Despite Controversy, UCB Must Respect Milo Yiannopoulos’ Right to Speak

BY NATHAN BAKER staff writer

Milo Yiannopoulos, the conservative, flamboyant journalist, is scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley (UCB) on February 1. Under standard circumstances, the booking of such a talk would not reveal itself on the radar of a newspaper. However, with Yiannopoulos, things are different.  For example, he has been wrongfully banned from Twitter for comments made toward actress Leslie Jones, criticizing her stagecraft in the new Ghostbusters movie. On a campus like UCB, where leftism has transformed into the norm, Yiannopoulos has the ability to cause a great deal of controversy. According to The Daily Cal, the campus newspaper, “Twelve UC Berkeley professors sent a letter to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks requesting that campus administration cancel Berkeley College Republican’s event for Yiannopoulos … Since the letter was sent January 3, nearly 90 additional professors have signed it, giving their support.” This is where things tend to get hazy. Despite the essential pillars of freedom of speech and open-mindedness, many concur with the twelve professors who believe in cancelling this discourse due to the potential outcome. However, their wishes are flawed for the very reasons listed above: the importance of open-mindedness and allowance of free speech.In the setting of politics, we must have the ability to have constructive, civil conversations with those whose ideas may not coincide with our own. At a place like UCB, students and professors are often surrounded by like-minded individuals. While the campus may differ in ethnicity and race, the frequency of diversity in opinion is almost nowhere to be found. According to EconPaper, “The findings [of the study] support the “one-party campus” conjecture. For UC Berkeley, [they] found an overall Democrat:Republican ratio of 9.9:1.” The reaction to Yiannopoulos’ scheduled talk shows just how little the university values the other side of these controversial issues. Cancelling Yiannopoulos’ talk would demonstrate an unwillingness to listen to anyone but themselves. Finally, the existence of Freedom of Speech must be ensured. It is the most rudimentary American value, and our nation would crumble without it. Cancelling the event on the grounds of the potential negative effects of his ideas is a flawed approach. While those who believe in such an act perceive his ideas and rhetoric to be hateful and threatening to campus peace,  Yiannopoulos ought to be able to say what he wants due to the fundamental freedom of speech. If someone wants him at UCB, then he has every right to be there, for there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the majority. In fact, dissent such as his ought to be encouraged and supported, not stymied. It would be shameful to turn a blind eye to Yiannopoulos’ unalienable right.In sum, cancelling Yiannopoulos’ event would send a very clear message that UCB prioritizes a homo-opinionated campus over free speech and open-mindedness. No matter the speaker, such a message ought to never be delivered. That is why Yiannopoulos’ event should not be cancelled — not in the past, not now, and not in the future.