UC Berkeley must commit to zero tolerance for hate

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The extraordinary efforts that Chancellor Carol Christ has undertaken to declare UC Berkeley’s 2017-2018 academic year as one of free speech is an understandable strategy aiming to rejuvenate our campus’s public image as a prestigious, inclusive institution following the controversial shut down of Milo Yiannopoulos. Her decision to prioritize freedom of speech also seeks to foster and encourage civil discourse amongst varying political ideologies on a campus that proudly identifies itself as the proverbial womb of the 1964 Free Speech Movement.

The Free Speech Movement originated out of students’ demands for a platform to discuss and resist social inequalities during a time in which the civil rights of communities of color were considered a matter of opinion and a topic for political debate. Students of the original Free Speech Movement stood against toxic ideology, discrimination and hatred, as opposed to fighting for the right to rhetorically dehumanize others.

Now, many privileged communities strategically co-opt the concept of free speech to legitimize their open hatred of historically subordinated populations and to strategically disguise their prejudiced, dehumanizing ideologies as benign political opinion. Arguably, the greatest perversion of the Free Speech Movement lies in the fact that though it initially sought to legitimize the oppressed, it is now being appropriated to legitimize oppression.

In fact the upcoming guest speaker, Ben Shapiro, who is set on exploiting our campus as a platform for discriminatory rhetoric, asked the following at a Young America’s Foundation conference, “Why are we humoring a mass delusion?” He then continued to confidently proclaim that “transgenderism” is a “delusion,” “barbaric” and “utter tripe”. Likewise, he utilized high suicide rates as empirical, scientific evidence that the transgender community is suffering from a serious “mental illness.”

Shapiro’s unapologetic claims regarding the entire transgender community cannot be swept aside as mere opinion or issues up for candid political debate. These claims incite hatred and present an immediate threat to the wellbeing and safety of students. We must not allow individuals that pervert and appropriate the concept of free speech as a tool of legitimizing discrimination to use our campus for media attention at the expense of student health and safety.

Where do we draw the line?

UC Berkeley’s Principles of Community strives “to uphold a just community in which discrimination and hate are not tolerated.” I respectfully request that the administrative faculty members to ask themselves whether their actions demonstrate a zero-tolerance policy for hate on campus as their Principles of Community claim — or rather, a flexible threshold for discrimination and hate that waxes and wanes under public scrutiny and pressure.

The administration is prioritizing the rejuvenation of our institution’s public image and branding over the immediate mental and physical health of students.

The administration, commendably, has voiced a commitment to providing additional counseling, social support, and resources to affected students. But this means the administration recognizes that hosting this individual’s toxic ideology poses an imminent danger to students.

Likewise, the administration’s extensive, notable expenditures for event security alludes to an awareness of the immediate physical threat students are subjected to as a consequence of this event. Extensive police presence exacerbates the mental health, anxiety, fear and physical safety of undocumented students still grappling with the repeal of DACA. I respectfully urge campus administrators to consider how their actions might place them in potential liability of negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence in duty of care, as well as permitting preventable injury.

Admittedly, this op-ed is intentionally limited to a careful scrutiny of Ben Shapiro. However, it also aims to stimulate critical dialogue regarding other invited guest speakers such as Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos and Steve Bannon, and how their discriminatory and hateful statements violate the Principles of Community. Should 2017-2018 be the year of free speech for openly discriminatory individuals like Ben Shapiro, as opposed to a year of compassion for students that struggle, both historically and presently, to be at this campus and to exist?

In the pursuit of respectful, critical dialogue across varying, polarized political ideologies, we must be rigorous in assuring that the individuals we invite on campus are committed to constructive discourse, are not in violation of our Principles of Community, and do not publicly discriminate and dehumanize subordinated populations. Unless we make a critical, comprehensive, and culturally sensitive effort to ensure that all Principles of Community are upheld amongst individuals that attend and are invited to speak on our campus, then discourse across the political spectrum will not be unifying, safe, constructive, or aligned with campus values.

In the context of an executive administration that uses force to subordinate and deny civil rights to communities of color, members of Muslim faith, immigrants, transgender populations, DACA recipients and many others, I respectfully urge the campus administration to comprehensively uphold and protect our Principles of Community in UC Berkeley and to defend the safe space that this institution proclaims itself to be.

