The L.A. Times have published a scathing editorial about the protesters who ran riot at Berkeley last week, calling them the “No Free Speech Movement.”
The label is an inversion of the Free Speech Movement, an anti-censorship student activist group that was founded at UC Berkeley in the 1960s.
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.
The article goes on to say that President Trump’s threat to withdraw federal funds is a “knee-jerk” reaction, and accuses MILO of “generalizing” his critics’ objections to his talks, but continues to condemn the opponents of free speech at Berkeley.
Yet it’s also true that, on colleges campuses and elsewhere, some “progressive” voices do call for the stifling of speech they don’t approve of. A leaflet circulated at the Berkeley protest said Yiannopoulos has “no right to speak at Cal or anywhere else” because he’s a “tool of Trump’s possessive fascist government.”
This is just the latest variation on the age-old argument of the censor that “error has no rights,” or, put another way, that one only has a right to free speech if one is speaking the “truth.” It’s an insidious notion that needs to be opposed in every generation.