Free speech lawsuit against UC Berkeley is justified

coloredited_ameenagolding_bcrlawsuit
Ameena Golding/Staff

This February marks the anniversary of the riots that rocked our school following the visit of conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. The images and videos from that night were broadcast around the nation, and conservatives seized every opportunity to decry the fact that UC Berkeley, home of the vaunted Free Speech Movement, was acquiescing to the tyranny of black-clad antifa.

The campus is still feeling the impact of that event. For one thing, our student union now appears to be named after a German theologian, as the removal of the “King Jr” signage after it was hit by a paint grenade now leaves only the words “Martin Luther.” But the battle rages on in more significant ways, as the Department of Justice recently backed the Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, in its lawsuit against the campus administration.

In its original suit, BCR alleged that the campus deprived them of their free speech, due process and equal protection rights on at least two occasions, most notably when Ann Coulter was scheduled to visit. Berkeley was once known as the “birthplace of the Free Speech Movement,” the suit explains. “For over a century, UC Berkeley has been a campus well known for its tolerance of various viewpoints,” but “its welcoming atmosphere … has become distinctly more hostile to conservative views in recent years, a trend that accelerated after the 2016 Presidential election.” A sorry fate indeed for the hallowed home of the Free Speech Movement.

Berkeley sure seems to have a reputation for this “Free Speech” thing. In the orthodox narrative, it was the brainchild of a group of plucky kids who had the guts and gumption to fight for their right to speak freely. In 1964, as the story goes, Jack Weinberg tried to demonstrate on Sproul Plaza, but he was arrested by the campus police ordered by UC President Clark Kerr. Mario Savio climbed the steps and spoke about blood and gears, Weinberg was freed, and the rest was history — until five years later, when “evil” Ronnie Raygun tried to bulldoze picturesque People’s Park. Once again, the students organized and again beat the system. Free speech was brought to Berkeley and People’s Park: a tremendous victory for civil liberties, right?

Wrong. The so-called “Free Speech Movement” was never truly about free speech — it was always about the causes of those involved. To be sure, the goals for which the Free Speechers fought were largely worthy and good. On the day he was arrested, Weinberg was staffing a booth for the Congress of Racial Equality, a civil rights group that played a major role in ending segregation but was banned from campus activities because of administration policy at the time.

But the Free Speech Movement had many more insidious elements as well. It is often considered a part of the New Left, a movement of leftism that grew in both numbers and righteous fury across American college campuses in the ‘60s. The New Left were often Marxists, who flirted with the ideas of such ideologues as Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and Mao Zedong. Savio himself toyed with Marxism, writing in 1994 that “Marx is a poet. Even when I was very young, I heard, I remembered, I could not forget: ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’ It could come out of the Bible, it is so beautiful.” In fact, much of the New Left’s success stemmed from frustration with the Soviet Union — for deviating too much from Marxist principles. So much for free speech.

BCR likes to claim that they are the “New Free Speech Movement,” or, perhaps more infamously, they claim that “the Free Speech Movement is dead.” To do this betrays a genuine ignorance of the origins of the Free Speech Movement. Many of the goals of the Free Speechers were noble, but some were not. All were unified by a desire to allow political expression for their movements, but their movements only. As Sol Stern, a former UC Berkeley student and former radical, explained: “It was free speech for our views, but not free speech for your views.”

BCR is absolutely right to bring a lawsuit against the campus, for the campus has, time and again, egregiously impeded their right to bring controversial speakers to campus while making no such demands from groups on the other side of the spectrum. To claim continuity with the Free Speech Movement is ludicrous, though.

BCR has no continuity with the Free Speech Movement of the ‘60s. Where the Free Speech Movement was openly and often radically left, BCR instead associates with the most nativist and uncouth voices of the right. All these two movements have in common is their desire to use free speech as a means to an end. If the Free Speech Movement were transported to the streets of Berkeley a year ago, they certainly wouldn’t be wearing red hats — but some of them might have been wearing black masks instead.

Jack Foley is a senior majoring in political science and history and is a member of the Berkeley Political Review.

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  • Killer Marmot

    Foley contends BCR is only interested in free speech for itself, but not for those it disagrees with.

    What evidence does Foley have for this contention? Is he psychic?