Camila Elizabet Aguirre Aguilar is a UC Berkeley student.

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  • SecludedCompoundTTYS

    Honestly, this person must be 15 years old…I see no other logical reason anyone would write such misinformed and derived drivel…

  • Man with Axe

    This paragraph shows the Orwellian attitude that goes practically unquestioned at so many universities today: ‘Now, many privileged communities strategically co-opt the concept of free speech to legitimize their open hatred of historically subordinated populations and to strategically disguise their prejudiced, dehumanizing ideologies as benign political opinion. Arguably, the greatest perversion of the Free Speech Movement lies in the fact that though it initially sought to legitimize the oppressed, it is now being appropriated to legitimize oppression.

    Just because you think someone is “privileged” doesn’t mean they are, and even if they are, that doesn’t diminish their free speech rights.

    They don’t “co-opt” free speech, they exercise it.

    Just because you think someone hates “historically subordinated populations” doesn’t mean they do. Maybe they just disagree about what is best for those populations. For example, I honestly believe that affirmative action is harmful to black students.

    You claim they “disguise their prejudiced, dehumanizing ideologies as benign political opinion.” You must be an awfully smart person if you can look into someone’s soul and determine that their benign opinion is actually hiding a dehumanizing ideology. Maybe it’s just a benign opinion, ever think of that?

    Free speech is not only intended to “legitimize the oppressed.” It’s intended to give everyone, including people you think are oppressors, the right to express themselves whether you like it or not.

    • SecludedCompoundTTYS

      Your comment makes too much sense for them to comment…

  • Jmack

    Camila, you are exactly the reason why we need to protect our First Amendment rights. Just who exactly decides what is “hate speech” anyway? To me your article is hate speech. But I support your right to publish it. But you, on the other hand, would censor anything you didn’t personally agree with. Probably accuse them of being a “Nazi”. You really don’t have any appreciation for the hundreds of thousands of Americans that died protecting our Constitution.

  • lspanker

    Perhaps a complete viewing of all episodes of the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts from the 1970’s should be required before admission into Cal, just to thicken one’s skin. Whatever Milo and his ilk have to say about certain protected groups is along the lines of Mister Rogers compared to the regular exchanges between Dean Martin, Paul Lynde, Don Rickles, Sammy Davis Jr, Nipsey Russell, Redd Foxx, Phyllis Diller, and Lawanda Page…

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/DI9wQxU_iIg/hqdefault.jpg

    • zzz

      There are a lot of those on youtube now, they all have their moments but they didn’t age that well in general. Foster Brooks was never funny.

      I would love to sit through a viewing of a few episodes with UCB cry bullies. The shock of the SJW’s would be far more entertaining than the roasts themselves.

      I think instead they should have to listen to some of Redd Foxx party records.

      “it looks like Sammy with his eye out”

      • lspanker

        I think instead they should have to listen to some of Redd Foxx party records.

        Followed by the entire first season of All in The Family. Ironic how even an old lefty like Norman Lear figured that sunshine, fresh air and laughter was the best disinfectant for so-called “hate speech”, a concept that freaks out the little children these days…

  • SecludedCompoundTTYS

    I’m sorry but when I think critically about what you read, it doesn’t make sense at all. Your logic is insanely bad and I dare you to try to apply it to other examples and you may see how stupid, insane and illogical it is.

  • MrPerfect

    “These claims incite hatred and present an immediate threat to the wellbeing and safety of students.”

    A less emotional assessment might go like this- These claims may or may not resonate with like-minded individuals. People that believe these claims may follow actions contrary to your beliefs such as vote, write articles and deliver their own speech.
    You can’t make a false leap of logic from “claims” to “immediate threat to the wellbeing”.

  • Dude

    Wow. I have found Snowflake Central. It is the daily Californian.

    This ought to be fun until they shadow ban us all. Lefties have such a hard time with free speech.

  • Man with Axe

    This op-ed should be taken down because it contains hateful speech directed at Ben Shapiro, and hateful speech violates the zero-tolerance for hate speech policy at Berkeley.

