoodie, Yiannapoulos reached the Plaza—where Joan Baez once sang as a troubador of the '60s Free Speech Movement—shortly after noon and to the sound of jeers against free speech.
Due to security restrictions, only about 100 people were admitted to the event, after being subjected to the scrutiny of metal detectors.
Milo addressed the crowd briefly, sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," and took selfies with fans.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the openly-gay lightning rod of controversy said, "The purpose of today was to show up on campus no matter what and to let them know we'll be back as many times as it will take.” He added that his appearance “was fine. It was great.”
Despite his voiced satisfaction with Sunday, the self-proclaimed “cultural libertarian” and “free speech fundamentalist” was upset that many of his supporters were not allowed onto the Plaza due to supposed security-based restrictions on the size of the crowd. In a text to the SFGate, he said, “I hope you’re reporting that the police kept HUNDREDS (400-500) of supporters outside to make the crowd look tiny. There were 500 people waiting to get in. They let in 75.”
Unsurprisingly, the event was rallied against by the radicals of the ironically-named Refuse Fascism, dozens of whom chanted “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA.” Joining them in protest was another group of leftist radicals with the revealing name By Any Means Necessary.
Irony was completely lost on at least one protester, who said she supports free speech, but not the kind that Milo promotes.
For the new generation of the left, that sounds about right. And, of course, disturbingly wrong.