  • Jorge Carolinos

    I would guess that many of the new left in the 60’s were fans of Herbert Marcuse, it would seem he was quite the star amongst young authoritarians.

  • Freedom Guy

    You had me until the end. To attribute moral equivalency to people who bravely and unapologetically wear the “red hats,” which BTW feature a slogan our current president ran for election on and which evokes a sense of patriotic wistfulness, and the self-avowed “anarchists” who cowardly conceal their identities for the very reason they recognize they are engaged in criminal activity, is invalid. “Free speech” means “free speech” with few exceptions, one of which is inciting violence. Antifa shows up to injure people, damage property and disrupt others’ right to free speech. Red Hats show up to exercise their right to free speech. Yuuuge difference.

    • SMH

      .
      Freedom Guy: “To attribute moral equivalency to people who bravely and unapologetically wear the “red hats,” which BTW feature a slogan our current president ran for election on and which evokes a sense of patriotic wistfulness…”

      Ah yes…, you mean Trump’s wistful — “MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN” — red caps?

      .
      (Btw, wasn’t/isn’t red the historical color of the commies!? — you know, like Russian Reds or Red China and the like?)
      .

      • Freedom Guy

        You’re a racist.

        • Jorge Carolinos

          I think he is an out patient.

        • SMH

          Geee…, what kind of racist…?

          (Ooo, I can’t wait for this…)

  • David Davidson

    1. Fascists murder those that oppose them
    2. communists murder their own

    • SMH

      .
      From my comment post below:

      Indeed, TWO World Wars — just one World War wasn’t good enough — were largely fought between capitalists — leading to the deaths of about at least 150 MILLION PEOPLE resulting from those forced to serve in those wars, civilian deaths, deaths resulting from famine, disease, and the resulting/subsequent world-wide epidemic (the one after the first World War).
      .

      • Killer Marmot

        The Fascists in both Germany and Italy only grudgingly tolerated capitalism. They understood that they need capitalism in order to drive their imperial adventurism, but ultimately the National Socialists were socialists who wanted to end capitalism.

        • SMH

          Killer Marmot — a.k.a. Killer *Idiot*!: “the National Socialists were socialists”

          HA-HA-HA–HA-HA!!…:

          IS THAT THE OPENING *JOKE* YOU USE AT YOUR ALT-RIGHT KLAN RALLIES!???…

          DID YOU GET THAT FROM YOUR ALT-RIGHT CHUMS!?… — OR DIRECTLY FROM YOUR PRESIDENT TRUMP HIMSELF!!?
          .

        • SMH

          Killer Marmot — a.k.a., Killer *Idiot*!: ‘the NAZIS [& Fascist Italy?] were socialists’

          HA-HA-HA—HA-HA!!…:

          IS THAT THE OPENING *JOKE* YOU USE AT YOUR ALT-RIGHT KLAN RALLIES!???…

          DID YOU GET THAT FROM YOUR ALT-RIGHT CHUMS!?… — OR DIRECTLY FROM YOUR PRESIDENT TRUMP HIMSELF!!?

          (I GUESS THAT’S WHY THE NAZIS LAUNCHED A GENOCIDAL INVASION AGAINST THE SOVIET UNION — WHICH KILLED & LED TO THE DEATHS OF 10’S OF MILLIONS OF SOVIETS — AND HAD THE BIGGEST TANK BATTLE IN ALL OF WORLD HISTORY — INSTEAD OF JOINING THE SOVIETS AND, AT LAST, DEFEATING THE CAPITALISTS TOGETHER!)

          OHHH…! A MORONIC ‘MIND’ IS A TERRIBLE THING TO USE.
          .

        • SMH

          Killer Marmot — a.k.a., Killer *Idiot*!: ‘the NAZIS [& Fascist Italy?] were socialists’

          HA-HA-HA—HA-HA!!…:

          IS THAT THE OPENING *JOKE* YOU USE AT YOUR ALT-RIGHT NEO-NAZI KLAN RALLIES!???…

          DID YOU GET THAT FROM YOUR ALT-RIGHT CHUMS!?… — OR DIRECTLY FROM YOUR PRESIDENT TRUMP HIMSELF!!?

          I GUESS THAT’S WHY YOUR ALT-RIGHT NEO-NAZI TIKKI TORCH CHUMS EMULATE THE ORIGINAL NAZIS!

