Anti-Free Speech Rioters Block Milo Yiannopoulos UC Berkeley Speech

So much for a safe space

A large mob of rioters forced the cancellation of a speech by controversial Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley.

Before Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak, a large group of rioters forced their way into the speech venue, threw flares and smoke bombs, and forced the cancellation of the event.

UC Berkeley police tweeted about the speech cancellation, and follow-up protests:

There’s a big difference between opposing a speaker and blocking them

Milo Yiannopoulos is deliberately polarizing. He says things that offend many people. But that’s what free speech is about. He is free to say what he wants, and those who oppose his message are free to loudly criticize him and oppose him.

That said, there is a massive difference between opposing a speaker and blocking them.

For example, those protestors who are marching against Yiannopoulos and confronting his viewpoints are exercising free speech. But those who stormed the venue and acted out in violence, blocking Yiannopoulos from speaking, are not exercising their free speech, they are acting against the free speech of others.

Yiannopoulos has the right to speak, and those who made the choice to listen to him have the right to hear his message. Universities are supposed to be open to diverse perspectives and showcase a debate of ideas. Silencing one perspective with violent riots is totally antithetical to the concept of free speech.

Where’s the safe space?

Violent riots and blocking free speech is about as opposed to “safe spaces” as you can get. Our society cannot advance if we drown out opposing opinions with threats and violence, and that goes for all perspectives.

Each of us speaks from our own life experiences, and there is something to be said for being willing to listen to and consider the views of others. But that can only happen if we respect and stand up for free speech – especially when it involves those we disagree with.

Those who blocked Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech at Berkeley failed the test of supporting free speech. Instead they offered up mob rule and violence. That is the path to oppression and suffering, and it is the path we must avoid.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – Twitter