IS BERKELEY TRYING TO SILENCE FREE SPEECH?
The University of California at Berkeley was once again thrown into the spotlight after a lecture by pundit Ann Coulter was called-off and later rescheduled by officials who cited safety concerns.
At a press conference earlier in the week, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said it was important to strike a proper balance between promoting free speech and the safety of students. In his words, "We fully support the right of our students to host speakers of their choice; we also have an unwavering commitment to providing for the safety and the well-being of speakers who come to campus, our students and other members of campus."
In recent times, protests and rallies in Berkeley have been very volatile. In February, a planned speech by Milo Yiannapolous, a conservative provocateur was called-off following protests by students. In mid April, more than a dozen persons were arrested after violence erupted at a pro-Trump “Patriots day” rally despite additional police presence. Frances Dinklespiel, a local reporter in the Berkeley community confessed not to have seen anything like the protest in mid-April
"This was not a demonstration against the powers that be in the university or the government, or the police department," she said. "It was a battle between American citizens and it was a battle that has been brewing for a long time.” she said.
Berkeley is famously regarded as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement on college campuses. In 1964, some group of students who were inspired by the Civil Rights Movement protested against the University’s ban on on-campus speeches and claimed it was a violation of their First Amendment rights. That protest resulted in a flurry of activism on campus that eventually forced the University of California, Berkeley to amend its policies.
By Diamond and Silk ~Published
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