          I GUESS THAT’S WHY THE BRITISH EX-KING EDWARD VIII LOVED THE NAZIS, AND WHY HE WAS FORCED TO ABDICATE, HUH?

          I GUESS THAT’S WHY HENRY FORD LOVED THE NAZIS, HUH?

          I GUESS THAT’S WHY THE NAZIS LAUNCHED A GENOCIDAL INVASION AGAINST THE SOVIET UNION — WHICH KILLED & LED TO THE DEATHS OF 10’S OF MILLIONS OF SOVIETS — AND HAD THE BIGGEST TANK BATTLE IN ALL OF WORLD HISTORY — INSTEAD OF THE NAZIS JOINING THE SOVIETS AND, AT LAST, DEFEATING THE CAPITALISTS TOGETHER!

          OHHH…! A MORONIC ‘MIND’ IS A TERRIBLE THING TO USE.

          I GUESS THE NAZI NAME MENTALLY THREW YOU, HUH?
          .

  • SMH

    .

    I’ve said since last school year that the BCR’s et al —incompetent— lawsuit ain’t goin’ nowhere!!

    And it’s as true today as it was last school year.

    I hope that the BCR’s et al attorney got a lot of the BCR’s et al $$$$$!!

    But, anyway, the moral, social justice, multicultural consciousness, & wider societal, as well as the anti-war, goals of the Free Speech Movement were diametrically different than — and opposed to — the immoral goals of the BCR.

    .

  • mises_man

    Marxism is evil….it’s just as evil as fascism. Between 1917 and 1989 approximately 100 million people were murdered by various Marxist regimes, and millions more were tortured, starved, exiled, enslaved, and sent to concentration camps. Collectivization, one-party rule, man-made famine, secret police, arrests, propaganda, censorship, ethnic cleansing, purges, show trials, reeducation camps, gulags, firing squads, and killing fields—all these defined life under Marxism.

    • SMH

      .

      Capitalism hardly has clean hands in the history of the world.

      Capitalism has perpetrated far greater, and much more numerous, world genocides than anything associated with “Marxism”.

      Indeed, TWO World Wars — just one World War wasn’t good enough — were largely fought between capitalists!

      It was a capitalist country that tried to exterminate the world’s Jews.

      And now it’s a Jewish capitalist country, or then its incipient country, that for at least 70 years have emulated, in its European apartheid settler-colony imposed in a non-European land, many of the ethnic cleansing methods and racist laws of the capitalist regime that tried to exterminate the Jews!

      I was capitalist countries that mass kidnapped and intergenerationally enslaved human beings for centuries — and held those human beings in the most brutal conditions — sparing not men, women, children, the young & the old & even babies!

      It was a capitalist country where religious fanatics burned women at the stake by the state — often to get those women’s land, estate, or other property.

      It was capitalist countries where even white women were kept as 2nd-class citizens (people of color being more like 3rd or 4th class), and where ordinary women couldn’t even get low-level access to the financial/credit markets, and where even white women were systematically sexually abused or exploited in the workplace or even at its universities as a white male prerogative or even perq!

      But, where there was not official slavery, it was/is capitalist countries that once instituted industrial child labor (and later in the U.S. often instituted migrant child labor) — and it was capitalist countries where women often burned to death in factory fires because of fire-trap conditions and locked/bolted emergency exits.

      It was a capitalist country that actually created one of the most infamous mega-famines in history.

      Censorship, systematic political persecution, show trials, and systematic minority oppression, and even anti-minority terrorism, certainly hasn’t been a stranger in certain capitalist countries — like the U.S. itself.

      It’s a capitalist country — the U.S. — that called/calls itself a “democracy” from the beginning — where for the majority of its history the majority of its population couldn’t even vote!!

      It was capitalist countries that started pretextual wars throughout its history, based on blatant lies, often committing genocide, often destroying entire societies — as the U.S. itself was founded on genocide, mass theft/dispossession, and brutal slavery — in the non-European world.

      It was a capitalist country that had the most infamous regime in modern human history.

      It was another capitalist country — the U.S. too — that had concentration camps for a pretextually dispossessed Asian American minority — and other concentration camps in the U.S. South for thousands of prextually incarcerated Black minorities to be systematically drafted right back into slavery.

