Friday

November 24th, 2017

Insight

A Free Speech Tipping Point

Bruce Bialosky

By Bruce Bialosky

Published April 24, 2017

Many people have called for changes on college campuses. To a certain extent this has been treated with humor-based dismissal. The branding of these children acting in a petulant manner is referred to as "snowflakes." But now we have reached a dangerous tipping point that threatens to destroy the freedoms we all savor as part of our heritage.

This occurred when Ann Coulter was stopped from speaking at U.C. Berkeley. It was really terrible when others were stopped from speaking because of obnoxious behavior or actual physical violence. For example, a speech by Milos Yiannopoulos was stopped because of protests that turned violent.

Now speech is being stopped simply with the threat of violent behavior. Here is how the conversation would go. "Hey, Chancellor Dirks, we don't like that speaker. If you have her speak we are going to riot." Dirks replies: "Well, I can understand that and we don't want any violence, and we want to keep you happy, so we are just going to cancel that speech." Nice, easy, slick and a complete dismantling of the First Amendment. Someone sits in his or her living room, hitting their bong, calls the U and that ends free speech as we know it. And they thought McCarthy was a threat.

The left has begun to take notice. The Los Angeles Times called for Coulter to be able to speak. It even wrote a fairly even-handed editorial. It invoked Bernie Sanders by quoting him as saying "Ann Coulter's outrageous ? to my mind, off the wall. But, you know, people have a right to give their two cents-worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation."

Senator Sanders, many of us think you are outrageous and off the wall, but we don't go to your rallies and heckle you or your misguided legions. Thank you for realizing that and supporting the First Amendment.

Conversely, The New York Times ran an April 24th column by Ulrich Baer defending the idea that the snowflakes might be right. Let us get this straight: The Times whines and cries like babies having their rattle taken from them when Trump says anything about the press being irresponsible. But when someone else's free speech is being limited that might be OK. Maybe Trump is right if the Times cannot defend the First Amendment at any and all costs.

We need to get to the root cause of the problem. Here are some reasons I can cite:

1. Bad parenting: Getting up and interrupting a speaker during a speech is just downright rude and childish -- no matter your age. If you don't want to hear what the speaker says either don't show up or just quietly walk out. You have no right - let me repeat that, you have no right - to infringe upon others' rights to free speech. And it is just bad manners.

2. Imaginary rights: Because of this bad parenting, over an extended period of time many people think they have rights that don't exist. They think they can go to an elected official's home and disrupt the neighborhood and protest. Sorry; you don't. We live in a civilized society and civilized people don't do things like that. I could go on with a laundry list of imaginary rights, but that would be another 10,000 words so let's leave it at that prime example.

3. Stupid people who work at colleges: The Left has ruined colleges. Is that a shock? They basically ruin anything they touch (think Venezuela). There appears to be only one group of grownups running a university today - The University of Chicago. Most colleges have a laundry list of imaginary rights people supposedly have and ways not to offend people of race, color, sex or sexual orientation.

They need to start with the first right (free speech) and tell students that they will be expelled (no refund of their outrageous fees) if you disrupt a speaker who is a guest in our home (the campus). If you do any physical damage, we will have you arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They need to know they have no right to do either.

If reinforcing to the children (and they are children) who go to these colleges basic laws of civility is not the first responsibility of the college, then what is? As many would say, the problem is the people running colleges are children themselves who have never experienced the harsh realities of life and/or have been protected for so long they forgot what those realities are and are ill-prepared to educate their students to those realities.

The Left has caused this problem and they have to cure it or it will be the death of the university system in the U.S. Parents need to start demanding that schools enforce free speech and not in restricted areas. The federal government needs to assert the power of the purse to withhold funds from universities that abuse the First Amendment and do not protect the free speech of all people on campus. Almost all parents are hogtied by the Left's control over the educational system. They are afraid their little darlings will not get into the right school and get the right degree. They are not considering what their children will become after they spend their $100,000 to $200,000.

This dangerous behavior is spreading outside college campuses as a parade was cancelled in Portland when someone called and threatened violence against Republicans marching in a civic parade about roses.

"Dean Wormer, we are going to riot if you let that person speak. He makes us feel icky." There is no more important issue in America. Once we lose free speech, we lose the First Amendment and we lose America. We have reached a tipping point.

Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee.

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