Berkeley riot misrepresents legitimate voices from left

“Riots are self defeating and socially destructive.” This quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. perfectly and precisely articulates the problem with holding riots in the name of what you are supporting: you defeat yourself before the opposing team even has a chance.

Recently, the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) has been the victim of a mass riot hosted in the attempt of stopping a person with a different set of beliefs from speaking there. Milo Yiannopoulos is a journalist from the far-right wing website Breitbart News who gives lectures at colleges around America usually centered around his anti-feminist message, as well as extreme conservative ideas, which (as you can imagine) is not always handled the best by many college students. There have usually been peaceful protests at his rallies of students not wanting his views to be given a podium, but this recent protest at Berkeley was anything but peaceful.

The night Yiannopoulos was supposed to give a lecture at Berkeley, chaos struck as the peaceful demonstration melted into chaos. Windows of the school were smashed, a large fire was set, a light pole was pushed over and Yiannopoulos supporters were harassed. A video surfaced of a woman wearing a Make America Great Again hat partaking in an interview at the riot done by a local news team, and after finishing, she was then pepper sprayed by one of the rioters. There were even some pictures of people being beaten with poles as the demonstration continued to get more and more out of hand.

The planned lecture was cancelled, and soon after the riot began, Yiannopoulos got to his nearby hotel safely, with the help of his guards. Soon after the riot took place, he was able to broadcast himself over Fox News, giving him a much broader audience than he would have ever gotten at the college.

The entire demonstration was a failure, as the rioters simply gave him and the rest of the right wing exactly what they wanted: something to demonize the left with. “The hard left,” Yiannopoulos remarked in a video he made after entering his hotel, “which has become so utterly antithetical to free speech in the last few years, has taken a turn post-Trump’s election where they simply will not allow any speaker on campus.”

The horrible behavior and horrific actions taken have created the perfect view through which anyone who opposes the left wing could use as a way to generalize and distort all of them into freedom-of-speech-hating, violent people.

Even if this did not give others the opportunity to deceive the public’s views of certain political ideas, though, it would have still been a ridiculous thing to partake in, as no good could ever come out from them stopping Yiannopoulos. His opinions have a right to be heard, even if one does not enjoy them.

All opinions need to be allowed to be spoken, and if you support anything less than that then you cannot say truthfully that you are for freedom of speech. When a left wing person shares ideas at a university, then a right wing person can do the same thing. Competing ideas need to be shared so we can all become more enlightened on what path we should take.

I am not saying that criticizing people for what they say is a bad thing. I am not saying that at all, but first you need to listen. Listen to the opinions, listen to the facts,  and then weigh them against other ideas. If you determine the opinions are not what will benefit society, then criticizing them is the only reasonable option as a way to demonstrate against the flawed views, but you have to listen to them first. You cannot block them, for when you block them, all you are doing is blocking yourself from a further grounded understanding of society.

It can get aggravating. It can get tough, but the knowledge you will gain from multiple perspectives is worth much more than any benefits you could possibly get from censorship.

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