Speech not free for all at school

Ah, The University of California-Berkeley. Once upon a time – 50 plus years ago – it stood for free speech and thank you again, Mario Savio.

Today it stands for only the speech approved by a certain group of students. Students who want to hear other forms of speech, say a talk by Ann Coulter, just don’t understand the UCal-Berkeley concept of free speech.

See, it’s not actually FREE. It’s freely limited. Limited by the students willing to riot to keep people like Ann Coulter from speaking.

I don’t like the things for which Ann Coulter stands. She is a neoRandian who thinks that if you can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you should buy better bootstraps and if you can’t afford better bootstraps, well, that’s why we invented inner city slums – for you to live in.

Too simplistic? Well, kids, that’s free speech. I have the right to be simplistic or idiotic or quixotic or pedantic or whatever else I care to be as long as I don’t incite riots or suggest murder or advocate the violent overthrow of the government. Well, except maybe at Berkeley or a heck of a lot of other universities in this country.

I can advocate the overthrow of the government through legitimate electoral processes, and at the moment I do, of course, but that’s not going to happen for at least 18 months. I’m patient. I’m optimistic. I assume the survival of the republic more or less as we know it but with people like Ann Coulter getting richer while people in the middle class see their buying power continue to shrink. That’s America, folks. Love or … Oy, not that again.

Blocking someone with whom you disagree from speaking is the antithesis of intellectuality. It is stupidity, it is fear, it is hatred, it is being consumed with your own self-importance. It is calling for a return to the 1950s only from the other side of the political spectrum: blocking conservative speech instead of blocking liberal speech.

We support in retrospect Martin Luther King’s right to speak in Alabama – some of us supported it then – but we don’t support Ann Coulter’s right to speak in California. We could, God knows, hear things that might make us think about things we don’t think about or don’t want to think about. You know, ideas that conflict with our own.

As Frederic March said in “Inherit the Wind,” “I don’t think about the things I don’t think about.”

And that’s the point that these idiots don’t get: If all you hear is what you already believe, what do you learn? Nothing. If every person you know thinks like you, how are you challenged? You aren’t.

Ohhhhhhh. You don’t WANT TO BE CHALLENGED. Ah. Well, that’s different and perfectly understandable, little fella: Being challenged is HARD. Being challenged means you can’t just skate through. Why, if you have to deal with a challenging idea, what’s next? Repair your own car? Do the dishes by hand?

“Mommy, mommy, they want me to THINK!”

“Come home, Jimmy, we’ll protect you from … IDEAS.”

I think Ann Coulter is, politically, a putz like I think Sean Hannity is a schumck and Bill O’Reilly has the wisdom of a potato but he doesn’t count anymore, does he. Nah. And that’s fine.

See, here’s the difference: If Berkeley students don’t want O’Reilly speaking at their school because they are convinced he is guilty of harassing women, I can swing with that. That has nothing to do with ideas (unless they just use it as an excuse not to listen to his ideas which, given the times on campus is plausible.)

But Ann Coulter, whose ideas I find odious, hasn’t been accused of doing anything wrong. All she’s done, in the minds of some intellectual cowards, is think and speak the wrong thoughts and words.

Awwwwww, poor little studenty woodenties.

There is this, though: They have learned something at Berkeley that might stand them in good stead when they graduate with degrees in basket weaving: You don’t like something, threaten violence. That’ll make it all better.

And won’t mom and dad be proud?

Anti-intellectualism in all its glory. Boola, boola.

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