Affirmative action bake sale spurs discussion

Lessons from a bake sale

We’ve all heard of the ‘bake sale outrage’ that has spread throughout the campus, and I believe that we could all use this to learn a little something about ourselves. I don’t speak for any particular student group or nationality; I don’t even speak as a person of color, whatever that means. I speak as a UC Berkeley student. Let’s not forget that is what unites us all, somewhere, at some time, we were all given the opportunity to attend this institution and we should act with this in mind. I would like to think that I was accepted to Berkeley for the thoughts that were inside my head and not for the color or type of hair that grows from it. I would like to think that I do not owe my presence here due to the fact that I am of a darker shade, and I would not appreciate if the state suddenly took that into consideration.

— Anthony Rodriguez, UC Berkeley student

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Has the campus community forgotten the fight for freedom of speech?

Scores of students and staff members are up in arms over the Berkeley College Republicans’ Diversity Bake Sale, which sells baked goods at different prices based on the customer’s demographic. Yes, its message is blatant and offensive, but it is also a legal expression of free speech. Speech, even hate speech, is protected as long as it falls outside the sphere of “fighting words” to incite violence. It’s safe to say a bake sale does not intend to do so.

Students have the freedom to make whatever kind of speech they want, offensive or inoffensive, as long as it does not invoke violence. The issue is whether or not BCR should continue to receive funding from ASUC, which is a legitimate discussion to be had. The BCR’s ability to receive financial support from ASUC is on trial, not students’ individual abilities to freedom of speech. If we wanted to wage an all-out war on hate speech, why don’t we pursue whoever draws all the swastikas and scribbles all the racist/sexist/homophobic speech all over our university?

If the university is going to pursue the route of eliminating hate speech altogether, it must do so comprehensively, not just make an example of the BCR and leave it at that. If, however, it follows legal precedent and allow such speech to continue, we must stop demonizing every utterance of speech that offends us. If we at UC Berkeley truly value our right to freedom of speech, we must embrace that in any manifestation thereof, including what former Supreme Court Justice Holmes coined as “Freedom for the thought we hate.”

— Steven Johnson, UC Berkeley junior

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