Ethics Observations On Berkeley’s Anti-Speech Riot

Protesters setup fires during a protest against right-wing troll Milo Yiannopoulos who was scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (Doig Duran/Bay Area News Group)

From SF Gate:

A protest at UC Berkeley over a scheduled appearance by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos turned fiery and violent Wednesday night, prompting police to cancel the event and hustle the Breitbart News editor off campus. But even after the event’s cancellation, hundreds of protesters spilled off campus into the city streets, where the violence continued as they confronted drivers, engaged in fights, smashed storefront windows and set fires.

Protesters decried President Trump’s policies as much as they did the visit by Yiannopoulos, a gay conservative who has been making the rounds at college campuses across the country with his “Dangerous Faggot” talks, specializing in remarks meant to insult, offend and disgust liberals who disagree with his ideas.

More from Heat Street:

The violent riots that convulsed the campus of the University of California at Berkeley on Wednesday evening were driven by rioters identifying as “Antifa”, self-styled anti-fascism activists who align with anarchism.

The violence began when hundreds of anti-Trump demonstrators forcefully disrupted a speaking event featuring the conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos. The protests turned into full blown riots after “Antifa” rioters shot fireworks at the building in which the event was set to take place, smashing windows with police barricades and destroyed several large light fixtures. The Antifa members dressed in all black and wore gas masks and face coverings to hide their identity. These rioters led the most aggressive elements of the demonstration.

Police and campus administrators repeatedly ordered the mob to disperse, to which rioters responded with chants of “Fuck you! Fuck you!” and “Fuck Trump!”


You will notice that last part  appears to be an exact quote from Madonna at the Women’s March….

Some unpleasant ethics observations:

1. I wouldn’t cross my living room to hear Milo Yiannopoulos speak, for he is a mean and  bigoted asshole of the first water. Then again, I wouldn’t go out to my deck to hear Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Bill Maher, Michael Moore, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich or Mike Huckabee speak either. Nonetheless, a university is exactly the place for them to speak, and all of them have a right to speak. Moreover, those who are foolish enough to want to hear them have a right to hear them speak.  That right is at the heart of our democracy.

This was a civil rights violation, exactly the kind that the current ACLU shows and the  Obama Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division showed no interest in protecting. Needless to say—I hope—the fires and violence were also felonies.

2. This is the shape and tenor of “the resistance” that Democrats are recklessly advocating. This is the culture of anti-speech totalitarianism that progressives have been courting, from top toi bottom. (“If you support Betsy DeVos, writes a Facebook friend, let me know so I can de-friend you.” That’s your party, Democrats. Anyone who disagrees with you needs to be punished, hurt, silenced and shunned.) Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Hillary’s running mate, said Democrats must “fight in Congress, fight in the courts, fight in the streets, fight online, fight at the ballot box,” against the administration of President Donald Trump. See that Berkeley riot? That’s what “fighting in the streets” looks like, Democrats. Like it? Apparently.

Why should any responsible American entrust power with a party that opposes speech it disagrees with, and advocates violence in the streets as an alternative to working within the system?

3.  I think CNN Jake Tapper, unlike most of his colleagues who are cheering on “the resistance”, gets it. Here, in a tweet, he highlights the hypocrisy of Berkeley, California’s mayor Jesse Arreguin( Guess which party he belongs to. Come, on guess.)


That first 8 pm tweet, at the bottom, literally means, “free speech isn’t welcome in Berkeley.” Hence the flaming riot.

4. Yiannopoulos tweeted…

“I have been evacuated from the UC Berkeley campus after violent left-wing protestors tore down barricades, lit fires, threw rocks and Roman candles at the windows and breached the ground floor of the building. My team and I are safe. But the event has been cancelled. I’ll let you know more when the facts become clear. One thing we do know for sure: the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.”

His last statement is an exaggeration, but with each passing day, less and less so.

5. Of course Trump tweeted something (“fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…”):

“If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

Good tweet. There is no reason on earth why the government should support any institution that allows content-based censorship on campus. Indeed, the government is complicit in a First Amendment violation by doing so.  The University of California  system receives more than $2 billion in federal research funding and another $1.6 billion in federal aid for students, according to its 2015-16 budget summary. Maybe the prospect of losing some of that will lead the school to take sufficient measures to protect the rights of Milo (and Nancy, and Elizabeth, and Ann…) and the rights of students who want to hear what he has to say. Good, good tweet. (But hardly an “ultimatum,” as some media sources described it. Fake news.)

6. Hollywood writer/producer Judd Apatow tweeted..


Got that? If you support the duly elected President of the United States and the democratic process, you will be punished with violence. Apatow is the accurate reflection of Hollywood’s smug partisan enforcers.

Gee, Judd, what’s at stake? Our lives? Our savings? Our liberty? Our votes? What are you and your arrogant leftist thug friends going to do to me for giving this elected President exactly the same support that I, my father, and every one of my ancestors gave to every other elected leader of this country, and that you and your hypocritical friends would have demanded that I give President Hillary, despite her stinking corruption and that of her party?

Judd, being a sniveling coward, pulled the tweet down once someone pointed out to the award-winning writer, who presumably knows how to communicate his thoughts clearly and accurately that he was being a biiiitt too transparent regarding his totalitarian bent and that of his community.

