Potential Violence Shuts Down Coulter
On April 26, 2017, the Young American's Foundation and conservative political pundit Ann Coulter canceled an event scheduled for the following day at the University of California, Berkeley, citing significant safety concerns and a high probability of violent protests.
The YAF, a conservative group promoting individual freedom, national defense, free-market economics, and traditional family values, scheduled Coulter as part of a national lecture series to discuss these issues.
However, as the event drew near, Berkeley failed to provide YAF the means necessary to conduct their event, including a venue on campus, "zero tolerance for masked agitators," and coordination with the Berkeley Police Department to deal with any potential rioters.
Most importantly, Berkeley failed to provide sufficient security to protect attendees from possible conflict. The university police at Berkeley notably have a stand-down policy for "any situation that develops on campus as long as the situation doesn’t involve the imminent loss of life."
Violent Protests Continue to Shut Down Conservative Speakers
This is especially problematic because this is one of a multitude of violent protests in response to conservative speakers on college campuses.
In January 2017, conservative political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos and businessman Martin Shkreli were scheduled to speak at the University of California, Davis, hosted by the Davis College Republicans. Shortly before the event was set to begin, however, rowdy protesters surrounded the building where the event was to be held.
After receiving significant pressure from campus officials and police, citing that the event could no longer continue safely, the Davis College Republicans canceled the event. Only one arrest was made. Protestors claimed the event “serves as a direct threat toward traditionally marginalized groups on campus” and that Yiannopoulos is “a champion of hate speech against people of color and women."
Read More From Soapboxie
In February 2017, Yiannopoulos was again forced to cancel an event scheduled at UC Berkeley (hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans) after a violent protest erupted just hours before his event was scheduled to begin. Over 1,500 protesters affiliated with "Black Bloc" gathered en masse, chanting slogans such as "No safe space for fascists" and "This is war" whilst hurling fireworks and Molotov cocktails. The riot caused over $100,000 in damages to the university and injured at least six people, but no arrests were made.
What This Means for Our Freedoms and Our Country
These are but a few examples of an alarming trend growing within the United States: a shift from peaceful protest and political discourse being the norm to organized, violent riots and intimidation of political opponents. This presents a grave danger to both the safety of all parties involved and the constitutionally protected First Amendment right to free speech.
The First Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights not to protect the right to speak of trivial matters that are uncontroversial, such as the weather or how one's day is going, but to protect the right of individuals to offer unpopular opinions, such as those of Yiannopoulos, Shkreli, and Coulter. Should these rights, as well as the rights of conservative groups to peacefully assemble, fail to be secured, then the violence and the disintegration of our civil society are surely doomed to continue.
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable."
— John F. Kennedy
- Berkeley cancels Milo Yiannopoulos talk after violent protests - CNN.com
- Protests derail UC Davis event with Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos, ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli - The
A mass of protesters showed up on the Northern California campus shortly before Milo Yiannopoulos and Martin Shkreli were supposed to speak.
- Statement on Young America's Foundation's April 27 Lecture at UC Berkeley
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2017 Andrew England