University Of California Berkeley Chancellor Defends Milo Yiannopoulos' Freedom Of SpeechBy Emily Marks
University of California - Berkeley canceled a speech event by former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos. The termination of the event was caused by violent protesters who threatened the safety of the campus.
UC Berkeley had to cancel the event last Feb. 1 since the protests had already incurred damage worth $100,000. It was said to have been caused by "150 masked agitators" who are part of an anarchist group named the "Black Bloc," CNN reported.
President Donald Trump even threatened to cut federal funds for UC Berkeley since it allegedly does not support free speech and is violent towards people with different opinions. California representative Barbara Lee has called out the president's threat as an abuse of power.
Meanwhile, University of California - Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent a letter to the campus community defending Milo Yiannopoulos' event in campus. He stated that the school is committed to promoting the right to free expression and to valuing tolerance, inclusion and diversity.
Dirks noted that these two principles are fundamental to the university's identity and goals. He acknowledged that these principles can cause tension and opposition with each other.
He also clarified that the event with Milo Yiannopoulos was hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR), which is a separate legal entity. The UC Berkeley chancellor added that the Breitbart News editor is not the first controversial speaker to speak at the school and he will not be the last.
Dirks described Yiannopolous as a "troll and provocateur" who has engaged in hate speech directed at several groups and individuals. Yiannopoulos' attacks are deemed "hurtful and disturbing" and the school has provided support to the community who may be affected by his message.
The university chancellor explained that the school is not allowed to prohibit expression based on content or viewpoints, no matter how hateful or discriminatory they may be. Quartz noted that American colleges have been bombarded with the issue of finding the balance between respecting every individual's freedom of expression while protecting all students from offense and discrimination.