Your free speech is under siege, and President Donald J. Trump, alongside the political right, is not the perpetrator. The recent attacks and protests at the University of California Berkeley represent an alarming trend and movement among extreme leftist political supporters.

Controversial and outspoken Breitbart senior editor and speaker Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at the California university on the evening of Feb. 1, as part of his nationwide college campus tour. Unfortunately his ex-Navy Seal security team was forced to evacuate the speaker from the premises due to excessive show of force and violence among the protestors that put the speaker’s and student body’s lives at immediate risk.

Yiannopoulos’s controversy has risen in recent months due to his outspoken views on feminism, homophobia, race, college student culture and Islam and his support of President Trump. His critics claim his views and personal opinions to be representative of the Alternative Right, a recent political movement among the country’s young conservative population. Despite Yiannopoulos’s sometimes cringe-worthy statements and perspective, the suppression of free speech in the United States has gone too far. Absolutely no citizen of the United States should be oppressed and suppressed because of their political views; this is the only country on earth with a constitutional right to free speech. The First Amendment is without a doubt the most crucial and necessary component of a free and properly functioning democracy.

Due to the controversy of Yiannopoulos and the heightened security he and his associates need as a result of violent protesters during speaking engagements, state universities have begun charging the student groups who invite Yiannopoulos thousands of dollars in security fees, money that these pro-conservative student organizations simply do not have access to. The seven thousand dollar security fee was covered by a private donor for Yiannopoulos’s proposed speaking engagement at Berkeley. These exorbitant fees were made known to the student organization representing Yiannopoulos only days prior to the event, despite the fact that the school knew far in advance the cost of extra security, indicating a potential bias on behalf of the university known for its free speech promotion.

In 1964, students of the University of California, Berkeley, organized what was later referred to as the Free Speech Movement, an effort to lift the ban “on campus political activity.” This movement set a precedent for increasing the political involvement of students on college campuses across the country.

This is where the gut-wrenching hypocrisy lies. The very university that gave birth to a national free speech phenomenon was betrayed by its very students, totaling 1500, violently and dangerously protesting the very free speech that we all have fought for across the past century.

Free speech and the First Amendment are what built this country. They were the legal catalyst to the women’s right to vote, the civil rights movement, the death of institutionalized slavery, and of course the right for every United States citizen to make their opinion clear. Physically threatening the life and well-being of an outspoken and controversial political commentator is beyond hypocritical.

Dante proposed the eighth level of hell to be where the hypocrites reside. Clearly Dante was a troubled soul, but I would suggest to him a tenth level, in which those threatening death against free speech reside.

 

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