Excuse For Preventing Free Speech Is Unviable

Sherman Boyson is a UC Berkeley employee. Respond at [email protected]

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It's hard to believe that three UC Berkeley students (Aman Gill, Laura Davis and Ranjan Muthukrishnan) worked on the response to the Berkeley Conservative Foundation's argument that they were denied their freedom of speech by the protestors at the anti-Mumia forum ("Conservatives Practice Hypocricy," Oct. 19). Hard to believe because the response is such an intellectual failure.

The trio have a lot of outrage, but they have no answer for the simple facts of the matter. The protestors purposely and effectively denied speaker Dan Flynn the opportunity to speak. It doesn't matter if he is a bigot. It doesn't matter that The Patriot has a headline that reads "Fry Mumia." It doesn't matter if Mumia Abu-Jamal is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. All of this is irrelevant to the actions by the protesters that The Patriot and the ASUC have condemned: the protestors denied someone the opportunity to state their opinion.

This trio seems to feel that it was valid to suppress the freedom of speech as long as they had a very good reason to do so. There is no good reason to suppress free speech. And by arguing that logic, they are inviting oppressive and racist governments to squash their protests and their rebellions because those governments might feel they have a good reason to suppress progressive free speech.

That Gill, Davis and Muthukrishnan cannot agree with the simple and clear concept of free speech shows that they actually only support dictatorships where they and their progressive comrades will decide what speech should be free and what speech should be suppressed.

I am much more in support of the trio's political leanings than those of the Republicans or the Berkeley Conservative Foundation, but I would much rather have those conservatives running my country and protecting my rights than the progressives if this is the kind of respect they hold for the basic rights of all citizens of this country. At least, when I object to the actions of those conservatives, I will be allowed to express those objections.

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