  • Patrick

    You draw the line by expressing counterpoints. Not by clapping your hands to your ears to muffle viewpoints you don’t like. You attack ideas with which you disagree, not people. And you don’t declare a zero tolerance policy for perceived bigotry by simplistically mislabelling it something it isn’t—hate. Try this: https://luscri.com/uncivil-discourse

  • zzz

    I love when the privileged speak for the underprivileged.

    Seymour Martin Lipset wrote about working class authoritarianism 60 or so years ago, now the working class are the ones with the open minds while the self appointed educated elites are the close minded authoritarians.

    • Allieicious

      That’s how I feel every time a Berkeley prof says something about how threatened they feel by words.

  • Jacob

    Author is a freshman, and it shows.

  • Donald Negri

    Just today…more evidence what blind hatred leads to (in this case in NYC): A 57-year-old Jewish woman and her daughter were beaten up at a Queens subway station by a drunk who mistook them for Muslims, police sources said Thursday.

    “Get out of my country, you dirty Muslim!” the 40-year-old suspect, Dimitrious Zias, allegedly ranted.

    He repeatedly punched the mother in the face and body, and socked her daughter, 37, in the face, repeatedly pulling her hair, sources said.

    • lspanker

      Sounds like the ignorant Antifa types who assume that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is some type of racist or Nazi…

    • SecludedCompoundTTYS

      Yes, and in that same day several black people shot each other and you don’t give even care, you racist!

      • Hysteria

        Oh yeah? Well even YOU (who proclaim to be non-discriminatory) failed to mention the Latino on Eastern Indian violence or even worse, the Australian Aboriginal on Eskimo violence taking place on the South Pole! RACIST SCUM!

  • Donald Negri

    No, if you don’t like the speaker, show up outside and let your peaceful presence speak volumes.

    • Donald Negri

      Intended for Mr. Watts.

  • Donald Negri

    The most effective way to “confront” extremist diatribe is by assembling in vastly superior numbers, showing by it that hate is still in the minority. The template for this approach is what happened at Boston. And a place like UC Berkeley should have little trouble massing the necessary numbers to peacefully and vocally demonstrate that while people like Shapiro do have right to speech, such speech is not representative of the community.

  • Rollie

    “Where do we draw the line?”

    You don’t draw a line. I suggest doing this instead: Recognize that the First Amendment is unconcerned with opinions and points of view. For the purpose of free speech, it does not matter whether you, I, or anyone else, thinks any particular speech is worth a damn or not.

    “We must not allow individuals that pervert and appropriate the concept of free speech as a tool of legitimizing discrimination to use our campus for media attention at the expense of student health and safety.”

    It isn’t for you to allow or disallow speech you don’t like. That’s what you’re still not comprehending. Yes, fight against what you regard as objectionable ideas; attack Shapiro’s speech with your own, and compete with him for the attention of your fellow students, and then let students form their own opinions. Don’t flee to your safe spaces and cower there, pretending physical harm from words. Face the un-muzzled Shapiros of the world, eye-to-eye. As an editorial staff, encourage your fellow students to do likewise. Where is your confidence, for pete’s sake?

    • Nunya Beeswax

      This, completely. Do they not teach basic civics in high school any more?

  • BerkPed

    Is Ben Shapiro a liar?

    According to the daily signal

    http://dailysignal.com/2017/08/03/ben-shapiro-cenk-uygur-lock-horns-on-health-care-bills/

    Ben Shapiro argued against single payer by saying

    “All of this sounds great, except for the fact that Medicare and Medicaid
    and Social Security eat up 66 percent of the federal budget every
    single year,”

    But that number is wrong.

    You can see it debunked graphically here

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget#/media/File:CBO_Infographic_2016.png

    or in words here

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/jul/02/todd-young/rep-todd-young-says-social-security-medicare-medic/

    B. Shapiro is fond of saying “Facts don’t care about your feelings”.
    He also appears not to care about facts.

  • Richard Watts

    Zero tolerance for hate is a smokescreen to justify hate and violence. Those who advocate denying anyone of their civil right to free speech are themselves dangerous and a threat to our Constitutional Republic. No one is being forced to attend or listen to lecturers by those that they find offensive. If you don’t like the speaker, stay home! It is time for Snowfakes to grow up!

