Now that Ben Shapiro’s speech at Berkeley went off pretty much without a hitch (at least by Berkeley standards) it should be smooth sailing for the upcoming Free Speech Week being promoted by Milo Yiannapoulos, right? Clearly the rule of law has been restored and the open exchange and civil debate of ideas is once again welcome on this historic campus.
Well… maybe. There are stories rippling the surface of what should be calmer waters, with suggestions that major changes could be required, assuming the entire project doesn’t collapse. The Hollywood Reporter has been interviewing the major players in the drama and rumors are flying around campus indicating that the Berkeley group working with Milo on this may not have jumped through all of the required documentation hoops to have their event approved. But as Milo tells it, this is all a disinformation smoke screen designed to undermine his efforts.
As of now, it’s iffy, as the university says several requirements have yet to be met while Yiannopoulos claims Berkeley is engaging in a disinformation campaign to derail his brainchild.
“UC Berkeley is the craziest and most mendacious college administration I have ever dealt with, which has only made me more determined that we must succeed,” Yiannopoulos tells The Hollywood Reporter.
While Yiannopoulos has been promoting Free Speech Week for several months, university spokesperson Dan Mogulof tells THR that the group sponsoring the event, the Berkeley Patriot, are seven weeks behind in some of their paperwork.
The list of complaints from the University, if substantiated, sound serious and it’s only eight days until it’s supposed to begin. The hall where the events are scheduled to unfold requires a substantial (and non-refundable) fee in advance which they claim hasn’t been paid. There’s also a requirement for the group to purchase insurance to cover the hall which Berkeley also claims hasn’t been done.
The police need some sort of confirmation in writing from the invited speakers so security arrangements can be made. Thus far they say they’ve only heard back from a few of the more than twenty listed speakers. Keep in mind that the security for Shapiro’s speech was estimated to run more than half a million dollars and the law enforcement work Ben praised so highly had to be highly coordinated. If that aspect of Free Speech Week falls apart things could go sour quickly.
This week-long event is happening at the invitation of a new group called Berkeley Patriot, so I’m guessing that the responsibility for getting all of this paperwork finished falls in their lap? Milo was interviewed for the article so if he was on the hook for doing all of it personally I’d expect he could have cleared the air on these questions.
The last thing I wanted to point out is that Free Speech Weeks is a very different animal than this week’s speaking engagement. Ben Shapiro is most definitely a conservative so he no doubt holds any number of views that Berkeley’s liberal denizens would take issue with. But he’s also a long time NeverTrumper and tends to talk more policy rather than engaging in rhetorical mudslinging. Milo, Coulter and Steve Bannon will be viewed differently so the potential for violence is ramped up in my opinion. Also, Shapiro was there for a single evening. This event stretches on for a week with plenty of nighttime hours for Antifa to launch an attack under the cover of darkness. The security forces will need to be on top of their game 24/7 for days on end.
Assuming all the paperwork is finished and the event kicks off on schedule, I wouldn’t wager much money that it will come off as smoothly as Ben’s speech. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about this, but let’s just say I’ve got a bad feeling.