‘Free Speech Week’ devolved into circus

letter to the editor
Willow Yang/File

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We are pleased to announce a new event for campus. It will be called “Free Circus Week.” Many people have been mourning the closure, some months ago, of the Ringling Bros. Circus. Because of the importance of exposing all UC Berkeley students, staff and faculty to the circus arts, our campus organization, called Circus Maximus, is going to bring the Ringling Bros. Circus to campus for a full week in October. Circus Maximus is a new organization that consists of — well … me. We look forward to exercising our First Amendment rights by having trapeze artists fly through the air with the greatest ease, horses counting with their hooves and elephants dancing rhythmically around the center ring.

Circus Maximus is seriously underfunded, and we haven’t submitted any paperwork, but we expect that the campus will give us uninterrupted use of Zellerbach Hall for Free Circus Week. If not, then we will just set up the big tent on Sproul Plaza. We will occupy the newly refurbished Wheeler Hall to use as a barn.

It has come to our attention that many people object to having formerly wild animals subjected to captivity, whips, chains and various forms of social humiliation. For this reason, it is possible that our event may attract protesters. We hope that everything remains peaceful, but we fully expect that the campus will take any steps necessary to ensure our safety as we exercise our right to spread joy and cotton candy. With the semester in full stride, some people fear that this event could become a sideshow, but we will have a sideshow, too — complete with a cuddly bear, the world’s fattest squirrels and many people sporting tattoos.

The campus should spare no expense in helping us to celebrate UC Berkeley as the “Birthplace of Free Circus.”

Steven Weissman is a lecturer at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

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