Cal students should allow controversial figures to speak on campus

letter to the editor
Willow Yang/File

I was recruited to attend UC Berkeley in the early ‘60s. One of the things my tour guide took me to was Harmon Gym, where a Nazi was speaking. It was packed in half of the stadium. Everyone listened respectfully, then sent up messages via students with “Jewish” armbands. Obviously the speaker could not answer the educated questions from UC Berkeley’s brilliant students. I thought this was exactly as a great university should be. My beloved father once told me that if you do not look at both sides of things, you can be brainwashed.

What has happened? Why cannot campus students, let alone our politicians, listen to both sides of issues? Why cannot Milo Yiannopoulos or Ann Coulter speak on campus (or just when classes are not in session)? Students should use logic and facts to disprove people who are wrong, not ad hominem (name calling) and violent attacks.

P.S. I am proud that one of my grandsons will be attending UC Berkeley this Fall!

Ken Krueger is a member of the Berkeley community.

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  • VintageVNVet

    Having been graduated from Cal in 1970, after my junior and senior year there, I was right in the middle of much of the free speech, third world, and people’s park activities. Coming from an area that was totally democratic party conservative, my eyes were opened to many new concepts, and although i did not agree with many of the folks, some quite nuts, speaking endlessly in front of Sproul Hall, on all sides of all issues, it was always interesting to listen to what they had to say, and made me feel good to have served to protect their right to do so.
    SO sorry that has changed today.

  • ESPM360

    Cal students already allow controversial figures to speak on campus. That is as long as they are on the left.

  • roccolore

    Fascist Democrats hate free speech.

  • Steve Todd

    I couldn’t agree more!
    Let em shoot their mouth off, and get in their face with questions they can’t properly answer! I’ll listen to anybody; I certainly don’t have to agree with em!
    I like to think that’s one reason I was under arms, so these fools, or anybody, can shoot their mouth off!

    • Ramrod69

      Conservatives always are able to counter anything a liberal has to say since liberals think with their hearts not their brains.

    • MikeCassady

      A true debate of substance requires rules and control, as is demanded in congress, for example. A Q&A at a public lecture on a controversial subject most frequently degenerates into attitudinizing by impenitent extraverts and dismissive put-downs by the speaker who is in a dominant position.

      in earlier public appearances, prior to coming to UC Berkeley, Miio Yiannopolulos pointed to women wearing hijab in the crowd and made denigrating remarks about Muslims. It’s rather naive to want to think he was looking for a meeting of minds.

      A better formula would be to have a professor play the role of correspondent to a speaker, someone qualified to arbitrate the central issues on grounds of critical independence. Otherwise, a private venue is a better option.

  • 安百瑞

    Ann Coulter was busy during ‘dead’ week, when she was invited to speak. Out tending to the souls and edification of the damned, no doubt. Unfortunately, her lifetime of free broadcast media access leaves little clue as to what of value she has to say, and her performance is an exercise in trivialization. So, what exactly is your complaint?

    Please don’t waste people’s time with your Socratic workout, your occasional ethics, and your extremism in the service of nought.

    • Iron Mike Houston

      I glad you dissed someone that is a former student and has much more world experience than yourself!

      I know that words actually hurt the young snowflake’s ears. What is next, burning books that you disagree with?

      If you don’t like Milo, you don’t have to attend his speech.

    • ESPM360

      Ann’s contract with BCR invited and scheduled her speech for the week prior to dead week. UCB was aware of the invitation well in advance of the date. You cannot even get a minor detail right. How can you even comment on anything that is even more complicated?

  • Killer Marmot

    In the good old days, the role of a university was seen to instill students with knowledge and thinking skills, on the theory that such people would almost certainly benefit society.

    Now the role of the university is seen as far more specific and political. It tries to instill in students the desire to liberate the oppressed from a capitalist, racist, patriarchal society.

    The first goal is aided by students being exposed to a wide range of viewpoints. The second goal is harmed by this, as a diversity of opinions may well convince students that capitalism is not all bad, nor that society is particularly racist or patriarchal.

  • no duh sherlock