At Cal they've misplaced the definition of 'free speech'

Editor’s note: The powers that be at have told Michael Ackley he may submit the occasional column. As Golden State madness has accelerated, Mr. Ackley continues to give in to the urge to stay in the game. Hence, the items below. Remember that his columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.

The Free Speech Movement was one of the signal events of my four years at the University of California, Berkeley.

Out of the campus protests grew a short-lived “era of good feelings” as organizations Left and Right pledged fealty to the First Amendment, exchanged views and even partied together.

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That comity has long since passed, and Cal instead is characterized by Brownshirt intimidation of any individuals or organizations that are not reliably left-wing.

Last week, “protesters” forced cancellation of a pro-Israel speech. So, Chancellor Carol Christ and Provost Benjamin Hermalin pledged, “We will … decide on the best possible path to fully understand what happened and why; to determine how we will address what occurred; and to do everything possible to preclude a repeat of what happened.”

Perhaps an example of doing everything possible is an invitation to join Chancellor Christ and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for a discussion of “Free Speech and Higher Education.” The event is billed as “a discussion of recent events at different college campuses that reveal the tension around evolving definitions of free speech.”

Christ referred to the on-campus anti-Israel violence as a moment of “pain and complexity.” Oh, dear! I may swoon. Of course, the bureaucratic solution would have to be a “discussion.”

The incident certainly was painful for the university. But a “discussion” will be and may be intended to be useless. It should not take days days to understand what happened. The “protesters” violently broke into the auditorium where the Israeli was to speak.

They harassed and threatened those who came to listen.

Further, the issue is not complex. If the chancellor and her minions truly wish to solve the problem of fascist attacks on free expression, the solution does not lie in hand-wringing seminars about the “evolution” of free speech.

The solution is simple: Arrest and prosecute the lawbreaking perpetrators; suspend or expel student organizers and participants in the threats and violence.

Of course, the Cal administration fears demonstrators might become even more violent. If such were to occur, the scientific application of the old-fashioned nightstick would be the prescribed remedy.

Finally, dear chancellor, the definition of free speech is not evolving. However, free speech is under concerted assault by its enemies. These include those who think “sensitive” factions shouldn’t have to put up with expressions that hurt their feelings.

On the matter of senility: Front-runners for both the Democratic and Republican parties’ presidential nominations display recognized symptoms of decline due to old age. When speaking, one of them fumbles and forgets (or remembers episodes in his life that didn’t happen). The other, when speaking, exhibits a lack of “filters.” Whatever he thinks comes out of his mouth, including threats against his loyal opposition.

Out of a nation of 340 million people, are these the best candidates we can produce?

Bad dog? Bad master! It is well known by dog lovers that if somebody has a pet that habitually bites people, the fault generally is not in the dog.

The character of the pet reflects the character of the owner. Joe Biden has had a succession of beautiful German shepherd dogs, Champ, Major and Commander, in the White House. Champ was old. The latter two are biters. Draw your own conclusion.

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