Hart: Free speech suffocated on campus

Hart: Free speech suffocated on campus

May 5th, 2017 by Ron Hart in Opinion Columns

Ashton Whitty, left, 21, and Hailey Carlson, right, 24, University of California, Berkeley students, make their feelings known during a press conference held by the Berkeley College Republicans in Sproul Plaza on the Cal campus in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. The event was held to discuss the cancellation of speaker Ann Coulter's appearance on campus. (Dan Honda/East Bay Times via AP)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

College presidents, the lambs of administrators, stand silent on the matter of free speech — unless, of course, it is far left speech with which they agree. That's cool.

It is only differing opinions, which they label as "hate speech," that they want to silence and of which they are the sole arbiters.

U.C. Berkeley was the home of the 1964-65 protests, gaining fame as the birthplace of the free speech movement. Provocateurs like Ann Coulter salivate at the chance to speak there. Her speech on reasons to halt illegal immigration was bureaucratically strangled and then canceled by the administration at Berkeley.

The left does a great job of moving the goalpost with wordsmithing that suits them. If you are against raising taxes, you "don't want to pay your fair share." If you do not want illegal immigration, you "hate Mexicans." If you are against sanctuary cities, which ignore federal law and do not arrest illegals, you are "xenophobic." The only way to get arrested in California these days is to wear a "Make America Great Again" baseball cap or not recycle your grocery bags.

Ron Hart

Ron Hart

The left's articles of faith are that the USA is redneck, homophobic, supportive of white privilege, racist and xenophobic. Thus, we should allow any and all illegal immigrants to come here to enjoy all sorts of benefits. The left must be really surprised they want to come here so badly.

"Comic" Hasan Minhaj predictably went after Trump as being a pawn of Russia at the self-congratulatory nerd party called the White House Correspondents' Association dinner. Of course, they never made any jokes about Obama. It is said in Moscow that every comedy club has an adjoining, state-owned graveyard. We have the equivalent of it here: entertainment industry retribution and the Department of Justice.

Hasan had one Hillary joke, at which the press hissed, proving again that you can only joke about Republicans, never Democrats.

Offering no proof or examples, Hasan closed with the lie that Trump does not believe in the First Amendment. Of all people, Twitter-happy Trump believes in free speech. It was his ability to get around the media's historic censorship and contorting of speech that got Trump elected. And the media are mad.

With their own credibility sinking, the big media met and made fun of Trump's 45 percent approval rating. The day after the correspondents' dinner, a poll came out; only 6 percent of those polled said "they have a great deal of confidence in the press." Six percent! Bill Cosby still polls in double digits.

In a country of hyperpartisan political discourse, no one uses free speech more than the left; they call Trump a "fascist, Nazi, racist and pawn of Russia." One would think they would look inward and contemplate who is really engaging in "hate speech."

About free speech, The New York Times said, "The idea of freedom of speech does not mean a blanket permission to say anything anybody thinks. It means balancing the inherent value of a given view ." In short, you have the right to their opinion, not your own. That isn't how it works.

Kids today are "owed" a college experience, and campuses are a fun place to spend four years while your parents pay your tuition. But an important part of the mission of colleges, and especially U.C. Berkeley, is to encourage free speech. The tenured, liberal professors who fought university power to protest the Vietnam War are now the ones in power, shutting down the free speech of others. Nothing changes in America without free speech; often initially unpopular ideas like gay rights, civil rights and ending stupid wars come to mind.

Robust free speech with competing ideas vets out what is best for America. If Ann Coulter cannot come to promote her book to a few college Republicans, what does that say about our expensive — and unaccountable — higher education system?

The left, who have stifled free speech, live in a world of hypocrisy. Can the left put a price on free speech? Obama just did: He charged a Wall Street firm $400,000 for one speech and signed a $60 million book deal.

Contact Ron Hart at Ron@RonaldHart.com, Twitter @RonaldHart or visit RonaldHart.com.

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