At the University of California at Berkeley, it's common to see fliers, stickers, and advertisements for various political events and social gatherings. Over the past few months, however, stickers have started appearing around campus with a less-than-festive purpose: they're calling for members of the college Republican group to be beheaded or lynched.
And the threat is not limited to mere stickers. Members of the club have been “pepper sprayed, sucker-punched and verbally and physically assaulted for voicing their opinions and beliefs,” according to one spokesperson for the group. Two months ago, when Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at their request, vandals came out and caused over $100,000 worth of damage. The group invited Ann Coulter to speak, so you can expect more fireworks.
It's been a long time since the 1960s, hasn't it? While UC Berkeley loves to call itself "the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement," it's now an unbearable monolithic community that can't even tolerate dialogue on controversial topics. The L.A. Times agrees.
The cancellation... of a speech by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley was, according to a university spokesman, “not a proud night for this campus, the home of the free speech movement.”
That’s putting it mildly. Even if the cancellation was justified by concerns about public safety after an outbreak of violence and property destruction, the fact that Yiannopoulos was prevented from speaking to a willing audience of campus Republicans should make supporters of free speech shiver.
Indeed. But it doesn't seem like the campus has learned its lesson. In a staff editorial on Friday, the college newspaper criticized their choice. “This bridge has a troll. And nothing good can come of trying to cross it. On April 27, right-wing 'polemicist' Ann Coulter will come to speak on campus about illegal immigration as part of a three-part series hosted by newly founded campus club bridgeCal. Bringing a controversial troll onto campus hoping to ‘bridge the divide’ among political ideologies seems like a familiar attempt to ‘create a dialogue’ — the same misguided rhetoric used by Berkeley College Republicans when they invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus in February," the piece read. "We all know how that ended."