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UC Berkeley: The Controversey Surrounding the First Ammendment-and the Fight to Attain It

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In the past few weeks, the University of California (Berkeley), has created a nationwide uproar concerning violent protests. The largely liberal university put itself on the map earlier on in the year when right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was set to make an appearance. The British media personality was in attendance for a speech. Advised ahead of the planned event, protesters broke out in a demonstration. A little over 15 hundred protesters had gathered in the Sproul Plaza. Two Republican Berkeley students were assaulted while being interviewed, one being sprayed in the face with pepper-spray. The attackers, not affiliated with Berkeley, were placed under arrest. The worst of the violence entailed: commercial-grade fireworks and rocks being hurled towards police, students throwing Molotov cocktails that ignited fires, and the smashing of the windows of the Berkeley Student Center near where Milo was set to speak. Injuring six, the protesters tore down metal barriers near the campus bookstore and damaged the production of a new dorm area at a price point of the damage of approximately $100,000. After the burst of violence, officials canceled Milo Yiannopoulos’ appearance. That night Milo posted this on his Facebook, “The event has been canceled. 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.” Unfortunately, this was not a one-time occurrence.

There have since been two other clashes in the so-called land that welcomes free speech. One resulted in 21 being arrested. Milo Yiannopoulos is not alone as a victim of denial to speak at Berkeley. Raised in Connecticut,  Ann Coulter is an American author who attended the University of Cornell. In her times at the university, Coulter deepened in her conservative views and beliefs. The 55-year-old is a best-selling author, writing: Adios America!, and In Trump We Trust. The polarizing Republican writer was initially set to give a speech this Thursday on April 27. Campus Republicans had invited her to speak but were informed that the event was being called off due to security concerns. This news, coming on the heels of several violent protests taking places this year, has proved to be very controversial. After making the unanimous decision to cancel the event from occurring, the university officials made a change of mind and set an alternate date for Coulter’s appearance. In a feature on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Coulter said this: “By the way, I am giving the speech… What are they going to do? Arrest me?” Ann Coulter has insisted that this is a violation of the First Amendment, proclaiming that it is hypocritical that UC Berkeley is known by many as the “home of the free speech movement.” She also has said that the she “called their bluff”, referencing her willingness to comply with several unusual rules. Her resilient defiance in pursuing the initial plan to meet with the campus conservatives is quite irrefutable.

The groups responsible for putting together Coulter’s appearance have reacted quite angrily to the ongoing insubordination of the university. Vice President of the College Republicans came forward with the following remarks. “Every week, we’ve been harassed and attacked. I’ve been spit on, I’ve been punched. They’ve destroyed our signs,” Tahmas said. “One of our videos we’ve posted online of a student destroying our signs has gotten over two million views, yet UCB has yet to arrest them.” He also went on to say that he has seen fliers across the campus with a photo of his face on them, labeling him a fascist and neo-Nazi.

The controversy reached a new height this past Monday when the conservative groups sued the college. Since Ann Coulter’s comments on Tucker Carlson Tonight, organizers of her appearance have come forward to legally punish the school for its attempt to reschedule the event. Filed by Young America’s Foundation and the Berkeley College Republicans, the lawsuit claims UC Berkeley has discriminated against conservative speakers by changing the requirements and rules. “Berkeley promises its students an environment that promotes free debate and the free exchange of ideas,” the lawsuit said, but the promise was breached “through the repressive actions of university administrators and campus police.”

Resulting from all the occurrences leading up to this point, including the lawsuit, Ann Coulter has backed away from insisting on giving her speech on April 26. Perhaps unaware at the time she made the bold statements indicating she’d still appear for her speech, Coulter was confronted with the issue of setting foot on the violent grounds of Berkeley unguarded. The conservative groups that backed Coulter said they could no longer assist her in her fight for justice, saying “Young America’s Foundation will not jeopardize the safety of its staff or students.” The news came as a surprise to Ann Coulter who said the following to the New York Times. “It’s a sad day for free speech… everyone who should believe in free speech fought against it or ran away.” Just when Coulter reached a height in her fight for justice, it seemingly collapsed. America still awaits the day when the home of free speech, truly justifies its epithet. As for now, Ann Coulter joins us in the waiting.

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The student news site of Rogers Heritage High School
UC Berkeley: The Controversey Surrounding the First Ammendment-and the Fight to Attain It