I wonder if, when this guy first ran for public office, he imagined himself one day serving as a de facto mouthpiece for violent fascist “anti-fascists.” (He’s the mayor of Berkeley, so — yes, probably.) Whether he realizes it or not, he’s an accomplice to extortion here. Either the hecklers get to exercise their veto, says the mayor, or there’s going to be trouble.
Think about that. This is the guy in charge of keeping the peace locally, not only capitulating to Antifa’s demands but encouraging the university to do so as well. If he had any dignity, he’d resign and try another line of work.
“I don’t want Berkeley being used as a punching bag,” said Arreguin, whose city has been the site of several showdowns this year between, on the one hand, the left and its fringe anarchist wing, and on the other, supporters of President Trump who at times have included white nationalists…
“I’m very concerned about Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter and some of these other right-wing speakers coming to the Berkeley campus, because it’s just a target for black bloc to come out and commit mayhem on the Berkeley campus and have that potentially spill out on the street,” Arreguin said, referring to militants who have also been called anti-fascists or antifa…
“I obviously believe in freedom of speech, but there is a line between freedom of speech and then posing a risk to public safety,” the mayor said. “That is where we have to really be very careful — that while protecting people’s free-speech rights, we are not putting our citizens in a potentially dangerous situation and costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars fixing the windows of businesses.”
Antifa is the risk to public safety, of course, not Coulter or Yiannopoulos. Canceling a speaker because his or her critics can’t control themselves is the essence of the “heckler’s veto,” perfectly articulated by this witless imbecile who no doubt considers him and his town beacons of free expression.
There’s a financial component to the extortion, too:
UC Berkeley is forcing conservative students to shell out more than $15,000 in security charges to host Ben Shapiro [on September 14], just as Berkeley’s chancellor unveils plans for the school’s “free speech year.” Most campus groups would be unable to cover this cost, but Young America’s Foundation and its concerned supporters are stepping in to pay what is effectively a tax on free speech.
Despite Berkeley College Republicans notifying UC Berkeley months in advance of their plans to host Ben Shapiro for a campus lecture through Young America’s Foundation, the school at first claimed to have no available venues. After UC Berkeley magically found a venue for YAF and BCR to host Ben Shapiro this September, the school trumpeted its own benevolence in offering to waive fees for the use of said lecture hall. Now, they’re foisting a $15,738 “security charge” on conservative students.
It’s not just a tax on free speech, it’s a tax on a particular viewpoint. A left-wing speaker at Berkeley has no reason to fear for his or her safety, so robust security isn’t necessary. Shapiro and his supporters, on the other hand, need to worry about left-wing lunatics threatening them outside or even inside the arena. The best-case scenario is that everyone is safe afterward and YAF is out 15 grand. If Antifa and other left-wing outfits can force YAF to pay those sorts of “damages” in the form of extra security every time a conservative comes to speak, they can make it prohibitively expensive for the group to continue to bring in additional speakers. The fair thing to do given the heightened risk to right-wingers would be to charge student groups a flat fee for security for every lecture with the school itself forced to absorb the cost of additional security for conservative guests if necessary.
Or better yet, have the city do it. Shapiro was asked recently how he feels about right-wing protesters coming out to “defend” him from Antifa when he speaks on campus next month. No thanks, he said: “I’m actively telling people not to show up to defend my free speech. That’s the police’s job.” Indeed it is. Why won’t they do it?