Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are unalienable rights endowed to the citizens, as stated in the Constitution.
Ever since last year, protests rose in the Universities of California [UCs]. Most of them were directed against guest speakers’ appearances.
Protests usually are made to voice people’s grievances. While I do respect them for raising their voice out to the public, these actions sometimes block other people’s freedom of speech or harm them.
For example, in the UC “Free Speech Week” that took place Oct. 31 last year, University of California, Berkeley students protested against public speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, reasoning that he was a conservative with provocative views towards feminism and the LGBT community. This event led the guest’s speech to be canceled that day.
According to Inside Higher ED, during the event, there were complaints from these students that they were not “causing a disturbance,” but the truth is that some had violently thrown fireworks and weapons around the area. While the demonstrators were standing against the speaker’s conservative ideals, other students held a counterprotest. The disagreements between the groups led to the frenzied outbreak of violence. The commotion between the two led to about 14 arrests of passionate students.
They should understand that it is one thing to stand for your belief and another to face a lot of backlash for it. However, physically harming others for these reasons is much worse.
A similar incident happened last year at the University of Utah on Sept. 27, where protests broke out into violent scuffles when talk show host Ben Shapiro made an appearance to speak. The students followed UC Berkeley’s example as they disapproved of the speaker and protested with posters like “It is right to rebel, Ben Shapiro go to hell.” While there was a ban in possible weapons used in the protest, violence with weapons still erupted between the opposing sides.
Partakers of the protests claim that they were all exercising free speech, yet what the students do not ultimately realize is that they are taking away Shapiro and Yiannopoulos’s right to speak. This is very hypocritical because the students are only trying to satisfy their own needs while taking them away from others. People are entitled to their own opinions, and they deserve to be heard; it does not matter if others do not like them.
Also, the Los Angeles Times said that following the Yiannopoulos protest, a rally for neo-Nazies in Charlottesville led to a counter-protester’s death when white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. plowed his car into her. Do people need to resort to killing in order to get their message across? Is the price of another’s life worth fighting for materialistic gains? Other lives are at stake, which seems more important than trying to fight a group of people with opposing ideals.
The way that protests have been carried out in this modern world has become too violent. It feels like we might be entangled in a civil war over different political views.
The methods of protesting tend to get a little extreme. Not just for this situation, but for every controversial issue out there. This happens when the police arrest some of the protestors during the riots.
Riots like these on the UC campuses miss the point in delivering their purpose, as they are either suppressing or harming others. The protestors should rethink their methods and follow nonviolent methods, like walking out or withdrawing from groups, which leaves a more profound effect.