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Paying the Price for Free Speech in California

by | Feb 7, 2018 | Columns

Berkeley, California is no stranger to protests and marches, and neither is its high-profile university campus. However, things have gotten so far out of control on campus that the school paid nearly $4 million in just one month for extra police and security protection.

Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, the protests were mainly over free speech and who should have the right to express their thoughts and beliefs. While there was violence on both sides, leftists – especially the extreme anti-fascists – were far more violent with their use of the “First Amendment.”

Cash Cost

Between August 27 and September 27, 2017, the university dished out a whopping $3.9 million for security by paying the overtime and boarding for extra officers, making sure ambulances were on standby, and renting barricades.

The Los Angeles Times said the university split the bill with the office of UC President Janet Napolitano because all parties involved felt the extra security was necessary:

“We would have certainly preferred to expend these precious resources on our academic mission,” Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said Monday in a statement from the university. “We do not, however, regret having taken the steps that were clearly necessary to support our paired commitment to free speech and the safety of our campus community.”

Probably the most well-known protest happened in September when Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak. The left was having none of it and caused all manner of chaos. Yiannopoulos was only at the campus for about 15 minutes, just long enough to sign a few autographs and say a couple of words before the crowd became out of control. Immediately, he was whisked away by his security detail, but the protests continued and grew more violent.

Breeding Intolerance

Free Speech Wall

“It feels like probably the most expensive photo op in the university’s history,” said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof, according to The Mercury News.

The left’s ability to raise its voice of intolerance to the point of screeching has the desired effect of quieting the right. Berkeley ended up canceling free speech week because of the angry protests and threats of violence.

The Daily Californian reported on the event, which protestors attended to lament such heavy police presence on campus:

“I’m not interested in shutting down free speech,” said Alborz Ghandehari, a UC San Diego graduate student who is part of the UC Student-Workers Union, to the crowd. “I’m interested in shutting down a platform for white nationalists.”

Who Guards the Guards

What these people do not seem to realize is that free speech is free speech. Just because we don’t like or agree with the opinions of others doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to express them. When we start determining who can utilize free speech and who may not, then we have completely lost the concept of the freedom of speech.

The adage “talk is cheap” is no longer adequate. Yiannopoulos’s 15-minute appearance cost the university about $800,000 in extra security. Antifa shoulders much of the blame for such high security bills, as they parade around in their masks and attack anyone who doesn’t share their views. The cost of free speech — and freedom itself — is becoming quite expensive.

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