To think that the free speech movement started the year I was born in 1964. Mario Savio ignited a movement that changed the campus of UC Berkeley forever. What you saw was a youthful, passionate rebellion against the old establishment in government and law enforcement. There were moments of horrendous violence on both sides and in the end, the free speech movement was born. Over the years, activists have galvanized their freedoms to criticize government and its policies under their rights afforded to them by the first amendment. Speech, no matter how offensive to the listener, was protected and lawful.
Recently, a right wing provocateur came to the iconic campus of Berkeley and was violently shut down by protesters and anarchists, preventing him from speaking. The irony was too rich when individuals, wearing black clothing and fully masked, descended on a public university famous for the birth of the free speech movement, intent on stopping a guest speaker from exercising his constitutional right of free speech.
Today, speech is free in California as long as you adhere to the talking points of our left-leaning government officials who only accept a very liberal point of view. The left who brought us the free speech movement is now the force that is effectively shutting it down. Whether it be the feeble response from California’s police departments or the indifference of local and state officials, there is not much appetite for protecting all free speech, just the speech they approve of. I don’t think this is what Savio had in mind in 1964.
Christopher P. Conway