      It was a particular capitalist country Martin Luther King said was the most violent country in the world in his day.

      One could go on & on about the brutalities and atrocities of capitalism and by capitalist countries.

      ONLY WHITE CAPITALISTS HAVE TRIED TO TAKE OVER THE *ENTIRE* WORLD AND TO TRIED TO *FORCE* EVERYONE NON-WHITE TO LABOR AS SLAVES OR FOR SLAVE WAGES!

      It’s a capitalist country — the U.S. — where Christian religious fanatics/fundamentalists — what I call _the Christian ‘Taliban / extremists / ISIS’_ — thank goodness that for the most part those loonies don’t exist in Europe and Asia — want to force modern women into unwanted pregnancies and don’t even want to allow women birth control contraceptives!

      It’s a capitalist country that spouts or practices genetic white-supremacy and were historically oppressed people of color live in daily fear of being gratuitously murdered by the *pigs*, with the slightest passable excuse good enough for the state.

      And it’s a particular capitalist country that regularly produces white male mass murderers — even though the entire country was built for white males.

      But, of course, it’s those moronic Trump types, and his vast moronic ‘Trumpets’, like “mises_man” above, who still spout the one-sided, propaganda version of U.S. and world history.

      .

      • That Guy

        a comedian…

        • SMH

          Your response amply reveals yourself

      • mises_man

        You have a warped and wrong definition of free market capitalism. I’m calling you out on your mis-labeling. Sorry, but fascism is not free market capitalism. Under free market capitalism, all transactions are based on voluntary exchange. Quit with your lies.

        • SMH

          “mises_man”, I’d tell a white moron like you to go read a book — but what good would it do…?

          NAZI Germany, as my prime example, was a CAPITALIST country.
          .

          • mises_man

            Try arguing with facts…not race baiting. Second, I never voted for Trump so I don’t know why that was brought into this conversation. Let’s agree to argue using logic and evidence. I’m not going to defend your strawman positions that you fallaciously attributed to capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system characterized by private ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market. Capitalism is based on voluntary exchange of goods and services. During the nineteenth century, when socialism was becoming fashionable in Europe, there was no distinction between “socialism” and “communism.” There were different forms of socialism, of course, but these were not distinguished by the different terms. Different thinkers had their preference, but the terms were used interchangeably, even by Karl Marx. In 1875, Marx distinguished between a lower (earlier) and a higher (later) phase of the future communist society. But he did not reserve the name of communism to the higher phase, and did not call the lower phase socialism as differentiated from communism.

            According to Marx’s theory of history, socialism was an inevitability. According to his deterministic outlook, every country was destined to progress from a feudalist society, to a capitalist, and finally to a socialist society. To Marx, this progression was inevitable.

            In Germany, the first purveyors of “State socialism” emerged shortly prior to Marx. Johann Karl Rodbertus, like Marx, rejected many of the existing socialist theories as untenable. Rodbertus was the first socialist thinker to advocate the control of both production and distribution, and to achieve this, the socialist must use the State. The greatest expositor of his ideas was Ferdinand Lassalle, whose proselytizing led to the rapid growth in popularity of what Mises would call “socialism of the German pattern.”

            German socialism differed from the socialism of the Russian pattern in that it, seemingly and nominally, maintained private ownership of the means of production, entrepreneurship, and market exchange. However, this was only a superficial system of private ownership because through a complete system of economic intervention and control, the entrepreneurial function of the property owners was completely controlled by the State. Shop owners did not speculate about future events for the purpose of allocating resources in the pursuit of profits. Just like in the Soviet Union, this entrepreneurial speculation and resource allocation was done by a single entity, the State, and economic calculation was thus impossible.

            In Nazi Germany, the property owners were called shop managers or Betriebsführer. The government told these seeming entrepreneurs what and how to produce, at what prices and from whom to buy, at what prices and to whom to sell. The government decreed at what wages labourers should work, and to whom and under what terms the owners should entrust their funds. Market exchange was but a sham. As all prices, wages and interest rates were fixed by the authoritarian regime, they we’re prices, wages and interest rates in appearance only; in fact they were merely quantitative terms in the authoritarian orders determining each citizen’s income, consumption and standard of living. The authority, not the consumers, directed production. The central board of production management was supreme; all citizens were nothing else but civil servants. This was merely socialism with the outward appearance of capitalism. Some labels of the capitalistic market economy were retained, but they signified here something entirely different from what is meant by the definition of a market economy.

