NO FREE SPEECH

The big issue coming to people’s attention is there is no free speech at Berkeley, the home of the Free Speech Movement. Everyone who is familiar with Berkeley, knows there has been no Free Speech on campus for 50 years. Berkeley was not the first American campus to contest Free Speech rights of students in October 1964. In his book Campus Wars, Kenneth Heinemann, recounts events leading to free speech on a mid-west campus a year before Berkeley started up.

Speech [is[ essential to maintaining a healthy “civil society.” Without open access to information…how could a citizen begin to comprehend “the advancement of truth, science, mortality and arts in general. Even more important …the ready communication of thoughts between subjects, and its consequential promotion of union among them was the means by which oppressive offices are shamed or intimidated into more honorable and just models of conducting affairs… T.H. Breen, American Insurgents and American Patriots, Hill and Wang, NY, 2010, p. 235.

Admittedly, the passage above refers to “freedom of the press,” but speech is just as appurtenant. It is doubly so because the protesters at Berkeley, February 2017, had a course open to them. Write and criticize. Does the speaker use oratory tricks and relay no substance? Not in writing. It is said Hitler was an excellent orator, but the substance of his speeches was trash. His writing was pitiful.

No one will ever know what the Berkeley speaker would have said, and there is no criticism of it. No one would ever know what the speaker would have communicated. He apparently is unable to write. And generally, political writing by the Left and by the Right is ordinary or extremely mediocre. Most of the writers believe they only have to hook themselves up to a dictaphone and talk an essay onto a page. It’s about as unique and insightful as a Bill O’Reilly history – thousands of those volumes make their way to paper recyclers primarily because political writers, Left and Right, are eager to get to emotional issues: crying babies, crying mothers, crying cops. They never understand and tell substance.

Late news reports state that an outside group, wearing black – perhaps pajamas like the Viet Cong – came on campus and did all the damage. They did wear masks like ninjas. (There have been too many Ninja Turtle movies.) Given the totality of the circumstances it may be Berkeley has it right. There is no Free Speech on campus because no one, Left or Right, has anything noteworthy to say. SO SHUT UP!