  • Alex

    “The Free Speech Movement originated out of students’ demands for a platform to discuss and resist social inequalities during a time in which the civil rights of communities of color were considered a matter of opinion and a topic for political debate.”

    No you idiot, prior to the FSM, no political activities or organizing were allowed on campus AT ALL, thus a movement began to allow free speech as such FOR EVERYONE.

    Someone remove this child from campus, and have her re-apply when she grows up.

  • FreedomFan

    Ben does not believe that boys can become girls just by wishing hard enough.
    Science.

    Also, giving a child hormone therapy is child abuse.

    • Jmack

      No matter how many times I say I’m a Russian Princess, that does not make me a Russian Princess.

  • Jack Spencer

    Perhaps we do not choose to buy the nonsense being pushed about so called transgenderism. Science does suggest that it is indeed nothing more than gender identity disorder. Mr. Shapiro’s points are well taken by many.

    • BerkPed

      What evidence does B.Shapiro offer to support his claim about transgender?

      Does B. Shapiro have any qualifications in this area?

      Once many people accepted homsexuality as a mental illness —

      https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201509/when-homosexuality-stopped-being-mental-disorder

      Thankfully some of us have advanced our thinking since then.

      • Jack Spencer

        Homosexuality is a mental illness. It was removed from the DMO list not because of new scientific evidence, but because of political posturing from the left wing contingent of the American Psychological Association.

        • Jmack

          Actually I think it is a genetic defect. They can’t help who they are, but they are abnormal.

          • lspanker

            I view homosexuality and trangenderism differently on the basis of intellectual honesty. If some guy identifies himself as a gay male because he is more sexually attracted to other men than with women, I’m not going to question his sincerity or his preferences, much less harass him about them, regardless of what I personally believe about homosexuality. OTOH, the male dressing up as a female and insisting that the rest of us must ignore the truth to pander to his particular fantasy is a different situation altogether.

  • Berkeley is an absolute joke these days, no question about it.

  • Allieicious

    And…if you absolutely refuse to tolerate hate, how can you suffer your own hatred towards everybody who doesn’t buy into your ideology?

  • Allieicious

    So…it’s a threat if you “incite hatred”? Antifa “incites hatred” when they show up at these events to throw feces and urine, and to club peaceful people with shields and sticks. Does that make them a threat? I mean..obviously they are a physical threat, but above and beyond their physical assault, does the fact that everybody hates them make them fascist? According to the article, it might. Shapiro is an Orthodox Jew who is there at the behest of a homosexual. Tell me how these are “racists” and “homophobes”. Because right now, Berkeley appears racist, and homophobic, and anti-free speech. Saying (now) that Berkeley is upholding freedom of speech in the face of adversity is a bit asinine, given the fact that Berkeley students and faculty are the ones who keep, physically, shutting it down.

  • lspanker

    Funny how these conservative speakers draw all of the totalitarian types out of the woodwork, only confirming the message their detractors wish to refute…

    • Allieicious

      Confirming the message that we believe in free speech, and Berkeley is a hotbed of communism, yes indeed.

      • Donald Negri

        Believe me, that’s not what tspanker is saying. Clumsy try at deflecting.

        • lspanker

          No, Allielicious has it 100% correct. Lefty progressives in Berkeley love to toot their horns about how “open-minded” and “accepting” and “tolerant” they are to the accepted/vetted PC positions of the local community, but have a collective fit when anyone dares present a point of view that challenges their own worldview…

          • Allieicious

            Precisely.

  • OCCG

    Possible “emotional distress” is not a reason to limit speech. “Emotional distress” is a normal thing in life. You are human – it happens, get over it. Grow up. Regarding your beef with Mr Shapiro’s stance on transgenderism, you are way off the mark. Transgenders shouldn’t be controlling the speech of others. This group, which advocates mayhem and mutilation of young confused children, completely ignoring basic biology and reality, deserve the help Mr Shapiro would suggest, and not unconsidered automatic endorsement of their views. Mr Shapiro is right when he notes that suicide rates after gender reassignments and “treatment” are similar to those before such interventions. This fact should give anyone pause to reconsider the effects of the transgender movement, if they actually care about such people.