            But the Soviets themselves also played a part in the crafting of the myth of the Nazi capitalist. The Nazis were not trying to hide their socialism; they were just implementing socialism according to a different strategy than that of the Marxist socialists.

            The Soviets were able to brand the Nazis as capitalists only because they had already started redefining the terms “socialism” and “communism” to fit their own political agenda. In 1912, Lenin formed his Communist Party. The members of his party, the Bolsheviks, were now distinct from the other, rival groups of socialists. The terms “communism” and “socialism” were still able to be used interchangeably, and the Soviet Union itself was just a shorthand name for the “United Soviet Socialist Republics.” But by branding his group under the title of the “Communist Party,” the title “Communist” — now meaning a member of Lenin’s party — became a way of saying that this was a “true socialist,” so to speak.

            It was only in 1928 that the program of the Communist International began to differentiate between communism and socialism (and not merely between communist and socialist). This new doctrine held that, in the Marxian framework, there was another stage of development between capitalism and communism. That stage, of course, was socialism, and it was the stage that the Soviet Union was in.

            In his original theory, Marx made a distinction between early- and late-stage communism, where true equality supposedly would be reached only in the final stage of communism, after the State had successfully followed all of his prescriptions and humans had evolved beyond their “class consciousness.” In the new doctrine, “socialism” simply referred to Marx’s early-stage communism, while true communism — Marx’s late-stage communism — would not be achieved until the whole world was communist. Thus, the Soviet Union was merely socialist, and the party members were Communists because they were the enlightened few who were working toward the ultimate goal of communism.

            But the Nazis still claimed to be socialist and, in fact, were acting quite a bit like socialists with their heavy-handed economic interventions. However, there was still economic inequality among the citizens of Nazi Germany (just as there was in the Soviet Union, but that didn’t matter to the narrative). Furthermore, the Nazis retained some of the legal language of a capitalist society. Specifically, there was still the superficial existence of nominal property ownership.

            When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin and his lackeys used the new communist narrative to redefine Nazi Socialism — which was never Marxism but was based on the theories of the original German socialists who directly influenced Marx’s later ideas — as “capitalists.” According to this new narrative, the Nazis were in the final and worst stage of capitalism.

            At a time when many members of the European intelligentsia were still enamored with the Soviet Union, this narrative of the Nazis as capitalists was a welcome lie. But this idea is one that comes not from any grounding in economic principles, but rather the Soviet interpretation of the Marxian framework. The Nazis, who touted their socialism proudly and implemented socialist policies with great consistency, were now being referred to as capitalists for no reason other than they did not fit cleanly into the Soviet-Marxist worldview, and this false narrative survives today as evidenced by your previous petulant diatribe of historical and economic ignorance.

        • SMH

          I guess there was a “voluntary exchange” between the slave master and the MILLIONS of American slaves for 250 YEARS of just official U.S. slavery alone — and another 150 years of Southern chain gangs and sharecropping labor (both systems slavery by another name) and otherwise Jim Crow apartheid in the CAPITALIST U.S..

          • SMH

            [Continued]

            “mises_man”, I’d tell a white moron like you to _go read a book_ — but what good would it do…? You’re a white moron — just like your favorite president (among other favorite moronic presidents of yours).

            NAZI Germany, as my prime example, was a CAPITALIST country.

            I’ve already exposed your ignorance that you somehow didn’t know that — in just the 20th century alone — capitalist countries have killed or led to the deaths of ~150 MILLION PEOPLE in the world — in capitalist wars — often between CAPITALIST countries themselves!

            Capitalist countries have probably killed or led to the deaths of probably AT LEAST ~200 MILLION PEOPLE in the world in just the 19th & 20th century — in capitalist wars & genocide (and also through capitalist slavery).

            Capitalist countries have killed MANY MANY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE sinceWWII — in capitalist wars of aggression.

            And this is aside from the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE that capitalism has purposely impoverished or kept impoverished or even abjectly destitute.
            .

          • TheOne BillyGunn

            Why not move to one of those great countries with the economic system you seek? Leave us here with our evil capitalism.