7. Based on CNN’s coverage of this episode this morning, reports that the White House is freezing out that network make perfect sense. CNN focused on Trump’s tweet, and, incredibly. made the story about whether ex-Breitbart alum Steve Bannon was pulling the strings, since Trump had “rushed to support” Milo Yiannopoulos!  I could not believe my ears and eyes. No, Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota, you incompetent, partisan, biased, vile and dishonest hacks, the tweet, and the issue at hand, is not Yiannopoulos but violence employed to rob American citizens of their rights to free speech. 

These atrocious, unethical, agenda-driven fake journalists actually represented a Presidential protest against arson and violence on an American college campus to shut down speech as a sinister demonstration of alt-right sentiments in the White House.  It didn’t matter whom black-masked students censored on campus—the accurate point was that this was a violent suppression of political expression.

Nah. CNN sees it as an episode proving that Trump is under Bannon’s thumb.

CNN is a disgrace to journalism. It’s even a disgrace to the current, degraded version of journalism now practiced in the U.S.

8. The Berkeley students who think shutting down speech is the way to remain “safe” are what you would expect to be produced by the California public schools, as illustrated by the previous post.

139 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On Berkeley’s Anti-Speech Riot

  1. Anarchists are NOT Democrats.

    Pardon my saying so, but how are we to tell the difference? All the right wing riots over the past two years?

    I would not be surprised if the anarchist group(s) were not goaded or baited into it in order to make “the Left” and Democrats look bad.

    Democrats don’t need any help to look bad, given the past three months.

    Aside from that, I would wonder at the motives and timing for a speech by someone with Milo’s views and affiliations with Breitbart at a liberal college like Berkley. I do think this quite possibly was engineered to cause bad press for the Dems. And strengthen support for Trump and the policies they are pushing through. It smells a bit of Bannon.

    This was scheduled well in advance, and has to be, given the lead time any University requires to use its facilities. Your attempt to frame this as a false flag operation, and as a deliberate provocation is no different than telling the victims of Muslim Terrorism they should not have provoked Muslims, because that will prompt an attack. This is America, and my rights are the same as yours, at least now that Obama is out of office!

  2. A thoughtful and enlightening and frightening post. It will only get worse until some real leadership emerges from what’s left of the Democratic Party. I don’t see it coming. And all the Hillary voters are afraid of Trump supporters?

  3. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Hillary’s running mate, said Democrats must “fight in Congress, fight in the courts, fight in the streets, fight online, fight at the ballot box,” against the administration of President Donald Trump. See that Berkeley riot? That’s what “fighting in the streets” looks like, Democrats. Like it? Apparently.

    I find this part tenuous.

    “Fight in the streets,” to me, means to be active in protests. I’ve heard this term used a lot, and never in reference to actual violence.

    I attended a protest against the travel order this weekend. I think most people there would consider what they did “taking the fight to the streets.” We were peaceful, orderly, and the woman leading the protest (a former Marine) made sure to have us thank the police at the beginning of the march and at the end before we left the airport. Granted, this is a pretty small city as far as big cities go, and as conservative a city as exists in California. But that’s what Kaine’s line evoked for me, not the chaos at Berkeley.

    • I know Kaine, as revealed during the campaign, is a boob, but you know, if you are a western politician and use the phrase, “fight in the streets,” you are evoking the most famous use of the phrase, and I don’t think that speaker meant “protest”:

      We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!

      Either Kaine is in ignoramus, or he is calling for metaphorical warfare, or worse.

      • Winston is rolling in his grave. He and Britain were fighting Nazis and the threat of imminent invasion. And when the Brits tired of him they tossed him out. But his supporters took it on the chin: that was the process. And it used to be the process here.

          • texagg04 wrote, “I’ve never heard “Fight in the Streets” used as a synonym for protest…”

            Only illogical wing-nuts from the left are thinking they are synonyms.

            When talking about protesting; fight in the streets is not the same kind of rhetoric phrase as take to the streets, fight in the streets is a dog whistle to anarchist and the left is promoting the behavior not trying to stop it.

            Sure there are some openly state that they “don’t condone” the rioting but let’s be very clear about this, there are dog whistles all over the place calling the anarchists to arms. The left needs to own it and deal with it.

            Anyone saying that fight in the streets is a synonym to protest is part of the problem.

  4. Wow. This is an intense article. Very clearly and precisely worded, your viewpoints are on the money. Thank you for putting this out there…

    • Sarah Silverman has been semi-funny in the past, but her shtick has always been being extreme and transgressive. For example, during the 2012 campaign she promised to scissor one of Romney’s biggest donors if he changed allegiance, then demonstrated on a small dog while wearing only bikini bottoms and a killer pair of heels. Actually doing that would just be a form of prostitution.

      It should come as no surprise that she loathes Trump and all he stands for and wants him gone, fair means or foul. I do not know what her approach was like 10-12 years ago during the GWB days. Still, she’s got a dad who apparently will take the time to slam those who criticize her, to great acclaim from her fans. I know you’re just quaking in your boots at the possibility of being cursed out by an old fart who taught his 5yo daughter the seven dirty words. Idiot is too mild. Her dad is an asshole, and she is the shit that came from it.

  5. “‘Fight in the street’ is a pretty common protest term; I’ve never taken it as meaning actual violence.”

    The reason why you think this is that America’s leftists have had a monopoly on organized public lawbreaking for many, many years. You don’t see “fights” now because the random opponents are just pushed around or beaten up.

    You have to sit yourself down today and try to envision what happens when masses of people of differing opinions come out and try to occupy the same public places with the same attitude. It’s not a given that people to the right of center vote and then stay home till the next election, while people to left insist on testing it every day.

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