  • BerkeleyAlum

    Rather than banning these speakers, I urge you to debate with them directly at such events. You will be doing fellow students a favor by exposing the speakers’ vicious intention; you will also be doing the speakers a favor by making them realize their own fallacy. If you care enough, you should even contribute to or organize fundraising to pursue legal actions against them. Hateful speech should be shut down, however you have to be VERY careful when drawing the line between ‘hate’ and ‘disagreement’. Using authority and force to mute some voices is a powerful shortcut, too powerful that in history such intolerance has never disappointed to backfire. Freedom of speech, like air, is something that you don’t actually know what it is when you never had it, or when you’ve always had it.

    • BerkPed

      Ben Shapiro refuses to debate.

      At CSU LA, the university tried to set him up with debate partners and he refused.

      See 2:30 in

      • FreedomFan

        I was there, comrade. The way your leftist pals shut down his speech was disgusting. The cowardly CSULA administrators dis-invited Ben after arrangements had already been made, but he showed up anyway. Brave guy.

        At least half of every Shapiro speech is dedicated to debate, with leftists invited to go first. Dims can’t handle the truth.

      • SecludedCompoundTTYS

        You obviously don’t listen, watch, or know much about Ben Shapiro and the debates/speechs he has had. At every event, he asks liberals to come up first and ask questions. Watch some of his videos. And the one you are sharing is a party taken out of context and you can see FreedomFan’s comment below that you will probably disregard because you don’t care about the facts at hand. Ben Shapiro debates and continually debates people if the left lets him. Give his podcast a listen just one time if you dare. Just YouTube: “Ben Shapiro debates”
        P.S. you are biased, uniformed and most likely a college student who follows the group think at Berkeley. He slaughters everyone in debates because you guys distort facts, statistics and history but are trained/indoctrinated to think that way.
        P.S.S. People who are politically indoctrinated do not know they are politically indoctrinated. They typically have a little political Dunning Kruger in them IMO.

        • Allieicious

          Bingo.

      • Man with Axe

        Ben Shapiro does not shy away from debates. You can find a number of his debates on youtube. What happened here was that the university wanted to cancel his scheduled speech, which he has a right to give, and replace it with a debate. They only do this sort of ploy for conservatives. When liberals are invited to speak no one tries to cancel them and replace the event with a debate. The theory seems to be that hearing conservative ideas just by themselves is too dangerous for today’s college students. If true, they should be ashamed of their intellectual and emotional weakness.

        • Allieicious

          He humiliated ol Cenk of the Young Turks. It was painful to behold. Cenk came off as an un-funny, un-witty standup comic.

      • Allieicious

        I assert that you obviously don’t know how debate works lol. I’ve seen him debate, and is perfection.

  • Jacob

    Transgenderism is mental illness. 40% lifetime suicide rate. Schizophrenics(!) are 10%. His candid assessment that it’s not something to be heralded or normalized is prudent. It’s not normal, and stating that he isn’t interested in normalizing it (i.e. mandated pronouns usage, his biggest gripe) isn’t the same as denying people’s humanity. This is pure petulance. And even if he actually hated trans people, he still gets to speak. Sorry.

    This author also suffers from quintessential millennial narcissism, quoting herself – with no credentials or reputation to speak of – at the top of the piece as if she’s MLK. This is pure drivel, and this line of thinking and intolerance WILL get DJT re-elected.

  • vincent

    Commitment to free speech does not permit the censorship of any opinion regardless of how factually incorrect it is or how much it hurts an individual or community to have that opinion publically expressed. It is true that the expression of ideas and opinions can be hurtful and even dangerous but, as a society, we have decided that the risks of censoring even universally agreed on harmful and bad ideas are outweighed by the risks of censoring them. That is why we have the First Amendment. If you think that we have struck the balance incorrectly advocate for the repeal of the First Amendment. But until it is repealed you cannot deny Ben Shapiro or anyone else access to a public forum based on the content of their ideas and opinions.