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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

College kids: Violence is ‘self-defense’


Violence by masked anarchists led Berkeley officials to cancel a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, a right-wing commentator. (The publicity has made his upcoming book, Dangerous, a best-seller.)

The Daily Californian has published five commentaries arguing that violence was justified as a form of self-defense.

Violence helped ensure safety of students, argued Juan Prieto. Nina Dang argued that “asking people to maintain peaceful dialogue” with those who don’t think their “lives matter” is “a violent act.”

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Those who objected to the violence are condoning hate speech, wrote Desmond Meagley.

And so on. My only comfort is that commenters disagree.

A Harvard Crimson editorial argues that free speech doesn’t include “hate speech.”

Yiannopoulos has no right to speak, argues the Crimson, because he’s a “polemicist” with “hateful beliefs.”

“Institutions of higher education . . . are built on the principle of evidence-based research,” opines the Crimson. “In contrast, Yiannopoulos appears to challenge others’ beliefs simply for the sake of being a contrarian, and he does so with little tenability for his claims.”

So all guest speakers on college campuses should present “evidence-based research” behind their ideas.

Ninety-one percent of high school students agree that “people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions,” according to a Knight Foundation survey. However, only 45 percent believe “people should be allowed to say whatever they want in public, even if what they say is offensive to others,” notes The 74.

Students all say they “love diversity,” said Richard Garnett, a Notre Dame law professor. “Well, if you’re for diversity, you can’t be for censoring stuff that offends you. That’s a ‘two plus two equals five’ kind of thing.”

Why not have real debates on campus? asks Naomi Schaeffer Riley.  Intelligence Squared sponsors Oxford-style debates on “public policy, culture, religion, science, and other hot-button topics,” she writes. “The winner is determined by counting up the number of people who changed their mind during the course of the debate.”

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